Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Merry Xmas

Merry Late Christmas to all!

Well, now that it's past the big day I can share what we got as gifts. Trevor & I split the cost of a 52" LCD Flatscreen tv. And while the frugal Fanny in me feels uncomfortable with such a big purchase, it's very long overdue and it's something we'll enjoy many hours of entertainment from.

I pulled his Aunt Deborah from the hat, so I got her a nice Nike workout outfit that coordinated together. (Matchy matchy is so 80's. You want to coordinate.) Trevor pulled Susan, but since we haven't seen her I have no idea if she opened her gift anytime recently. Other than that we didn't stress too much about gifts. I got my mother many Vichy products and I got my father a shot glass set because, would you ever believe it? He actually asked for one. I think he's going to use it for this vile tasting "medicine" composed of little more than what looks like bark, leaves, wood, and random dried plant type things fermented in vodka. I try not to question Eastern medicine, but having tasted it I can categorically say that it tastes horrible, which of course means it'll cure just about anything that ails you.

We spent Xmas up in Massachusetts with Trevor's family inclusive of Chowder the wonder Labrador. Well, perhaps not so wonderous since he's 11 years old, but he's a sweetheart and patient enough to allow Trevor to dress him up in an old teeshirt to make sure he didn't shed all over my car.

Ugh, the eating was insane. I don't even want to think about how full I was and now I look forward to New Years, which I guess we're spending again, up in Massachusetts since cousin Alex lives up there and Trevor, Devin & I are invited to spend it with him and his pals. I have no idea about any details because...well there probably aren't any yet. I don't even know where we'll be staying overnight but I do have Monday and Tuesday off from work so I'm not even going to think about it.

I do hope to fit in some time with my own family since my cousin Duc & his wife are in CT and will clearly expect to see me at some point. I don't think I've seen them in like 3 years at least because they've never met my Trevor. My mother is also asking I make her a triffle. She likes the yellow cake one with some sort of fruit, pudding, cool whip and bananas best. She's not a sweets person so when she requests a dessert to be made, she's serious about it. I also haven't seen hide nor hair of Kim in weeks so I'd like to eventually see that girl and make sure she's still alive.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pre-Christmas Prep

Happy Almost Christmas. I spent my day baking, which is pretty normal for me anyway, but I typically don't bake more than one thing but having Christmas on the horizon I decided to go all out.

I made a cheesecake, since I still have some remnants of cheesecake desire from my prior visit to The Cheesecake Factory. I just made a plain one because I couldn't decide on a flavored one and I'd hate to make an already rich dessert even richer. And I made biscotti for my mom because she loves it. I made butter shortcake cookies because I have a soft spot for that buttery richness.

And in a final moment I decided I also wanted some peanut butter oatmeal cookies. I don't even like peanut butter, but when mixed with other things, as long as I don't have that mouth full of goo feeling I don't find it half bad.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup of flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup of oatmeal

Like just about every other cookie recipe in all time, cream all the wet ingredients together. Mix all dry ingredients together and then mix both of them together. Bake at 350 for like 15 minutes. Be sure to not overcook.

It truly is addictive, even if you're like me and don't like peanut butter.

I'm also half considering making a tiramisu because I typically make one for all special occasions. It's my thing. But I don't know if people will really find it in their bellies to eat like 4 dozen cookies, a cheesecake AND a tiramisu.

It's easy to over-do it during the holidays and I'm partially to blame since I want to bake everything. I love baking. I can't say I'm the best baker of all time but I do truly enjoy it.

For real food I made chicken lo mein with onion, scallion, and broccoli. I was thinking about har gow dumplings but that's really more of a mid-day type meal.

Unfortunately I have to work tomorrow, but hopefully I'll get a good amount done since no one else will be working and therefore I'll have less people bugging me. ;) I wrapped most of our gifts. I think we went a little overboard still considering that I really thought that picking names out of the hat thing was meant to make our lives easier, but I feel like we bought just as much stuff as we did last year. Liza and Devin were of the mind that while we each pulled just one name that we should still get "small" presents for everyone else, more as a gesture so that everyone had things to open on Christmas day.

So after I get out of work tomorrow we'll pack up our things, gifts, food and doggy. (Yes, Chowder is visiting us for the holiday, and yes he's shedding all over the place already and making himself at home.) And then we'll be on our way out the door to hang out with Devin Christmas Eve. I then hear tell that we'll have many people over on Christmas day for a big meal and present exchanging. I also took the day after Christmas off just to wind down and do any present exchanging I might end up needing to do, though hopefully I won't have anything to exchange.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Cheesecake Factory

I'm the last person in the world to talk about work because...ugh...work is boring. I talk about work like 40 hours a week, and that's probably 40 hours too many. lol But I have to say that my manager Sean is really nice. He took the whole team out to a holiday lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. And he let us out of work at 11am only to return around 1:30pm after enjoying a very long relaxing lunch. Of course, the downside was that I still had 8 hours of work awaiting me at my desk and at least half a dozen "fires" to put out. Ugh. :-P But focusing on the positive, lunch was very nice and although I'm very friendly with all my coworkers anyway it was refreshing to not be chit chatting about work.

I've been to the Cheesecake Factory one other time. It seems to be a very popular establishment since even at 11:30 there was a line out the door. "Really? On a random Tuesday?" Yes. Apparently people go buck wild over gigantic portions of food and calorie laden dairy based desserts. I'm not going to lie, it was good. I just can't quite understand the big fuss about it. Perhaps because it's new to us. The best part of the meal was the cheesecake, which I didn't even eat until I came home because I had at least 4 bites too many of my Spicy Crispy Beef which was a bit too...orange. I wasn't even hungry for my usual 3 p.m. piece of fruit. I got the Chocolate Coconut Cheesecake, which had a chocolate crust and creamy coconut filling with chocolate chunks floating in it and a layer of coconut flake.

Personally, I'm quite fond of coconut desserts. There's something exotic and extra-creamy about coconut that's very enjoyable but I find the actual coconut flakes to be a bit chewy.

I don't think I'd ever say it's my favorite new restaurant but I guess it's another new spot among the tons of other chain restaurants that a person could hit up.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Party Dress....Excell-ent!

If you can't tell by my masterful spelling up there, my title is meant to be pronounced a la Wayne's World's cliche "Party time! Excell-ent!"I've been sort of hush-hush about my whole wedding planning thing. To be fair, I haven't done very much recently because I've been much more concerned about the holidays and because I'm almost at the point where I want to get married tomorrow just to get it over with. lol

But, Liza, Trevor's mother and my soon to be mother-in-law, bought me a little black party dress as a late birthday gift. Unfortunately for me it was a bit too large for my willowy frame and they had no similar dresses at my local mall for me to exchange it for. But I had Friday off and spent it with my parents shopping, so with a bit of help from my mom, I found a replacement dress.

Now, I don't find little party dresses to be a particularly good investment since I usually only ever wear them one time, but I imagine that I'll need to arm myself with many a fancy dress as my wedding gets closer and I want to look my best for the forthcoming showers, bachelorette outings, and rehearsal dinner...etc. I am nothing if not overly prepared for special occasions. In normal life I'm okay with pulling together any old thing, but for holidays, weddings, birthdays, and anything I consider an "occasion" I think it's important to look your best. I don't think it's imperative to break the bank but any occasion where people think it's be a good idea to take pictures for posterity warrants at least an extra bit of lip gloss.

I really still have my heart set on a steel gray dress because I think that's the new hotness. Grey is the new black.

Today I braved the mini mall to pick up a few small presents because after asking around it sounded like everyone was buying everyone else at least a little something, even if they didn't pull that person's name. Personally I thought the entire purpose of drawing names was to avoid having to buy a million gifts, but I don't want to be the odd man out so I went out into the world to find some small "I didn't forget you" gifts.

In the off chance anyone I purchased gifts for will be reading this I'll refrain from any gift related details, but Kohls was a mad house with the line wrapping around the store for check out. Some minivan thing hit some other person's Civic backing out of their spot so there was glass on the ground and the Civic's passenger side back door was all pressed in. And the giant mounds of snow certainly didn't help visibility any. So after that I ran to the strip mall for a few small, stocking stuffer type gifts and then I rolled around the parking lot very slowly trying to find a spot near the Linens 'n Things because my dad specifically asked for a gift that I knew they sold there. After that I was no longer interested in shopping and just came home. I wanted to go to the mall, but after experiencing more frustration than I'm apt to, it was time to call it a day and just get off the roads because everything everywhere was congested with people trying to finish their Christmas shopping too.

