16 October 2007

Blog Action Day: Go GREEN!

In an attempt to spread awareness on going green, I was supposed to participate in Blog Action Day today. However, I'm a bit tired and don't really know what to post about. All I can say is that everyone should just make a bit more of an effort to be a little bit nicer to our environment. Even though it might not seem that the little you do will make a big difference, you will be setting an example to those around you. And a lot of people doing a little bit will create a big effect. Some ways to start:
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Turn off your car when idling for more than a minute.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Bring your own reusable grocery bags to the market (I use Envirosax).
  • Bring Your Own reusable utensils/mugs, rather than using disposable ones.
  • Recycle!
Oh.. and check out the Green Daily - a blog about going green, and all the wonderfully green things out there.

And one more thing... on keeping with the green theme.. my last day in DC was spent out on the National Mall at the Solar Decathlon. It was awesome, and now I totally want to build a house incorporating all the renewable energy/materials/resources and environmentally friendly products they've used in their homes. Check it out at: http://www.solardecathlon.org/



13 October 2007

tah - rah - RAH!

Today was a perfect day for apple-picking. So, what do Karen and I decide to do? Well, go apple-picking, of course. We headed out to this Virginia winery out near Leesburg called Tarara, which has wine tasting and seasonal fruit-picking. Unfortunately, when we arrived there, we saw signs telling us that there was no fruit to pick. The trees were BARE! Oh noes!

Actually, the trees weren't bare, but there weren't enough good apples left on the trees for people to want to go pick them (plus, you'd need a small ladder). Luckily for us, the nice lady who worked there said that we were welcome to walk around the orchard and pick whatever apples we wanted (for FREE!) so long as we didn't damage the branches. So, after wine tasting (for only $5) and a brief tour of their wine "cave", we walked around a bit and picked some apples. There were actually a lot of apples still left on the trees, but they were all small, and many of them were not good anymore. We brought home about ten or so. I ate one, and it tasted like an apple (surprise, surprise!). The wine that we had from Tarara was good, and the Lucille (the lady in charge of our wine tasting) gave us a good tip on how to make awesome brownies. Just replace the water in the recipe with a good dessert wine (Wild River Red, from their winery) when mixing the batter. The alcohol will cook off in the oven, and you're left with these amazing brownies. Definitely something that Karen and I are going to try. Soon. Before I leave for CA on Monday.

We got a nice buzz from the wine tasting. Now, we await a big pile of meat from Cafe Divan, and then off to Dr. Dremo's. Oh, Dr. Dremo's, you better not disappoint me. This is the last time I'll ever grace your doors.


you may call me.. MASTER!

The long awaited day has finally come.. I PASSED! Of course, officially I won't actually have my master's degree until January 31, 2008. But, it's good to know that I passed my defense and have only a couple small edits to make to my thesis before I'm completely done with all my master's work. YAY!!!

The defense went smoothly. I was super nervous the last few days, since I wasn't really sure what to expect. I did blank out a few times in my first meeting (a dry run of the presentation with my advisor and one committee member), but the actual defense went well. I think I may have rushed through it a bit, since I was done with the presentation in about 30 minutes, but everyone in attendance said that I did a good job. It's so relieving to finally be done. Now, the next relief would come from finding a job.

Wish me luck!


10 October 2007

it's not me, NYC; it's so all totally you...

Or, perhaps, I'm just not giving New York the chance it deserves. Having only been up to the city that never sleeps twice (as an adult), it could hardly know it enough to make a final decision, right? Maybe, but I don't think any future visits will change my mind. In any case, here's the recap of NYC with Karen.


6:30 am: Get up and get ready so we can catch the 7:30 am Vamoose bus to NYC.
around 1:00pm: Arrive at Vi's (Karen's brother) apartment. Leave stuff. Hop on Subway.
Afternoon: Get lamb gyros from street vendor. Walk to Central Park. Sit. Sit. People watch.
5:30 pm: Attend evening mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Afterwards, head over to H&M.
7:00 pm: Eat dinner at a diner we found passing on the street. Afterwards, head over to Liz's apartment to just hang for a little while.
8:00 pm ish: Take the tram to Roosevelt Island to see the Encampment. Get thoroughly depressed by the Encampment. Leave to hopefully get a pick-me-up at Bamn! the Automat.
later that night: Become thoroughly disappointed with the small size of Bamn! and it's small selection. Go home.
even later that night: Decide to stay in (because we're exhausted from being up at 6:30 am). Watch TV. Go to bed.


10:30 am: Dim Sum Go Go!
most of the day: Spent walking around Chinatown, the West Village, and Soho. Shopping. Present searching. People watching at Washington Square. Coffee at Joe's.
7:15 pm: Dinner at Perilla.
night time: Home. Catch up on Gossip Girl and the Next Iron Chef (which we DVR'd). Sleep.


lunch: Grand Central Terminal.
2:00 pm: Catch the Vamoose bus home.

Perhaps it's the fact that NYC is so freakin' huge, and a little bit because we didn't go out at all. But aside from that, something in my nature is just not completely comfortable in a city like NYC. It's all just too much. Too big. Too fast. Too dirty. Too intense. Just.. too much.

Now, focusing on the details of the trip... The Encampment was definitely not what I was expecting after reading about it online. And, it's probably my own fault, because I didn't read the articles thoroughly enough to actually know what the whole exhibit was about. Instead of being a fanciful art exhibit, which is what I was expecting, it was a number of small installations focusing on the history of the patient's of an old smallpox hospital (now known as Renwick Ruin) that is located on the island. Not only was it a hospital, but it was also a lunatic asylum and penitentiary. All the tents had stories about suicides, murders, people dying, etc etc. It was all very very depressing. And to top it off, they had people around the exhibit, playing depressing music on trumpets, singing creepy lullabies, adding to the depressing atmosphere of it all. If I had known, I would have never gone to see it. Made me want to slit my wrists.

On an up note, dinner at Perilla was AWESOME! Not the best meal I've ever had, but it was still delicious. We even had a brief siting of Harold Dieterle (winner of Top Chef Season 1 - Perilla is the restaurant he opened as a result of his winning) - or at least the back of his head and a bit of his glasses. The entire experience was wonderful.

Maybe someday, I'll return to New York, and do it the way it's supposed to be done (out till 4am, sleep till past noon), but I get the feeling New York doesn't like me either. Only time can tell, I suppose.


