Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Off to California

In about 6 hours, I'll be heading to the airport to fly out to California. I look forward to working with my friends in the SoCal office and attending the Holiday Awards banquet. And I really look forward to eating in SoCal again as well as cross off some OC to-do's--hopefully with some friends! I'm pretty sure I'll be start by stuffing my face and drinking a gallon of watermelon fresca at Native Foods.

I was hoping to miraculously get in shape before returning to SoCal but alas my dear fit Cali friends will be seeing me in my biggest jeans and clothes that have the words "comfort" or "stretch" in the label. Shoot, I should have gotten a face-slimming haircut. Oh well, it would have just gotten in the way of me stuffing my face.

Before I leave SoCar, I made preparations like a butler leaving two bachelor rock stars behind. Laundry, vacuuming, and groceries done, I've also carved up the rest of the turkey leftovers for Paul and the girl. I also left a stock of healthy soups plus a half a dozen frozen pizzas where I've taped the heating instructions on the fridge door and explained them to the girl. When I went to New York last month, I came home to a load of Sonic wrappers in the garbage and a pot on the stove that pretty much indicated 3 rounds of macaroni and cheese cooked in it, with the orange cheese powder all over the counter like some processed food version of cocaine. I'm hoping they'll eat some vegetables this time while I'm gone. And use the dishwasher! Keeping my fingers crossed...

Monday, November 29, 2010

By Request: Before and After

By request, here are some before and after shots of the living room I finished painting and where we finally got "real" furniture over the Thanksgiving weekend. It's still a work in progress--there are still boxes to unpack, the walls are still blank, and I'm still unsure of the layout. Here are the befores (you can see the sofabed with the missing cover where we're using a sheet--blech):

So many boxes...

Here is where I ran out of paint on Saturday night. You can also see the twin mattress we received free with the purchase of our full-size ones. We kind of used it as a sofa-ish thing which worked out well for a few of the girl's sleepovers. We gave it away on Craigslist the day before the furniture was being delivered.

We wanted a simple couch but we definitely were favoring comfort over style, considering how much we enjoy watching games and movies. The girl and I were really craving a chaise lounge and we all wanted high back/neck support. We saw this model in the furniture store but it was so ginormous and frankly just screamed Man Cave:

We opted for a smaller version and both Paul and the girl were gunning for the cupholders but I (and reasonable decorum) won out and we forewent them. I must add that the seat on the opposite end of the chaise is a recliner. Ta-da!

I moved out the bookshelf that we were temporarily using as a tv stand and got an official one with doors to hide a lot of the cables (ugh--I'll spare you a picture of the major cable management issues behind that door on the left). We upgraded to a big flat screen tv and we still have yet to remove the plastic off the frame. I think the TV needs a little bit of height--like a higher base or something.

A cleaned up After:

For now, I moved the bookshelf behind the sofa and put these lamps here. Ugh...I gotta do something with that lamp.

We picked up this accent chair which I love not only for the leopard print but it's actually quite comfortable in a firm and supportive way. And dare I say, pretty darn stylish.

And since we were in Charlotte to take Nana to the airport, we swung by Ikea and got a replacement cover for the sofabed. They no longer carried the original red cover but we liked this multicolored one as well. It works, right? Sure beats a sheet...

Finally, here is that hall that is kind of begging for color. Velina suggested red or orange. Frankly, I'm not opposed to it--I'm thinking a nice pop of color would work here.

And that is the living room so far. I am definitely open to layout suggestions though as you can see there are still boxes to unpack. Maybe an area rug between the tv and the big sofa? I'm kind of at a loss where to put that Ikea sofabed so it's in the corner for now. Also I'm struggling with lighting. Maybe when the boxes are out of the way, more options will materialize.

Still a work in progress...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A good Thanksgiving

We enjoyed a nice relaxing Thanksgiving holiday with Nana, which went by so quickly. We even got productive and finally got real living room furniture and a entertainment stand. And I got more boxes unpacked! And I finished painting! Well at least the planned part. I'm looking at this one hall and thinking it needs some color...

