Awesome Habits: Collecting Things!

Genre: Activity

Name: Collecting Things

When I was little, my dad used to travel a lot, and when he would come back, he would bring me a present. That’s how I got my first snowglobe from Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. I wish I had a picture of it, but it’s in my parents house back home. Anyway, I really liked this snowglobe, so I started asking for them whenever my dad would go on vacation, and now it’s become a sort of thing we do. It makes traveling to new places really fun, also, because I’m always on the hunt for a new snowglobe. The one pictured above is from London, England that my dad brought back for me on his last trip.

When I can’t find a snowglobe (and trust me….there have been times….) I also started collecting mugs. These are even better because they have a utilitarian use. I have about 20 I swear, and it’s been really great for the apartment. The picture on the right is a small sampling that I brought to college. From left to right they are: a reading mug I got from my friend Kim, a 101 Dalmatians mug (side note: Disney makes GREAT mugs), a mug from the 50th anniversary of my sorority, a mug I got with my parents when we went to the Grand Turks, and lastly a mug from one of my college visits to Charleston. Not only do you have excellent drinking device, you also have memories of places you’ve been. (If you haven’t been anywhere, don’t fret: CVS also has a good selection of mugs.)

Here are some other blogs about collecting things:

The White Elephant blog is about things that people find at various flea markets. They have posts from flea markets all around the country and the interesting things they find there.

There’s always coin collecting! The Lunaticg Banknote & Coin blog talks about different kinds of currency collecting from a normal coin collecting standpoint.

The Cumpulsive Collector gives you lots of ideas of what else to collect!

Tips for An Awesome Morning

Genre: Cooking

Name: Breakfast

I know I’ve been posting a lot about food recently, but it’s honestly a coincidence. Somehow, in the last few weeks, I’ve had many awesome encounters with food, and the other day was no exception. Boyfriend and I made a pilgrimage to the supermarket after his classes last Friday and picked up lots of breakfast food. Originally we were going to go full-on food shopping, but we were tired and hungry, so we just picked up the essentials. We grabbed eggs, bacon, bread, and juice, and headed home to make a delicious breakfast! Here are my tips for a successful lazy morning:

Photo Cred: freshlyeducatedmen.wordpress.com

Tip One: Somehow trick Boyfriend (or other person) into doing the hard work for you

This part was easy for me: Boyfriend likes to cook. It’s not that I don’t, per se, but it involved a level of standing/awakeness that I couldn’t achieve at the hour of circa 10 o’clock in the morning. You might think this pathetic, as many people start their jobs at 9AM, but I was working on a paper late into the night and therefore didn’t get much sleep.

Tip Two: Get food first by pretending to “test” its level of done-ness

Sacrifice yourself by testing the food. Your cook will be grateful for the offer, as you risk getting salmonella or some other possibly deadly disease. They will be so grateful that they may even offer your food first. If not, you can certainly fib and keep “testing” as long as you are hungry.

Tip Three: Pretend to find something on TV and magically keep watching TV

Be a thoughtful guest (or host) and find something interesting to watch on TV. This can be even more successful if the TV and the kitchen are not in the same room. Just “conveniently” forget to go back. Hey, you were hard at work finding that station!

Tip Four: Get out of cleaning up by pretending to fall asleep in a food-induced coma

A well-placed “This meal was so delicious I just can’t move!” can flatter your cook and get you out of the clean-up that you probably should offer. However, the cook will understand your fullness over the delicious meal, and will clean up without even asking. If there is doubt that they might bother you to help, you can always just fall asleep.

I would definitely recommend this past time, as it was an awesome and delicious way to spend a morning.

Top Chef Debacle

Genre: Television

Name: Top Chef All Stars

**Warning: Contains Spoilers of the 12/8/10 episode of Top Chef All Stars

I don’t usually blog about tv….if I did, it would literally be the only thing I blogged about, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not what this blog is for. But I am SO OUTRAGED over last night’s episode of Top Chef All Stars that I had to post about it. If you haven’t seen it and will be disappointed to know who got voted out, don’t read any further. In fact, go watch it right now and then you can read this post. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

You finished? Sweet. So, I imagine since this is fresh in your mind you’ll be just as ticked off as I am, and I’ve gone to sleep and had a few hours this morning to mull it over. Seriously?!

