Monday, July 28, 2008
(*When I first started working, I had my training in Minneapolis along with about 35 other new hires in my division. We had to come up with lists of fears we had regarding entering the working world. One table came up with "skunderphobia" - a fear of one's skirt getting tucked into one's underwear after using the restroom without one noticing. This was a table of all girls.)
I've recently decided, however, that I have a fear of blenders. (Sadly, I was unable to determine a specific name for this illness, even after much googlage; surprising, considering there is even an official name for a fear of buttons: koumpounophobia.) Wait - let me amend that; I have a fear of having to clean blenders. Don’t get me wrong - it's not because of the sharp blade (I'm perfectly fine regularly using my uber-sharp Cutco knives, even after gashing my finger wide open while cutting an avocado) or anything similarly rational. It's mostly because it's heavy and unweildy to clean. I dislike having to lift it into the sink, tip it while cleaning so water doesn't accumulate, and, most of all, I don't like removing the blade and reattaching it when I'm done. Again, not because it's sharp, but because you have to screw it on really tightly (there's even a contraption that comes with it to help unscrew, but you can't use it to tighten), so it makes it really difficult to remove and replace. Good thing Dan is nice and cleans the blender in return for roasted butternut squash and onion tart, corn chowder, avocado shakes, and peach/mascarpone/gingersnap tart.
Monday, July 21, 2008
In which stilled danandpreethi blog waters shall I dabble my toes? Perhaps I'll start in relation to my lovely wife's post of earlier this morning.
Why do I love Mondays? Well, mostly because its the freshest day of the week - after the weekend's activities and spiritual renewal, there's always a little bit more spring to be sprung in the step. Again, we can return to our daily labors and have until the weekend to complete those tasks, rather than the Friday afternoon crunch I often feel. That's not to say, of course, that I would in any way prefer Monday to a weekend.
Earlier in my growing up days, I became quite familiar with the monster that ended the summer. Every time we began to return to Salt Lake City on our summer family 10,000 mile road-trips, a sinking feeling entered my stomach and swallowed my esophagus with the epiphany that the sun was beginning to set on that summer. And so it was, summer after summer. But with each sinking, there was hope and vivid imaginings of where the road would take us the following summer, indeed, a whole school year of dreaming.
So may it ever be with Mondays - mellowed by the acceptance of another weekend passed, but vibrant with the hope of another weekend to come (and that, with a beautiful wife), indeed, with every man's dreams on board.
- I get really sad after a weekend of spending every second with Dan that I can't do that anymore, and have to wait a whole 5 days until I can again.
- I don't get to sleep in.
- I like my job, but I think holidays are still probably better.
- Traffic is always unpredictable on Mondays, and there seem to be more cops out.
I actually really dislike this about myself. I really WANT to like Mondays. Mostly because I don't want them to feel sad and unloved. Perhaps I just need to remember that I'm seriously so blessed. So, here's a list of things I love about Mondays:
- The mail comes! To this day, that little kid part of me that gets excited to get the mail -even though I know the most exciting thing will probably be that I'm pre-approved for the Kansas Homeowner's Mortgage credit card - gets a little sad when I involuntarily reach for my mailbox key while walking in on Sundays.
- Give me an F! Give me an H! Give me an E!
- I don't have to worry about Monday coming - it's already here.
- I get to listen to my John Adams book on CD.
- I can buy avocados if I want (and why wouldn't I?).
- I can go to lunch with my awesome co-workers.
- I can look around my cube at my fax from my future self, pictures, and penguin of death/pig of happiness cards.
In other news, this was our first really relaxing weekend since probably before we got engaged. No traveling, no visitors, no organizing our apartment (all of which we love, especially the organizing - hurrah for alphebetized spices!)...it was glorious. On Friday, we went to the Mann and had a picnic with the Babbels, Dan's wonderful mission presidents who happen to live in the area and were going the same night we were. They played the glorious Pictures at an Exhibition, which was truly phenomenal - oh, the brass and percussion at the end! The harmonies! The clarity of tone! If that weren't enough, the spectacular Leila Josefowicz performed one of my very favorite violin pieces, the Mendelssohn violin concerto. Very nearly flawless.
We slept in on Saturday and then got up and made a ridiculously awesome brunch (pancakes with berries/walnuts, cheesy hash browns, zucchini/basil frittata, vanilla/pear/berry muffins...I should really just start a sidebar of all our cooking adventures). We sat around and napped for a while (I never could nap before we got married, ever, but it seems like we catnap all the time now) and then decided we'd use our free movie tickets!
Sidenote: several weeks ago, we were at our local Superfresh (which I typically avoid at all costs in favor of Reading Terminal and TJ's, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures) and they were having a General Mills sale where if you bought $35 worth of GMI products, you'd get 2 free movie tickets. I didn't even consider it at first, thinking to myself, "There is no way we could possibly buy $35 worth of General Mills products, and even if we could, there is no way I am keeping $35 worth of General Mills products in our big-for-the-city-but-still-small kitchen." Dan, however, got all excited and thought we should definitely do it. Now though I work for The General, I'm kind of picky about which products of ours I'll actually put into my body. When we realized that we already had about $15 worth of Yoplait (I literally only eat one flavor of yogurts in all the world of yogurt - Yoplait Original Red Raspberry - not Light, which tastes like aspartame -, with occasional exceptions made for Yoplait Original Cherry. I've finally come to terms with the fact that I'm weird about food.) which was on sale for $0.50 compared to its everyday retail of $1.09, we decided maybe we should just go for it. So we stocked up on Honey Nut/Multigrain Cheerios. With a couple boxes of Trix thrown in for Dan.
Anyway, I digress. The movie tickets. So we decided to see our very first IMAX by way of The Alps. Some of the camera work was truly spectacular, and it was even cooler to feel surrounded by these majestic mountains. While it made me even more terrified of doing something like that, Dan felt some of the lure. Umm...
After that, we put our feet in the water of Logan Square with all the little kids. We absolutely adore community things like that, where everyone is just together and happy and nice. It was so relaxing. We went home and changed and went to dinner at La Croix in honor of our upcoming 2-month anniversary, as our wonderful Lizzy had given us a gift card there for our wedding gift. She wanted to give us an "experience" rather than a "thing," and experience it was! The service was stately, and they gave us little petit fours at the end with to-go muffins and made a little Tiffany-box cake in honor of the occasion (they asked if there was one when we made the reservation).
Sunday, Dan was sustained as Elders' Quorum 1st Counselor, and I was sustained as seminary teacher. In addition to my Primary chorister calling. Whoo boy. This will be awesome, but boy will it be work. For those unaware, in our church, we each have certain "callings," or responsibilities to which we attend. For Dan, that means being one of two "counselors" to the president of the Elders' Quorum, the men's group (counterpart to the Relief Society, the women's group). As for me, I've been teaching the children (the Primary) music, and come September, will be teaching daily religion classes to the youth. Early religion classes. As in at 6:30 every weekday morning, they will come to our home and we (clearly if I'm getting up that early, so is Dan :) and he's sweet enough to want to help) will attempt to teach them about the gospel. Yikes. But cool. Now I just need to inform my manager that I might need to leave a little early to make my new bedtime of 4:30pm.
Oh, and I chopped my hair off.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Anyway, $40 worth of fruit later, including almost 5 pounds of blueberries, we decided to not purchase their pies and make one of our own! So last week, after being tempted to make many other desserts in the Williams-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook (namely, the Blueberry Fool), I ventured into my first fruit pie-making experience. It was delicious! Warm and crumbly and oh-so-blueberry-ish. Mmm.
We’ve been pretty into cooking lately; in the last week, we’ve made that, yummy orange and dried cherry scones, a delicious balsamic & basil bruschetta, a wonderful sweet & spicy vegetable meal over brown rice, and mascarpone-stuffed figs. Cooking together slash for two people is way better than for one.
Speaking of cooking, we had our housewarming party this past Saturday! It was so fun and we had lots of people come by. It was great to just relax with many friends, and it was SO fun to have my parents come up. Mutual love between them and our friends ensued. Many thanks to them for helping us finish things up at the last minute. Menu items included several tarts (chocolate, lime, fruit), cheesecake, fondue, fruit (some of which was arranged quite spectacularly, if I do say so myself, thanks to inspiration from our cruise J), spinach artichoke dip, apple/blue cheese/walnut stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, homemade pizza bites…and, a clear winner of the evening, chocolate balls.
Long story short, I was making the tarte au chocolat and was ever-so-slightly cocky about it because it was so easy the last time I made it and turned out unbelievably. So I’m waiting for it to bake and it just ISN’T. So I finally decide to take it out after it had been in 20 minutes longer than it was supposed to be. As I pulled it out, though, it completely collapsed in on itself. It was a disaster. And I almost cried. Except Dan was super sweet to me. Anyway, it just sat there looking all forlorn and destroyed for several hours (with Dan all the while telling me he would eat it) when it finally occurs to me that we should just make little balls out of it to dip in the fondue. Not even kidding, that’s the only thing on which I got complimented all night. If only they knew.
PS - Answer: They're both blue, except for the elephant.
PPS - I didn't come up with it.
PPPS - Though I may or may not have giggled out loud at it. In my cube.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
So here we are on a quiet Sabbath, just wandering around (still in our respective skirts/dress pants, mind you) when all of a sudden, I feel a raindrop. We ignore it, thinking it would just sprinkle a little. And then they sky opened. Without notice, it just started pouring. So our umbrella-less selves quickly ducked under a tree, and when that didn’t really do anything, we huddled under a teeny Old City awning…well, it’s more of a 6-inch overhang than an awning.
So here we are, hugging this random wall, when (how this was even possible, I don’t know) it starts to rain EVEN harder. So we climb up on the steps to stand directly in front of the door to sneak a couple extra inches of coverage. We’re just chatting while watching the rain when all of a sudden, the door flies open behind us. We turn abruptly to find a nice, middle-aged woman framed in the opening. We hastily (and flustered-ly, in my case) explain how we were just trying to take refuge from the downpour, did she mind if strangers just invaded her doorstep and passed the time there? Luckily, she was nice enough to not mind, and we turned back to the wetness.