I did however remember to fill up my gas tank because, of course, it will be inclement weather again tomorrow. The forecast calls for snow and sleet and is probably half the reason it was so horrific out shopping today; everyone's trying to squeeze it in before getting snowed in. As such I have no plans except to do laundry and wrap presents tomorrow. I think we have more than enough food to last us and while I haven't been told I need to bring anything for Christmas, I usually make a tiramisu and I have all the appropriate ingredients in case the need arise. Otherwise I'm obliged to make my mom my cranberry biscotti, because she loves them and it seems the older I get the less apt she'll be to bake things on her own because she'll know I'll do it for her. lol

There's only 10 days left until Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

French Dip, ooh la la

Whew...it's stormy out there.

I was let out of work early today because of the snow, only to spend an hour driving about 15 miles back home. I'd complain more, but clearly I got home safe and sound and no harm was done. lol

I'm spending tomorrow with the folks because they also have the day off, plus they have an SUV so we can ever so slightly more easily get around town. Nothing against my Mazda, but it's not exactly made for snow. And since Trevor and mine mutual present is in stock at the store we bought it at I'll need my dad's help to pick it up. We talked about it and decided to share the expense of a "big ticket" present in lieu of buying one another small presents. I know it kind of goes against our whole saving-money-for-our-wedding thing, but I'll be excited to have a fancy present.

I'm actually a little sad I have to take time off from work because I've been swamped, but if I don't use my time it'll go away forever. :-P On the bright side I'm almost done with my holiday shopping. On the not so bright side, I treated myself to a cashmere scarf today because almost all the scarves I've been gifted have a tendency to shed all over my clothes and therefore are relegated to the back of my closet. One day I'll have to clean house because I'm sure I have too many things I don't use.

I've been too pooped to cook a lot. I did however make a very easy slow-cooker French Dip. Take a big block of beef. It's better to use a good cut, but I had some bottom round in my freezer for apparently an eternity so I threw that in. I think it was about 3lbs. I rubbed it with french onion soup mix and let it sit overnight. You don't have to, but I always throw on the slow-cooker in the morning before I go to work so it's convenient for me to prep the night before. Throw two cans of beef broth in your crock pot along with one can/bottle of beer, 2 bay leaves. Keep it on low and by the time you get home you'll be greeted with lovely warm smells. I fish out the meat, which by this point is tender and breaks apart very easily, and slice it into smaller more sandwich friendly bits and toss back into the crock pot for it to absorb that natural au jus. Toast up some nice bread with cheese, layer on your meats and ladle out a cup of au jus on the side.

If so motivated you can also take your au jus and turn it into a lovely (and incredibly hearty) French Onion Soup.

I cooked a lot last weekend, but nothing terribly complicated. I made some banana bread muffins, gyoza potsticker dumplings for Trevor and Kahlua cake. Kahlua cake was really good but anything with kahlua will inevitably be tasty. I used the "tres leches cake" approach, which basically means I took a cake mix, baked up a devils food cake and poked holes into it that I then poured my kahlua filled goodness on top of so it absorbed into the cake. I think this is how those fancy pants bakers make such moist cakes. It's best after a day of sitting.

Gyoza wasn't terribly complicated either because I got some pre-fab gyoza wrappers and followed the manufacturer's recipe on the back of it. lol I had to make my own filling, but it was very straightforward and I had all the ingredients on hand. Trevor loves gyoza. I remember when we were in Japan he insisted that was one of the foods we had to have. I love pretty much any food that's individually wrapped and bite sized.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Kappys Run

Happy December!

It's crazy how fast it all runs by. I took Friday off because I've acquired PTO that I never used and will have to use before the end of the year. My beloved Trevor also took the day off so we had a little daytime adventure of doing our semi-annual run to Kappy's, a liquor store chain in Massachusetts. I had never heard of Kappy's before Trevor, but it's a chain and I'd liken it to the most Walmart-like Liquor store I know of. In our neck of the woods you cannot purchase wine or spirits from your grocery store so you have to go to a liquor, or as we call it, "Package Store." And yes, if you walk into a package store and expect to be able to send a package they'll know you're not from around here.

Colloquialisms aside, Kappy's is Trevor's favorite package store because they're quite large and therefore sell at a slight discount to their smaller mom and pop competitors. Hard Alcohol is always sold at a high markup, so any discount is an appreciated one. Not like Trevor and I drink a lot because we don't. We simply like to have mixed drinks, and to be able to make a variety of mix drinks you have to have a large variety of spirits to mix up. I don't know how much we have off the top of my head, but I'd argue that we have over a dozen bottles of spirits at our disposal. So if you want a Surfer on Acid, a Sex on the Beach, a Sand in your shorts, a Mudslide, or an Amaretto sour, we should be able to accommodate you as a guest of ours.

There are two Kappy's stores in Springfield, MA. It's kind of a hassle for us to go to though because it's not readily accessible via highway and Trevor decided it would also be a fantastic excuse to go and get some Papa John's Pizza because there are none around us. I personally only get excited about pizza when it's brick oven, but Trevor has a soft spot for Papa Johns and their garlic dipping sauce, which I'd liken to a liquidy butter garlic mixture. In any case, it was very good, but I'm sure that having not eaten anything until 2pm also made it that much more delicious.

After our adventures in Springfield, getting a little disoriented on the confusing and bumpy roads we watched Ocean's 13 back at home, which wasn't horrible but wasn't anywhere near as good as the other ones. And then I was off to spend some time with Kim whom I never seem to spend any one on one time with anymore since she works so much and then the rest of her free time is spent on the town. So we had a brief dinner at TGIFridays, chatted with Amanda and Kim's old manager Mike who work there. Kim thought the bartender was cute so she left him her phone number on the check. lol We then walked around the mall for a bit before everything started shutting down and went home to drink because we obviously restocked our bar and it seemed silly to not have a guest over to share it with.

I also already gave Kim her Christmas Present, not because I'm an impatient looney who can't remember when Christmas is, but because she kept talking about buying herself a new phone with an MP3 player and I actually purchased her an MP3 player and didn't want her to inadvertently end up spending more money on a fancier music phone when she wouldn't have to. I also got her the cutest little 2 Gig flash based clip-on MP3 player by Sansa and thought it was perfect for her active lifestyle and her gyming needs. It's teeny tiny, like the new IPod Shuffle, except I don't like IPods very much. I think they're fancy and all, but that you need to use their proprietary software is really wildly lame and inconvenient for me. Plus you can't take the music off your IPod and put it back on your computer, like if your system should crash. It's all for the sake of protecting music from being pirated, and I get that, but it's really annoying to not be able to simply drag and drop your music in and out.

Other than that it'd been a pretty chill weekend. Grocery shopping aside, it's been pretty much spent in front of the tv. I'm actually one of those weirdos that really like grocery shopping. I much prefer doing it in the middle of the week though so it's not as busy, but I still like wandering up and down the aisles, smelling the bread out of the bakery, looking at all the different frozen foods and mulling over the 80 million kinds of coffee available. I like wandering the Asian Grocery store too, but I usually go with Trevor and his patience runs very short with me so I need to have a list ready so I can run and get what I want quickly.

I think I'll probably make a trip out next week since I have another Friday off and I'm slowly running low on Rice and Rice Noodles. And I keep on forgetting to buy dried mushrooms every time I'm there because in the back of my head I want to make some hot and sour soup but you need to have asian dried mushrooms for that.

I also just updated my online wedding registry this morning because I realized that I had some cookware related envy after watching the Food Network, and even if no one buys it for me it's a good way to remember what I wanted after the fact. Plus I always end up getting giftcards from my credit card rewards program and I like using them on kitchen things.

Kim said she was having some difficulty figuring out what to get me on a budget. I always tell people they don't have to get me anything fancy, but I realize it's hard to narrow down the field to what I'd like. So for the sake of ease I figured out a handful of general (you don't need my size for), items for gifting.
  1. 1" or 1 1/2" Barrel Curling Iron, preferably ceramic. I somehow broke the curling iron I have.
  2. One of those deep wave-curling irons. They look pretty fancy with their multiple barrels.
  3. Apron. For all the cooking I do I actually do not own a single apron.
  4. A thick fuzzy long robe. I'd never buy one for myself but I think it'd be nice to have for cold mornings. Preferrably in white or pink (to go with my piggy slippers).
  5. Nice, slim isotoner type gloves. All the gloves I have are bulky and hard to drive in.
  6. See gift registry for other more specific gifts for kitchen/home.
  7. Giftcards

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The singles and the engaged

Congrats to Jeff & Jill on their recent engagement!