I’ll try to catch all you non-Top Chef-ers up: Last night’s episode had the all stars – an elite selection of the best of the best from the past seven seasons – cooking breakfast for kids sleeping over at the American Museum of Natural History. For those of you who think it strange that the museum hosts sleepovers, it’s actually quite common. Although I’ve never done it, many of my friends were in girl scouts/boy scouts and slept over. The chefs were split up into teams that decided which ingredients they were allowed to use. Tiffani headed the T-rex team which only had access to meat and dairy, and Spike headed the Brontosaurus team which could only use fruit, vegetables, and grains for their ingrediants. After the task was over, the T-rex team had lost. When they were called to the Judges Table, Tom Colicchio and Jen Carroll shared some strong words. Tom claims her eggs were bland, yet Jen continued to stand by her dish, giving the most heated response I’ve ever seen on the show! Jen wasn’t afraid to speak her mind….and later Tom even congratulated her for standing behind her dish. However, even though one of the other chefs, Jamie Lauren, didn’t even cook anything because she sliced her finger open, Jen was still sent home.

If you can’t tell, I’m still reeling. My neck hurts from the whiplash I got.

The only solace I find is that I am not the only one who feels cheated with the short reign of Jennifer. TVGuide had a lovely article and Jen’s exit, and The Washington Post covered the episode in detail as well. To read Tom’s take on it, go to his blog on Bravotv.com. While Tom believes Jen’s dish was the worst, I’m still upset she had such a short time on the show. 😦 Hopefully they’ll bring her back for All Stars: Season 2!!

Cooking Adventure

Genre: Cooking

Name: Spinach Alfredo Tortellini

I haven’t done a post on cooking yet, so I thought I’d foray into the world of culinary arts. I really like the spinach alfredo tortellini from TGIFridays. It comes with the Parmesan Crusted Chicken entree, and as I’m not a fan of of tomato and mozzerella salad, I just usually order double the pasta because it’s so good. I tried to ask the waitress if they had a dish with JUST the pasta, but alas, they don’t serve that at this time. Anyway, I decided the other night that it couldn’t be that hard to make! I love pasta and spinach, and if I had the time, why shouldn’t I try and cook some for myself?

I found a couple recipes online, and settled on one that seemed relatively easy to follow from Spark People Recipes. I got the ingrediants and started cooking. Overall, not my best cooking experience, although it did come out all right. My two biggest mistakes were putting waaaaay too much pepper in, even though I followed the right amount, and not cooking the first mixture enough. The end result had too much kick for my taste, and wasn’t thin enough. It still had a good amount of graininess to it. Part of the instructions are to “Bring the mixture to a boil and let it cook until reduced so that the milk coats the back of a spoon.” I’m not really sure what it means to coat the back of a spoon. A wooden spoon? A metal spoon? What does that really mean? Anyway, next time I think I’ll try a different recipe. The tortellini is just store-bought Buitoni. Still, it came out looking good!

Another Day at the Movies

Genre: Movie

Name: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

I know I touched on this in my last post about Thanksgiving, but I really want to dedicate an entire post on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1. I’ve seen it twice now, once at midnight and once with my mom over break, and it’s given me a lot to think about. Firstly, I would like to recommend going to see a midnight showing for the last one if you’ve never gone. Honestly, it’s about 1000 times different at midnight. The whole audience was into it, there was cheering, gasping, laughing – I really felt a bond with my fellow audience mates, and not just because I knew 10 of them. I didn’t notice the difference until I went the day before Thanksgiving with my mom and I was the only one laughing at the funny parts – and I’d seen it before! I knew what was coming, yet I was the only one making any kind of audible recognition that a very interesting and important movie was going on. Maybe I just picked a bad theatre, but I think it was just our combined love of Harry Potter at midnight that got us so excited. 

