Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Dreams & Goals rundown

Here is my yearly rundown on my 2013 goals:
  • Whenever I say "I never..." write it down, and by the end of the year try about 60% of what I never did before. (unfortunately I had to factory reset my phone and I lost my list of I never's and couldn't remember all of them - and then I stopped writing them, this list was as of August)
    • See a Fox
    • Eat at Red Plum (local restaurant)
    • Try Korean Food
    • Drive in NYC
    • Get divorced and remarried
    • Had a threesome/orgy
    • Smoked a cigarette
    • Tried any drugs
    • Eaten eel
    • Been to Europe
    • Buy & use canned chicken
    • Attend a show/concert/play alone
    • Have ice cream with pineapple
    • Watch any episode of any of the housewives (Beverly Hills S4 E8)
    • Tried an apricot
    • Had hot Chinese mustard
    • Played Clue Jr.
    • Been to Baltimore
    • Had lemon meringue pie
    • Used my food dehydrator
    • Saw Swiss Family Robinson
    • Saw King Kong
    • Had Whiskey
    • Float down a river in an inner tube
    • Been to the Caribbean
    • Been to an NFL game
    • Tailgated
    • Been to MetLife Stadium
    • Had a brown shelled egg
    • Had escargot
    • Had beef jerky
    • Played hand ball
    • Rode on a motorcycle
  • Be more spontaneous
  • Be in the moment more...enjoy the time when there, and stop trying to look past that time.  Enjoy the person I am with, as I might never see them again. And if I don't want to be somewhere, well, suck it up and ENJOY it anyway. 
  • Move --> moved back into apartment 7/2013
  • Spend less money on clothes than I did last year
    • 2012 - not less than $2,514.70 (I lost some Quicken data)
    • 2013 - approx $1,611.42 
  • Try 10 new foods
    1. Korean Food.  EUI Special; thinly sliced beef with vegetables in broth with stew & rice (1/4/13, see above link under I never)

    Korean Food at Don's Bogam
    2.  Panna Cotta. I went out to Park Avenue Winter for NYC restaurant week.  A very interesting combination of textures, this was cranberry and brown sugar crumbs.  It was much more flavorful than I thought it would be.
    Park Avenue Winter - Panna Cotta

    3.  Fuyu Persimmon. While at the farmer's market, I saw some things I've never seen before, and figured this would be a great opportunity to try something new.  I went with the Fuyu. It sort of looked like a tomato but smelled a little sweeter.  When I got home I googled the Fuyu to discover it was a persimmon, and ways to eat it.  One suggested peeling the skin, even thought it is a tree to mouth food.  I peeled it and sliced it in circles to see the pretty star pattern.  The fruit was soft and sweet. I actually really enjoyed it, wish I had more...but it was a $1 for the small guy...so it is one of those things I'd have to keep my eye out for in the future - I think their season is September - December.

    4. Hot Chinese MustardI don't like regular mustard, so to try this was a little difficult.  As my picture shows, I didn't enjoy it.

    5. Hot Chinese Oil - I was having dinner over my sister's house and the hot oil came up.  who liked it, who didn't.  I haven't taste that yet, so I figured why not?  I put it on my dumpling.  It was good, I enjoyed it.  

    6. Eel - the best way for me to taste eel was in sushi.  So, while I ate it, there were other flavors that distracted me, like the asparagus (that was the first time I had asparagus in a sushi roll also). 

    7. Guava - I went to a fruit stand and decided to pick up three new foods, but this was the only one I tried.  I liked the guava, but the seeds were a little hard for me.  

    8. Apricot - The apricot size, shape and feel reminded me of a small peach.  But it was sweeter, it had a really good flavor; when I was done with the apricot, I wanted more. Delicious  I hope to buy these more often...although they aren't as prevalent in the grocery store as other fruits, I had a super small selection on purchase date.

    9.  Red Snapper - I eat a bunch of fish, but I have yet to have red snapper...I thought it was time to try it.  I made it an Indian version - using turmeric, curry powder, cilantro, lime juice, Greek yogurt, etc.  The marinade was delicious - I am going to make again with chicken.  The red snapper wasn't bad...not my favorite, but I'd eat it again.

    10. Lemon Meringue Pie - I was out with a few friends and one ordered a lemon meringue pie slice.  I never had it, and I remembered my list of nevers...and figured I should grab a fork and taste a bite of her's.  I did.  I didn't like it, but then again, I am not crazy about lemons...so I had a feeling it wouldn't rise to the top of my favorites list.

    11.  Escargot - I was with Mountain Man and he suggested escargot as an appetizer.  I haven't had it, and not that I wanted to impress him, but I was all about new adventures and trying new things...so I said sure...it isn't a delicacy for no reason.  I had two on a small piece of bread.

    12. Chicken Heart - At Fogo de Chao in Rio de Janeiro, they brought the chicken hearts over a few times, finally I said I'd try it.  It was very tough and chewy.  I didn't like it.   