The slight disappointment? It looks like Wisconsin will go to the Rose Bowl representing the top Big Ten team, despite having the same one-loss record as Ohio State and our dear Michigan State Spartans. It's been an amaaaaazing year to watch the Spartans go nearly undefeated this season and though most of the games have been second-half or fourth-quarter stressful wins, it's been thrilling to see nonetheless. Tip of the cap to Wisconsin--winning ANOTHER insanely high scoring game--70 over Northwestern yesterday! Curious to see which bowl game MSU plays in...

The only true minus of the holiday weekend? So sick of Thanksgiving food. I don't know how I did it, I totally made too much food and I have had 6 meals straight of stuffing, potatoes, squash, and green beans. Plus I feel like I could just apply this topically to my chins and gut.

For Christmas, I'm thinking Thai food.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Waiting on another

Last June, Paul's sister and her husband had our first nephew (and the girl's first cousin) and I finally got to meet (and take some pix of) sweet Madhu at Opa's wedding:

Say Hello to cuteness!

Adorable when he giggles:

Doesn't it look like he's trying to tell me something?

"Your NFL picks are too sentimental"

Gasp. How did he know? Oh my...cute and smart.

Anyhoo we're anxiously awaiting another nephew or niece as my sister and her husband are due any day now (they are one of the rare couples who opted out of learning their baby's gender before birth). We thought it'd be cool if the baby was born today, on our dad's birthday (who shares the same birthday as Bruce Lee, BTW), but looks like this baby has other plans. Can't wait to meet this individual!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I should be shoving a turkey in the oven right now but instead I'm fretting over my football picks for the games today.

Will Brady's foot injury have any effect on the game today? Will Lions WR Calvin Johnson experience win out over the young Patriots' CBs? Will I ever stop (foolishly?) believing that "this game" might be "The Game" for the Lions?

Will Dallas' renewed vigor carry them against the defending Super Bowl winners? Especially if Reggie Bush comes back today?

Can the Jets beat the unpredictable Bengals? Okay yes, but by 10?

Perhaps I need to take a breather like Oskar and appreciate the simpler things for a moment:

Hope everyone else has a relaxing Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I cannot have both WWF and NFL

My paranoid fear/reasoning has come to fruition: I cannot play well in both Words With Friends and my football picks at the same time. Fate simply does not allow me enough luck for both. I started getting nervous when decent tiles and positioning were opening up on my WWF boards. I actually thought, uh-oh, this can't be good for my football picks. At 11:55am on Sunday, I panicked and opened up my picks and stared.

Velina, what do I do?

I don't know. What do these numbers mean?

Argh. I quickly explained the concept of winning by the point spread with the yes/no option.

She pointed to the orange helmet marked CLE and said, Well, I hear Clemson isn't doing so well.

Sigh. Has this girl learned nothing from living in this house? Velina, Clemson is college. This is pro. This is Cleveland. Gaaaaaahhhhh.

Was this what I was reduced to? Consulting an 11-year-old who only likes football for the chips, pizza, root beer floats, and nachos involved? There had to be a better way.

Mom! What are you doing?

I'm reversing all my picks sweetie...[sfx: mouse clicking]

That's crazy Mom. Stop.

I stopped midway. And realized my pizza-eating 11-year-old was right. I felt like that character in a lame movie where the crazed overeater can no longer stand her strict diet and ends up gnawing at a billboard cheeseburger. Or the idiot in the slasher movie who decides to call out the serial killer- You want a piece of me?! Come and get me! -right before a sickle comes flying out from nowhere and decapitates his dumb stupid head. Reason had left to use the bathroom and panic settled into its warm place on the couch.

