Monday, February 28, 2011

A year ago

A year ago...yesterday (we both forgot on the day of...oops), this happened.

I have learned a lot in the last year. About myself, about us, about flowers, about the cost of goods and services, and about bunting (for the record, I find bunting totally pointless. Sorry, bunting-defenders). Priorities, compromise, values. I didn't anticipate it, but this has been a year of incredible change. I stayed in the same place, at the same school, doing the same things day-in, day-out. But still, everything has shifted. Which is good. Engagement is a liminal state (webster: "of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition"). You have just promised to make a permanent change, and you get ready to do so. You are in between. You lose one stage of your life, say goodbye to it, and get ready to embrace a new one. Being engaged might be the most-recognized liminal state, but I've had others--senior years at school. Probably being a pre-teen is one too, though I think I have blocked out most of those memories by now.

Anyway, we're heading into the final stretch. Less than 3 months now. I'm ready to get to the other side. I want time to speed up, so that I can get there faster (added motivation is that we have accidentally done this the old-fashioned way, and now live separately until after we get married). But there is also so much to get done before that day. But luckily for me, I think time will probably continue stubbornly at its current pace, settling me at a happy medium between these conflicting forces.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dark n' Stormy


There's a thunderstorm a-happening outside. It is keeping me awake with its crazy wind noises. Not so much because I couldn't fall asleep to them, but because I could--quite easily--and then I wouldn't wake up to a siren and would die in a tornado. When you sleep like I do, you have to worry about these things.


This storm is scaring me, which is weird, because I normally love storms. I love to watch lightning, but you can't really do that here. I think I just miss the desert. The weather here makes me grumpy and I feel homesick for wide open skies. Get me to Texas post-haste.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Heart The President

Okay, if you know me, you know I am in the tank for Obama. I am just crazy about the man. Sue me.

But even if you are not me, you just have to love this:


“Sometimes, when we’re lying together, I look at her and I feel dizzy with the realization that here is another distinct person from me, who has memories, origins, thoughts, feelings that are different from my own. That tension between familiarity and mystery meshes something strong between us. Even if one builds a life together based on trust, attentiveness and mutual support, I think that it’s important that a partner continues to surprise."
--Barack Obama

Quote and picture more or less stolen from alkeemi


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Adages, Part II

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

image via we heart it

I took a nap this afternoon, and instead of sleeping on the right-hand side as I normally do, I slept on the left so as to be closer to the heater. I have been feeling out of sorts ever since I woke up.

Clearly, flagrant disobedience of tried-and-true nuggets of wisdom has consequences.

Goals for tomorrow: Eat well, sleep right.

Adages

I think that "you are what you eat" must be true.


I had a Lunchable today and the day has gone downhill since that moment. What possesses the children of the world (including me) that they covet Lunchables?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"I feel sad in my stomach"

For Valentine's Day, Slate magazine had their editors choose their favorite love poems. Michael Agger picked "Three Rivers" by Alpay Ulku.

The poem ends with this line:

I'm driving home from the airport without you. I feel sad in my stomach.

Thank god for poets. That's exactly what it's like.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Series of Fortunate Events

Because of car problems, flight delays, bad weather, and late arrivals, I got 12 extra hours with my favorite boy and free Chicken Selects.

It all started on Friday night, when my aunt-to-be informed me that the dashboard lights on her car weren’t working. That car was to be a wedding present—she had two, I had one that broke down expensively at least once a month. It was a gift I was strongly looking forward to since it offered the promise of not seeing my mechanic more often than I do some of my friends. But the dashboard lights weren’t working. My father-in-law-to-be was to take a look at it. It unraveled from there. The dashboard lights were the tip of the iceberg, and I wasn’t going to be driving back to Indiana in that car after all.

So I booked a flight, and the cheapest one matched me up with Eric from New York to O’Hare. In O’Hare there was rain and bad visibility. But we had long layovers and it was okay. We boarded the plane. We were delayed another hour. This was looking less okay now. By the time we deplaned, it was 3.5 hours after the scheduled arrival. But his connecting flight was further delayed and so was mine. We parted ways at the info screens and went off to our gates. I headed to take the shuttle to my terminal. It was too late—the shuttle had stopped running, which sent me in the direction of his gate. I saw him again, stayed as he got food, and then again we parted ways.

I hadn’t eaten since I had a bagel and cream cheese about 8 hours earlier, and airport restaurants were starting to close. McDonald’s had its metal gate half closed. I ran up, asked if they were closed. They were, they said. But do you have ANY food? Well, do you want some Selects, they said? Um, yes. They handed me the bag and sweet and sour sauce. I got out my wallet. No charge, they said.

My flight was delayed even further. But I don’t mind.