26 September 2007

Comparisons in the IST-iverse

DCist is totally better than LAist, in my opinion. Check it out for youself:

DCist vs. LAist

25 September 2007

This OLD House

I don't know if this house will every be clean and organized. I started with my room. It's clean, newly painted, and lovely (just missing curtains - luckily for me my window faces a wall). So far, the room is still clean, just a little messy on my desk because I don't have anywhere, yet, to hang my necklaces and earrings. Next was bathroom #1 and the living room. The living room was pretty easy because, although there's a lot of stuff in the room, it's all stuff that more or less belong there. The hard part about cleaning the living room is dusting and getting all the cobwebs in the corners and on the ceiling. I did the best I could, and then left the hardest to reach cobwebs for another day. Bathroom #1, on the otherhand, took most of the day, and still isn't completely done. The problem was that there was just so much stuff hidden away under the sink, in the drawers, etc. My mom and I went through everything and threw out a lot of stuff (old make-up, lotion, perfume, etc. etc.). Now, all the little storage areas are all organized and clean, but there's still all my mom's hair accessories that she needs to sort through and toss out (or keep or something). The plumber finally came yesterday (or rather, my dad finally called the plumber to come yesterday), and he fixed the clogged drain in the shower/tub. My mom installed a new shower head (YAY!). I still need to bleach the tub (which I am not looking forward to) and then it should be set.

Today, I decided to attach the formal dining room and the linen closet. The linen closet took most of the day. I pulled everything out of the linen closet and had to sort through all of the bed sheets and towels and pillow cases and table clothes and everything. For now, it's very clean and organized, but knowing my family, I'll be lucky if that lasts a week. I am now a pro at folding fitted bed sheets, though. Those are always the hardest to fold because of the elastic and that stuff, but I think I've gotten pretty good at it. As to the dining room... that's still a bit of a mess. However, I'm not really sure where to put everything that's in there. I think what needs to be cleaned first is my mom's little office area in the kitchen/dining room. Then I'll know where to put her scout stuff that's sitting in the formal dining room. Oh.. that and I also need to clean out the garage (oh dear.. the garage! I just want it to disappear.) and the patio (which also just needs to disappear). I almost want to rent a storage unit temporarily just so I can throw all the stuff going off to charity into it, and then once it's all full (and out of the house), I can call Goodwill or Salvation Army or whatever other charity organization does pickups, and tell them to just take everything from the garage. ::le sigh:: I hate this part about being home.

I still haven't touched a cooking utensil or pot or pan since I've been home. Perhaps I should get around to that. I talked to my mom yesterday (briefly) about how I want to cook, but I'm not yet comfortable cooking at home (especially with my grandmother there - harassing me). She said she'd be more comfortable with me cooking than my grandma, since my grandma always makes a huge mess when she cooks and often forgets the stove on. My mom is also tired of eating the same sort of Vietnamese food every night. She'd welcome a change, as would my dad, and my sister. So.. perhaps not this week, but next, I will start cooking again.

Ah.. and Tran is still miserably sad. You know.. This is the longest I've been home in California for a while. It's strange, knowing that I'm here for an indefinite period of time, having to call this place home "where I live" home, and not just home "where I grew up" home. And, of course, I love being home, but I just really want to go back to Virginia. I suppose it will just take time to adjust back to this place. And the whole "I need a job" thing will all fall into place, and everything will be fine. I hope. My life seems so boring at home. I've got nothing going for me here. I hate waiting and not knowing and .. just.. everything.

Ugh. I think I need to end this here, before it gets any more depressing (and before it depresses me anymore). Ok.. I'm out.


16 September 2007

Good-bye Virginia: Part 2 - .. in which Tran gripes about California

My last few days in VA/DC were fun. Here's the short version:
  • Thesis is finished. Defense scheduled for Oct. 12 at 10am at NASA LaRC
  • National Cathedral was AWESOME! I've been inspired to learn to take better photographs so I can go back and get some good pictures of the stained glass windows.
  • Charity Date Auction went really well. Karen was bought by Lucas for $575 (highest bid! w00t!)
  • Spent some time at the National Gallery East Building. Jasper Johns lithium prints are on display, and I finally got to see the Matisse cut-outs in the tower.
  • Crittercam exhibit at the National Geographic Building Exhibiton Hall is really cool. Everyone should go check it out.
  • Dinner with everyone on Thursday was great, and we had delicious desserts from Harris Teeter.
  • Friday, Karen and I were supposed to go have sushi at Kanpai!, but they were really busy. So we went down to the sushi place by the Metro instead.
  • Now.. I'm back in California.

I've never been so sad to be back home before. And then, never so aggravated at what a mess this place is. I'm trying to clean old stuff out of my room, so that I can paint it and make it seem like a 23-year-old adult lives there, rather than a 10-year-old kid, but I find myself torn at what to toss and what to keep. I mean, there's stuff in there that's been sitting in boxes for years without seeing the light of day. Should I keep this stuff because of the memories they have (which are weak, at best)? Or should I just toss this stuff to get rid of the clutter, since they're obviously not THAT important? Shoud I keep the "Congratulations!" cards that I got when I graduated from college? From high school? Or should I toss all that stuff out since I will never look at them again anyway? Will it matter ten or twenty years from now, when I have kids and I'm telling them stories about my life, that I don't have old letters and pins and souvenirs to show them? At what point does an old collection or hobby become useless and just a waste of space? I've only been home a day, and I already can't stand my room. I've pulled all sorts of things off bookshelves, out of closets, out of drawers. And it just seems like there's this never-ending abyss of junk that I keep pulling stuff from. It's rather aggravating.

California, itself, is alright. I haven't seen anyone yet. Right now, mom and dad are off doing scout stuff (attending ceremonies and celebrations). Anni is at work. Khiem and Peter are supposed to be coming over to hang out around lunch time. So, I'm just sitting at home. Dreading going back into my room to face the mess. And at the same time.. wishing it would all just disappear. I have so much to do while I'm home in terms of getting this place in order, and all I want to do is leave. YIKES! It such a mess here. I don't know how they can stand it.

Oh.. my computer can't hook up to the internet, until I figure out where the router is. So.. will post up pictures of my final week in VA/DC soon.


04 September 2007

Good-bye Virginia: Part 1

At this moment, I am in a state of limbo. In betweens homes - "Good bye Hampton. Hello California!". At the end of my educational career (if this thesis ever gets finished and defended). Single (technically, but not emotionally). And in whatever other states of limbo you want to insert -->here<--.

These last few weeks on the East coast should be eventful. Anni was visiting for a couple weeks. We went to Busch Gardens, got our nails done, went to Colonial Williamsburg. . . and then she spent a week inside because I had to go to work and didn't have a car to leave with her. Off to DC! The last weekend of her vacation was eventful, and made up for her week stuck inside. We went cell phone hunting (because I had washed mine a few days earlier and needed a new one). We went to the National Museum for the American Indians. We went to Georgetown. We went to the National Aquarium (and would never go back). We went to the first annual Rockville Wine Festival. And we sat out in front of the Capitol Building to listen to the NSO. It was very nice. Now she's off, back home to California, where people are missing her and ecstatic that she'll finally be home.

As for me, I've finished the latest draft of my thesis this morning, meeting with AC tomorrow to discuss some questions that I had with it. Hopefully just a couple more minor edits, and then I'll be able to submit and schedule a defense date. And hopefully that defense date will be some time in early October, so Karen and I can spend Columbus Day Weekend in NYC! The rest of my stay in DC should be nice, since I'm going to try to get as much east coast friend time in before I leave as possible. Let's see. Hair appt on Thursday. Going to check out the Washington National Cathedral sometime next week (probably Monday). Watch Karen get sold to the highest bidder at a Charity Date Auction next Wednesday. Finishing my thesis in between these times, and probably working on the presentation as well.

Then back to California I go. I'm excited to be going back. I haven't been back to California since Easter, and I really miss all my friends and family out there. Of course, I'll miss the friends that I've made here as well, but since I'm in career limbo, I might be back. I would like to be back if it weren't for the heartbreak I would have to endure again in December. I suppose explanations may be in order, but I'd rather not give them. I'll just leave it at this. Ours was a break-up of circumstances and not because one of us wronged the other.

Anyway, I think that's enough for now. I'm watching 28 Days Later, and can't afford any distractions. Till next time.


22 August 2007

so the COUNTDOWN begins...

It's been a while since I've had anything to write about. Partly because I've been concerned with finishing my thesis. Partly because my life is (on a whole) pretty boring. In any case, the countdown has begun for Tran's homecoming! 9 days till I'm out of my current residence. 24 days till I'm back in CA, for an indefinite period of time. It's a happy/sad sort of time.

Many things planned for the upcoming weeks. Anni is visiting, and hopefully the rest of her trip will be sans any more mishaps (she missed her connecting flight last night in SLC, and so had to spend the night in the airport). Mani/Pedi at Animare Aveda. One day at Busch Gardens. One day at the BEACH (weather permitting). Colonial Williamsburg (but no outlets - alas.. the poor life of a poor graduate student). Pack/label/ship ALL my stuff. Sell what I don't want to take back. Help Ben move into Jeremy's. DC!!! Date auction (where Karen will be sold off to the highest bidder).

I'm sure lots of other activities will be interspersed between those listed above. It should be an exciting time. I'm excited to be heading home, but also very sad that I'll be leaving Ben and all of my friends. Of course, they'll always be there for me to come back and visit (or perhaps hang out with if I get a job back this way), but the future for me once I get back to CA is so hazy at the moment. And, if I do end up getting a job out here, I'll once again be leaving all my family and friends back home. It's quite a dilemma, knowing people that you enjoy being around who live on opposite sides of the country. I suppose the dilemma will be solved (hopefully) in two months, when I have a job and need to settle somewhere.

For now, I guess I'll just have to not think about it, and remain concerned with completely finishing/defending my thesis and getting all my stuff back home.


07 August 2007

An Open Letter to a Car

To my dearest Camry,

We had some good times, didn't we? It's always sad to see your first car go off to a new owner, but I know you're in good hands. I may not have always treated you with the respect you deserved (e.g. not keeping you properly clean, always waiting an extra 1000 miles before changing your oil, etc.), but I always loved you more than those other cars. I can only hope that my next car will be as good to me as you have been.

After leaving you, I stepped into a new car, a cousin of yours actually. Gaetano's brand new Toyota Yaris, which I have dubbed as Guiseppe, was not nearly as fun to drive as you. He lacked cruise control, power windows and locks, and didn't give me that wonderful feeling that I had driving you. Sure, Guiseppe has all that extra storage and is a breeze to parallel park, but who wants that when you look like a clown driving him around. No one will ever compare to the way your clear-coat started to peel, or how you stopped letting me listen to CDs. Remember when that idiot of an ex-boyfriend left your tire iron in the grass at his friend's house? Or that one time when we had a huge $700 surgery to revamp your engine? Man, those were some good times.

You will be sorely missed.


02 August 2007


So, even on a budget, a girl has to take time to buy herself a gift, right? Well, how can any girl pass up a deal like the one from Puella: 10 items packaged in a cute little tote for only $150 (+ S&H). That's only $10 a piece, and there's a chance for cute tops and dresses and whatnots. Anywho.. here's what it came with:

  • ivory seersucker shorts
  • navy blue tank
  • lime green tank
  • ivory tank with golden leaves and blue squares
  • short-sleeved henley with red checker print
  • sailor tank tunic with yellow flowers
  • v-tank dress in light green
  • v-tank dress in yellow checker print
  • elbow sleeved bibbed tee in sky blue
  • navy blue tunic
It was a good surprise to see all the things they put together. Can't wait to try everything on, which I will do... NOW!


01 August 2007

Grandma says, "No food for you!"

I love my grandma to pieces. She's the greatest grandma a girl could ever ask for, and a damn good cook, too. Unfortunately, no one at home is allowed the pleasure of her cooking until I return to California. It's rather sad. She has six other grandchildren living within close proximity to her, and she won't cook anything special for them. Just the usual fish and rice for dinner. Makes me feel kind of special. Now, I'm just counting down the days till I (and everyone else) get to taste grandma's home-cooking. mmMMMmmm.

In other news, the thesis is coming along slowly, but surely. I'm working on my first round of edits, with one chapter down, hopefully another chapter done today, and a third chapter done by the beginning of next week. Then I'll have two chapters left before having to submit a second draft to my advisor, which will undoubtedly result in a second round of edits. Hopefully, two rounds of edits will suffice. Then I can submit and work on my presentation, and then present in early September. Man, this is passing by really quickly. Before you know it all my west coast friends will be welcoming me home, and all my east coast friends will be mourning my departure (sorry guys!). And then the endless jobhunt can go full-steam, rather than the half-assed, no result effort that I've been giving it lately. ::le sigh::

Hope everyone else is doing GREAT!


06 July 2007

GO, Speed Racer, GO!

Now...... STOP!!! I couldn't believe I got a ticket this morning. AGAIN!!! I decided to take a different route to work this morning so that I could stop by one of the cheap gas stations (saving $0.10/gallon) since I was running low (Hello, little orange light next to the picture of the gas pump). Anywho.. surprise surprise, there was a "little" police officer on his motorized bike poised and ready to pull me over. Apparently, I was going 46mph in 35mph zone. LAME! So, instead of saving $1.30 on gas by going to this gas station rather than the 7-Eleven by the house, I have to pay this stupid ticket.

In other news.. this week has pretty much sucked. I've been in one of those moods for the last few days, and it really sucks. Hopefully it passes soon, or else heads will roll.. ROLL, I say!

05 July 2007

DC and the 4th - not at the same time

So.. I was in DC this past weekend to catch the NSO with Chuck - performing songs from video games. I know what you're thinking... Tran is such a nerd. Well, I am, but not nearly as bad as some of the people who were there. Holy cow, I couldn't stop laughing. It was a good show though. I'm glad I went.

The rest of the weekend, I hung out with my friends up there. Met up for sushi at Singapore Bistro, drinks at Lucky Bar, animals at the zoo, dinner at Mie'n'Yu, Knocked Up with Karen, dim sum at China Garden, took Ceci to the airport for her world tour, and then headed home. Here are the highlights:

  • Karen found out the hard way that Wally is an ordained justice of the peace (or something like that). She and Chuck were married at Lucky Bar, I was the best man, Sharon was the maid of honor. Though, I don't think Sharon was paying attention while this was going down. And, apparently, you can get certified online to marry people. Go figure.
  • They got rid of the giraffe at the National Zoo. WTF! How do you have a zoo without a giraffe?!?!?!
  • Mie'n'Yu is an awesome restaurant! But, the drinks are a bit pricey, and the service wasn't great. The food was good, though not perfect. We had a bunch of tapas (basically): lacquered duck; tuna tartar; seared kobe beef; Thai pupu platter with beef satay, shrimp wontons, vegetable tempura; veal lettuce wraps; lamb shank; and one other thing, but I can't remember what. We also ordered two AMAZING desserts: mocha bombe and pear strudel.
  • Knocked Up is one of the most HILARIOUS movies I have ever seen.
Pictures here: click on me!

As for the Fourth of July (known to the British as the celebration of the REBELLION!), it was not one of my more favorite 4ths. Usually, Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays because it is characterized with lots of meat (usually beef) and fireworks - two of my top five favorite things in the world (the others being giraffes, chocolate, and ...). However, I decided to try my hand at smoking ribs this year, and well, I wasn't very successful. Let's just say that I should have had some supervision for the first time. Anywho, we ended up tossing them and grilling steaks instead. It was still a good time, just not the best time. We went out to Fort Monroe for the concert and the fireworks. The concert ended up having a $5 cover, so we just sat out on the grass. The fireworks (which were supposed to start at 9:30pm) didn't happen. We left at 10pm, took us forever to get out of the fort, and as we were leaving the gates, the fireworks started to go. While we were sitting out earlier we could see the fireworks from other parts of the peninsula, but it was rather upsetting that the Fort Monroe fireworks were so delayed. One highlight, we walked pass this father teasing his daughter and calling her a liar. It was so funny, but I felt a little bad because we were laughing out loud, and I think she started crying.

25 June 2007

NOLA... and I can't belive she's MARRIED!!!

So.. back from New Orleans (and I officially HATE flying). Here's the lowdown:

Friday: Arrived in NOLA with Ben without a hitch. The flight was short and sweet, and we made it to the hotel without any problems. Julie, Angie, and Andy were already there, and we went to eat at a small nearby joint named Napolean. I had a drink (can't remember what it's called) that was made with juniper berry liqueur, some other stuff, and a slice of cucumber. It was interesting, but I'm not sure if I like it or not. We walked Bourbon street, but didn't drink, and then called it an "early" night.

Saturday: Went to River's Edge for breakfast. I had a Jambalaya Omelet with a side of grits. Ben had a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. It was a nice, across the street from Cafe du Monde, which was way too crowded. After breakfast, Ben and I walked around a little bit, and stopped into the St. Louis Cathedral. We headed back to the hotel room and got ready for the wedding. We were a couple minutes late to the wedding because the taxis decided that they weren't going to come to the hotel anymore because so many had come and left (since people weren't ready by the time they got there). So the bellhop had to hail us a cab, and it took forever for one to drive by. We made it to the wedding just in time to see Adrianna and Ben, the groom, walking up the stairs. It was a nice, short wedding (lasting 20 minutes, tops), and a small one as well (50 people, tops).

The reception was nice. I didn't eat much, since we had just had a big breakfast an hour before, but the spread looked good. At least, I know Ben enjoyed the hors d'oeuvres. The wedding was a lot of fun. We danced, we drank, we took lots of pictures. It was great! I hadn't seen Adrianna in over a year, so it was great seeing her so happy and beautiful. seeing everyone else was fun too. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and napped for a few hours (after Julie and Angie were done hitting on the bellhop and getting his number). Then we got up and headed to Cafe du Monde for a snack.

We stopped into the Old Absinthe House for a round of "absinthe", at least what's considered absinthe in the U.S. I've decided that I don't like it, too much like licorice. We needed to get some real food, so we stopped by some restaurant for dinner. I had BBQ shrimp and Ben had a burger. It was nice, but the service took FOREVER. We walked around a bit and met up with the others at this little lounge bar off Bourbon St. Angie was dying to meet up with the bellhop on Frenchman Street (which is apparently where the locals hang out), but I didn't really feel like taking a taxi anywhere. I got a bit upset because we stepped in Razoo, and Julie and Angie diappeared. Apparently, the couldn't "find us" so they left. They headed up to Frenchman Street to meet up with the bellhop. Andy had an early flight in the morning, so we headed back and just hung out at the hotel. Julie and Angie (and the bellhop) got in around 6am (after Andy had left already).

Sunday: Ben and I got up and went to church at the St. Louis Cathedral at 9am. Then headed back, only to find everyone still asleep. So we headed off to brunch at Emeril's Delmonico without them. It was really nice. We were the first one's there. I had slow-cooked pork topped with two sunny-side up quail eggs over a bed of arugula. Ben had poached eggs over stone-ground grits and other things. It was really good. We finished off breakfast with some fresh baked cookies and ice-milk (which is, basically, frozen milk with vanilla).

We decided to walk back to the French Quarter, rather than spend the money for a cab. It wasn't too incredibly hot outside, but we didn't realize that the distance and the humidity was not good for us. By the time we got back to the hotel, they were up, checked out, and Angie had to head to the airport. So we said good-bye, and Ben and I attempted to kill a few hours. We walked along the river. We stopped into the Calbido (the Louisiana State Museum). We walked around a lot. We had coffee. Then we went to the airport. We were there pretty early, so we sat around and read and just waited.

When we arrived in Atlanta, we still had an hour and a half to kill. We ate at Chili's Too, and just sat around. Our flight was a bit delayed because we needed to wait for the flight crew to come in from another flight. We took off only five minutes late, BUT a sensor went off while we were in the air, something about the de-icing mechanism. Anywho, we were in the air for about 30-45 minutes, and they had to turn around and land back in ATL. So, we landed in ATL at about the time we should have been landing in PHF. The quickly moved us to a different plane and we took off shortly after that. We landed in PHF around 2:30 am, but it took forever for our luggage to get to the baggage claim. I think because there weren't enough workers there at that time in the morning. People were complaining like crazy, and getting on my last nerve. They were mad that we had to turn around to ATL rather than just landing in PHF close to on time. What they didnt' take into consideration is that if something were to happen to us on that flight, then everyone would have been asking "Why didn't they do something about that sensor when it went off during flight?"I with people would be more patient and less stupid. Oh, and that they would just shut up too.

Pictures from the trip can be found here (in no particular order). Enjoy!

Love, Tran

P.S. Here's a picture of a cake that I made last weekend for Chris' birthday: Three-layer chocolate cake with strawberries and blueberries.

12 June 2007

Tuesday... and why I've avoided the dentist for so long

Well.. it's Thursday, which means tomorrow is FRIDAY!!! and then it's SATURDAY!!! and Tran gets to SLEEP IN!!!! I don't even have a real job, and I still dread coming in everyday. Not to mention that my advisor has FINALLY given me some sort of timeline for my thesis submission (which requires that I get a rough draft to him in three weeks.. YAY!).

Anywho, I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday. The last time I went to the dentist was probably about six years ago, a year or so after I had my braces taken off. Anywho, I hate going to the dentist. It's such an uninviting environment (at least all the dentists I ever went to as a kid) and brings back memories of pain and scoldings ("I told you not to eat so much candy!" says Mom.). Well, I wasn't surprised to find out that my teeth were in need of some serious cleaning. What surprised me was how severe the damage was, and how much it was going to break the bank. Seriously? $835 to clean my teeth?!?!?! Being someone who wants to keep my teeth for as long as possible, decided that my uninsured mouth needed the cleaning (of course, it helped that the both the dental hygienist and the dentist recommended this deep cleaning to prevent periodontal disease, which I was showing early signs of). So, I have three dentist appointments in August (that's the earliest they could see me). First to numb one side of my mouth and clean; second to numb the other side and clean; and third, just to see how my mouth is liking its new clean-feeling. It's a pain, but at least this dental office is a million times nicer and more inviting than any I ever went to as a kid. And, on the bright side of things, NO CAVITIES!!!

And.. the other bothersome thing in my life (aside from the dentist and having to sacrifice all the fun things I wanted to do to be able to pay the dentist)... the THESIS! Testing, hopefully, to be completed by June 19 (Tuesday). Buckle down on writing so that I have a rough draft to Dr. Cutler by July 3 (Wednesday). Enjoy my one day off by sleeping in and laying around the house. Get first set of revisions back, and give another copy to Dr. C. by July 18 (Wednesday). More revisions, and "final" copy to Dr. C. by July 31 (before he leaves for England for the ENTIRE month of August). Get final revisions back while he's away, and submit final FINAL thesis to committee by August 17 (Friday) so that I can defend when Dr. Cutler returns from holiday (hopefully August 31 - which is the day I also have to move out of my house). I suppose it's crunch time now. YAY!

I kinda just want this all to be over. To bypass the getting a job thing and just have a job already. Settle and continue on with the rest of my life (for the next few years or so). And I'm only 23. Man.. the real world is going to kick me in the ass when I'm finally out there.


10 June 2007

Summertime... and the living's (almost) easy...

So, it's been a while since I've updated my blog, mostly because I've been lazy (everyone, by now, should know how lazy Tran can be). Anywho, I think the last time I posted anything was when I came back from STL with Ben. I'm sure much has happened, so I'll try to recap.

Cooking club is in full swing. Members are usually the same group, with some additions every once in a while. I also started to go to this Variety Meetup, and it's really cool. Annie, the organizer, has been kind enough to set up a lot of events in the summer for people to go to. I'm hoping to have the time and money to do most of them, but we shall see.

My sister, Anni, was in town for Memorial Day. We did a lot: had dinner at A Chef's Kitchen, spent a day at Busch Gardens, grilled out at the house, went to the Beach, breakfast AND dinner at Cracker Barrel, and we hit the Prime Outlets in Williamsburg. It was a lot of fun having her in town. Pictures from our dinner at A Chef's Kitchen below:

Soup Course: Basil and Summer Squash Soup

This soup was surprisingly good. I'm not usually one for pureed soups, unless their it's tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. It was paired with Anton Baur 2005 Gmork Gruner Veltliner. It's been a while, so I can't remember if I liked it or not. I think I did.

Salad Course: Sesame Noodle Salad with Spring Vegetables

This salad was TO DIE FOR!! I loved the dressing (which included peanut butter). It was a bit heavy on the dressing, but good nonetheless.

Poultry Course: Grilled Quail with Strawberry Balsamic Compote and Skillet Baked Cornbread

I've had quail before, but only at wedding receptions held at Chinese restaurants, and the quail is always served the same. Good, but nothing new. This quail was delicious. And, of course, the cornbread was great. This dish was paired with a Tegernseerhof Rose. I'm not a fan of rose, but Anni enjoyed it, so I bought her a bottle, which we had with our BBQ that following Saturday.

Meat Course: Steak Oscarof Hereford New York Strip with Colossal Lump Crab Meat Sauce Glacage and Roasted Potatoes

I LOVE STEAK! If I had to choose one meat to eat for the rest of my life, I'd have beef. Although, I may not last very long as a result of that. The dish itself was AWESOME, but I didn't care too much for the Pinot Noir that was paired with it (so I didn't take note of what it was).

Dessert Course: Dark Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream

By this time, both Anni and I were so full that we split one dessert and took the other home. I love chocolate more than I love steak, so I tried my best to finish it off. Anni doesn't enjoy coffee at all, so she didn't like the icing very much, but the cake itself was yummy and very moist.

Here's a picture of the sugar sculpture Chef John made. It was pretty cool watching him do it actually, and may be something that I'll try at home some day. Only, the sugar is very hot, and I fear that I'll burn myself (which would be an unfortunate addition to my myriad of scars).

The rest of her trip was pretty great. I had fun at Busch Gardens, although we had to leave early because I was feeling pretty ill. Also, we didn't get to ride on Griffon (the new ride) because the wait was three hours long, and we didn't think it'd be worth it. The beach wasn't very nice on the day we decided to go, a bit overcast and not very many waves. But we did get to see some of the VA Beach Steel Pier Classic Longboard competition that was taking place that weekend. On Memorial day, we hit the outlets. Probably was a bad idea, since neither of us should have been spending money, but I was able to find a lot of nice things on sale. So, I'm happy we went.

Later that week, Ben and I went to the Waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg. Annie had free passes, so a bunch of us went as part of her meetup group. It was pretty cool, but small. A few hours there was more than enough time to do everything. It was also nice because it was a weekday, so it wasn't very crowded.

The start of June (and summer) means that LARSS students are returning to NASA. Martin, a kid from last summer, is back in our branch. He seems better now than he was last summer, which is good for him. John, a roommate from last summer, is also back. He and Ceci came over for dinner last week. Hopefully we'll all get to hang out more while Ceci is in town. At the end of the month, she leaves for a two month vacation around the world (surfing in Indonesia and Hawaii, hanging out in Thailand and New Zealand) before she heads to Stanford to start her graduate studies.

This past weekend was Harborfest down in Downtown Norfolk/Waterside, which marks a year since the first day I met Ben. We had dinner with Gaetano and Rohit and Joe's CrabShack (not the one we met at, but the one closer to the house). And then we headed down to see the concert and the fireworks show. We only got there in time to see Kool and the Gang (missed Los Lonely Boys and 38 Special). It was a good show, and a good time. The fireworks were crazy (in size, and number). We didn't stay out on Granby Street because Rohit had to catch and early flight to Hawaii this morning. He's going to be there all week for a conference.

Now for the bad news. This morning, Gaetano noticed that his PS2 was missing from the living room. Apparently, we had left one of the sliding glass doors unlocked, and someone came in and stole his PS2, along with his controllers and all his pirated games and his wallet, which was sitting on the counter (in its usual spot). We think it happened sometime between 12:30am and 7:30 am, since Gaetano was up at 7:30 and would have heard someone coming into the house. Rohit left around 5:30am to go to the airport, but we haven't been able to talk to him yet about it (since he's in flight right now). Without thinking, we went to the police station, rather than calling them to come to us. They told us there to go home and call the police station to report a burglary. As far as we can tell, they only took the PS2 and his wallet, since all our computers are still here and everything else seems to be in order. Gaetano is in the process of taking care of all that, but he had a lot in his wallet (DC driver's license, Italian driver's license, some money, lots of random stuff, and worse of all, his SS Card). He had to put a fraud alert on his credit and still needs to call around and take care of some bills and stuff. The officer came by and went around trying to talk to the neighbors to see if anyone saw anything, but no one answered their doors (stupid neighbors). Anywho.. everything seems to be in order except for the missing stuff, so it's rather unfortunate for Gaetano. I got lucky, since my backpack was sitting on the counter with my laptop in it.

As to work and research, it seems to be going well. I've started running experiments, which means that I'll soon be done with running experiments and focusing solely on writing (YAY!). I think that's it for now. I'm skipping out on book club this month because I don't really care to read the book (Confessions of a Crap Artist). Our next cooking club meeting isn't until July 1, Brunch at Marlita's. The next big thing is Adrianna's wedding in New Orleans, which I'm super excited to be attending. I still can't believe she's getting married! Till then, I'll try to keep up with this.. and perhaps create some exciting events of my own to blog about.


21 May 2007

STL and the worst airport/flying experience EVER!!!

Hey all... I've decided to lift the restriction off the "purely" food aspect of this blog, and turn it into just a blog. It makes for better writing, since there's so much more going on that I can talk about. ANYWAY... about my trip to the STL...

Wedneday, May 16, 2007:

Chris drops Ben and I off at the airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave Newport News (PHF) at 6:10pm and arrive in Atlanta (ATL) at 8:something; then, we were supposed to catch a flight from ATL to St. Louis (STL) around 10pm to arrive in STL a little before 11pm (central time). Unfortunately for us, due to bad weather conditions in ATL (rain, thunder, lightning), our plane was delayed 2 hours. We asked the ticket lady at the Delta counter if this would prevent us from catching our connecting flight to STL, and she told us that that plane was also late and we shouldn't worry about it.. WELL... we arrived in STL a few minutes after our connecting flight took-off (she was wrong!). Ended up that Delta rebooked us for a flight the next day (11:45am), but we got on stand-by for an earlier flight since we wanted to make it in time for Jill's graduation from SLU. Delta comp'd us a hotel room and some meal vouchers, but we couldn't get our baggage (because it would take "3-5 hours, and that's not even a guarantee that you'll get your stuff"). We also couldn't get refunds for our tickets and try to get on another flight because, apparently, there are no red eye flights out of ATL. So, the first Delta worker who helped us gave us a hotel room at the Red Roof Inn. We go outside to wait for the courtesy shuttle, unable to get through on the courtesy telephone. An hour or so later, we finally get through by calling on our own, and they're all booked up. ALL of their rooms were taken because a MILLION people were also stranded in ATL. We go back inside and talk to a different lady at the ticket counter. She gets us a room at the Comfort Inn (which isn't really that comfortable) and called to make sure that they still had rooms. We also picked up some "overnight kits" from the Delta baggage claim office, since we didn't have any stuff with us. It consisted of a XL t-shirt, toothbrush, toothpaste (that tasted like soap), (men's) deodorant, laudry detergent (wtf??), razor and shaving cream, and a hair brush, all packed up in a nice little bag. The only thing going for the hotel was that it wasn't the airport.

Thursday, May 17, 2007:

We get up around 6:30am, since we want to try to get on an earlier flight. The second thing the Comfort Inn has going for it is continental breakfast. I had 2 hard-boiled eggs and 1/4 of Ben's waffle. We got to the airport, and the man driving the shuttle told us that the security lines are going to be packed (since EVERYONE and their mom got stranded at the airport last night). As a side note: My mom was also stranded at the airport Wednesday night. She missed her flight from BWI to get home from my Grandma Slike's funeral, so they put her on a different flight to Philadelphia, then home. Philadelphia was also experiencing bad weather on Wednesday, and she spent the night at the airport because they didn't comp her a room (idiots!). Anywho.. we get through security (yes, it felt like a semi-infinitely long line) and get to the early flight. They're overbooked (I dont' understand how that EVER should be able to happen), but for some reason the lady on standby before us gets on it (DAMNIT!). So.. we end up having a few hours to kill at the airport before our flight. We eat at a French Bistro place and sleep and watch CNN and mosey about.

We get to St. Louis around 1pm. Ben's father was there to pick us up. We go straight to the graduation (with a slight detour since Ben's father missed the highway interchange we were supposed to get on) and make it there about five people before Jill. So we missed all the boring stuff and got to see her walk across the stage. Then pictures and pictures and (early) dinner at Landry's Seafood at Union Station. I had the crawfish etouffee, and it was good. It was a nice joint, and his family was really nice and happy to meet me. Then we went to his Nana and Papa's house. We hung out there for a while, then went home and rested up a bit (took a shower and watched TV). Afterwards we went over to his Uncle Dave's house, because Ben's parents don't have internet and Ben needed to check on some important bill stuff online.

Friday, May 18, 2007:

The morning dragged a little slow, but we eventually went for a run/walk at Mastodon State Park, which is right by Ben's house. It's pretty treachorous, and I couldn't run the whole thing, so I ran some, walked, and then walked the end while Ben ran with the Dog. We got back to the house, and showered and waited for his parents and his sister to get home from the store. Then we went to the Arch, that was pretty cool. You can see clear into Illinois!!! It's only across the Mississippi River, but still, it's fun to say. We got very nice views from the Arch, but Jill pointed out that many overweight people would not be able to get up there. For one, they wouldn't be able to fit into the little tram that takes you up to the top, since the door into the tram is only 4-feet tall by 2-feet wide and the tram itself is not much bigger and can barely fit five normal sized adults comfortably. For second, they wouldn't be able to walk around much once they were at the top, since it is a pretty cramped space.

