Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My First Spinning Class

So Amol and I finally made it to a spinning class last night. I've been fairly motivated to go to the gym lately since none of my clothes fit properly around the waist line and I've eaten nothing but Thanksgiving leftovers for the last six days. Also, the whole "if you bail on a class, you have to wear your bathing suit out the next time we hang out, be it at a movie theater, restaurant or karaoke bar" really helps me make it class.

Anyway, I had emailed Julia to see if she wanted to join us, and she replied with:

Oh my god...cycling is MADNESS. I think I've only gone through a whole cycling class once. How do you do it so the seat doesn't hurt your nether regions?


The first thing I said to Amol, to his horror, when the class was finally over was, "Christ, my kooch hurts."

I think a jock strap is going on my Xmas wish list.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Pic That Sums up My Turkey Experience

Me - confused why there was no meat on the "breast." Posted by Picasa

Thanksgiving Dinner

So Thanksgiving turned out every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be. Our friends came over bearing all sorts of yummy side dishes and desserts. Courtney brought yams, Josh brought Thode's Grandma's beets & bacon, Paul brought mashed potatoes, Lypstykgirl brought her famous stuffing, Jason and Jeremy brought pumpkin rolls, and Grayling AJ brought his waldorf salad. Everyone also brought wine. I made the green bean casserole (which AJ complimented heartily and said it looked exactly like his mom's gb casserole - she must follow the recipe on the back of the Durkee's Fried Onion Can too) and surprised Max with Danish cabbage. Normally, Max makes the Danish cabbage, which is a requisite family Thanksgiving dish, but since he was so swamped with work, I decided to give it a try. I followed his dad's instructions religiously, including the "stir the cabbage and drink some wine while you wait for it to cook" parts and it turned out surprisingly well. The only slight hiccup to the dinner was the fact that Max accidentally cooked the turkey upside down, so that when I went to slice it, I was horrified because I kept hitting what I thought was the bone in the breast. There appeared to be no meat on this 17 lb Zacky's Farm Turkey and after mauling 1/2 of the "breast" there was only one small plate of turkey meat. Turns out, I was trying to slice the BACK of the turkey like one would slice the breast. When we finally figured it out (and considering we're all pretty smart people it took an alarming long time) and flipped the bird over, we were all good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


So on Monday night Amol and I made plans to take a class at the gym last night. We decided that we would not allow any exceptions, excuses, circumstances in which we could get out of going to the class, since last time, our one exception was if there was a poker game, and then I went about organizing a poker game so obviously, I'll go to great lengths to avoid going to the gym. Amol did mention nonchalantly that he would let me bail if I had a date with George Clooney but that was it.

I spent all day yesterday looking for George Clooney but to no avail. Where is that man? Must be hanging out with Matthew McConaughey who I have not been able to find either.

We also decided that if either of us bailed on the class, we'd have to show up in our bathing suits the next time we hung out. Be that at a movie theater, at a karaoke place, or even at Red Rock. We figured if anything could get us to the gym, it'd be the fear of humiliation.

So lo and behold, I went to the gym! And it was fun. We went to the weight lifting class. I'm not sure Amol really enjoyed it, but he did say he'd go again. And then afterwards, I negated all the calories I burned off by eating the two-piece chicken and two sides meal at El Pollo Loco. Nice.

I'm hoping the office closes early today so I can go home and do the twenty loads of laundry I have stuffed in my closet and under my bed. I also have some pre-Thanksgiving things to take care of, including possibly making an apple pie. Now, my pies are some ugly looking pies, but I think they taste pretty good so I'm hoping that I can pull one off again. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Quest for a Butterball

Max and I are having people over for Thanksgiving. I'm really excited about it. It should be really fun, and everyone is bringing a side dish and it really will be wonderful. I've been so excited about it that I've actually thought about it way more than anyone should think about something like the Thanksgiving dinner. I've done research into how far in advance I have to buy the turkey, and how big it should be, and how to defrost it at the last minute if needed. I also know how long refrigerated and frozen leftovers can keep. I've looked through the circulars and checked out the what's on sale. I have talked about it several times with Max, and even read him the grocery list over the phone this morning.

So even though I had long ago planned to do the Thanksgiving grocery shopping over the weekend, at the last minute I changed my mind. Mom had told me that Butterball turkeys (my favorite kind) also come fresh, so I didn't really need to buy it so far in advance. Okay. I decided that rather than going to the grocery store when everyone else would go, presumably Sunday afternoon, I'd go Monday at lunch.

Turns out, everyone else thought the same. But I was still in a good mood. I carefully got the things on my list, and then moseyed over to the turkey aisle. Turns out, at Pavillions, if you spend $25, Butterball turkeys 16 - 22 lbs (I think) are $11. What a deal! Unfortunately, there were no fresh Butterballs. And the biggest frozen Butterball was 14 lbs. Which is technically enough, but I was hoping to get something closer to 18-20 lbs, since I have 9 people coming over, and I'm lazy and like to live on leftovers for as long as possible.

I fretted a bit but then decided not to let this stop me. I asked a butcher if there were any bigger frozen Butterballs in the back and he said he thought so. He asked me if I wanted a fresh or frozen one, and I figured, well, fresh of course. Why bother defrosting.

25 minutes of waiting later, the butcher, who had caught my eye several times while I stood in the turkey aisle, blocking traffic and all, pushed out a whole bunch of fresh Butterball turkeys. I spotted a 22 lb one and decided, well more leftovers for everyone. Butcher winks at me, and asks me what time Thanksgiving dinner's at. I laugh and secretly pat myself on the back for 1.) being smart enough to ask the butcher to go get me my turkey 2.) being patient enough to get it. Also, somewhat 3.) being a girl, since I was convinced that helped me get my turkey.

Anyway, with turkey in tow, I went to pay for my groceries. I watched as the prices scan by. The total came to around $135, before the turkey. And then the cashier scanned the turkey. And then to total came to $175.

And then, I became the Annoying Woman in the Grocery Check Out Lane.

Me: "Wait, how much is the turkey?"
Cashier: "Let me check. It's $37.50."
Me: "$37.50!!!"
Cashier: "Yeah, $37.50."
Me: "I thought it was supposed to be $11!"
Cashier & Bag Girl: "That's for FROZEN Butterballs. You got a fresh one."
Me: (*shrill*) "Well, I don't want it! That's really expensive for turkey isn't it?"
Cashier: "Yes, it is. That's a lot. So you don't want it?"
Me: "No, I don't want it!"

The cashier went about voiding it. Then it occured to me that I now have no turkey. But I couldn't bring myself to go back to ask the Butcher to get me a big frozen Butterball. Not after I asked for a big fresh Butterball, that he had to go to the back for, that I waited 25 minutes for.

Me: "Actually, I'll take it."
Cashier: "You want it?"
Me: "Yeah, I want it."

Cashier started fiddling with the keys. I thought about it some more. $37.50! That's robbery.

Me: "Actually, I don't want it."
Cashier: "You don't want it?"
Me: "No, I don't want it.

Cashier had to call the manager over to void it. I was too terrified of the man waiting behind me in line to even give him a wry smile of apology. Manager came over and cleared the turkey. Bag girl carted it away. I waved bye to it and hoped the Butcher doesn't recognize it and I left Pavillions, sans turkey.

I got home and ran the groceries up. Now I was in a really stupid bind. I had to get a turkey. I couldn't go back to Pavillions. I needed to get back to work. But if I ended up with a frozen one, I should really get it immediately so that it could start defrosting. Fuuuuuck.

So I ended up driving to Ralph's, another grocery store. It took me 10 minutes to find parking, because again, EVERYONE went grocery shopping Monday at lunch. I found the frozen Butterballs. They were all small. I found the fresh turkeys. There were no fresh Butterballs. I found an employee and asked him if there were any fresh or frozen Butterball turkeys and how much are they? He didn't know and had to page the butcher. Butcher finally showed up but first he had to give this old lady her steaks, and then give another old lady some salmon and three fillets of over-priced tilapia. Finally he turned to me. I asked to him to go look for Butterballs. He came back, no luck - there were no big fresh or frozen Butterballs.


At this point, I gave up. I went back to the fresh turkey aisle and started looking. Apparently, there are all kinds of turkey. Prime Turkey. Hen Turkey. Young Hen Turkey. Tom Turkey. I decidef on a fairly big Prime Turkey when the woman next to me tsks and tells me that big turkeys aren't as good. Better to get two small turkeys. TWO SMALL TURKEYS??? I don't think so. But I take her advice somewhat and get a slightly smaller 17 lb Zacky's Farm Young Turkey.

Good god, I hope it's good.

And I hope all the bloody turkey juice that I got on my new pants while hoisting turkeys all over the place comes out.

Weekend Recap

Okay, before I start going on about my weekend, let me just say that someone actually came on to this site by google searching the words "what does bear poop look like." The existence of this blog has finally been justified.

Friday after work, I threw together a quick green bean casserole and headed over to AJ's (not Grayling AJ, but Andrea) most darling apartment and hung out with her, Kate, and Jessie. In addition to the green bean casserole, I also brought over a pack of the new Sofia Coppola sparkling wine that comes in individual hot pink cans and with a hot pink extendable bendy straw. Very fun. Like a juice box for adults.

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Everyone made really terrific food. Kate brought a greek quiche and popovers, Jessie brought a salad and AJ made lobster and shrimp quesadillas. Yum. AJ invited her new neighbor over as well, who looked like he didn't know quite know how to talk to four chatty women, but seemed to enjoy our company any way. I brought Pig over to meet Parker (AJ's dog) and they got along fantastically. Fantastically as in they both ignored each other and just followed the humans around, begging for food. I really hope there's an opportunity for Pig, Parker and Punk to all hang out some time. And Boris. Maybe for Pig's birthday party next year.

Saturday was another busy day. A bunch of people headed over to Amol's place to catch the Mich/OSU game. Amol made us hashbrowns, AD made us eggs, Lypstykgirl brought over Krispy Kreme donuts, Thode brought mimosas, and I brought peach juice to make bellinis and some biscuits. After watching the disappointing game and getting bloated on champagne concoctions, we changed into our swimsuits for a dip in the pool and hot tub.

I was super sleepy by the time I got home at around 4 p.m. so I napped until Benjamin called me to work out carpooling plans to go see Harry Potter. I thought the movie started at 7:30 p.m. but it turns out it started at 7. We didn't even realize this until we were in the theater and EVERYONE ELSE AND THEIR MOM were already seated. By some miracle, we actually were able to get decent seats, off to the side and fairly close to the screen but not uncomfortably so. The movie was awesome! I loved it. I think it's my favorite one so far. It's close enough to the book, and the deviations from the book are nicely done. I woke up Sunday wanting to see it again, but resisted. Maybe I can convince Max to go see it with me over the weekend.

Sunday was a big cleaning day. First of all, if you haven't tried the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pad, you MUST try it. It's amazing. It took off grime and dirt that normally does not come off. The only draw back is that each pad does not hold up very well, so I went through a couple just doing the floors and walls, but it's definitely worth getting. It's magic, I tell you. Since people are coming over for Thanksgiving, I also cleaned the carpet with my little carpet cleaner machine and gave Pig a bath. She's very good about getting a bath nowadays. I think it's cuz of all the cookies that she gets afterwards. I didn't even have to chase her down - she just walked into the bathroom voluntarily. She did look a bit confused when I started the shower up for my own shower a couple hours after hers. I think she thought I'd try to throw her in the tub again and you could tell she really didn't want another bath, but really wanted more cookies.

After my shower, I headed over to Amol's again for a small game of poker. I didn't do as well as I wanted but it was fun nonetheless. Came back home at a decent hour and tried to stay awake to see how the escaped prisoners finally got caught on "Escape From Deathrow" a documentary on CourtTV but I just couldn't keep my eyes open. Must read about it about that now.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

How to Avoid Going to the Gym

Well, Amol and I were supposed to go to a spinning class last night, and had both agreed not to bail unless there was a last minute poker game, and then lo and behold, there was a last minute poker game. A last minute poker game arranged by me, all for the sake of avoiding the gym. I'm rather proud of myself. I think that might be one of the more extreme measures I've undertaken.

Unrelated to the above, last night I dreamt I was dating Matthew McConaughey. So did not want to wake up this morning. I think the fact that I dreamt about him, and then today discovered that he's been named People's Sexiest Man alive is surely more than a mere coincidence. I shall write to him and see what he thinks about that.

Blah blah blah. Back to work.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Sun Will Come Out...

In a much better mood now. While composing a rather angry and forceful e-mail to one of my bosses, I got called in and all is well again. Am not getting screwed. Yay!

Also, had to go to the root canal doctor today but it turns out I don't need root canal treatment after all. Whoo hoo!

Am looking forward to the weekend. First, dinner at Andrea's Friday night with Kate and Jessie. I am bringing green bean casserole and a girly drink surprise which will offend everyone but I will love. It comes in a hot pink metallicky box with swirly letters. Makes me think "Barbie." Yes. Love. it.

Afterwards, maybe will propose going to a dance club, if the ladies feel like shaking their asses. There may be a group going to Firecracker, which we could meet up with, as it's very close to Andrea's.

Saturday morning Michigan plays Ohio State. I have deftly dodged having people over for this big game so the party will be at Amol's this year. Should be a good game, followed by bbq and hot tubbing. Am a bit nervous about daytime hot tubbing. Usually the hot tubbing takes place at night, and I could have a 4 inch handlebar mustache on my face and no one would notice in the dark, but in the glory of the day light, I fear my avoidance of the gym will be unfortunately very noticeable.

Saturday night - two words. No, make that three. HARRY F*CKING POTTER!!!! So so excited about seeing Goblet of Fire. Last year, after seeing Prisoner of Azkaban, I came home to find that Max had bought me a gigantic big tv!! I am crossing my fingers and hoping that Pig will surprise me with something equally as fantastic this year!!!

Hump Day

So Aunt Marilyn, an avid reader of this blog, called me yesterday to ask me what was going on in my life, as I have not been posting lately. For the first time in a over a year, she did not actually know the status of Pig's poop, so I figured I'd go ahead and post today. There hasn't been much going on in my life. But, to catch everyone up, here's all that's "fit" (loosely used) to report:

1. Pig does not like to eat grapefruit. An amusing five minutes of my life were spent giving it to her and watching her spit it out immediately. And then ignoring it. And then looking at me with great big reproachful eyes until I felt so guilty I gave her the rest of my Trader Joe's spinach potato frittata.

2. Kate does not have any interest in bellydancing. Discovered this when I called her up and asked, "Hey do you want to take a 9:00 p.m. belly dancing class with me?" and was met with long silence followed by, "No. Sorry. I can't think of anything worse than going to a bellydancing class at the gym!"

3. Amol can be talked into going to a cycling/spinning class with me at the gym. Going to that tonight, and have both agreed not to bail, unless there is a call for a last minute poker game.

4. Amol cannot be talked into going to a Latin Impact aerobics dance class at the gym though.

5. Am getting screwed by the company I work for. Argh. Hate them.

6. A new Agatha Raisin novel is out on the market. Am listening to in on itunes right now.

7. There exists a food dish called a "turducken" - a duck stuffed in a chicken stuffed in a turkey, baked for several hours.

8. One can get a Business Adminstration degree specializing in the Jewelery industry, from the Gemological Institute of America.

9. Pig puked this morning. Yellow.

10. Pig pooped twice this morning. Green.

That's all for now...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Happy Hygiene!!!

to my Dad!!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Happy Hygiene!!!

To my lil sister who frequently comments on the blog, but never leaves her name, so I will call her Rudy!!

Happy Hygiene Rudy!!!

Shanghai Trip - Outtakes

My favorite special feature of dvd's is the bloopers and outtakes reel so here are some pics that were "left on the floor of my living room."

Grandpa Posted by Picasa

A nice photo of Aunt Christina - I couldn't find any more bad ones because I've already put them all up! Posted by Picasa

Me and mom - guess I blinked... Posted by Picasa

Aunt June Posted by Picasa

Chinese Costanzas Posted by Picasa

Mom Posted by Picasa

Aunt June Posted by Picasa

Aunt Marilyn and 14 lbs' sister Ah-King. We joked that when Aunt Marilyn gets older, she's going to look like Ah-King. Posted by Picasa

Great Aunt and Grandma, looking confused. Posted by Picasa

Me and my big head Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 04, 2005

Shanghai Trip - Day 10

Day 10 was another big long day, but a very important one. We went to Soochow, which is small city not too far from Shanghai. Grandpa actually studied political science at Soochow University for three years, and had wanted to graduate but made the crucial decision to give up getting a degree and instead fled to Hong Kong, as the Communists were well on their way. It was 1948 and he knew he did not want to live under the Communist rule. He insists that the decision to leave Soochow/Shanghai was the second best decision he's ever made in his entire life - the actual best decision was marrying Grandma. Of course, he said this with a grin when she was within earshot, so I'm not sure if that's really how he feels. I would argue that leaving Soochow is the best decision, because if he hadn't he would have never met Grandma. They met in Hong Kong several years later. Right?

Anyway, when he left in 1948, he was just 21. He managed to get a spot on the very last ship going out of Shanghai before the Communists actually arrived. He only got the spot through the help of a family friend, and his spot was actually not a real seat but was a space under one of the lifeboats. He had just gotten a flu vaccine and apparently puked the whole time. Mom told me that a few years ago, she was in the same city as this family friend who helped my Grandpa, and she took him out to dinner to say thanks - really, EVERYTHING would have been so different if he hadn't been able to leave.

Grandma claimed to have been born in SooChow, because the city is famous for its beautiful scenery and beautiful locals. But, Great Aunt let the cat out of the bag. As it turns out, she did live there for as a child for several months but was not actually born there. She doesn't have many memories of the time she spent in SooChow, but did tell an amusing story about how she fell into a "shit hole" - I guess it was some river with a plank across it where people would relieve themselves, and she lost her balance one fateful New Year Day. What a way to start the year. I'm guessing that her resolution for that year was not to fall in any more shit holes. Anyway, she left Shanghai for Hong Kong a few years after Grandpa did, on a train, when she was 16. For a long time after she left, she sent oil, flour and other provisions to her sisters, including Great Aunt, who had stayed in Shanghai. Grandma explained that she would even wrap the flour, etc, in towels so that the towels could be reused.

So on our drive in, we kept our eyes peeled for shit holes. We didn't see any but we did find the entrance for the current campus of Soochow University. The campus that Grandpa went to was actually a little farther down the road.

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Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Marilyn, and Mom at the actual entrance of the campus Grandpa went to. Posted by Picasa

Grandpa was in a great mood and very eager to show us around. He was also very willing to follow direction. How adorable is my Grandpa? I challenge anyone to find a cuter series of pictures than the ones below. Here he is right past the front gate, where he used to pick up his mail.

"Grandpa, take this piece of paper and pretend your picking up your mail!" Posted by Picasa

"Grandpa, hey, why don't you sit there the way you used to when you were checking out girls going to class!" Posted by Picasa

"Pretend you're playing soccer!" Posted by Picasa

Why don' t you pretend you're riding the bike? Um, maybe not - just stand next to it!" Posted by Picasa

"So this is where you stood to meet girls, huh? Why don't you pretend you're whistling at a hot girl!?" Posted by Picasa

I really like the one below too. My attempt to be "artistic" - Grandpa, reliving memories in the hallway of the administration building.

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Anyway, after our visit to SooChow University, we went to go find some lunch. Our driver dropped us off at another temple where there were lots of restaurants nearby. The restaurant we went into was over 100 years old, and was famous for a dish called "beggar chicken." In the old days, it was made by wrapping the chicken with paper and cooking it in dirt/clay. A bit like paper mache. Nowadays, it's still made by wrapping the chicken with paper but luckily the chicken is wrapped in plastic wrap first!

The waitress cracking the "paper mache" part of the "beggar's chicken" with a mallet. Posted by Picasa

Afterwards we checked out the actual temple near the restaurant. Again, the area had turned into a total tourist trap and had a McDonald's and a KFC. I recommend taking a bathroom break at the McDonald's, rather than at the KFC, which to my horror, only had one of those hole-in-the-floor toilets.

Anyway, the temple itself was beautiful to look at. We could hear the monks chanting inside the temple. It was quite a clash with the techno dance music blaring from the little gift stores surrounding the temple.

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Afterwards we asked the driver to find us some beautiful scenery to look at. Sadly there wasn't much to see, even though SooChow was supposed to be known for its rivers and canals, sort of like the Venice of China. In the recent years, the government had torn down many of the houses by the river banks and merged the rivers together. We did manage to find a little spot to take some pics. Grandma said that when she was little she lived in a house much like the ones you see in the pic.

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After visitng SooChow, we headed back to Shanghai and had dinner at Xinjitsi again. We had gone there on Day 4 but Aunt Marilyn was still back in San Francisco that day, so we figured it was worth a second trip. I don't have any pics since it was all basically the same food.

After dinner, Aunt Marilyn and I headed to a spa right next to our hotel. We had made reservations earlier that day for a two hour head-foot-body total Traditional Chinese massage. And it only cost $30 US per person! First they showed us into the locker room, where we changed into these hideous slippery orange kimono pajamas. We nearly died laughing since neither of us could figure out how to properly wrap the kimono around us until finally I spotted a sign on the wall with directions. Properly wrapped, we were led into a dark room WHERE THE PAIN AND TORTURE BEGAN!!! Good god, a traditional chinese massage is most definitely not like a Swedish massage. The whole point is to apparently poke the hell out of you with the world's strongest thumbs. I was at least somewhat lucky as I had a female masseuse who probably wasn't nearly as strong as the male masseuse my aunt had. At one point when the masseuses had gone to get towels, Aunt Marilyn whispered to me that her foot massage was so painful that she had tears in her eyes. At another point, while my masseuse was digging her thumbs into my back, I was in such panic from the pain that the only mandarin I could spit out was the equivalent of sharp "Jesus, how about going a bit lighter!!!???" to which my horrified shy masseuse quickly replied, "Oh I'm so sorry, so sorry!" I actually had bruises on my back the next morning.

Anyway, Aunt Marilyn and I survived our two hour massage and made it back to the hotel intact. We stiffly managed to pack our bags and mentally prepare for the long flight back we'd have to face the next day.

And that was Day 10, our last full day in Shanghai.