In that brief moment as I was maniacally clicking and reversing my initial picks, that's what I saw in the proverbial mirror in my mind: Me hypnotized by the Crazy. And it was not pretty. It was only the shrill voice of 11-year-old reason that woke me from that ugly seduction.

As it turns out, reversing half of my picks had mostly an even-Steven effect and didn't really affect my score. Which was: HALF WRONG.

I should just do the most reasonable thing: wish my luck in WWF falls back down again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hope the olive race was worth it

I guess this fraternity had more exciting things to do than pick up the donations I set out yesterday per their instructions. Found them this morning covered in dew:

Fortunately, I remember there a food collection box on campus. Hope they're okay with wet cans of food.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting ready for Nana's visit

Nothing like a Thanksgiving visit from Nana to kick the final paint job into high gear.

This was the living room, yesterday at 11am:

Obviously still many boxes to unpack still and I may have to concede to putting off my plan of moving the CDs and DVDs to binders because 1) I still have the CD and DVD shelves still, 2) I still do NOT have the CD and DVD binders and 3) I really want to get them out of the boxes.

Anyhoo, the painting went along steadily where my only break was the Michigan State game because I brought better luck to them when I was sitting on the couch watching. And eating. Don't worry it paid off--the Spartans came back from a deficit to win the game in the last quarter.

Around 11pm I was in the home stretch aaaaaaannnnd...I ran out of paint:

This is Sunday 11am.

Off to the paint store. Again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tasty rewards

My awesome friend back in SoCal surprised me with a package today:

Just when I'm about to embark on a huge productive day (hopefully), I've got these tasty rewards to look forward to:

So magical that she knows that hash browns are one of my favorite foods, we love candy, and I love to rant! Thank you so much, Heidi!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fraternity Food Drive

Recently, an empty Walgreen's bag was hooked on to the front door with this note, advising a local fraternity's food drive:

First, I have to confess that I have a rather unflattering impression of fraternities. Second, my expectation of frat behavior has been mostly culled from movies like "Animal House", "Revenge of the Nerds", "Old School", etc. I did go to a frat party once--but frankly, it was kind of like they modeled themselves after the movies. Third, I'd like to be open to changing this stereotype in my head. In general, I just imagine frat brothers lounging in their frat house constantly draining a keg, centerfolds scotch-taped to the walls, using what I imagine is the grossest bathroom second to a gas station restroom that doesn't require a key.

But, like this food drive, maybe there is a positive side to fraternities that I don't know about? I picture there had to be one brother who tired of their image and wanted to change things up:

- Hey let's go make the pledges pick up olives...using their butt cheeks!
- Uh, yeah. I guess that would be funny. Again.
- This time, we'll have them carry the the olives up the stairs and drop them in a bucket!
- Hey do you ever think we could do something more productive with our time?
- Then...whoever is the slowest has to eat the bucket of olives!
- I mean, we are, literally, tons of manpower. Maybe we could even do something for charity.
- I'm getting the olives from the fridge!. This is going to be friggin' awesome!

So to that guy with the bright idea who hung in there and finally swayed his brothers, I'll have this on my doorstep for you:

On a side note, I'm also trying to work on healthier eating habits. Hopefully these Oreos will go to someone who has a bit more self-control than me and doesn't eat the whole package in two days.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

We're seriously contemplating going to the midnight showing tonight. Of course the girl would be psyched to go on a school night but realistically, I'm not sure I can stay awake. But to go on the weekend surrounded by kids? Eek...decisions, decisions.

As much as I agree that HP7 has too much to be contained in 2 hours (and to that end, HP6 as well), I'm very annoyed that HP7 Part 2 isn't coming out until JULY 2011.

Anyhoo, can't wait to see this!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So I heard

- I heard that Giada De Laurentiis (the food network chef) had a rumored fling with John Mayer. My thoughts: first, what is the deal with John Mayer? Is he made out of marzipan? And brownies? Second, she is married to a designer for Anthropologie! I would most definitely prefer spending time gazing through an Anthropologie catalog and its store displays over hearing quotes from another lame interview with Mr. Mayer. And finally her grandfather, famed film producer Dino De Laurentiis died a few days after the story broke out. If I heard my granddaughter was messing with John Mayer, I'm pretty sure that'd make my heart stop too. BTW, both are responding with denials.