After the Arch, we grabbed some candy from a little "antique" store in and walked around the Museum of Westward Expansion, which is in the base of the Arch. Then headed home for rib-eye steak and all the sides (baked potato, corn on the cob, green beans). The steak was a little too done for my liking, which made it a little tough, but it wasn't too bad, and all the other stuff was good (the corn was really sweet). Also, Judy (Ben's mom) made this fruit dip that's a combination of marshmallow spread, cream cheese, and vanilla extract that's SO GOOD. We dipped strawberries and pineapple chunks in it. MMM! After dinner, we helped set up a little for Jill's graduation party, and then headed over to Ben's grandparents' house to see his Uncle Greg. Then over to his Uncle Dave's house to watch Casino Royale. Dave made popcorn, out of a popper, and it was awesome! I fell asleep during the movie, of course, but the popcorn was still good.

Saturday, May 19, 2007:

Ben and I get up and head to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. It was pretty cool, though the packaging plant was closed for maintenance (that was the only thing I really wanted to see). We got to taste some beers at the end, but none of them were any good. After the tour of the brewery, we stopped by the Historic Soulard Farmers' Market, which is wicked cool. I wish we had something like that out here, but, alas, we do not. They even had an indoor part that was open year-round.

We got home and helped out with last-minute party set-up stuff, and then the party started. I met a lot of people that day, and I don't remember all of their names or faces, but it was mostly family. I did get to meet some of Ben's friends from high school, and we went to S&J's for custard and snowcones. I had a Heath Concrete, which apparently is a Heath Bar blended into custard soft serve. It was good, but Ben's Baby Joey was better.

After S&J's, Ben and I went to play tennis with his friend James and his fiancee Becca (Ben's going to be James' bestman at the wedding in August). Now, I've always sucked at tennis, but it was pretty fun. After that, we all got washed up and had dinner at Fitz's, which was an OK restaurant, but the soda was a bit sweet (they make their own). I had a roasted red pepper and portabello sandwich with an orange cream soda. We also walked up and down the Del Mar Loop, but we didn't feel like bar-hopping, and all the cool stores were closed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007:

I woke up at 5:30am thinking it was 6:30am to go to a 7:00am service at St. Joseph's. When I realized that I was an hour early, I went back to sleep, only to get woken by Ben who was worried that I would miss the service (He was up becuase the dog needed to be taken out). After the service, I came back to the house and watched TV, ate Eggo waffles, played with the cat, watched TV. We all went to another service at 10:30am. Ben's parents and his Uncle Dave sing in the choir. It was different, considering I've never been to another Christian service before. After that, we all had lunch at Applebee's. I had the buttermilk shrimp and cherry limeade. Ben had a Crispy Orange Chicken Bowl and a strawberry lemonade. Then, tearful "good-bye"s at the airport, and we were off. So we thought...

Our flight out of STL was supposed to go to Charlotte, NC, and then to PHF. Apparently, the flight crew never showed up in Charlotte to come to STL in the first place, so a bunch of people were stranded in Charlotte, and a bunch of people were stranded in STL. US Airways had rebooked us for a flight later that evening, but a lot of people had to stay overnight because they're weren't any available flights that day for them. We waited in line for an hour to finally check our bags, there were so many people. Instead of heading out of STL at 3:10pm to Charlotte, we were on a 6:30pm flight to Philadelphia. Then a quick (40 minute) hop from Philadelphia to PHF. We got home only about an hour after we were supposed to arrive, so it wasn't that bad. We were, howeve, stranded at STL for three hours with nothing to do. I took a nap. Ben did too, but I don't think he was able to get as comfortable as I was, given my small size.

So.. that was the weekend. His family is great! Really nice and open and fun and just easy to get along with. They seemed to like me, at least that's what everyone told me and that's what Ben told me when we left. But, then again, who doesn't like Tran? (I kid, I kid). Pictures to come soon.

14 May 2007

Happy Birthday to ME!

So.. it's been a little while since I've blogged anything about food or anything else for that matter. Mostly because I've been too lazy to talk about the things I've been cooking, and the other reason is because I didn't have my camera to take pictures for a while. I have my camera back now, but still no pictures of food. HOWEVER.... check out this awesome comic strip:

Today's my birthday! 23 years old.. and kinda apathetic about it. The birthday festivities include work.. then a jog with Nhan.. then dinner at Nawab.. then perhaps the bars for a while. It sucks that it's a Monday.. but I'll make due. All birthdays can't be as spectacular as last year.. ::le sigh::


30 April 2007

. . . and I will walk 500 more . . .

** a little bit about food, but mostly about the walk


HAHAHHA!! yeah right!

Way back - a few months ago - my friend Karen had asked me to do this walk with her (www.onedayhike.org). It's 100K in one day (starting from Georgetown and ending in Harper's Ferry, WV). It seemed like a good idea at first, but as time went on, we stopped training and decided to do the 50 K instead (this one starts in White's Ferry). So.. that's what I did this past weekend: walked 50 K (for you American's, that's roughly 31 miles) in under 10 hours. OMG, do my feet (and legs, and body, and everywhere else) HURT!!

As with all things that include lots of vigorous activity, you have to make sure you eat well, and often. So, the night before (Friday) we carb'd up with pasta, potatoes, corn, carbs, carbs, carbs, etc. For breakfast, we split a bagel and made potato & egg burritos. Along the walk itself, they had water and snacks and sandwiches and soup and "feet aid" and chairs and gatorade and paramedics and nurses and motivational sounds and people sitting on the ground.. and it goes on and on and on...

Here's a picture of me waiting to use the port-o-potty at the start of the race, while they were still relatively clean. The walk itself was exactly what I was expecting. It was long and tiring, but we kept up a pretty good pace and finished, which is the most important part. Anyone that ever says, "Oh, you're only walking. . . blah blah . . . " has never walked 31 miles with minimal stopping before. It's killer, especially with little or no training beforehand. I have to say that the last mile was killer. Most of the trail is nice and flat, but gravelly (stupid rocks!) which is killer on the feet. The last "mile" however, which takes us through the historic town of Harper's Ferry, is the mile from HELL! When you get off the trail, you need to cross a bridge over the Potomac River to get into West Virginia. Then there's a nice person at the end of the bride telling you that the end of the walk is just up over this hill. Now, let me tell you about this hill. It's not a 5 degree incline hill, but more like a 15 degree incline hill. And after walking 30 miles, it feels like a mountain. It's a bit relieving on the legs since your work different muscles, but your feet are still dying from the ordeal, so no good. You reach the top of the hill and then go down hill (which is even worse feeling than the walking on level ground), then there's someone at the bottom who tells you to just go up another hill to get to the end. But you go up the second hill, and there's no end! There's a bit more down hill and then you have to go UP an inclined driveway to get to the end (maybe some more hills in between, but I was so out of it that I can't recall). We were lucky to finish when we did, because it started pouring rain five minutes after we made it to the center. Here's a picture of me forcing a smile at the Bolivar Community Center (the end!). The other guy in the picture is this hard-core Marine that we met upwith (named Greg). He was doing the full 100K. Apparently, he didn't realize that there were going to be stops along the way, so he packed 23 pounds of water with him at the start, and he ran the first 23 miles in about four hours. Then he got wiped out, I suppose anyone would, and walked the rest of the way. We met him at around Mile 39 (for him - Mile 6 for us). He was pretty cool. Kept calling us "yous guys", and he gave us a ride home from DC to the apartment so we didn't have to take a cab or the Metro (because I couldn't walk anymore even if I had to - maybe if someone was chasing me with a knife).