    13. Oysters - I tried my first oyster with Mountain Man in San Diego.  I was nervous, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I expected it to be big and chewy, but instead it was big but soft.

    14. Hominy - I tried hominy as part of a food cooking challenge.  I have to say, I liked it, I would definitely eat it again.

    15. Spam - I tried this as part of the same cooking challenge.  As soon as I cracked open the lid, it smelled like cat food.  I pan fried it and added it into brussel sprouts and whatnot...but it was disgusting. I will avoid this going forward.

  • Spend less time on Facebook
  • Get my photo taken in 5 interesting places
Dallara Indy Car Factory (6/24/13)

Yellowstone National Park (8/2013)

Christ the Redeemer (9/2013)

Iguassu Falls (9/2013)

5.  Pacific Ocean (11/19/2013)

My resolution roulette challenges:
  • Plan a monthly get together with my family friends
    • January (holiday party), February (diner), March (Applebee's & trivia), April (going away dinner), May (diner), June (Applebee's), July (March Madness party),  August (bar), September (pizzeria), October (home), November (home), December (holiday party)
  • Do 12 hours of charitable work
    • 3 hours in a soup kitchen 1/18/13
    • 2 hours tutoring with Biology 6/9/13
    • 3 hours working local carnival 6/29/13
    • 3 hours working local carnival 6/30/13
    • 4 hours working local carnival 7/2/13
    • 6 hours working local carnival 7/4/13

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

holiday traditions

In the honor of the holidays, I thought I would share some of the holiday traditions that my family had:
Christmas Eve we would go to my Grandmother’s house.  She made this delicious pepperoni bread as an appetizer while she was finishing up making dinner.  She always had several gifts for us, and it was fun to begin Christmas the night before by opening up some presents.  (now, 20 years later, my family still does Christmas Eve but we all still remember my Grandmother and her starting this tradition and honor her by making less delicious pepperoni bread)
Christmas morning after we opened our gifts, my dad would make this elaborate breakfast of eggs, bacon, home-fries, pancakes, waffles.  It was such a nice leisurely morning.  While we ate we would play a board game as a family.  Games we played included Life, Clue, Balderdash, Scattegories, Scrutineyes, Monopoly and Rummy 500.

New Year’s Eve we generally ordered Chinese food and my parents bought cherry 7-up and filled up a champagne glass for us to toast the New Year.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

virtual date: mystery box cooking challenge

For my second virtual date, I thought it would be fun to show off our cooking skill and creativity.

I asked 25 people to name a single food/ingredient, for the most part these people did not know what other people selected.  I wrote down the items in order received and when I thought there was enough, I shared the number with my date, and told him he could eliminate a few to pick the numbers from 1 - 25.  Having him eliminate random ingredients was a good idea, because over the course of the few hours of collecting items, ideas were forming in my head about what to make...but then when something was eliminated, that changed things.  Brought it back up to a level playing field.

This is what was given:
  1. onion
  2. hot peppers
  3. cumin
  4. cilantro
  5. basil
  6. hominy
  7. sausage
  8. apple
  9. ginger
  10. spam
  11. bacon
  12. asparagus
  13. jicama
  14. shrimp
  15. brussel sprouts
  16. bell peppers
  17. capers
  18. pretzels
  19. kale
  20. snow peas
  21. lime
  22. quinoa
  23. mozzarella
  24. raisins
  25. cabbage
At the selected time, we have 60 minutes to prep and prepare a dinner using a minimum of 13 ingredients.  We can use very basic extras like salt, pepper, oil, butter, etc.  

There are a lot of green in there...I hope I can get creative enough to pull something off...that is edible.  My goal is one main dish and two sides.  We'll see how it goes.

I cut up half the apple and put it in the food processor, I mixed in juice from the lime and added part of the hot pepper.  I marinated the shrimp in this marinade and closer to the end time, I sauteed the shrimp and added the kale and cut snow peas.

The brussel sprouts were the most work.  I chopped them up quite fine and sauteed them in some olive oil and a smidgen of garlic.  I cooked 2 strips of bacon and some spam; once cooked/browned I added that to the brussel sprouts.  I stirred in raisins and topped with broken pretzels.

The hominy I sauteed with olive oil.  I cooked the hot sausage through and cut into small pieces.  I mixed the sausage into the hominy and added cut up asparagus.  I wasn't sure if the hominy should have stayed in the balls...or blended, so I put more into the food processor and mixed the extra hominy into the rest.  It tasted good, but didn't look good, so I thought maybe I could try to make it into a patty/cake, so back into the frying pan it went.  However, it didn't stay in a patty/cake, when I attempted to flip it, it fell apart.

I did not use the capers, cumin or mozzarella.

When 54 minutes passed, my meal was done.  It didn't take that long to cook it all...but I wanted to be sure my food was hot when 60 minutes was over.  It all tasted good....well, except for the spam. I probably shouldn't have bothered, but I figured I never used it or tasted it before, why not try it?