Update: I finished writing this post right before we began boarding our plane to Indianapolis. We then sat on the runway for...I dunno, a long time. With the extra time to drive home, my voyage finally ended at 3:30 am. I have rarely felt so out of it as I did on the last 20 miles of my drive. But that's not so bad, relatively speaking--when I landed in Indy I got a text from Eric whose flight got cancelled after they had already boarded. He was supposed to fly out this morning, but he was bumped again. He is probably just now leaving Chicago. So, this story is not quite as 100% peachy in hindsight, but I'm still grateful for our extra hours and my free dinner.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Life List: The Pie Shop


23. Open a pie shop in Austin, Texas

image from TripAdvisor

I'm one step closer. I'm moving to Austin in May. I also don't have a job in my field yet, so maybe I'm two steps closer.

Birthday Resolutions

I forgot to post about new year's resolutions this year. Last year, mine were to 1) floss and 2) be more proactive about making friends. How did I do? On the flossing, not so much. I do try to be more proactive about friends these days, but I honestly think that this resolution is going to be with me for most of my life. I am naturally shy, I have to consciously fight against it.

Since I am just writing about it now (and also haven't done very well at it so far this year), I think I will dub this year's resolution as a Birthday Resolution--really, doesn't it make good sense to make goals for a year of your life just like the calendar year? Anyway, the resolution is to Take More Pictures.

For at least a year I have wanted a DSLR camera. I was in photo class for all 4 years of high school, and absolutely loved it, and as someone with a less-than-stellar memory, I need photos. But how can I spend the $$$ for a DSLR when I rarely remember to bring my point and shoot Canon to parties and events? So if I do well this year with my baby camera, if I take it places and also take pictures of everyday life (which is equally deserving of being captured), then at age 25 I am rewarding myself with a DSLR. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Irrational

If you look to your right (and you are reading this rather soon after I post it), you will see that Smitten Kitchen's most recent post is about a salad with fried almonds. Upon reading that, my brain said:

"rwwwarrrRRHHGHGHHH WHY ALMONDS@???@#??!?"

I hate almonds to the extent that (apparently) I feel that it is some sort of injustice to include them in recipes.

What. is wrong with me.

Economists in Love


As Eric knows all too well, since grad school I have picked up the endearing/annoying habit of dropping economics-talk into our everyday life. I am prone to saying things like "It's a sunk cost! Let it go!" or "Really, we just have a problem of asymmetric information here." Charming, right? I think so. I can't speak for him.

Well, this book that just came out--Spousonomics--sounds right up my alley as it talks about how economic principles apply in marriage. So I checked out their blog and there are two lovely things on there that I think you will enjoy.

The first is about how to make your marriage more Pareto efficient-brilliant! Now to move toward Pareto efficiency you have to do something that makes someone happier without making anyone else any worse off. When you get to Pareto efficiency, you cannot change anything without making someone worse off. Now, Pareto efficiency is pretty hard to achieve in real life but if we are a properly operating market we should be moving towards it. An incredibly useful concept in relationship: How can I make you happier without making myself any less happy? (We should even sometimes do things that make us less happy, but let's start with the Pareto efficient things, right?)

The second one, maybe I missed this day in Econ class cause I don't know what economic concept it applies to, but its a list: "Things I Don't Always Want to Do But Never Regret Having Done." I am notorious for failing to floss (or any other such thing) because I never feel like flossing right nowwww, despite the fact that every time I show up at the dentist I really wish I would have flossed more. Yes, in case you were wondering, I still have the mindset of a 9 year old when it comes to these sorts of things.

I am going to try to make these lists for myself and post them on my walls or something. Yay economics.

Oh they have a cute series called Economists in Love on this blog too. It's like finding out what all of my professors are like in real life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Intentional Happiness

I wrote awhile back about "enough" and how I was tired of only doing that and no more. I also wrote about how I have been cooking more recently. Guess what? I'm happier when I do that. I made this full on 3 component meal the other day--chicken, sweet potato gnocchi, and kale (noticing a kale trend? I'm mildly obsessed.) The sweet potato gnocchi was TJ's, but I still made 3 components in a dinner just for me and I was just happy to eat it! It does not take much--just a little effort to make my own day a little better goes a long long way. I think I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Mariana, who regularly makes herself a full-on egg, sausage, pancake brunch on a weekly basis. When I heard this I was stunned. Going out of your way to do something nice for yourself*--it was like a foreign concept to me. But it is something we should all do more often. Take care of your own soul. With food, with friends, with whatever you need. Find what it is for you, and do it. This is not a hard concept, but for me, it's one I'm still learning.

*it should be noted that Mariana (and a bunch of my other friends too) also goes out of her way to do nice things for other people all the time too. i have excellent friends.