Overall, I found this movie by far to be scripted the closest to the book’s actual text. I recognized more lines in this movie than I have in others. I know this is mostly due to the length they have – parts one and two should total around five hours – so they can include nearly everything that happens in the book. This movie especially needed the time since the writers cut out many parts in previous movies. I attribute this to the fact that the series wasn’t complete when they first started filming. How could screen writers know what was important to the overall plot when the conclusion was still missing? This is a gross mistake, and I hope they decide to remake the series in a few decades so the movies can flow more seamlessly. In the past, the movies seemed to be a collection of scenes with poor flow between them. People who have not read the books have commented that this movie, in contrast, was easy to follow even though they didn’t know what was coming next.

I’ve read the seventh book three times, including once just before the movie, so it made it difficult to separate the two. However, even if you are a huge stickler for accuracy, you have to appreciate the movie for its aesthetics, too. Although the scenes are almost all dark, the special effects and imagery are outstanding. The opening scene in which Voldemort is assembled with his Death Eaters and plans his first attempt of the movie to kill Harry Potter is beautifully executed even though the pretense is dark. Even if you are unfamiliar with the story, Voldemort’s power is clear from the beginning, as well as the subservience of his followers. Nagini, Voldemort’s snake, is particularly well crafted. Although she is computer animated, it is hard to remember that she is not a living thing that the actors are with on the set. She even has her own scene separate from her master, in which she attacks Harry and Hermione in Godric’s Hollow.

Another visually stunning creation is Dobby, a house elf Harry has befriended and known since the second book. Dobby has always kind of annoyed me – he’s subservient, speaks in a high-pitched voice, not very cute – but I loved him in this movie. He’s funny and sassy! His scene with Kreacher where they vie for Harry’s attention was perfectly executed. Dobby also steals the show at the end (don’t worry, I won’t tell ALL the spoilers!) when he gets back at his old masters, the Malfoys. Dobby has some great one-liners I didn’t think would come out of him, but the writers gave him a great little personality that really shone on the big screen.

If you haven’t seen it, go!! It’s terrific. And if you want to brush up on your HP knowledge, I suggest you check out the Harry Potter Lexicon. It includes information not just from the books, but also from interviews with Jo Rowling about minute HP details. It’s a great place to poke around if you’re dying for more HP facts!

Happy watching/reading!

 

Thanksgiving Guide to Awesome

Genre: Activities

Name: Things to do on Thanksgiving

The smell of roasting (or deep-fried) turkeys, fresh-baked pies, and family guilt are in the air…which means it’s time for Thanksgiving! I won’t be posting during the holiday weekend, so here are a variety of Thanksgiving Day awesomeness that will keep you entertained whether you’re dreading seeing Grandma or can’t enough of those little crescent rolls.

Name: Football

I know I’ve blogged about football recently…but it’s Thanksgiving! For those of who are football fans, it’s another day to sit around the TV in the middle of the week, eat, and watch the game. There are three games: Patriots at Lions at 12:30, Saints at Cowboys at 4:15, and Bengals at Jets at 8:20. It’s also helpful to have something on if you don’t want to make small talk with the relatives. Also, you can go to your alma mater’s high school game. If you’re a recent high school grad, it can be an opportunity to reconnect with old friends – or get out of some cooking.

Name: Play games

I blogged about the games Apples to Apples and Things. They are great games that can help break the ice if you haven’t seen some of your relatives in a while. Another game that was popular during the holidays in my family was Pictionary. A more up-to-date version might be Cranium. It’s great for large groups, but equally as fun for families as small as four.

Name: Movies

I’ve never done this, but many families head to the movies, and there are some terrific films outHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was AWESOME. I’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies, read all the books, and this is by far the best one – and I’m a huge critic of the movies. This is part one of a two part series, and they’ve really taken the time to include all the details. I’m going to see it with my mom the day before Thanksgiving, but I’m sure the theatres will be crowded with movie goers on Thursday as well. Other interesting movies out are Megamind, Tangled, and Morning Glory.

Name: Read a book and hide in your room

While I’m not advocating being antisocial, sometimes it just feels unavoidable. I just read Pastoralia by George Saunders. It’s a weird collection of short stories, but it’s definitely a laugh. Also, it’s academic enough that you can pass it off as homework, but doesn’t read at all like the books you’ve read for school. I highly recommend it. Absolutely hilarious. Also a great escape mechanism.

I hope this list will provide you with an excellent and awesome Thanksgiving! Happy Turkey Day!

Fish are friends!

Genre: Activity

Name: Pets

I try not to post things that will cost you money…but this one was actually pretty cheap! My apartment was feeling kind of lonely, and for a while I’ve been thinking about investing in a low cost “pet” like a fish or a plant or something. Basically, something that won’t easily die because I’m irresponsible. If you follow that link, Brenda Nelson from Factoidz has some terrific advice on easy pets.

My friend had a Betta fish, and it seemed like the perfect pet. They like to live in small aquariums and they can’t live with other fish or they’ll kill them, so I wouldn’t feel guilty about keeping it in a small tank or not giving it any friends. Betta fish are very territorial and will fight anything that looks like competition – anything from another Betta fish to a colorful plant (more on that later…). Also, they don’t eat very much, and my apartment allows fish!

However, I just could never find the time to get one. Last week, I was visiting my friend who had just bought a snake. We make a trip to PetCo to get her snake a heat lamp, and left with two Betta fish! I bought, along with mymale Betta fish, a .5 gallon tank, fish food, a net, a plastic plant, some stones for the bottom of the tank, and water de-chlorinator. All in all, my total came to around $30. Not too bad for a pet and everything!

The only issue I found was that my fish, named Hermione even though it’s a boy, ate part of the plant! I guess he thought it was another fish he must destroy to defend his territory. I’m really enjoying having him though! He swims around his tank a lot and is absolutely beautiful. Definitely a great pet decision!

It’s Game Time!

Genre: Sports

Name: Football Game

Team: Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins

I know this isn’t an activity for everyone, but you can translate this into your own event. If you’ve never attended a professional sporting event, I highly recommend it. And yes, this is coming from the girl who spends Sundays glued to the TV, but it really applies to any sport. I’ve been to basketball (pro and college), hockey, soccer, and lacrosse games. They’re really enjoyable, especially if you go with a group and the crowd is into it. Overall, sporting experiences – while not just about the sport itself – are lots of fun for the atmosphere of excitement and victory (or defeat).

I went to the Eagles v Redskins game yesterday, which was Monday Night Football. The crowd at FedEx field was crazy! The fans were into the game, and there was an appropriate level of smacktalk between Eagles and Redskins fans alike. Our seats were ridiculously high – there were only 3 rows behind us before the top of the stadium – and we had our tissues out in anticipation of nosebleeds. However, except the long hike up the steps, the seats were actually quite good! We ended up in a baby row – only 5 seats long- and no one came to sit there the rest of the game, so there was plenty of room. We were seated behind the end zone, so we had a clear view of the field and the screen. I could see the players just fine, but it was helpful to have the big screen to watch the play reviews. I was surprised that they used the screen for ads…it was strange watching the Geico commercial in the stands. The view was terrific, and we struck up a camaraderie with the fans behind us who had season tickets.

If you couldn’t tell from the picture above, I’m an Eagles fan. Boyfriend is a Redskins fan, which made it even sweeter when Michael Vick, the Eagles quarterback, threw an 88 yard pass for a touchdown on the first play. And then the massacre began. I’ll skip to the end and just say that the score was 59-28, Eagles win. But the stadium wasn’t just empty because of the score (although it helped). It started to rain in the middle of the first quarter, and didn’t stop the rest of the night. We stuck it out though, and I’m very proud to say that we were one of 8 people left in our section that holds probably a few thousand. Boyfriend got me a cup of coffee – since I was so cold I was shaking – so that helped get me through. All in all, a great experience! I wish it had been warmer and drier, but it was quite an adventure.

For a more detailed account of the game, visit SportingNews. There will be a lot of reporting on this game, I imagine, in light of Donovan McNabb‘s recent five-year, $78 million dollar contract deal with the Washington Redskins. And since his performance last night did not reflect that, I’m sure many reporters and fans will be calling into question the decision to extend his contract. Enjoy McNabb for another 5 years, DC! He’s your problem now.

Party Games!

Genre: Game

Name: Apples to Apples

Maker: Quinn & Sherry Inc.

The holiday season is almost upon us…and it is the time for family and giving thanks. My family is a big fan of the game Apples to Apples and we play it at many of our family gatherings. At first I was unsure when my aunt brought the game – I didn’t know how my parents would take to the humor of associating Adolph Hitler with the adjective “spicy” – but it was a sure-fire hit. My mom, surprisingly, became the champion of the household and it’s not surprising that she knew us all best.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Apples to Apples is a game of associations. Each player has 7 red cards with nouns on them – anywhere from people like Barbara Walters and Helen Keller, to places like Vietnam and the Pyramids, to things like AIDS, Earwigs, and Lint. The first player chooses a green card with an adjective like “Dirty.” Each player (except the one that drew the card) chooses a red card (nouns) from their pile that they think is best associated with “Dirty.” The player who drew the green card (adjective: Dirty) then chooses the card she thinks is best associated with “Dirty.” Players would be best advised, then, to consider the drawer’s opinion in the matter. If the drawer chooses the card that you put down, you win the round and get to collect the green card as a measure of points. The player with the most green cards at the end of the game wins!

You get the hang of it as you play the game. It’s a lot of fun – and a great way to get to know people! For instance, when I played with my aunt, she mentioned how much she likes cats (she has two). So when her turn came around, she drew the card “Cute” and I happened to have “cats” in my pile of red cards. While it’s not the card I would have chosen, I knew how much she liked cats and I won!

Another really fun game is called “Things.” Get Together Ideas blogged about it. You can check it out here. It’s a blast! Things is almost the opposite to Apples to Apples in that you want to try to hide your response from the guesser. I wouldn’t necessarily play this game with my family – mostly because my friends have corrupted me to have a pretty dirty mind when it comes to this game – but it’s fun for everyone, really. To play, you first choose a Reader. The Reader chooses a card and reads the topic. Each player (including the Reader) except the player to the Reader’s left, then writes down a response and folds their paper in half and hands it to the Reader. The player to the left of the Reader is the Guesser. The Reader reads the responses aloud, and the Guesser must guess which of the responses go with each player. If the Guesser gets it wrong, then it goes on to the next person to guess where the responses go. The Reader doesn’t get to play this round because she could identify the correct response-to-person because of the handwriting.

Some examples of “topics” are: something you find in the attic; something you would bring on a first date; something you would say to a new mother. You can imagine the range of responses you can glean from these topics!

I hope some of these games add to your family/game time fun this season!

Rally Report

Genre: Activity

Name: Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear and Halloween

As many of you know, this past weekend Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert hosted their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend even though I live quite close to the capital. I had other obligations of the marching band sort, but you can watch a lot of clips from the rally here. The rally was mostly about encouraging rationality when dealing with problems and understanding that the most extreme people usually have the loudest voices. Jon Stewart encouraged the media to take a step back and try to be reasonable about their coverage. But let’s be real – Jon can say this better than me. For his own words on the point of the rally (and there was more to it than funny signs, people falling out of trees, and bears) watch this clip in particular.

But serious isn’t usually my game. What I’m interested in sharing with you all is the awesomeness of the event: and all the funny signs that came with it. On my way to drop Boyfriend off at the metro for the rally, we saw some interesting posters. The ones that I saw said “President Obama: Bring Back Crystal Pepsi” and “THIS IS A SIGN.” Rally the Cause is keeping tally of the many posters at the rally. Here are some of the highlights:

Alderaan was an inside job

Americans for the Responsible Use of Hitler Comparisons

Dodo never feared anything. (Now extinct)

I don’t really have a political message…so I drew a bunny

Ironically, this Rally is Insane

Rabble Rabble Rabble

This sign is courteous to those behind me [transparent sign]

If you saw any awesome signs or think you found better ones, add them in the comments section!

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