My completed meal

My competitor, did not finish in the time allowed, he apparently was a little distracted by household work. He did not use hominy, spam or brussel sprouts.  What I appreciated was the whole time, he was enthusiastic about this idea for a date and his meal looked good too.
his completed meal

Sunday, December 15, 2013

virtual date: dinner and a movie

Most relationships start with dating - the time when you get to know the other person.  However, when you are talking to someone a few states away...that makes dating a little harder.

After all our talking, I decided to ask Mountain Man if he'd like to have a virtual date with me...dinner and a movie.   We'd eat the same thing and watch the same movie at the same time.  He was intrigued.

On Saturday evening, we each ordered Chinese food and we watched Dead Man Down.  We hit play at the same time, and tried to pause when we had to get up so we'd finish about the same time.

During the movie there were a few texts, but nothing crazy, "what a first date!", an "ooohhh, wow, I didn't expect that" or "...answer to your question at minute 37:18".

The concept of dinner and a movie was good.  With the time difference, I ate dinner a bit later than normal. Unfortunately, somehow we kept getting out of sync with the movie. At one point I was on pause for 20 minutes when he caught up....then at the end he managed to get 15 minutes behind me. I am not sure how that kept happening, I know he had to rewind a few seconds here or there to hear a line better.

When the movie was over he called me and we talked about the movie and if we liked it or not.  We both enjoyed the movie quite a bit.

Not sure how to gauge if the date was successful.  I enjoyed the movie and chatting with him.  Do I feel like I know him better because of it? No.  But, by sharing an event I feel somehow closer to him, in the sense that he isn't so far away. If anything we are building a really nice friendship.

Friday, December 13, 2013

bad timing: data

I couldn't wait for tonight so I can transfer my external hard drive to a new 2TB one that I just purchased for only $70, a black Friday deal.  I was going to be really nice and use the old one to backup my parents computer so it was all in one spot, as opposed to on all those small USBs.  

I plug in the old one and my computer doesn't recognize anything as being plugged in. I unplug, re-plug, change the wire, everything.  Nothing works.

That is 10 years of documents and pictures...sure I have most of the pictures on snapfish, but that isn't ideal.

How many backups do we need to ensure we don't lose stuff?  

Maybe I can get lucky and find someone to fix it, but when my computer crashed a few years ago...no one could retrieve anything...sure it is different, but, I am not too hopeful.  

So, I (probably) lost data and now I am not a good daughter backing up the parent's computer.  Well, I could buy another one.

I guess that is the kind of luck I've been having this month.  Hopefully it gets better :)

And maybe it is a sign...maybe losing the last ten years of my digital life was meant to happen - let go of the past to move on.  I hesitate to think that is the case because many of my pictures were travels where I healed and learned more about myself as well as gained comfort and confidence in being alone and traveling alone.  But the past is the past...and my future is just starting.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

misleading advertising

I was on the United Airlines website and found a flight I wanted.  I clicked it to begin the checkout process and then I saw that I could save $50 if I apply for the United credit card.  I figured, why not...I travel.  I'd love to save $50 off this overpriced airfare and get extra miles...even better.

I clicked the link and filled out the application.  In seconds I discover I was approved.  I go back to the United website to finish my purchase, and it won't go through.  The flight was put on hold, so I tried again the next morning.  I called United to explain to them that I can't purchase this flight with the new credit card - while I didn't have the card, it shows in my account.  They tell me I need the card code on the back and it must be activated, therefore I have to pay with another card if I want the flight.  I attempt to explain to the customer service rep that I signed up for the card so I can get the $50 off...it defeats the whole point if I have to pay with another card.  I talked to her supervisor to explain, and she too said that another card is needed.  I told them that the adversiement is misleading..that I can not get the $50 off that flight because any flight would not work until after you get the card, which could take up to two week - and I read the Get Details.  If that was the case...I wouldn't have applied for the card.  I asked because of the misleading advertising and now all this time on hold, if they can just discount my airfare by the $50 and I'd give them a credit card over the phone.  No, they claim they can't change the price.  42 minutes...I didn't get anywhere.

I called the United credit card company to ask them to stop the credit card application, but they said they can not do that. I told them I no longer wanted the card because I was not able to use it to purchase my ticket.  They didn't care.  I have to wait until I get the card and then call them back.

I know I am not a special frequent flier, I am just a regular person.  But I want all of you to beware of this advertising.  Sure...the deal is correct $50 off your first (and only) statement...so that credit does NOT roll over to other months.  You'd have to consciously one day say, hey, I want an airline credit card, let me do this now, a few weeks before I book a flight.  Then once you get it, then sure, you get your $50 statement credit.

I did end up purchasing the flight anyway because it was the best time/date/price combination I was able to find in the two week period.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

my invisibility cloak

How many women spend about an hour in Dick's Sporting Goods, in the hunting section and then wandering around...and not one man speaks to her?  

Sometimes I wonder if men just assume I am taken...and why shouldn't I be? I am decent looking and sweet and of that age to not be single.  

So when I got home from the store and other errands, I spent some time feeling my body to see if I had on an invisibility cloak...that would explain a lot.