- I heard 127 Hours is an amazing movie. It's about Aron Ralston. You know, the trapped hiker who had to amputate his own arm with a dull knife to survive? I saw an interview Ralston did shortly afterwards and just listening to the description of what happened was excruciating. I'm not sure if I have the stones to watch the story unfold.

- I heard that Jessica Simpson got engaged. Maybe that's the real reason Dallas won. I'm sure she burned that jinxed pink Dallas jersey when she put on that ring. The happy guy is an ex-NFL player who decided to pass on going to Wharton to snuggle with Ms. Simpson and hold her purse. Which is probably heavy considering she is worth nearly $100 million from her clothing and shoe lines. Make that lucky guy--apparently she doesn't want to sign a prenup. Unfortunately, the timing of her announcement after her ex-husband's engagement seems, I don't know...premature? Or is the word immature?

- I heard that "The Situation" and Bristol Palin shot a PSA promoting abstinence, where Ms. Palin confirms she's not going to hook up before she's married "for real" (previous actions resulting in a cute baby notwithstanding, of course) and he overuses the words "the situation" to the point of confusion/annoyance. Oh yes, it did happen:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ladies night on ESPN2

Tonight we watched the #1 ranked UConn Huskies beat #2 Baylor in a down-to-the-buzzer thriller score of 65-64 in women's basketball. Sure it's exciting to see top teams play, but an interesting significance is that the Huskies are on a winning streak--80 straight wins to be exact. That is currently the longest win streak of any female basketball team in the NCAA and in 8 wins they will tie the men's record currently held by the 1970s UCLA basketball team under the legendary John Wooden. And obviously, in 9 wins they would be the NCAA Div 1 basketball team with the longest win streak, male or female. Very impressive, don't you think? Go Huskies.

After that game was over, the Ohio-Temple football game was on. Though curious to see former Nebraska Huskers coach Frank Solich and his Ohio Bobcats, I was more intrigued because of the booth occupants. Though it's quite common to see women doing sideline reporting, it is very rare to hear a woman call the play-by-plays. I think I remember a game two years ago with Pam Ward calling the game and tonight I heard Beth Mowins for the first time. I hope someone isn't going to try to tell me that only players and coaches can call the play-by-plays. Mike Tirico is fine on MNF and I thought Ms. Mowins was fine as well. Frankly, considering the number of female fans who watch football games, I think it'd be a refreshing to hear more women call the play-by-plays.

Maybe I just need to catch more games on ESPN2...

Someone DID put the whammy on me

Opposed to last week where I only got 2 games wrong, this week I got almost HALF wrong. I made some very educated picks but sometimes there's that intangible factor (will? spirit? confidence?) that can go big either way. And for a lot of my picks it went the wrong way.

So, it's a little into the second half of the season and here's what I learned so far:
- The Colts are gold at home, whether Peyton Manning is on or not. Unfortunately, they don't always get that there is a point spread to cover. But I guess considering their TDs came from INTs this week, they're happy. So selfish.
- Favre. Guess he can only whip out the magic at home. Home field, to be clear.
- Despite a losing streak, the Broncos BROUGHT it. A bye week can do wonders...
- ...unless you're the Titans. Don't know what to say here--on paper, Tennessee looked like a sure thing but Miami went through 3 QBs themselves yet still won out. And oh, Moss. There's a prodigal son/redemption story coming about him soon, right? I keep banking on him too early.
- The Lions. Why do I keep believing? Common sense told me that without Stafford a win over the winless Bills was a long shot.
- Colt McCoy. Increasingly impressive and clutch for the Browns. The Longhorns must really miss him.
- Dallas crushed the Giants! Wow, was Wade Phillips that bad?
- Conversely, is Pete Carroll that good? Seahawks now division leaders. Oh wait, who else is in the division? Arizona, San Francisco, and St. Louis. Currently, to be leader in that division means not having a losing record. Congrats, Seahawks.
- And Michael Vick. Setting NFL records as a QB and for the Eagles last night against the Redskins in the pouring rain. Oh, there's the amazing redemption story. And on the day Redskins QB McNabb signed a $78M contract extension, who ended up throwing 3 INTs, including a Pick 6. What a way to celebrate.