Slowly but surely all the friends are getting married. Shaun and Joe beat us all, but the rest of us are getting there too.

In other relationship news, though not quite as exciting unfortunately, Kim and her live-in boyfriend Ryan have broken up. I put off posting about it though in hopes that they'd work it out. Particularly since they live together and still share a bedroom I thought it was inevitable that they'd kiss and make up but a week has passed so far and nothing's been happening. I still sort of hope that they'll re-kindle their flame, but the heart wants what it wants and if they can manage living together without an awful lot of awkwardness then I guess being apart isn't the end of the world either.

All of Kim's friends are single and quite ready to mingle. lol Kim lives with Anya, Anya's friends with Viki, Viki's friends with Dianna...and so on and so on. So, usually I'd be concerned about Kim being lonely but she seems to be in good company. She's got girls to hang out with and they all share a common goal of meeting eligible young men. I loved being single and crazy with Kim, but I'm practically a married woman now and I just don't have it in me anymore go out every weekend until 2-3 in the morning.

Kim has also given up on being a Mary Kay lady and is now going to be a Lia Sophia rep. I didn't even know what the heck Lia Sophia was, but apparently it's costume jewelry. I don't really wear costume jewelry but at least these folks don't make Kim carry an inventory like Mary Kay did. I find it to be a bit of a scam that the MK reps were the ones having to spend all their money to even get the pleasure of selling beauty products that might I add, always change and always have different limited editions so then if you're a rep you have to constantly buy this new inventory and then sell your old stuff at a discount to get rid of it. If you'd like some discounted beauty products from Mary Kay though, you should hit up Kim for some now because she's liquidating her inventory.

I'm not terribly big on these "parties" where they turn the screws on you to make a purchase even though everything is ridiculously overpriced. For the cost of buying some Tastefully Simple I could go to an organic natural foods store and actually get healthful food. I admit their stuff is quite tasty, but not worth spending a weeks worth of grocery money on a few accouterments full of sugar and salt.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Birthday, Kelly

Happy Birthday to me :)

I spent my morning at the mall with my parents. I bought a blouse at Express and my mom bought me a cute mini blazer and magenta tank top as a birthday gift to me...that I picked out. I didn't attempt to try and buy any kind of electronics today for fear of being totally trampled. I can't think of anything I need anyhow since I bought myself a digital camera last November, Trevor got me a mp3 player last February and I just bought this laptop this past summer before we went to Japan. Apart from my annoying Razr phone I can't think of anything else I'd like to upgrade but even that will be coming on it's 2 year renewal in January.

The food today was fantastic. Mom made a fantastic turkey and Chinese stir-fry with shrimp, squid, carrots, celery, napa cabbage and mushrooms. I just made the sides. Mashed potatoes, stuffing with cranberry, corn with chopped onions and baked sweet potatoes. Oh, and the cranberry bread, but by the end everyone was too full to partake of any because we overfilled ourselves with the fantastic turkey and gravy.

Trevor will be eating leftovers, but before I went on my cereal-for-lunch diet I would always like to concoct fun alternatives for turkey leftovers. My favorite being Turkey Salad Sandwiches because I personally do not like regular turkey sandwiches. It's a Chicken Salad except with turkey. It's even better with a pinch of toasted curry...but I'm a flavor addict and everything could stand to have some more spice.

Tonight I've promised to go out with Kim for some dessert and drinks on the town. I have already had 2 glasses of sparkling wine and a shot glass worth of Japanese Plum wine so I don't think that I'll be able to hold much more celebratory drinking for today. lol As I get older it's less and less a big deal to celebrate my birthday, but I do like to spend it with my parents because they actually remember the day that I was born and it's much more nostalgic for them that their baby is turning 25. I hope that eventually when I have babies that they'll remember me on their birthdays.

Now, 25 will be a very big year for me since it'll be the first year that I will be a Missus. It's quite momentous for me. I think that if I were to by some chance have been proposed to any earlier in my life that I wouldn't have been mentally and emotionally ready to settle down. And 25 is still quite young. In my school girl dreams I never thought I'd realistically get married before 27.

Update: We went out to Maximum Capacity in Chicopee where Anya works. It was pretty busy but fun. It's been literally a year or more since I've gone out dancing in lieu of swaying at the bar while sipping drinks. We all shook our booties out on the dance floor and it really reminded me of being 18 and going out dancing at Husky Blues at UConn. (They played "Closer" by Next "Pony" by Ginuwine, and "All about the Benjamins"...etc.) And because we were sweating out on the dance floor I didn't feel half as "boozey." Of course, I also felt my age because I was pooped around 12:30; I'm not used to dancing for hours and hours at a time anymore. But it was a lot of fun. I personally like dancing significantly more than being a barfly.

I bought Kim an xmas gift today so I might have some difficulty waiting for Christmas to give it to her. I can't help it; I'm a horrible keeper of presents because I want people to enjoy their gifts as soon as possible.

Speaking of gifts, I got a book about 2Gether from Emily!! Now, if you don't know about 2Gether you simply haven't lived in the early 2000's. I loved their horrible corny parody of the boyband phenomenon tv show. They also have a horrible made for tv movie by the same name. If you like horrible corny moves, a la Spice World, I would suggest it as a fluffy way to enjoy an hour or so of time.

My beloved got me 2 private dance lessons because I've been one of the millions who are riveted to "Dancing with the Stars" and I mentioned some passing interest in taking a dance class before our wedding so we could have a nice 1st dance. Trevor is clearly a keeper. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Greetings

Happy Thanksgiving!

Trevor & I have come back from our dinner with his family & I'm quite full. It was what I'd consider a normal standard Thanksgiving with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls and apple pie. I also brought some Pistachio Cream Puffs. Though they were not as...puffy as I'd like I can still say they tasted good and everyone seemed to be of the same mind that it still came out tasty. It was a very jovial time, though sadly Candice and Uncle Kevin were feeling under the weather.

Devin is also going to be hopping on a flight out early tomorrow morning because he works in retail and he couldn't get Black Friday off. So sadly he will not be available to spend my birthday with me, but there are plenty enough birthdays for that later.

I spent yesterday in the kitchen for hours getting the pie and puffs done. Along with that I also made a cranberry walnut bread for my mother who is a sweet bread fan. So my apartment was full of lovely smells all evening long as different desserts came in and out of the oven.

Tomorrow is to be spent with my parents. Like most people I love my parents. I think I have a very close relationship with them and it's important to me to spend time with them whenever possible. Particularly as I get older I become more empathetic to what they went through raising me and all the hard work they had to do. I might not have ever gone to Disneyland or been gifted a Barbie Dream House, but I ended up just fine. I personally don't have anything in mind to shop for this Black Friday, but I've committed myself to running out in the crowds with my mom and dad and it should be a good time.

I do want to get Kim her present. Trevor & I have promised to just get each other small gifts in lieu of splurging (as we tend to do) since we could better use that money towards our wedding. And as much as I love Trevor-given presents I'm probably the last person who needs a gift since I have multiples of everything I'm fond of. Well...other than Trevor. I just have one of him ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving plans

Happy almost Turkey day!

I am spending Thanksgiving day with Trevor's family, minus his mom who has volunteered herself to nurse her recently-out-of-surgery boyfriend Dino back to health. But Trevor's Aunt Christine was nice enough to take on the role after Liza had other obligations. I've been volunteered by Trevor to bring dessert, so I'll probably bring my Caramel Apple Pie since I've yet to perfect any Pumpkin Pie recipes.

I like pumpkin pie, but unlike many other pies I don't know if I'd be willing to eat a whole one by myself so I've yet to be motivated to make one. My mom and dad aren't big fans so I couldn't even pawn off some slices on them, like I usually do.