Valentine's Day


Six years ago, I had pretty much the worst day ever. It was Valentine's Day, and I always hated Valentine's Day because news flash: sucks to be single on Valentine's Day and sucks even more if you are in high school and they have this awful thing where people send each other carnations and they get delivered in class in this big on-display way and you never get one except maybe your friend sends you one which is nice and all but then someone asks who its from and its all womp, womp again. And after four years of this--you. are. done.

On top of that sucksville, I found out on that day that I had not gotten a scholarship to USC, which was my top choice school, which meant I couldn't go there. Not a good day.

Now today, I am no longer single, and I have friends that send Valentine's to all their friends and have helped me see the holiday as being more as a "Love For Everybody!" day. But regardless of how fun Valentine's Day CAN be, the fact of the matter remains that for many people the day just rubs salt into the wound. My heart still aches for the girl of five years ago and the many more like me, and I still kind of hate Valentine's Day as a result. It has in recent years given me an excuse to go out to dinner, so it has that going for it. But this holiday often becomes about what you don't have, not about celebrating what you do have, and thus I choose to hold on to my lingering antipathy.

But, in the spirit of changing this holiday's nature:

Love to everybody! Here's some flowers:




Saturday, February 12, 2011

There's a reason this blog isn't called Post-Graduate Cake

And not just because that doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

I have recently tried making cake twice and both have been utter structural failures. The first time, I saw a holiday chip cake mix on sale at Kroger and an idea struck me: 'I will make a Welcome Home cake for Eric for his first visit home. It will be adorable!' I even bought decorative icing. I was invested in this plan. So the week of his visit I set out to make the cake. Everything was fine until I tried to take the cake out of the cake pans. At which point I realized my cake pans were NOT in fact non-stick, as I had just sort of assumed (they were dark-ish? I don't know).

Anyway, this was rather upsetting, so I ate a few cake pieces and then abandoned the thing. What can you do with cake that is in a million bits. Nothing. But I still had icing left, so when I passed the cake mixes in the grocery store today en route to get bread crumbs, and saw that Jiffy Cake Mix is like less than a dollar, I thought--ah ha! I will redeem myself and make a new cake to put the icing on!

Not so much.

This cake ALSO fell apart in the removal-from-the-pan stage, despite my diligent greasing and flouring of the pan! Readers, what am I doing wrong? I thought I let the cake cool enough, but does it have to be like cold-cold before you take it out (for the record, with the first cake, I took it out of the pan a whole day later)? What is the secret?!?

This is a story about kale

So tonight for dinner, I again returned to the Budget Bytes well and made fish sticks. Yum. I also read this thing today on Salon about kale chips. Kale chips seemed like an appropriate side dish to fish sticks.

I made them both and it was a good dinner and I put some kale chips away for snacking later on. Well...about 5 minutes later I busted that container open and finished off the kale chips in one fell swoop. And as I was shoveling kale chips into my mouth, it occurred to me: I just craved and am gorging on a leafy green vegetable!

The magic of kale chips, ladies and gentleman. Make them, and enjoy your guiltless snacking.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Food

I'm proud of myself for actually cooking even when it's just for me. When I've cooked for one before, I, well...didn't. I had Trader Joe's around so why bother? Plus it was always hard to figure out what to do with the many, many leftovers and it seemed like a lot of effort to go through when a Lean Cuisine also gets the job done. There have been a Lean Cuisine or two in the past few weeks, but I have also made several home-cooked meals, and in VOLUME. And then eaten them day, after day, after day. And thus I have discovered the trick to cooking for one:

Make things that are good.

Then you will want to eat them over and over again! (Also, there are less dishes when you cook in bigger quantities. A key priority for me.) Easier said than done.

Here's how I have managed it: Budget Bytes. It is in my blog roll, but I have yet to extol its virtues. It. Is. Awesome. It motivates me to cook for myself because the author of the blog cooks for one too. And she will tell you which things freeze well--important bonus. And there are cost-breakdowns of each meal AND step-by-step photos. If that weren't enough, the recipes are generally spot-on, full of flavor, and hard to screw up.

In the last 2 weeks, I have made her Lentil and Sausage Stew (this one is really yummy) and Greek Chicken Stew. I have eaten them many times and still have leftovers in the freezer. Budget-friendly, that's what that is.

Also, tonight I made a very successful pasta dish from things in my pantry (it's an ice storm day here in Indiana) based off of this: http://shescookin.com/2010/08/16/pasta-with-red-chard-and-chickpeas/

I had kale instead of red chard and I didn't know how to blanch so I sauteed, but the trick of this one (besides the inclusion of feta, which makes anything good) is the little step of letting the chickpeas sit in lemon juice (recipe said zest, I used juice), thyme and olive oil for awhile. Made all the difference in the world.