Anyhoo, hopefully I've made some mental adjustments and ready for next week. Wish me luck. Apparently, I need it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Starting to Paint the last room

Last night my football picks were going down the toilet so I told myself to do something productive. I allowed myself to just paint the entryway. This is the color the living room will be:

I painted these two small walls without painter's tape, BTW. I really prefer cutting in carefully with a brush to the nightmares I've had with the tape--like when the paint seeps through the tape (and dries!) or discovering the hard way that my taping job was crooked.

Keeping my fingers crossed that I finish this weekend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Productivity and rewards

Productive day with rewards, it's win-win, isn't it? Unpacked some more boxes (and ironically, filled more boxes for donation) and found the base with bass pedal for Rock Band. I didn't realize a friend must have disassembled it and it was in a much smaller box than I expected.

The girl and I busted out a few songs with me on trap and her doing guitar AND singing. I taped the microphone to a lamp that has a special bulb (that I still have yet to find/unpack). Impressively, she scored higher on both singing and guitar than I did on drums alone.

Also unpacked the board games and we played some Scrabble with some popcorn and cocoa.

The tables turned from Rock Band. I crushed her.

Here's to tomorrow being productive too--

Friday, November 12, 2010


Best end to a Friday--receiving this beautiful handmade quilt from my friends who are parents of this cutie.

I LOVE it. As someone who has attempted to sew, I appreciate this so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don't put the whammy on me

I won a second week in my football pool much to everyone's joy. Though as I pointed out to a few haters (I meant pool-mates), it's nice that women have won nearly half the weeks in our football pool. Like Aretha and Annie sang, sisters are doin' it for themselves. Still, I get no respect. Now I know what Boise State feels like

Though this week, I'm feeling uncertain again. So many variables--like will Minnesota struggle with Harvin injured? But dang, Favre still has some magic in his pockets and I'm not talking the kind you pic-text. But...they play the Bears in Chicago and the Bears are hungry. Also, what does Moss mean for Tennessee? He's worked with Collins before but Young may be back in. They're coming off a bye week to get it together, but it could be an awkward triangle going on there. And they're playing Miami, who's favored. And my other heartwrenching choice--Bills or Lions? I mean poor Bills, they're kind of due but they have some key injuries plus I'm thinking they may have run out of GAS (i.e., Give A Sh!t). But...the Lions lost Stafford due to injury.

Sigh. What's a girl to do?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trader Joe's

Forget Usher, forget Busta. So grateful that Trader Joe is not a real person because I'm pretty confident I'd be a gold digger for him. That's right, full ON kept woman. I'm pretty sure I'd get a boob job, wear makeup, style my hair with a dryer and product if that'd hook him. Then I'd make sure I had a baby with him so that when he left my a$$ for the next gold digger, I'd have generous Trader Joe product written as part of the settlement and child support. Thank goodness wishes don't always come true. And by that I mean, thank goodness TJ is not a person, just one fine-looking grocery store that brings me to my knees with its blissful offerings.

We used to live within 2 miles of Trader Joe's in SoCal but there isn't one in Columbia at all. Heartbreak. But I had the sense to book my flight home from New York to Charlotte (where it's cheaper to fly in and out of and there IS a Trader Joe's) early enough so I could hit it on my way home.

