Friday, April 29, 2011

Lax Girl

Growing up I have had only a few fears which are almost not even worth mentioning. I have an insatiable fear of the deep ocean. I'd like to blame that one on watching Happy Feet about five years ago. Sure it was all cute and penguiny, but seriously? Keep those ocean monsters where they belong - not in my subconscious. Another fear, granted this was back in the day, I was afraid of simply falling asleep after my parents. They went to bed at nine every night [big party people, i know] on the dot without fail. My sister and I shared a room and shared an explosive imagination. Staying up till the wee hours of the morning telling stories about our stuffed animals was not uncommon. It freaked me out though. What if someone entered our house unbeknownst to my parents? It would be much better if someone stole my things while I was sleeping obviously. My third fear is of an even more serious nature. Brace yourselves.

In the more recent years I have come to fear having a sibling who was [is] hardcore into lacrosse. I realize that with boys they call them "bros", but I'm not sure of the terminology for girls. Lacrosse chicks? It just doesn't sound laid back enough. 

Let me briefly explain myself. I live in Maryland [please don't stalk me now] whose state sport is essentially lacrosse. It is only formality that jousting is our state sport [oh, i am being totally serious. i would never joke about long sticks and horses]. I would like to make the outrageous statement that Maryland is in fact the U.S. state most dedicated to the sport of lacrosse. So there's that. Here's another factor: I went to school in Massachusetts that boasted an okay men's lacrosse team [in division three. let's not talk about the mediocrity of that statement]. The guys on the team tended to not be the most [ahem] wonderful students at our school. Their reputation was pretty terrible, and everyone knew that reputation. Now, there were a few exceptions to the rule that I knew of, but the rest became a guessing game.

All that too say: I would prefer to not have a lacrosse "bro" sister. I fear it.

First of all, she can most definitely beat me up. She is strong, much taller than me, she can run away faster... what doesn't she have in her favor?

Secondly, I fear her becoming one of those spitting, foul mouthed, rude, inconsiderate individuals that I have met who are lacrosse players.

Thirdly, I don't want her throwing around the words "chillax" or "laxabunga" or "laxhead" or "weak sauce" [okay, i may or may not use the words weak sauce on occasion].

Let's get real for a moment. Mere is really quite excellent as lacrosse, and I'm not saying that because I am her blood sister [i am obviously saying it because she is paying me. duh]. She excels at the sport, and she enjoys it. Also, she hasn't started to spit on me. Nor does she beat me up. If anything she is way too affectionate [i'm working on the whole "people making physical contact with me" thing]. She is a really great sister to have. And I don't think lacrosse has changed her. Those people who are mean lacrosse players? It's not the lacrosse that does it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

I'm not sure if the whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing is totally true. However, for my fragile ego, let's argue that it does. If that idea is actually implemented, then you all are very fond of me right now. I can handle that.

This past weekend was all sorts of craziness! With Easter fast approaching, I decided to skip work on Thursday and drive up to Connecticut for my dear friend Marieke's wedding. After sitting in traffic on the George Washington Bridge [really, New York City? really? you couldn't speed things up a little bit?] with many other lovely individuals for a long time, traffic finally gathered speed only to be brought to a standstill in Hartford. Lovely.
From here.

Traffic grumblings aside [though isn't it fun to whine about traffic? that is one area that everyone has in common unless you are the president of the united states, then traffic backs up because you've shut down all the roads], I made it to Wilton, Connecticut just in time for Marieke's bachlorette party. We went out and got smashed. Kidding. I was so tired from driving that I didn't even need alcohol to make me sleepy. If I had actually consumed any I would have fallen asleep on the side of the street. We did go to an amazing restaurant called Chocopology, however!

From here.

We basically just wanted to consume copious amounts of chocolate. And did we ever.

The next day included putting together the floral centerpieces for the ceremony and reception. Showering [that part takes FOREVER. for real. most time consuming activity the entire weekend]. Making myself pretty. Practicing for the wedding [i read scripture, so i had to practice talking really loudly. which, really, isn't hard for me. i get a lot of practice yelling at my younger sisters]. Eating pizza and drinking wine for the rehearsal dinner. I distinctly remember saying that evening that people are so much easier to talk to when I've had a glass or two of wine. Truth.

The next day was the big day! I went with the beautiful bride to the salon as she got her hairs did. They looked pretty. The flowergirl was adorable. Marieke had given her lipsmackers as a little present for being the wedding. The flowergirl then ended up consuming most of said lipsmackers throughout the course of the day. I can remember doing that when I was a kid. The lipsmackers tasted so delicious that I would just eat them instead of wearing them. Makes sense. Right? Pink Lemonade was definitely my favorite.
From here.

The wedding was simply gorgeous. I will have to post some pictures later. Marieke looked like a goddess. And Ryan came up the aisle on a segway. I got a kick out of it. The reception was fun and filled with lots of dancing and eating and conversing. It was refreshing to my soul to be connected with close friends from college. My resident advisor at school recently gave birth to the most adorable little boy, and I was given the opportunity to just hold him for a good long while. She called me his patron saint. That warms my heart.

After the wedding my friend and I sped back to Maryland in time for an Easter celebration with my family and family friends. We basked in the sunlight, poorly hid easter eggs for the small children to find, ate more food, and sat around and giggled. It was delightful.

Jennie Rose stayed on for two more days as we continued to bask in the warm weather and yellow sun. Now I am back at work. Urg. I have a case of the Monday blues on a Wednesday. Could be worse, right? It could actually be Monday with many days to go before the weekend.

I promise to add real pictures next time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beverly Magic

This a food/regular musing blog. I didn't make the delightful treat that I will share with you today. Rather I entered an establishment and purchased it with my own hard earned money. This food item is one of the reasons that I continue to visit Massachusetts as its tasty flavor brings color to my once black and white world. Perhaps I seem a tad too ecstatic over this meal, but believe me, it was incredible!

Care for some Parmesan chicken calzone?

I want to learn how to make this. Pronto. I am salivating just looking at it. All I know is that it is beyond cheesy and filled with delicious chicken. That seems like enough information to start baking.

I had the pleasure of visiting with my dear friend Jennie while up in Massachusetts again. We roamed the streets of Beverly looking for trouble at every turn. And by looking for trouble I mean that we tried to go to consignment store that was closed. Yes, we are wild and crazy. woohoo.

Beverly is an awfully pretty town. The main drag, or Cabot Street as the residents call it, is picturesque enough to enjoy an afternoon walk in the sunshine. Also wonderful? You can find graffiti anywhere.

And when you are done feeling like a rebel, you can head over to the awesome church that towers about the town. I got my foodierebelsaint fix all in one day. Booyah!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flashback Friday - A Tribute

I know many of you have waited for this day with baited anticipation, just waiting for the shiny new disc to be in your possession. Well, today is it. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One has made its way to DVD and Blue Ray just in time to make spring that much better. After perusing some blogs this morning, I found one joyful gal use her excitement for some artistic creations. You should seriously check it out. Her ideas made me want to leave work right now and go to the fabric store so I could create a beautiful Harry Potter themed apron of my very own.

It also made me want to throw a Harry Potter party with cute little snacks. I'm not sure if I'm too old for that, but I am going to go ahead and just say "no", I'm not old for the magical world of Hogwarts. If and when I do throw that party [i'm thinking right before the last one comes out in theatres on July 15th. you'd better believe that i will be at that midnight showing] I will also be baking these. I know you are thinking of not clicking on that link, but you should. It will blow your Harry Potter mind.

In honor of today I have a few "flashback" pictures to share with you. This would be the youngest sister in summer of 2009. We attended the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince with a bunch of hard core HP fans. In fact, there was audible crying in the theater when Dumbledore... I won't spoil it for you. Go read the series... now!

These last pictures are from my jaunt to London in spring of 2006. My father took a four month job there, so I was kind enough to venture "across the pond" and visit. I know, pretty selfless of me.

My brother was in college at the time, and it just so happened that his spring break and my being homeschooled lined up perfectly!

So we took in the sites [all the free ones that is], and we literally only ate out once because everything is so pricey over there. Thankfully all those great museums are free to the public. Below is my father and brother imitating a Greecian statue [i think?] at the British Museum.

It was a fantastic ten days spent in the city, and I know that I didn't see everything that was available. Someday I would like to go back and explore again. And next time I am searching for Harry Potter. I will find him. And I will be accepted to Hogwarts. [it's not creepy that I would be way to old for a school like that, right?]

Happy Harry Potter day! How will you be celebrating?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Return to Dorm Life

I'll be honest, I never really had that dorm experience in school. I mean, not the one where you all share the same bathroom and giggle late into the night while talking about cute boys on campus. Okay, so maybe the last one happened... often. What I mean to say is that when I was at school for a whole two flipping years I lived in a dorm where we had suites. It allowed the girls on my floor to never leave their room or talk to other people. I loved the dorm I lived in, but the idea of community was harder to come by.

Two weekends ago [maybe longer? i can't really remember. my old lady brain is working miracles] I traversed back up to Massachusetts for a friends birthday. He was turning 21, and I wanted to partake in all that is alcoholic with him. Let's be real though. I can barely choke down Mike's Hard Lemonaid much less anything else. The taste of fermented anything doesn't really suit my fancy.

One of my stops in Massachusetts was to see my dear friend and former roommate Christine.

She graduates from Gordon this spring with a sigh of relief. Her fall semester was spent in Washington, DC interning at CNN. Her fall semester a year earlier was spent in Egypt. Essentially Christine has done big things.

We went back to her dorm room after some coffee in Gloucester, and I was reminded of the dorms that I was not a part of while at school. She lives with another lovely girl in a dorm where the beds, desks, and closets are bolted to the walls, and all the girls on the floor share a bathroom.

Her roommate has a copious amount of sneakers. This does even include all the ones in and around her closet! Sneaker junky much? :)

I am so thankful for the time I was given at Gordon. I was not ready to graduate at all when my time was up. I am also thankful for the dorm I was placed in while attending that institute. I loved loved loved the girls on my floor. Of course, everything always does seem sweeter after the fact as memories are formed into something that they may not have been. I did really love my school though. Anyone who knows me can attest to that.

One thing that I have always adored about Christine is her ability to speak candidly, openly, and deeply about many matters. We used to have these really intense conversations when we lived together because often our opinion on matters are vastly different. However, we both know that we can discuss subjects deeply with each other because no matter what we are still friends. Well, unless she were to set fire to my house and steal my dog. We might not be friends then. I have confidence that neither of those things will ever occur, however.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cornbread Cupcakes?

My family members are generally the taste testers for the baked goods I produce in my parents kitchen. This can often be a very positive thing in my life. To hear the comments, "Julia, you are a genius!" and "How have I lived without your tasty morsels passing my lips? These cupcakes have brought life to my previously darkened soul!" Yes, the comments can be quite intense, but they also push me forward to bring more lost souls to baked goodness heaven.

Have I played this up enough?

Now you can understand how crushing any negative comments can be to my psyche. That whole premise of supportive yet constructive suggestions helping a person improve in their craft is ridiculous. It just makes my ego deflate like someone stuck a pin in my balloon head [weird image, i know]. I just can't handle anything really. I just want people to adore me and say nice and pretty things about me.

Dulce de Leche cupcakes in theory sound tasty. Just the way the title rolls off your tongue fills the dessert with intrigue and mystery and sweetness. The cupcake is composed of a cake batter which is noted as being not too sweet but the perfect companion to a very sweet frosting and dulce de leche frosting. A normal combination.

But they honestly were not that great.

The baking part was fun as always. I do enjoy some therapeutic baking sessions every now and again. I started this one by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for three hours in a pot of water. This makes automatic dulce de leche [which is handy for those who do not desire to pay copious amounts of money for a jar at Whole Foods]. The next day I made the batter and the frosting and then assembled the mini cakes.

The dishes that await me at the end never light a happiness in my soul. Rather I despair. Does it even make sense that I would clean the dishes since I labored over the treats? It really doesn't add up. Ah well, as long as my mother doesn't have to attend to them [which I totally took advantage of Saturday night when I looked at her with puppy dog eyes and pleaded that she clean the dishes instead of I. pathetic. i know]

The end result was pretty.

I used a plastic baggie for my frosting. I simply filled the bag and then cut off the tip. It was easy and it turned out pretty. To finish it up I drizzled some of the remaining dulce de leche on top and then completed it with either sprinkles, sugar, or sea salt.

One of my siblings bit into the cupcake and immediately blurted out, "What is this? Cornbread?" My bakers soul was crushed. My idealistic world came crashing to the ground. Cornbread? That's what you eat with fried chicken or chili! Not dulce de leche frosting. What barbarians my siblings are. They should try holding their comments in their mouths next time. That way they can hold onto them until they reach their bedrooms. Then they can blurt out their comments all they want. My cupcakes were not made out of cornbread, it was a cupcake recipe I found on a blog that didn't involve corn any of sorts.

Okay. Let's be real. Was I really crushed? Absolutely not. You win some, you loose a lot. That's life. I have learned from this baking adventure to not make cornbread cupcakes again. Simple.

And what is life without cute dog pictures?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Did Not Get Eaten By Bears

A few weekends ago I decided that I was going to brave nature like a man and go on a hike. Apparently the ideas I associate with men are things like nature and beards. Don't worry, I didn't brave facial hair like a man and let my beard grow out. Also, I need to reorganize my thoughts on manhood. Those two things probably shouldn't be what make up men in my mind.

I digress.

So I went on a delightful hike on the Appalachian Trail with my father and my sister. 

We drove up to Annapolis Rock and hiked that five mile trail. It was the perfect weather for hiking. Still slightly chilly, but warm enough that you weren't cold when you got going.

My younger sister is a beast.

Let's discuss this word "beast". I believe that some people take it the wrong way, at least their crying faces would suggest so. Sometimes they think that I mean someone is scary like the R.O.U.S in The Princess Bride. That is not quite what I mean when I say someone is a beast. Nor do I mean that they are cute, cuddly, and super furry like Sulley in Monsters Inc. Nor do I mean that they are these intense warriors like Spartans who painted their body red and wore black clothing and spoke in Darth Vader voices just to freak people out [for the record, all those things about the Spartans is true. i learned it in college.]. What I mean by beast is more of a, "she is amazing and a really great athlete, and she hikes really well, and she is very fit, and she could beat me up if she wanted too, and I know that she could win if we ever raced or if she ever raced anyone else besides Michael Johnson. That is what I mean by beast. Hopefully I have made things a little bit clearer and not quite as sketchy.

Thank you for you reading eyes.

I would like to title these next few pictures, "This is what we look like from behind when we are posing for hiking pictures." I think you will find that title most appropriate. If you have any other suggestions, please share.

To close, here is what the backseat of my dad's car looks like when I am creeping on him from the front seat. Not really creeping, but mostly being sketchy. It's what I do.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Post Where-In We All Make Funny Faces

The radio station told us to be out front of the 930 Club by 5:30pm. As I drove around 8th and V Street I almost hyperventilated trying to find a spot to park. It was 5:27 and my palms were sweating. I forgot cue cards so I could be funny, inquisitive, and interesting when I met Amos. They were going to say things like,

1. How about that weather in DC? Oh wait, you aren't from here...
2. One time my sister dropped me on my head. Has that ever happened to you?
3. You know, I bite my nails a lot, but it's not a nervous habit. A lot of people think it is, but it is more of a habit habit. It's something to do with my hands. Maybe I should take up knitting. Do you knit? Do you ever play cat's cradle? That might help with my problem. I know you are a singer by trade, but maybe you can give me some ideas of how to stop biting my nails. [granted this wouldn't all fit on my index card, but at least if i put something down like, "nail biting" my memory would be jogged]
4. I love puppies and chocolate, but not together. That would be weird.

Cue cards definitely would have helped. Instead I shook his hand, got my picture taken with him, and that was all. He did ask Lauren and me where we are from. When I responded with, "None of yo buzinessss!" it got kind of awkward. Ha. I told him where I was from and he mentioned that he goes there all the time to play at Rams Head. So of course I said, "Well, I'll have to look for you next time your in town!" Right, like I'm going to run into Amos Lee on the streets of Annapolis. Later I kicked myself for not saying something funny or helpful like, "Hey, check out Pips or Sofie's Crepes next time your in town. I think you'll really love them or maybe even become obsessed with them like I am! But not together. Hotdog crepes would be weird. And if you need someone to show you where they are, I am more than willing to bring you. You know, just trying to be helpful!" But of course I didn't say any of this because I forgot. Plus the interaction was like five seconds long. Lauren did say that he talked to us more than everyone else though. She also spaced out for about half of it, so I'm not sure if I can trust her.

I kept thinking that Amos was going to look out into the audience during the show and say, "And this one is dedicated to that really awesome girl I met before the show who told me about all these wonderful places in Annapolis. Julia, this one is for you!" Unfortunately I screwed up and forgot to tell him my name when we met. Stupid Stupid Stupid.

That was my brush with fame. I will cherish it forever. And maybe next time Amos is in town I will run into him on the street. After all, I did say I would keep a lookout for him.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Pessimist's Dream Come True

The extent of my winning any contest in my lifetime has been incredibly small to the point of near extinction. I won a hula hoop contest a few years back because I was the one with the biggest hips, and the hula hoop wouldn’t fit over my butt to actually fall off, thus I won by error. In fact, I stood around that party the rest of the night with the hula hoop still on because I thought it doubled nicely as a recreational toy on one hand and a fashionable plastic belt. I could have taken a picture of that outfit, and people would have wondered, “Where did she get that lovely belt in that shade of pink?” I would have said something like, “Oh, it was thrifted. One of a kind you know.” Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture, so now we can’t have these real conversations that I’ve made up in my head.

Back to the real subject: I don’t win things. I have been determined to win something, however, in the past few months. Every day as I drive to work I listen to WRNR on the radio so that I can casually mention indie bands that no one has heard of in polite conversation. WRNR gives me that opportunity as they play the most random and obscure music known to mankind. They also give me the opportunity to call into their show to win tickets to cool shows and concerts. They had tickets for the Death Cab for Cutie sold out show in DC, but I was too slow to get those. Often what the announcer will say is, “Aaaand the tenth caller to reach me will win these awesome tickets along with the fulfillment of their craziest dreams!” Really, it is something I desperately want. Tickets to an awesome show and my wildest dreams granted? Booyah!
A few times before I have actually gotten through to the station instead of just getting a busy signal. One instance involved the phone ringing, me about to pee my pants, and then this: “You are the first caller, please try again!” WHHHHAAAATTT??? The first caller. Lame sauce.

This story does get better, believe me. Yesterday I was driving to work and the announcer on the show mentioned that he had tickets to the sold out Amos Lee show for the tenth caller. Of course I picked up my phone and used my speed dial to call the radio station multiple times. On my third or fourth dial I got a ringing instead of the dial tone. My heart jumped in my chest as the phone was answered on the other end. “You just won yourself a pair of tickets to see Amos Lee in concert at the 930 Club and to meet him beforehand,” the voice casually said.

Yes, I just won my first pair of tickets from WRNR. And believe me, it won’t be the last time.

Also, I get to meet Amos Lee! What?

I asked my sister if she liked Amos Lee, and she responded with a “Who?” That’s right. I know obscure music. I shall life my nose in the air now and pretend that I am better than you.

Obviously kidding.