Since it was raining so unbelievably hard, it couldn’t possibly last very long, right? Um, yeah. About that. Forty-five minutes later, we were STILL on this random woman’s doorstep. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for running about in a drizzle, especially when clothed in pajamas and/or my ladybug galoshes. But when in a skirt and dressy shoes and when it is pouring buckets upon buckets of water, yeah, not so much. So Dan finally suggests that maybe we should just ask if we could possibly borrow an umbrella. I laugh this off, thinking it absurd. But when the rain seriously didn’t even slow down, I figured, hey, why not?
So yeah. We knocked on a random woman’s door to ask to borrow an umbrella. The best part was that she actually asked us to hold on while she went to check (she didn’t actually live there – she was visiting her son), and came back with her son, her husbands, and not one, but TWO umbrellas in tow. They were seriously the nicest people – they asked if we wanted to come in to dry off, told us to keep the umbrellas as long as we needed, and told us we should come over some time, as he had just moved to the neighborhood from Brooklyn Heights. Clearly we will be taking them some sort of sweet treat in honor of their newfound status of Nicest People on the Planet.
And then we came home to find a hole in our guest room ceiling with water gushing through. Yay, rain!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
When I got back to the city (finally), I met Dan, Nastya, and Lee at Reading Terminal where we bought approximately 7/8 of the produce place and several types of cheeses for the weekend festivities. That night, we went to Vetri for dinner. Vetri is widely lauded as the best Italian restaurant on the east coast, if not the entire country. Sooo we decided to check it out. OH MAN. Yeah, the portions were miniscule, but the FOOD. Oh, the food. It was magnificent. It was actually less pricey than I expected (~$20 for a pasta entree), so if we had each gotten two entrees, which would have been plenty sufficient, it would've been more along the lines of what I expected in terms of price. So anyway, the spinach gnocchi literally melted into a light, fluffy ball of goodness in my mouth, and the almond tortellini and eggplant ravioli were both wonderful, as was the golden onion crepe with truffle sauce. Whoo boy.
After dinner, we got some Capogiro and wandered over to Independence Mall, where the Philly Pops were performing patriotic music in front of Independence Hall. A Tommy J look-a-like read the Declaration, and the band played the tunes to each division of the services (veterans were asked to stand). Perfect 4th-eve activity.
The next day, we slept in, had Liz & co. drop by to say hi, and went to eat at Sabrina's Cafe, one of our favorite places in the city. Delightful. We went back over to Independence Hall and did a little tour with our wonderful guide, Larry, but sadly missed the giant block of cheese (I'm skeptical about it being donated for food...it was sitting outside the whole time...) and then went home and rested for a bit. Dan & I went over to the Art Museum to meet up with Liz & her friends for John Legend and awesome fireworks behind (and in front of!) the museum. Spectacular, despite the occasional rain.
Saturday was filled with cooking (I made apple scones and a zucchini/asparagus/basil frittata for brunch) and grilling (burgers/veggie burgers, corn, portabellos, other veggie skewers, and the hottest jalapeno poppers on the planet, with caprese salad, good cheese, homemade guacamole, etc.). Let's just say we created our first true feast. Thank heavens Nastya & Lee were there to help out. We went over and watched Fireworks and heard Boyz II Men (whoo!) in the rain that night. We were soaked.
Sunday deserves its own post, and this is getting really long. And the lengthiness is directly correlating to how badly written it is.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Last night was the first of our 2008 outdoor musical adventures. One of my favorite things about the Mann is that it's outside and you can bring a picnic and relax and if you wanted to just fall asleep while listening to beautiful music, it would be okay. I never really got offended when people fell asleep in my orchestra concerts (namely, my mom :)) because I figured if the music were bad, it wouldn't lull them into a sweet slumber. Anyway, so last night, we went with our dear friends Jen & Audrey in celebration of Jen's second-to-last night in Philadelphia. We took salads and drinks and fruit and it was delightful.
As the season opener, it was an incredibly diverse program, but it came together in a unique and wonderful way. First up (after the national anthem, obviously...which is actually one of my very favorite part of Mann Center concerts) was Copland's Appalachian Spring. Glory of glories. Oh my. I love Copland in general - he's probably my favorite composer - but listening to the outstanding Philly Orchestra performing him on a simply stunning evening was breathtaking. I actually looked up at the perfectly dusky clouds and commented to Dan that if those clouds were to have music, that would be it. Wow.
Next was the phenomenal Yo-Yo Ma playing Saint-Saens' first cello concerto. I'd never heard him perform before, and boy was it incredible. His tone and control and precision were all flawless.
After intermission was Musorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and Stravinsky's Firebird suite. Both have fond memories, as Dan & I studied the first in our History of the Symphony class years ago (cue Fantasia), and the Orchestra played the latter in a concert to which I took my parents.
Anyway, this post is probably really boring to read but I pretty much adore the Mann/the Philly Orchestra/music in general so clearly I had to detail it out.