I got some of my fave staples like these dumplings:

Trader Joe's also has a great price for organic tofu and since, yes, I had packed a cooler in my trunk before I left Columbia, I said why not pick up a few pounds?

Also picked up this new Sipping Chocolate--so good. Rich but not horribly sweet. I love but the girl does not.

But the girl does love these Pumpkin Spice Whoopee Pies! I'm not much of a pumpkin fan but the creamy filling made it like a cupcake for me.

Also I had Thai curry with my cousin once and LOVED it. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember if it was Yellow or Green curry, so trying them both:

Also picked up a sack of Pretzel Slims and Penguin Gummy Tummies but no picture because I ate them on my 90 mile drive home.

Trader Joe's--I miss him (uh, the store) so much.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Leaving NY

As I waited for a bus in Queens to take me to LaGuardia airport, it started raining. So symbolic of leaving my sis and NY behind.

Fortunately, we had wonderful dinner last night with free bottles of sake, courtesy of Bibim Bar. I don't think I've ever had sake straight and for a free bottle, it was rather tasty. I think I was expecting it to taste fairly "fuelish" but it had nice fruity overtones--like banana.

I remember that I'm still confounded by the new bike lanes on 1st Avenue, courtesy of Mayor Bloomberg. It's just so weird not to see cars parked against the curb:

And I found places I want to hit next time, like this fondue place:

And this hot dog place:

Next time, New York.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


We started off with a visit to the Farmers' Market at Tompkins Square Park. Honey Crisp apples for my sister:

And I scored some delicious Tomme cheese:

My BIL picked up some delicious Mexican sandwiches for brunch:

And they even gave him some complimentary pastries, like this delicious guava filled one:

Then it was off to Queens for my sister baby shower. As we were switching trains at Queensborough Plaza, we saw runners in the New York marathon on the street below, getting ready to cross the bridge:

The baby shower was great and it was so wonderful to see all the sweet excitement from all my sister's friends. Now comes the fun part-waiting for the baby's arrival!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Another restaurant I've been meaning to try for a while was Momofuku's Noodle Bar. It was another packed restaurant, even at the late lunch hour of 3pm. But my sister and I decided to give it a go.

We enjoyed the beet salad with buttermilk and blood oranges balanced with peppery arugula:

And I LOVED these roasted potatoes with kim chi and a poached egg, topped off with bright scallions:

We were seated pretty close to the prep area and I was fascinated how they prepared their poached eggs--it appears they cooked them in their shells for a (short) period of time and then cracked out a beautiful poached egg. Genius.

If anyone knows what the timing is on this, I would LOVE to know.

I leaned over and asked my sister if she thought these young chefs got propositioned often. She scoffed, you're just saying that because they're surrounded by all these bowls of food!

Man, she knows me so well. I could envision a younger single version of me inquiring what their plans were after their shift ended--well why don't you stop by my place? But make sure you bring ALL THE LEFTOVERS.

My sister had their famous momofuku ramen with pork strap, pork shoulder, poached egg and I had their ginger scallion noodles. The ramen was excellent with a wonderfully smoky edge to the broth. My ginger scallion noodles were also good, though quite salty especially with all the pickled vegetables.

For dessert, we had their apple pie cake truffles:

A bit rich, but delicious. Next time, I think I'll head to their Milk Bar for dessert.

Liddabit Caramels

We picked up some of these Liddabit caramels at Northern Spy Food Co:

Handmade daily using local, seasonal, and artisanal ingredients, we really enjoyed the Beer & Pretzel and Chocolate Stout-Gingerbread caramels:

At $1 a piece, it's definitely a treat that one should take the time to savor.

Sat morning in the East Village

Saturday morning I picked up bagels, as well as cheese and olives from one of the best cheese stores in the city, East Village Cheese shop on 3rd Ave and E. 10th St:

Coffee for the BIL and me from one of the tiniest coffee shops in New York, Abraco:

The neighbors were hanging their laundry:

And we headed out into the day: