Sunday, September 29, 2013

Do you know the way to San Jose? and other stories

It's hard not to feel sort of sullen around this time of year.  I mean, it's hard for me not to feel sort of sullen in general (and yes, feel free to file that revelation under the tots obvs. section of your brain because I know you have one) but it's especially hard not to when my facebook feed is peppered with pictures from friends back East boasting stews and auburn colored landscapes.

Meanwhile, I am fantasizing endlessly about boots and pumpkin flavored anything and trying desperately to ignore the fact that my living room has been turned into a veritable sweat lodge because its a trillion f--ing degrees outside.  Barf.  Southern California can take it's year round rosy weather and general lack of cynicism and shove it, quite frankly.  Because I'm not having a.n.y of this.

So as you can see I am doing really really well these days.

I actually just recently returned from my first trip as a very busy and important working professional. I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm kind of a big deal. (p.s. you can feel free to file that one under tots obvs. too)  

I went to San Jose for a week to visit schools and was generally pleased by the experience as well as by my lack of melt downs in entirely new and sometimes disorienting situations.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that I've outgrown my penchant for freak outs, as I am sure my log of text messages to Moses regarding tipping valets and using hotel gyms would suggest otherwise, but I would say that I have made definite progress in the whole not dissolving into a puddle of myself at the slightest provocation department.  I am also happy to report that I did not contact anyone about the possibility of having or carrying any rare diseases and/or ailments, so well adjustment be mine!

Anyways, San Jose turned out to be a pretty quaint city, not what I was expecting.   I honestly don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't what I got. Perhaps I found it particularly charming because I was staying in the downtown area in the historic Sainte Clair Hotel, which was built in the 1920s.  I didn't take any pictures because...I didn't so get off my back but here is one from the internet.

I booked the hotel because it was older (and I am sucka for old hotels and history in general) and conveniently located but what I didn't realize until I went googling around for information about parking while waiting to board my flight, it's allegedly one of the most haunted hotels in San Jose.

Now, I don't particularly believe in hauntings or ghosts but...I scare real easily.  Maybe it's the fact that I was raised Catholic or maybe it's because I have one hell of an imagination but if someone tells me something is haunted my most of me says whatever and laughs it off but there is this little tiny part of me that says uuuuummmm better cover your bases and sleep with the lights on.  So I did.  Especially because I didn't have Skeptical McSkepticism Moses to protect me from any paranormal inhabitants with his powers of reason.

I did not have any ghostly encounters but I did wake up on average 10 times per night. So go figure.

And speaking of hauntings...I must have passed the exit for the Winchester Mystery House at least ten times over the course of the week and each time I was tempted to make a little detour in my travels.  On my last full day in San Jose, I had some time to kill after a morning full of high school visits, so I looked up the tour times for the Winchester Mystery House and was less than thrilled to discover that the tour was over two hours longs. Um, thanks but no thanks.  That is approximately 90 minutes too long. I'm sure I won't regret not going for always.

Warning:  This is the part of the blog where I get tired of writing and just flash photographs at you.  

So.  After all my work obligation were over,  I headed over to bay area  (a huge thanks to Lynne and Gloria for picking me up from San Jose!) and met up with Moses for a little family fun. 

Including but limited to:

Eating crab at the historic Aliotos which overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge.

Playing old games, many of which, as the clever plaques on them reminded us, are older than their players...

Sampling some Ghiardelli chocolates.

Part of the "d" was burned out...

And some sourdough bread at La Boudin.

Strolling around an art and wine festival, which featured booths selling an eclectic array of products.

And you know, the usual shenanigans...

I think that will about do it for me.  Now back to ignoring the collection of four different types of pumpkin ales housed in the corner of our fridge (taking up prime real estate according to Moses) and drinking my apple wheat beer instead.  It's offic. fall. Sorry, I'll stop abbreviating already moderately short words tomorrow.  I promise.  

(Not really.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Something useful for a change (kind of)

To be perfectly frank, I've been feeling pretty apathetic about blogging recently.  Maybe it's the freneticism at work that has only just recently begun to lull.  Or maybe it's the heat.  I don't know and/or care how I used to survive the humid 90 degree temperatures of New York summers, but anything over 72 degrees in So Cal makes me feel like I want to die.  Overly dramatic?  No.  Overly wimpy? Probably.

Every so often I feel slightly insecure and even daunted by the fact that my blog has no overarching theme and essentially offers no useful information whatsoever.  I wish that I was good at making book recommendations.  (You mean that you don't want to just continually reread the Harry Potter series while secretly promising yourself that you are really going to read something of substance next?)  Or that I had great recipes to share.  (I mean, I do but none of them are mine and anyone who has access to pinterest could find them.)  Or that I was some sort of enviable DIY genius instead of someone who searches out projects that I will never ever do myself.

So what's really bringing you here?  Nothing, unless you're some type of sucker for listening to someone else talk aimlessly about Bravo t.v. programming or about all the random places they go or the lame trials faced by a childless gal in her late 20's and all, of course, in nauseating amounts of detail.  I don't know that I would even file that under a must read.  Except that I might because my must read list consists of a spattering of the same poetry I've read a million times before, Real Housewives' blogs, the descriptions of pinterest posts (that I delete when repinning them), and episode summaries of various t.v. shows that I haven't watched yet so that when I watch them I can be emotionally prepared for what happens.   Although Moses has made me swear not to do this with Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones and it's nearly killing me but I haven't.  Yet.  No, I won't.  But I might. But I will really really try not to.

Anyways, I sometimes feel sort of bad about the purposelessness of my posts but then again, I also sort of feel like it's my blog and I'll do whatever the hell I want with it.  And yes, I did learn self awareness from day time t.v. talk shows.

So today, I am going to do an experimental hybrid where I do my best to provide some helpful suggestions for life (step one: do not put a coffee container in your bag without carefully checking that the lid is securely fastened--you're welcome) and where I also prattle on about the usual nonsense.

Okay, so book recommendations. yeah, I am still in the process of rereading the Harry Potter series could do that.  And I've read the first two pages of the first Game of Thrones book, so you could also do that.

Ugh, I got both an undergraduate and graduate degree in literature, I should be able to do this...

All right.  So seriously.  Seriously.  If you are not into Harry Potter or Game of Throne or you've read them a million times, I would  recommend Maria Cummins The Lamplighter.

It's nothing like either of those books except that it is enjoyable.

This book is sort of one of the lesser known masterpieces of the 19th century and it was a best-selling book in it's time.  But don't let that deter you.  Fifty Shades of Grey it is not; they had standards back then.

From a historical standpoint, what this book suggests about femininity and masculinity in 19th century America is fascinating.  The narrative is also compellingly (and subtly) bifurcated, managing to serves as a bildungsroman for both genders.  From a regular ol' reader's standpoint, this book is also an absolute pleasure to read.  I would liken it to Anne of Green Gables.  Gerty, the protagonist, like Anne Shirley, is strong willed, clever, ambitious, impactful--just the sort of heroine that every reader easily rallies around. It also has one of those classic "everything and everyone is connected" elements that remarkably doesn't feel forced.

There you go.  Book recommendation: check.  Now onto blowing your mind with some recipes.

Please note that all of the following recipes have been tested by me and approved by Moses, who has an extremely sophisticated palette due to the fact that he grew up with such a talented cook for a mother.

If you are in the mood for something sweet (I am.  Always.)  I would recommend this cookie recipe:

Salted Vanilla Chip Oatmeal Cookies:

I'm not a fan of white chocolate but I didn't mind it in these, probably because my dislike of white chocolate is overpowered by my love of salty/sweet combinations.  I brought half of the batch I made to work and they were gone in a few hours.

If you are looking for something relatively simple and straightforward to make for dinner behold!

Baked Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken:

What can I say?  It's delish and suuuuper easy.  Which is easily my favorite combination when cooking. Moses made audible "mmm" sounds when eating this and because I thrive of positive feedback/reassurance, it pretty much made me feel like Flash Gordon: Master of the Universe.  Don't know how that feels?  Then make this recipe and watch your love ones surrender into worshiping you like they always should have.

Feel like something lighter and more refreshing because it's hotter than 72 degrees?  Me too.  That's why I've made this next one a handful of times this summer to great success:

Thai Quinoa Salad:

Oh and in case you were under any false assumptions, I took 0.0% of these pictures.  If you ever want low quality and blurry closeups of food though, I'd be happy to oblige.

Book recommendation: check.  Recipes: check.  Onto DIY?  Um, pass. Or does pouring myself a glass of wine count as a DIY project?  Probably if I made the wine, or the glasses.  So here is where I'm starting to reach my limitations on utility.  I don't have any ideas about how you can turn your recyclables into your own fortress of solitude (lord knows, I've tried and it just doesn't work.)  And I don't really have any recommendations about ways to selvage old book shelves or thoughts on what to do with 50 million different shades of nail polish.  Trust.

Crafts are not really my forte unfortunately and I'm not terribly good at decorating, anything.  But you'll never hear me say that in front of Bill Murray.

I think I better just move on and hope that you don't notice.

Onto recent adventures.  Well, labor day weekend was a little bit of a bust.  Moses and I didn't manage to do much of anything except to visit the aquarium, which was entirely devoid of dolphins and therefore a disappointment to me.  We also were too lazy to document even so much as a jelly fish, although I did manage to mock those taking endless photos around me, so I think that counts, somewhat.

Recently Moses and I made our second visit to the Natural History Museum to see the Becoming Los Angeles Exhibit.  This I can highly, highly recommend for any Angelenos reading this blog.  (All four of you.)  The exhibit had two levels: one that about the history of the people in Los Angeles and another about the animals/insects and plant life.

There were two types of snakes present.  I responded in my usual fashion of remaining fifty paces away and preemptively clutching my skirt on the off chance that they would break out of their glass covered exhibits and slither up my skirt.  Whatever, it makes total sense and you wish you thought of it.

Moses and I had fun with the squirrel and cat exhibit.  Did you know that there were 3 million feral cats in Los Angeles?  I don't know whether or not to feel sad or impressed.

And of course, Moses and I had to take some traditional ridiculous photos in the museum gifts.  Like we do.

This weekend, Moses and I also went to the Museum of Jurassic Technology.  Without giving too much away, because I don't think I could if I wanted to (and I now understand why so many people I know who went there said the exact same thing to me), one of my co-workers described it as an elaborate installation art piece and I would agree.  I've also heard it described as a museum about museums and I would concur with that as well.  I would probably characterize it as an intellectual freak show--it's a bizarre spectacle and you wonder how much of it real and how much is illusion. I think the overall experience was very similar to reading most post-modernist fiction: magnificent but highly unpleasurable and something I will likely never read/do again.

Mose and I might try to squeeze in a few additional adventures before the weekends out but who knows and/or cares.  Not you, surely.  So I will say my goodbyes here.  Hope you enjoyed my recommendations because they are probably the last ones you'll ever get from me.