I like turkey, but what I really like best are side dishes like garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, candied sweet potatoes, corn and stuffing. I'm a side dish fan much more than turkey, but I do appreciate exotic leftovers made out of turkey, like turkey burritos, turkey stew, turkey pot pie, and my personal favorite, turkey salad sandwiches. Imagine chicken salad except replace the chicken with turkey. It tastes pretty much the same depending on what you put into it. Oh, and you could go the way of Bridget Jones' Diary and have a Curry Turkey buffet ;)

Tomorrow I'll start working on my desserts because I'd hate to rush around Thursday morning. I think they're aiming to head over to Thanksgiving festivities around noon so I'll need to get everything done by then. I have Friday off from work too so though I don't reckon I'll be one of those crazy people camping out in front of Walmart for a $20 discount off of a DVD player I will probably be hitting the mall at some point. I do have $10 of Express birthday money to use :)

Oh right, Friday's my 25th Birthday. I don't have any plans for it persay, but I do want to spend it with Kim and my beloved Trevor. Devin will be in town as well for the holiday so perhaps we can all hang out somewhere and chat over a round of drinks. I'd say we could go out and eat but I'm obliged to have a 2nd Thanksgiving/Birthday dinner with my parents who birthed and raised me and I won't have room in my belly after two consecutive Thanksgiving dinners for another dinner. (ugh)

I'm quite a fan of eating but I'd rather spread it out than try to do it all in one day. I'd hate to ruin all the progress I've made eating healthy with a giant ridiculous binge. And if I were to binge I'd like to do so by eating things I love like asian dumplings, sushi, korean bbq, and a rich beautiful tiramisu. =)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

S'mores Pie and a Girls night out

So somewhat against my better instincts I went out yesterday evening with Kim and the girls. Not that I don't think all the girls are fun because I think they're a very nice and outgoing bunch; I just didn't have a terribly good feeling about going out...call it a gut feeling.

I'll start by saying that I'll keep this as un-gossipy as possible because otherwise it would take forever to recount.

Ryan got in a car accident that same evening and Kim was a bit miffed at him so she wasn't starting on a terrible positive note. Anya was mad at some guy about something (I forgot his name, but I do remember her screaming on her cell phone about how much she hated him). For a while everyone was lost. Martha and Kim had to fetch Martha's credit card from The Salty Dog because she forgot to close out her tab. They then were not re-let into Fat Cat's because it was so late and they weren't letting in any new patrons so they hung out outside for a while freezing their butts off. Anya wandered her way to the Pour House and we lost her for a while before she came back to Fat Cats. Vicki met some dude with a Paisley shirt and she was lost for a little while while Kim and I waited, and waited for her to decide to part ways with him.

For me, since I neither wandered off nor lost my credit card I spent a lot of time anxiously waiting for everyone to come back and hoping no one was lost.

Apart from that it was fun, but all the drama really overshadowed things by the end. But to be positive, everyone was safe, to my knowledge no one got sick, and apart from Ryan no one got into an accident. (And to be fair, the accident he got in was his own fault since he knew his brakes were starting to go.)

Now I'm pooped, but happy to be at home, warm and lazy. And after everything, even though we didn't do anything special today it was nice to be in Trevor's company. I feel recharged and balanced when he's around me. Even after years together I find great relief just being around him and I miss him terribly when we're apart.

I'm planning on a S'mores Pie tonight. Now I haven't made it but I hope it ends up tasting like s'mores.

I've started with a graham cracker crust and filled with a chocolate pudding filling. And on top I'll sprinkle marshmallows and broil on high until it turns brown on top, but not so long the pudding gets all icky. If so motivated I'll drizzle with melted chocolate and top with some Cool Whip. I don't cook like this all the time, but I've been staring at an opened baggie of graham crackers and half a bag of mini marshmallows and wanted to use them all up. Plus Trevor will be having some of his friends over and I figure it's always nice as a guest to be fed something. Mind you, they're all boys so they don't have high expectations of good housekeeping and hostessing.

We'll see how that works, but if people in the world can make Baked Alaska I can broil some sugar laden marshmallows without too much trouble. :)

Update: S'mores Pie was a great success, or at least all the boys were very kind and ate very happily. In any case, it turned out very nice. I liked the unexpected crunch the toasted marshmallows formed. I didn't bother with topping with more chocolate or whipped topping since it was already super rich from the pudding, which I made with half milk and half light cream and squeezed in a few tablespoons of extra Hershey's syrup to the pudding mix to perk it up. I also sprinkled some pecans in the bottom of my crust to give it more texture.

Dinner was some corn starch marinated chicken breast strips. My mother is a great advocate of the fact that corn starch will soften up meats. Salt, pepper and some leftover Sun Dried Tomato Pesto found themselves into the mix and stir fried on high heat with garlic until a rich brown crust formed. Mixed with some diced grape tomatoes and kale stir fried with olive oil and a very light touch of balsamic vinegar. Seasoned with a pinch of salt and served with cubes of mozzarella cheese I had leftover from Salmon Lasagna Roll-ups Saturday night.

I'm a chef that checks out the contents of her fridge and then out of necessity comes up with a meal out of all the flavors that I can get to compliment each other. Kale came from the too-big head I had leftover from my Zuppa Toscana and Grape Tomatoes are a house favorite. They make a lovely healthy snack along with baby carrots and I find them to be less apt to get mushy when I keep them in my fridge for too long...which is often.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Keep Rollin' Rollin' Rollin...

I saw Kim yesterday because she was super excited about her new car.

Yes, she got a new car. Now, I haven't experienced any mechanical problems with my Mazda at all, and it's over 2 years old, but Kim seems to have constantly experienced issues with hers including her airbag light going on unnecessarily, a weird humming noise, 2 accidents, and many, many lost hubcaps. The icing on the cake was that she was having issues going in Reverse, which meant around $2,000 to repair the transmission. Mind you, the car is under 3 years old.

So instead she decided to trade that car in and get a new one, and this time a white Scion TC, 2 door coupe. Now, I have to say that it's very cute and sporty looking and of course it's got the brand new shiny car appeal. She went for an upgraded version with a spoiler, rims (not hubcaps), and a bazillion airbags. As can be expected, Kim is beyond the moon with excitement. We celebrated by taking a spin in her new ride and going to Springfield to have a drink and chat. It's been a long time since it's just been her and I chatting without other girls or boyfriends or fiances being around and I really missed that.

I almost want for a new car too, but while I'd love to have my very own Lexus I also hate paying for stuff. To be entirely blunt about it, I don't care to make a car payment. I haven't made one in well over a year and I don't particularly miss it. That money is much better used elsewhere, I promise.

In other, sheisty news I would recommend to any prospective brides to be wary of what they sign up for at a bridal fair. I think in particular because you care so much about your wedding and your perfect day and everything being perfect and magical that it can be easy to forget to simply watch your back. Plus it's an environment where everyone else is doing it so you often feel "what's the harm?" I didn't sign up for a lot, but each thing I signed up for called me. Every single last one said that I was a lucky winner and "aren't you excited?" like a million times, which while terribly annoying is also indicative of creepy behavior and I knew enough to decline. Unfortunately I can see people falling for this kind of sleazy pitch in hopes that they'll have a wonderful vacation.

Great Vacation Destination/Blue Green was really creepy, sleazy sounding. When someone has to pitch you and hype you up 3-4 times about what you're winning and then slip in the fact they need your credit card number it totally reeks of bad business. In short, don't make a brash decision before discussing it with a loved one or researching your options online. If you win anything, you should win it outright and not have to jump through any kind of hoops or pay any kinds of fees to get it. This should sound like common sense, but I think it's hard to keep your wits about you when you think that you're special.

Not to say that people don't win prizes...just that it's quite rare and they'll never ask anything of you apart from maybe a few promotional pictures to show off their wares.

You don't have to take my word on it, but my coworker Liz who also went to a bridal fair and signed up for way more stuff than I did is regretting it after numerous solicitors have been calling her home after 9pm looking to talk her into "free" china sets for going to a cooking demonstration (better known as a high pressure sales pitch for sub par pots and pans). So needless to say Liz isn't a fan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fried Rice

I'm surprised that as I get older things I never thought I'd like I eventually change my mind about.

For example I have recently decided that I like Perrier Mineral water. I haven't ever liked mineral water before because it's always had a weird aftertaste but I gave it a go and actually find it to be very refreshing. Growing up my dad used to make me lemonade or limeade (depending on what we had on hand) but instead of water he'd use seltzer water so it had great fizz.

And I've spent literally most of my life avoiding apples because it's given me a bad itchy reaction but suddenly I've been very apt to slicing one open into 8 slices and snacking on it with Trevor after dinner.

Now, as a continuation of my last post, fried rice is a perennial favorite. Even the pickiest of eaters will usually be more than happy to have some of my fried rice. Trevor in particular seems very fond of it when either I or my mother whip some up for him. Since I learn from the best I can say that simplicity is the key to great fried rice. Also...a need to clean out a lot of random ingredients from your fridge.