They had some food at the end point, but I just couldn't eat. Something gave me a really bad stomach ache at the end (I think it was the Gatorade). I forced down some yogurt and chili, but I felt like crap. Karen was doing surprisingly well, and didn't have any blisters. I ended up with two - one the size of a nickle on the ball of my foot (which still hurts now) and a little one at my heel (which isn't so bad). It was pretty gross when I drained them.

Next day, we had brunch at Filomena's in Georgetown. Karen tricked me and got everyone to say that they weren't coming to brunch, but they all showed up. SUPPLIES!!! This was supposed to make up for the fact that no one will be able to come down to visit me for my birthday (IN TWO WEEKS!!!) It was really fun. A good way to lift my spirits after the walk. I ate so much, since I was starving and didn't eat much the night before after the walk.

photo album here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2055135&id=7404083

25 April 2007

food in a bag?

Last night, my newly created cooking club had our first official meet-up (I'm not counting the very first one because we just sat around and introduced ourselves and brainstormed ideas for events). Unfortunately, not everyone who had signed up to go showed up. Lucky for us, the owner of the DreamDinners franchise that we went to was nice enough to let us assemble our dinner even with only five people.

If you've never heard of DreamDinners before, it's rather ingenious. It's the brainchild of Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna, out of Washington state. Basically, you get all the fun of cooking the dinner without any of the prep work, and everything is frozen and can be stored for a few months. Just pop it in the fridge to defrost a few days before you want to eat it. Here's how it works:

First: Go online to dreamdinners.com. Find a location near you. Sign up for a session. Sign up for your meals (36-servings or 72-servings) - ranges from $2.50 - $5.00 per serving, depending on how many you buy and which meals you choose. Pay online.

Second: Show up at the store on the date of your session and assemble your dinner. Each meal has it's own station. You just go around to the station and follow the instructions given at each one. All the ingredients will be there, as well as everything you need to pack it all up. You'll even get nifty labels to place on the outside of your packages so you know how to cook it when you get home.

Third: Take your meals home and stick them in the freezer. When you want to eat them, just pop the package in the refrigerator a few days ahead to defrost. Then follow the directions on the package as to how to cook the meal. ENJOY!

I think it's pretty cool, since you still get to cook everything, just all the prep work is done for you ahead of time. It saves a lot of time and energy. Also, it's equivalent to going to the grocery store once a month (if you have a large family) or every couple months (if it's just you alone). You get great meals, and healthy, meals to make at home - and you would only have to go to the grocery store to get drinks and snacks, and maybe some side dishes.

24 April 2007

water, water... EVERYWHERE!

My sister is wonderful. Whenever she's out and sees something that she thinks is cool and that she thinks I'll like, she'll buy it (granted it doesn't cost some obscene amount of money). For instance, she got me this wickedly awesome water bottle from Hydracoach. It calculates your ideal water intake based on your weight (mine is 54 oz. in 24 hours) and then monitors how much water you've drank during the day and what percentage of your goal you have reached. It's really cool. Unfortunately, since it's sitting here, I keep drinking out of it. As a result, I usually have to visit the john every thirty minutes or so. At least I know that I'm getting enough water. That's always a good start to a healthy lifestyle.

23 April 2007

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

My good friend Jeremy has recently quit his job at CRDF to move back home (to Kentucky) for the next few months before starting the next chapter of his life (as a male gigolo, making house-calls in the Bible Belt - coming to a town near you!). He was also participating in a half-Ironman race this past weekend our at Lake Anna, so we all decided to camp out to support him (and to take advantage of the first warm, beautiful weekend we've had in a while). As with all camping experiences (without a Dutch oven), food is hardly gourmet, but we managed to put together a decent menu. I wasn't able to get pictures of everything (since I didn't have a camera), but here are some shots from Sharon and Karen.

What's camping without a nice fire and s'mores. The picture above is of the biscuits we made on Sunday morning. Jeremy had the bright idea of making biscuits over coals by wrapping them in foil. The burned a little bit, but they still tasted delicious (or atleast as delicious and Pillsbury biscuits can taste).

Here's Karen making us breakfast. This is after Jeremy had already left to start his race. No one was up in time to see the start, but we all headed out there for the finish (and to just chill on the "beach"). We had eggs and bacon that first morning. Some of us had woken up before everyone else, and the camping stoves weren't out yet (or the spatula) and we didn't know where they were. We ended up using a pan on top of the fire and cooking eggs and bacon that way. And, without a spatula, we had to flip the bacon with sticks. It was rather caveman like (but interesting nonetheless). Once everyone was up, we found the camping stoves and the spatula and were able to make scrambled eggs and bacon. And Tom even made French Toast. YUM! (I didn't actually eat any of the french toast, but it looked good.

Oh. Here's a collection of some of the alcohol that we brought along. This doesn't even account for the cases and cases of beer that is stashed away in the coolers (or in the tents). I don't even know if we put a dent in the amount of alcohol that was brought. I'm sure people had to take home cases of beer and bottles of wine (I took home two). We did bring a bear out to Jeremy for when he finished the race (6 hours and 40 minutes after he started) per his request. Dinner consisted of burgers and hotdogs cooked either over fire or over coals.

Dinner Saturday night consisted of hotdogs and hamburgers and a Sharon's classic rock on shuffle (with an interjection every few minutes or so of "Where's the mustard?"). It was a good time, considering everyone was actually together for a meal. Lots of interesting conversations about all sorts of things came up.

Here's a picture of me and Ben, eating breakfast on Sunday (egg sandwich) with Jeremy's two dogs (Maggie and Carly) trying to catch fallen scraps. Jeremy has them on a strict diet though, so no human food for them. All in all, it was a fun camping trip. I got to go mountain bike riding with Ben, and I even have a battle-scar to show for it (I fell on top of my bike - not even off it - trying to get back on AFTER we had gone through the hardest part of the trail). We'll definitely go camping again before the summer is over and I have to move back to Cali.