Fried Rice
5 cups or so of cooked rice, preferably day old
4 Chinese sausages cooked and diced
1 whole onion diced
2-3 garlic cloves diced
1 baggie of frozen veggies (peas, corn, carrots...)
1 handful of cooked diced shrimp

Really you can fill your rice with whatever you want, but I'm most apt to put Chinese sausage because I usually have some on hand. It's very yummy but I understand not everyone carries it in their fridge for these kind of occasions. If by some chance you have roast pork hanging around, by all means make yourself some pork fried rice. I made some before but I can't say there are ever leftovers (even though I cooked up at least 3lbs of pork!)

Saute your garlic and onion in the biggest cooking vessel you got with some olive oil. If by chance you have a wok, all the better. I then add in a tablespoon of butter and let it cook until everything turns a light brown color. Add your rice and shake it around while you season. You don't need anything too exotic, just salt, pepper, sugar and a dash of soy sauce. You can feel free to throw in some other herbs and spices you like. I would recommend Chinese 5 Spice. It will make a popping noise while you stir-fry everything together. Since it can be quite a bit of rice you can do it in shifts and shake everything together in a big mixing bowl after the fact. Add in your frozen veggies, sausage and shrimp. And if you're like me you can throw everything in for a second fry to make sure it's consistently well seasoned throughout and has a nice color.

You can add any number of ingredients you have on hand. I've added chopped jalapeƱos for spice and chopped cilantro for garnish in the past. And I can guarantee there's no MSG in my fried rice. :) It's always nice to feel that you're eating something healthy, and it's nice for kids because they just dig in to all those little veggies. If it's cut small enough usually only the pickiest of eaters with bother trying to dig them out.

I'm already getting a little nervous about kids since I will inevitably be having some of my own. I don't feel the loud ticking of my internal clock yet but I do want very much to feed my kids like my mom fed me because it gave me an opportunity to appreciate all kinds of flavors at a young age and it probably helped keep me open-minded as I got older. My mom never catered to a "kid's menu" and just fed me whatever anyone else was eating. She tempered back on chili peppers when I was young but that didn't mean they didn't exist on the menu. You simply get used to it as you become exposed to it over time and now I love spicy food. I read somewhere you have to expose a child to a food 10 times before writing it off as a lost cause because children will always initially be cautious. So don't give up too soon! I think the last thing anyone wants to do is raise a horribly picky eater that only wants candy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bridesmaid dresses!!! And Zuppa

I got my cousin Suong her bridesmaid gown via mail and it's soooo adorable. I'm probably more excited about it than she is. It's so chic and simple, though I worry a little that in spite of the fact I got her a double zero petite (yes, they make such a size) that it's probably going to be a tad roomy for her. Emily and Nini are down with getting their dresses too. The lone standout right now is Kim.

Not like I think she's intentionally holding out out of spite; she's having a bit of a tough stretch right now having maxed out her credit cards and having some car issues so bridesmaid dress isn't high on her priority list. I guess if she ends up paying full price for a bridesmaids gown in the same color as the other girls that's no big deal to me but I'd much rather her simply buy it now since I've gone through so much trolling around the internet for good prices.

And I finally met up with Amanda this past week! We had dinner at TGIFridays and caught up since I hadn't talked to her since around the time I got engaged and even then I never saw her and she hadn't seen my ring. Can you believe? There's a person in the world who hasn't been forced to eyeball my engagement ring? It's crazy. It was nice to see her. I don't think it'll be like it used to be with us constantly hanging out and gossiping but I miss her being in my life and I hope that we make it a better practice to make time for each other.

I had a very...cooking-ful weekend again. I was invited to go out on the town on Friday evening but I was content to stay in and watch a movie with Trevor. Sometimes, in spite of the fact that we live together we need to take some time to reconnect. It's easy to take advantage of the fact that someone is physically right there and forget to emotionally be there too.

I made some Zuppa Toscana a la Olive Garden. I like their Pasta Fagioli too and have made some once, but I think Zuppa Toscana is more satisfying and meaty. I have some food related issues that I inherited from my mother. When I like something I usually want to attempt to make it. She did that my whole life, sometimes with great success and sometimes it was less than spectacular but nonetheless she always loved being a recipe copycat.

So....Kelly's version of Zuppa Toscana:
-1lb of pork sausage
-3-4 potatoes cleaned and diced
-2 cloves of garlic
-2 cans of chicken broth
-1 can of evaporated milk
-1/2lb of kale
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-Bacon crumbles (optional)

Smush up and saute your sausage in a big pot. I get the sausage in a tube from the refrigerated meats area. It's usually cheaper and you don't have to cut the casings. I use my dutch oven for the whole dish, which in spite of it's name is just a big pot and not actually an oven. Try to break up your sausage, the smaller the better since you're making soup. It gets pretty greasy so I always let it cool down and put it through a strainer. It also makes me feel slightly healthier since I'm at least attempting to healthy it up.

Use the same greasy dutch oven and turn on the heat. Throw in your garlic and your potatoes. You don't have to, but I like to let the potatoes sit with the garlic for a while and get some color from the heat. Then throw in your sausage chunks and stir until everything looks good. You can then dump in the contents of all your liquid filled cans. If you're more well prepared than me you will have made your own chicken stock. Since I was lazy I used the canned stuff though I suggest NOT using fresh dairy because it's very easy to curdle up if you overheat your soup, which I'm actually very apt to do. I don't know what they do to evaporated milk but it will not separate and look all nasty if you decide to reheat your soup in the microwave 2 days later. Simmer on low for at least 20 minutes to get your potatoes nice and soft.

I eyeball all my ingredients to Zuppa Toscana. Sometimes I put too much potato. Sometimes there's way too much sausage...but it always tastes good. Now if you like it slightly thicker you can fish out a few pieces of potato and go at it with a fork until it resembles mashed potatoes. If you reincorporate it with your soup it'll ever so slightly thicken it up without taking away any flavor or risking any cornstarch clumps (I can never quite stir fast enough).

Wash and chop your kale. Kale's a lot like collards in that you eat them cooked. I don't think anyone would decide to eat kale raw like lettuce. I add it just before serving, but if you are feeding a crowd just throw in handfuls and watch it all wilt in your pot. Kale reminds me of a sturdy version of spinach, and the closer you put it in to serving time the prettier and greener it'll be in your bowl. I garnished with some chopped reduced sodium bacon I had sitting in my freezer not being eaten since I never make a big breakfast anymore. (For those of you rolling your eyes, I have to say I think the less-salty bacon is yummier than the regular stuff which I can't bear to eat too much of.)

I also made fried rice but I'll save my feelings about that for another post...I don't want to rant forever :)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What a Navel Idea

I decided to take out my navel ring. I know that doesn't seem like a terribly big deal, but since I've had my navel pierced since January of 2001, it's been almost 7 years and I think it's only natural that you start to think of it as an extension of yourself.

I mostly took it out because it started to feel really thin, like the bar was slowly pulling it's way out. And I'm at a point in my life where it's no big deal anymore. I'm hardly walking around in tiny tops and eventually I was planning on taking it out anyhow. (I don't think anyone wants to see a big bulbous pregnant belly trying to hold on to a tiny little piercing.) It's only been about two days and I'm actually surprised that it's healing so quickly. I imagine that in a few months you won't even notice anything was there to begin with.

I'm also excited about my new purse. I got a little Calvin Klein shoulder bag since the one Trevor got me has become worn at the strap and I was nervous about it snapping. It's a pretty camel colored leather bag. Mmm...leather. I know Coach is seemingly the king of moderately high priced purses of the mass market mall crowd, but I'm over cloth purses (for now) because they always get easily stained and worn and for the price I'd simply rather get another brand. Say what you will, but Calvin Klein is timeless, understated elegance and as I get older I get less interested in fads. One day I dream of having a beautiful lambskin Chanel purse.

Emily and my cousin Suong have purchased their bridesmaid dresses so I'm just awaiting Kim and Nini hopping on board too. In particular I should keep tabs on Ms. Nini since she's so much harder to keep in touch with, but she's all the way on the West Coast and I always forget to call her. I know 3 of the 4 girls seem to all be on board for the same dress so Ni is the lone standout, but since she's outnumbered I think she'll be bullied into it anyhow lol

Kim, Vicki and Anya are going out tonight and have invited me along but it's so dreary out. Part of me just wants to stay at home and cook. I'm not going to lie, I have far and away too much food in my home and I need to start cooking before my veggies go bad. The things that concern me are pretty tame these days, but I love to cook and when it's cold it's all the more enjoyable because it warms up the whole house.

Tonight I'm thinking about pizza. And by pizza I mean I'll use store bought dough, spin it the best I can to a nice thin crust and cover it with yummy toppings for my Trevor. It'll be a good excuse for me to turn on the oven and maybe I'll throw in a few brownies for good measure. I'm incredibly fond of hot baked goods fresh out of the oven. My favorite way of making brownies is throwing them into my cupcake tin so I don't have to slice them in the pan. It's good for portion control too because it's already thought out for you.

Update: I kept forgetting to do this before, but here's my jack-o-lantern...of sorts.

He's my Jack-o-Pin Head.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bridal stuff

Unfortunately the Bridal Fair was a snooze fest. It was small so there wasn't anything to keep us busy for more than 30 minutes but on the bright side I got to spend time with Trevor away from our apartment and away from his computer. Next time I probably won't drag Trevor along and I'll probably just drop in towards the end.

In semi-wedding related news I got my attendants gifts in the mail. :) I just got gifts for my bridesmaids and I know...I know...it's way too early for that, but I wanted to make sure that I could get 4 of the same thing. If you wait too long and try to shop bargains you'll never be able to get four of a kind of anything and if you do it'll be wildly lame.

Speaking of bridesmaids, Emily went down and tried on the bridesmaid dress I liked since she's closer to good merchants in NYC than I am in CT. And she even took a picture with her camera phone for me to see :) What a great friend, huh? I won't post it though because the dress they had didn't fit her very well and it wasn't in petite so it was way too long however she'll be able to order the right size online.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shopping Memories

It's been a sleepy rainy day for me.

I don't like to complain about real life too much (mostly because I don't like hearing other people do it) but after working 4 1/2 hours of overtime in addition to my normal 40 hours I felt a little overextended and decided to sleep in.

Today was very uneventful. I didn't bake a single thing! I did however throw together a nice dinner of Seafood Risotto.

I'm a huge risotto fan. I think it reminds me of a mix between mashed potatoes and rice. It's creamy, but flavorful. Not just mushy overcooked rice. For 2 cups of arborio rice there were about 5-6 cups of chicken stock slowly mixed and cooked in with clams and shrimp and topped with fish. It turned out pretty well considering I'm a novice with this kind of rice. I'm much more acquainted with Jasmine rice and I could probably cook Jasmine rice in my sleep. The only thing I was missing was wine. Not being a big wine drinker I didn't have any white wine on hand to add to my risotto.

The joy of risotto though is that you can add in anything you want and make it as interesting as you please.

Other than that I bought a bunch of clothes at Aeropostale since they were taking 70% off clearance. Yup, you read that right, 70%! I have many good memories of being in college wearing Aero sweatshirts, going to the Aero box sales with Emily and she and I having the most adorable Aero teddy bears. Aeropostale came to our school campus once every semester or so and sold their wares at a discount to us poor college kids. I think we got hoodies for $15-$20, as opposed to going to the Co-op and droping $60 on a hoodie with our school name emblazoned on it. It was a good time. And I feel I get to relive a bit of that Aero fun when I go to the store and spend some dough on a great sale.

It's weird how the little things will bring on good memories.

Tomorrow I heard there is a bridal fair going on, so I'll be taking Trevor along with me in hopes of obtaining some inspiration. We still don't quite agree on centerpieces. I don't know what to do with place cards. We don't have a photographer. We have a cake idea, but I'd personally like to see it in action. And while I have part of my favors I'm not 100% sold on whether I'll give away candy or if there'll be something else better that goes with my vision. Candy's good, but I'm not much of a candy eater so I'm not excited about buying pounds of it. Maybe there's something new, cool and chic I haven't thought of yet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Almond Pie Crust

It's taken a few tries, but I have finally figured out how to make a pie crust that is tasty, tender, flakey and practically fool proof!

Now, I don't consider myself a great pie-chef. In fact, I often leave pie crust on the plate because it's not my favorite part of the whole pie experience, but with a few tweaks it's actually quite yummy.
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 tsp almond extract (or any complimentary extract to our filling
Mix, or sift together the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. I don't think it makes too much of a difference. Try your best to mix in the shortening until it's crumbly. I personally like to cut up the shortening first into tiny bits before mixing. Slowly add in water and almond extract until it all comes together into a ball.

And this is the greatest trick for dough I never thought of. Tear a big piece of wax paper and place it on your counter and dislodge your dough onto the wax paper. The wax paper makes it less apt to stick, but you'll still want to dust it with flour a bit so you don't stick to your rolling pin. I had a little trouble keeping the wax paper from not slip sliding all over my counter, but once it was all rolled out nice and thin it was a breeze to get it into the pie plate.

I place the pie plate upside down on top of the rolled out dough and slide to the edge of the table. Support the dough & plate with your hands and flip the whole thing over. Press the dough down into the plate and peel the wax paper off. Voila! Perfect pie crust with no cracks.

Now just cut off the loose ends and flute the edges so everything is pretty. I then toss the whole thing in the fridge while I'm preparing the filling. You really want to keep it cold and not to overwork the dough, but that's all there is to it. I personally like the addition of extract so the dough, even on it's own has flavor and substance. I think it'd also be really great to mix in really chopped up nuts to add some crunch.

And now you're probably wondering what I filled my pie crust with, huh? Well since I bought pounds and pounds of apples at the store I decided on a Caramel Walnut Apple Pie. And instead of a second crust on top, I put together an oatmeal crunch topping like you'd find on an apple crisp. Yes, I know it's decadent sounding but it actually came out perfect and just sweet enough.

Mmm...warm apple pie.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jen's Goodbye Get-Together

I'm a self-described shut-in.

I'm busy enough keeping my apartment ship-shape, spending time with my fiance, cooking our meals, running errands, going to work full time, sneaking in time for my family and planning my wedding. I simply haven't made it a priority to go out and party and do the things I used to do when I was single. Overall I lead a very simple, but fulfilling life and I wouldn't have it any other way. The only downside is that I spend significantly less time with Kim than I did before when our lives were less structured.

She works a ton of hours in an attempt to dig herself out of debt. I entirely commend her efforts; it's never too late to take an aggressive stance and take control of your life before you feel defeated by debt and limitations that it puts on you. I think Kim realized that she needed to be more proactive in order to achieve some of her long-term goals like getting a new car, buying a home, getting married...etc.

But this Saturday Kim set aside time out of her already confusingly jam packed schedule to have a little going-away get together for her friend Jen from college who is moving to Washington D.C. next week. Having not seen Kim in the better part of a month I agreed to tag along, and us girls with Vicki and her friend Martha got together. First the girls watched the Red Sox game. I'm not a baseball fan so I just chatted. Much later on we hit the town and went to The Salty Dog in Springfield.

I'm not a huge Springfield nightlife fan, but it was fun. We had a few drinks and then Vicki wanted to go to Fat Cat's across the street. It was packed and we had to wait in line but then Jen realized she lost her cell phone and Kim took her back to The Salty Dog in an attempt to try and find it. Meanwhile we inched towards the front of the line, but the door-people refused to let Kim and Jen cut the line and made them wait at the back. They did in fact find Jen's phone since some guys had picked it up and were trying to locate Jen to give it back to her. Meanwhile, the rest of us are inside and I run into some of my old co-workers, Tony and Glenn. They have both since left the company in favor of other positions at other insurance/accounting type businesses. In any case, Tony bought Glenn & I a round of Jager-bombs; it was really sick. In any case I was just playing catch up with Glenn and talking about being engaged and life and work. After our drinks I had to re-find my friends so I wandered up and down the very crowded bar, got into a semi-open place and dug in my purse for my cell phone. Kim had texted me that she was at The Salty Dog again because the line was too long to get into Fat Cat's. So I run across the street back to The Salty Dog and find Vicki and Martha (they were probably outside smoking since I couldn't find them inside Fat Cat's) and then we scoop up Kim and Jen and were on our way out because it was closing time.

Kim was unusually plastered and begged for food. We went to a diner and Kim unfortunately spent most of our meal in the bathroom. By that time it was late; well after 2am and Trevor called to make sure I was okay, which I felt I was, though apparently I sounded very drunk too. Vicki got a massage from some 40-something guy at the table next to ours that decided to make fast friends. We boxed up Kim's uneaten breakfast (I stole a sip of her coffee) and we were on our way back to Kim's home to drop that girl into her bed, which I might add she was more than happy to be in because she didn't even bother to say goodnight to anyone.

Trevor, being a thoughtful amazing person, picked me up so I wouldn't drive and I got into bed around 4 after talking to Trevor, having a bottle of water and winding down. I woke up tired, but other than a sore throat from yelling didn't experience anything more painful as a result of my night on the town. I had fun. I guess I'm a little surprised I had fun because it's been so long since I've gone out and I've sort of lost my desire to fight for parking, have weird guys hit on me and then negotiate the city at night trying to find the right offramp to get home.

Not to say I'll make it a regular habit to go out on the town; I do have to save my drink money in favor of using it towards my wedding, but I think that it was nice to be around so many other girls. I spend so much time with Trevor and I think part of me forgot what it was like to just have girl time, get prettied up and have fun. I think most women need to have excuses to get dressed up and smear on some lipgloss.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Motown Philly back again


Trevor & I went to Philadelphia this weekend to visit his brother Devin. I actually haven't ever visited Devin in Philly, and Trevor had promised to help Devin with some computer building issues he had anyway so we took the opportunity to drive down this past weekend. We went down after work on Friday.

It took a few delays before we actually made it out of the apartment for once and for all. I think Trevor was so nervous about traffic that it entirely slipped his mind to make sure everything else was ship-shape first. I just assumed he took care of everything since my parents always made it a point to walk circles around the house before they left, to make sure the stove was off, the garbage was taken out, the thermostat wasn't on high...etc. I suppose I just thought that it was common sense and that Trevor had taken care of it since he kept on bugging me to hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry up.

But we still got to Philly just fine. We played on Devin's Wii (which was pretty cool) went out to eat a lot. Devin's living bachelor style so even if we wanted to eat in we couldn't because there was nothing but water in the fridge. I brought some samoas with me, and by samoas I mean the cookies that girl scouts sell every year and not the stereotypically large boned people of the same name.

I can't admit that I made everything from scratch because I was simply too lazy. I bought the shortcake cookies with chocolate drizzle they sell at every grocery store and I topped them with a caramel mixture from my stove top and flaked toasted coconut on top. I think it's really all about the combination of caramel and coconut that pulls the cookie together and makes it so decadent, but since girl scouts only sell their cookies once a year I figured it couldn't hurt to try and emulate them and it was very tasty. Unfortunately the caramel makes it very sticky so the cookies couldn't help but become stuck to each other and form what I can only describe as one giant super samoa.

We walked around Philly a bit the next day. We walked up the iconic steps where Rocky ran up during the movie. We had peking duck with steamed buns (which I love) among a seemingly endless family-special for lunch that included at least 2 other entrees. And we finished off by having Philly cheese steaks for dinner. Trevor helped Devin put together a desktop computer since his laptop is on it's last legs. I watched many episodes of wedding related programming and rested my weary feet.

Sunday we had sushi because Trevor couldn't survive without sushi at least once a week. And shortly thereafter we started on our trek home. Unfortunately we ran into some traffic so we didn't get home until 9pm and we were a tad grumpy and a lot tired. We were exhausted from the drive back and forth, plus driving through the East Coast is incredibly confusing and congested.

So since I was away all weekend I didn't cook, though I've already whipped up some Nem Nuong Vietnamese meatball mixture for tomorrow and I just finished baking up some bread pudding with some leftover stale raisin bread I couldn't finish eating last week. Drizzle that with a little fat-free caramel sauce I got for apples and it's really good. Bread pudding is far too humble a name for a food so rich and creamy.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Mei Tzu Restaurant Review

Mei Tzu in 4 Prospect Hill Road, East Windsor CT.

Trevor and I had sushi there on Sunday after realizing that Oishi was closed that evening. So perhaps we didn't start off on the best foot since we wanted something else.

I got the fried dumplings and fried shrimp tempura. The tempura was way over-battered and the oil seemed to have lingering aroma. It didn't taste bad but I had the feeling the oil was tainted by something they fried beforehand, like fish or some other seafood. It was all cooked but it was just too thickly battered up so you could hardly taste the shrimp. Good tempura should have a very light crisp coating and not mask whatever food it's encasing.

The dumplings I had were pretty good, but a tad too gingery. On the other hand, I got a very generous portion of 8 fried dumplings instead of the usual 4 or 5.

Trevor had sushi because he can't go to a new place and not have the sushi. It was mediocre. I'd say 2 1/2 out of 4 stars for the overall experience. It wasn't Oyama-bad, it just wasn't satisfying. Trevor was particularly upset that the soy sauce they served was all sweetened. There wasn't a bottle of regular, non adulterated soy sauce available anywhere in the dining room and Trevor had to ask specifically for regular soy sauce from the kitchen. The rice was really glutinous and chewy. It was beautifully plated, but it wasn't good enough to warrant going back for. They do however also serve a number of Chinese and Thai dishes we did not try. If we go back we'll probably be having Chinese instead.

The tendency for Chinese-Japanese restaurants is that the Japanese food is 2nd fiddle to the Chinese fare. The owners are always Chinese and I think they have a small Japanese offering just to satisfy an under-represented market of Japanese food. If they can mark-up some fish and rice to $5 a roll and get away with it, they're just walking away with nothing but profit. I'm sure that they see it as a great way to line their pockets with pretty minimal input. The unfortunate result however is that there is a lot of pretty horrific sushi on the market that happens to thrive because many people don't know good sushi from bad.

I'm really not some sort of crazy gourmet. I'm actually only picky about Asian food. I probably couldn't complain at length about American food because I don't really have a lot to compare it to. I've eaten my mom's Asian food since I was a baby and she mashed up my baby food in the food processor whereas my American food exposure comes from pre-packaged food, eating out and eating over at other peoples' homes.

In my mind I still kind of think all American people eat stuff that's fried, covered in cheese, covered in chili, covered in gravy, doused in ketchup or equivalent tomato based sauce and/or smeared with butter.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Oyama Restaurant Enfield CT Part 2

Restaurant Review time!!!

Oyama, Enfield CT. We went back last weekend because Trevor wanted to give them a 2nd chance. Our first experience was particularly horrible, but perhaps their hot food would be better. Hot food has a tendency to be easier to throw together than sushi which is entirely dependent on a good fish distributor. They had hibachi grills set up and we thought that at least we could be entertained with an interesting chef.

The first thing that hit me was how expensive it was. The menu listed one price, but once the bill came each entree came up being a few bucks more each. For around $20 an entree, it's pretty steep. I had the salmon and Trevor went for the steak.

We had to wait around 10 minutes for a chef to come and start tossing food around. When you're at a restaurant with nothing to look at it feels like an eternity. Soup and salad came. Soup was pretty much just water and 4 paper thin mushroom slices; it was probably the sorriest excuse for soup I've ever had. The salad was supposed to have ginger dressing on it, but it ended up having a mayonnaise creamy tang to it, which was weird and gross. The waitress we had was again brash, unfriendly and seemingly uninterested in even working that night. It took at least 10 minutes before I got a refill.

Then the chef came. He was mildly amusing, but certainly didn't blow our socks off. He set some fires, made a few jokes, juggled his utensils...but he didn't do a lot of it. And he didn't toss anything into anyone's mouth. The rice was...rice with onion, soy sauce and sake. It had flavor from the soy sauce but it was pretty lackluster for fried rice. Then there were noodles that were prepared almost exactly the same way with the same sauces. I was aching for some more color. It was all beige and brown food so far apart from the gross mayo-laced salad.

My salmon was pretty good but I could certainly do better at home any day. Trevor's steak was much better, but the portion was pretty small. The veggies were okay too, but again after being let down all meal long I don't suppose anything could have taken that meal and made it better. The other couple at our table agreed with us about all the food too so really, I'm not just being a giant snob about Japanese food.

In short, don't go to Oyama for food. If you want to go and buy an overpriced beer be my guest, but do not actually consume their food. It's got another branch in Cromwell, but if this restaurant is any indication of the quality of food or service then I suggest running in the opposite direction and doing so as quickly as possible. The quality of their food is a distant afterthought and you'd be better served simply saving your money.

Since any skill-less chef can stir-fry up some meat, rice and noodles with some teriyaki sauce, I'm going to have to give Oyama 1 star for complete lack of even the most basic of food preparation ability.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Duck Duck...

I also have this innate Asian mentality of showing my love with food. So I want to make food, and I want to feed my loved ones to show how much I care about them. I don't know a single Asian woman that doesn't want to make sure all of her loved ones are well fed. I guess it's just part of one's desire to nurture.

I made some Chinese BBQ Pork on Wednesday (just the meat part of the recipe; I didn't have the patience to make the dumpling dough) and it was really good. I wouldn't say it's like the Char Siu you'd get at the Asian market with the pink-y sauce but still very savory and moist.

Trevor insisted on having some duck this year so I brought home a duck and we baked it with some of his favorite teriyaki sauce on each side and then finished it with some time on the grill. I can't say duck is terribly healthy for you, but I think it's important to indulge yourself once and so often so you don't feel like you're just a robot. You should enjoy the food you put into your belly. As a side I sliced up some eggplant and lightly pan fried with garlic, some red onion and some duck drippings to give it some flavor. It was quite a rich but delicious meal.

I'm still very much on my cereal for lunch diet. When I'm at work all I eat for lunch is a bowl of cereal and milk. I try mix up the cereal I eat each week just so I'm not entirely uninterested in my food. I'm surprised I've kept it up for this long actually, but my parents can't stop commenting on how I'm losing weight and part of me is vain enough to keep it going for as long as I can. Plus, what could be easier than pouring some cereal and milk? Even when I'm a zombie in the morning I can put that together for myself. And that humble cereal might not seem like a lot, but it's much better than going out to buy a value meal combo at the local fast food hut. Plus the holidays will be here before you know it and the pesky weight that comes along with the holidays will follow shortly after. I guess you could say I'm bracing myself for the inevitable over indulgence come November.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ahhh my face!

I haven't threaded in a while. If by chance you aren't blessed enough to know what it is, you can read up on it right here. I have to say that I've been doing it for years and I still don't entirely like it. Long story short, it hurts a lot but it's effective and cheap and thus the reason why I do it. I probably don't do it enough, but it's hard to muster up excitement in regards to ripping out hair from your tender face.

My mom does it and through a bit of mimicry I eventually learned how to do it myself. It's simple enough in principle but it's pretty tough to get your hands to want to cooperate. In any case, I've subjected many an innocent friend, family member of loved one to threading because I think that it's the best way to rid yourself of facial hair. Unless you're a guy I don't think you should ever run a razor across your face, and I've heard too many waxing horror stories where someone's eyebrow gets accidentally taken off or they get some freaky rash because of the hot wax irritating their skin.

Yeah...I think I'll pass on that kind of traumatic experience.

I actually kind of get a kick out of hair removal. It reminds me of when Amanda, Kim & I were still really close and we tried to wax Kim's legs and dye her hair red. The hair worked out fine, but the wax was sticky and disgusting and somehow it got on all three of us. At the time we tried out Veet's wax and it sucked. Later I tried out Nair Sugar wax with Amanda and it worked like a dream. (On a side note I don't think they make it in the tubs anymore...very sad.) When it was just me and Amanda we actually were sitting on a giant plastic tarp in the middle of her kitchen so we wouldn't create quite as much as a mess as we did with Kim.

Looking back it makes me smile that we could have so much fun doing something so....un-fun together. So in my mind, it's somehow a positive activity. Plus your legs aren't half as sensitive as your face so eventually you get a high enough pain tolerance to not mind it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Veil...in the mail

I got my veil in the mail. I can't show a picture of it because Trevor might see it and although it's just a buncha fluff I don't want to ruin the surprise of what I'll look like on our wedding. But I just have to say it looks gorgeous. I never thought a bunch of fluff would make that much of a difference but when I inevitably tried it on I found that it made me look like a little angel...even with my stringy unkempt hair and nerdy-girl glasses.

I don't know what it'll look like with my gown...so I'll have to just wait and see. My wedding gown is waiting for me at my parents' house so hopefully everything looks how I imagine it in my mind. Though my wedding gown doesn't fit me in the slightest so I can't really just try it on...at least not without a good deal of assistance to keep it from falling off my body.

It's exciting. Sometimes I'm surprised at how everything is falling together.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Oishi Sushi Review

Trevor and I are self described foodies. More specifically we're Japanese foodies, so when I perused through Yahoo Local and found a Japanese establishment within 20 miles of our home it warranted trying to track it down and give it a try. Oishi does not have a website at present otherwise I'd link it up. Oishi is located at 1455 Riverdale Street,West Springfield, MA, 01089

The owner is Korean, which is a welcome change to a landscape that so far has been full of Chinese restaurateurs. I wouldn't say his menu sticks to all the traditions, but it has be best "spirit" of Japanese culture and food. It's hard to describe, but really good Japanese food is made with care and attention to detail. I feel like the owner really cares about his food and really cares about maintaining good relations with his patrons.

There's nothing wrong with Chinese restaurateurs; they just have a tendency to have terrible service. Their staff is rarely attentive or nice. I understand many of them have a language barrier, but after a few years you should be able to pick up a few bits of chit-chat.

In any case, the food at Oishi Sushi was quite good. I think the fish is fresh, everything seems to be made on premises, the non-fish also seemed very fresh, thoughtfully arranged on the plate...overall it was a nice experience. That feeling was what made it feel moreso like Japanese cuisine than any of the other places we've tried. In Japan, even the cheapest street food is prepared with the utmost care and the freshest ingredients. I was a big fan of the gyoza and udon noodles. The unagi was really buttery and good. The sushi was pretty good, but I wasn't totally in love with the rolls which were a bit more heavy on the rice than I like.

I'd still say it's better sushi rolls than: Oyama in Enfield (which totally sucks), Natori Sushi in Manchester, Sushi Ocean in Windsor Locks (also totally sucks), Iron Chef in Longmeadow, Wasabi in Milford, Higashi in Manchester, Ichiban in West Hartford and Ginza in Bloomfield (you'd think that since it won the Hartford Advocate award that it'd be good but it was a let down for me since the fish wasn't fresh).

Can you tell the search for the perfect sushi has taken us everywhere?

But I think we'll continue to go to Oishi. I'd give it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars. I'm particularly fond of their combo plates and hot foods. They have great value for what they're serving. Most of the aforementioned restaurants will do their best to shake out every last penny in your pockets and are not worth giving continued patronage. For around $30 Trevor and I are entirely stuffed with food that actually feels homemade. I'm no Rachel Ray (in fact, if I never hear "yum-o" again it'll be a great day) but that's a fantastic value for Japanese food at dinnertime. Two people can very easily spend $50-$60 when out eating Japanese.

Speaking of which, we'll be going out in a few minutes to have sushi lunch like we do every Saturday. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mom-glish

My overall wedding planning has stalled. The only vendor left to worry about would be the photographer.

Realistic Kelly knows that in twenty years or so I'm not going to care about having a ton of wedding pictures because no one ever looks at them. I've only ever seen like 2 pictures of my own parents' wedding day and I think that's plenty.

Wedding Kelly however is neurotic and wants to be sure that someone at the wedding knows how to take a picture that doesn't make me look like a cow. Plus since I've already vetoed having a videographer I know that my mother will have a heart attack if there aren't a bazillion pictures to make up for that.

I love my mother. And at face value she's a pretty cool chick, but she rules with an iron fist. I feel this is true of most every Asian momma. She has said that it's my wedding and I can do what I want, but having years of "mom-glish" under my belt I know that really means "I'd rather you do it my way, but I'm giving you lip-service because you're as stubborn as I am. Instead I'll try to slowly manipulate and guilt trip you into agreeing with me."

Not to say my mother isn't an incredibly blunt human being. Her friend Quyen got remarried a few years back. She's a few years younger than my mom, but she's an adult. She had 4 kids from her previous marriage so she wasn't exactly a spring chicken and clearly the wedding was paid for by her and her now husband. They didn't do a dinner; they chose to do passed butler finger foods as the reception. My mother was so upset by the cheapskate-ness that she actually called Quyen up not that much longer afterward to tell her how horrible it was that she would allow her guests to starve. And now, years later, my mom thinks Quyen's husband is a cheap penny pincher because she knows Quyen to be much more generous natured. The emphasis of the disdain seemed to somehow get pointed directly on his head.

So it's really important to me to throw a nice wedding because it will lorded over my head the rest of my life otherwise. And for the non-Asian kids out there, that probably seems incredibly cold-hearted and unreasonable but the entire Asian culture works that way. Why do you think there are so many stereotypical over-achieving Asian kids? It's because they want to avoid the wrath of their families.

Western families reward their kids for doing well. Asian families hold it against you if you don't do well. If you do well, you're just fulfilling your duty and honoring your family. If you're a rebel everyone talks about you, but not only do they talk about you they'll also talk about your parents because your parents should have taught you better and wrangled you in.

I'm not saying this is right or wrong. It just is. And deep down inside I don't want to dishonor my parents with a crappy wedding. Realistically I know I can't please all of the people all of the time, but I sure want to try and make them proud. If that makes me unusually neurotic I'm sorry, but after this whole thing wraps up I'll be much more normal. Of course, after we get married my parents won't stop asking when there will be grandbabies, but we'll get to that juncture later.