Friday, March 31, 2006

The Minnesota Blogfriends Dream Vacation, Part 2: Saturday

Hotbabe has summarized our time together so nicely! On Saturday we had planned to meet Stacy and Michael for a trip to the woods. Alas, we moved a bit slowly in the morning, and went to Target to buy underwear and socks (this purchase seems to be the way I start most vacations lately thanks to the baggage handlers who hate me). It would have been beyond cruel to delay the poor child's lunch (yum) so that he could meet his mommy's gushy blogfriend. So instead hb and I waited for my luggage to come, drank coffee, and generally lazed around. Finally my suitcase showed up around and we could get lunch with Stacy!

Oh yum, Asian food. I had my very first cheese wonton. I didn't know that such things existed. I now understand a little better why someone would design a cheeseburger wonton (MN state fair food!) I know the cheese is different and all, but don't you think the wordplay might have influenced them? I don't know. It must be hard to come up with all that fair food. The pressure of a new thing on a stick, or several new things on a stick...I wonder if those people are taste-testing all year round. That would be a tough job.

Okay I've gotten really off track here.

After lunch, we went to our pedicure appointment, which was a total surprise for me. Someone pointed us downstairs to a dimly lit, cozy couch area, and we waited to be called. They came for me first, which was very disturbing to me. I didn't really understand why Stacy and hb couldn't come with me...and everyone noticed the look of terror in my eyes. I don't mind doing new girly things if I have company, but to be whisked off to some scary salon back room, where they might make me take all my clothes off or something for all I know. (They made me take off my shirt that one time I got my hair colored at a salon, which was an unwelcome surprise, though I guess I see why...the guy next to me getting highlights seemed to be fully dressed though.)

Getting off track again!

My pedicure lady was a very sweet blonde girl who made me feel as comfortable as possible. She even told me I had nice feet...for never having had a pedicure. Well, thank you, and you get an extra big tip for that! The other pedicure ladies...well, we decided Stacy's was kind of a b!tch. I won't repeat the nasty things she implied about Stacy's very attractive feet by looks and tone of voice. Also....she looked like a stripper. Not the trashiest stripper I could imagine, but still... Anyway, I came out of the pedicure experience thinking that it really wasn't as awkward as I might have expected to have someone touching my feet for almost an hour straight. I think that the physical therapy from when I broke my foot might have broken down some of my feet touching barriers. At least I got to soak my feet in a tub of strangely pink water for 10 minutes before this lady touched my feet. The physical therapist had to touch my feet after I did all these exercises. Ewww.

Off topic again. I want to leave you, my few blogreaders, with an impression of my post-pedicure feet, the best feet they can be, not my sweaty and swollen half-broken foot. Sorry to the people who hate feet.

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Then we put our shoes on (stacy got her polka shoes out!) and we went out for dinner and drinks and meeting new people (!) and polka fun. At Chino Latino, well, I think the oh-so-spicy shrimp have been mentioned. Yum. Messy. I was the messiest eater at the table by far. There was a lot of other really good food too - and I loved the Asian-Latino fusion concept. My sister-in-law actually has been telling me repeatedly that sake should always be served with Mexican food. They go together somehow she says... I'm reminded of another place I used to get deli food from in Boston, where a Jewish man had married a Chinese woman, and their Jewish deli was full of knishes and dumplings. Though I guess no pork dumplings.

My mind is just wandering tonight. And now pictures which cannot convey the complete gorgeousness of these folks.

Hotbabe and Kiddo...

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Dan and Stacy...

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A disappointing picture of Dan not dancing, though looking cute, and stacy blocked by non-bloggers who were perfectly nice (and cute) though, as I said, non-blogging.

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Should I have blurred out the faces of T-bone's non-blogging female company? Is that good form on the internet?

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Gosh, I'm so sorry that I didn't get any pictures of Brent or K-Mack or K-Mack's beau or Cherry Nut or T-bone or Brent's friend, all of whom I was so pleased to meet! How nice can total strangers be to me? Really nice. But it looks like Dan had the photography totally covered. Can I tell you how much I loved Dan? Can I? Because I loved Dan. And I'm not just saying that because I think he bought all those drinks for me and my dear blogfriend Stacy. Stacy, I might be upgrading you to bloglovah. Since bloghero is taken.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Minnesota Blogfriends Dream Vacation, Part 1: Friday

My traveling time Friday was filled with all sorts of anticipation. I was really looking forward to...

1. A reunion with hotbabe, after our delightful NYC exploits back in October...

2. Meeting Stacy, and hopefully hugging her against her will.

3. Eating some walleye...I was sold on the state fish with the recommendation of professed seafood hater hb. She does like lakefish though!

4. Eating some dessert - ever since I heard that such a place existed by the name of Just Truffles, I knew that the truffles and I were meant to be together.

So how did these things go?

1. Check! Successfully identified Ms. Hotbabe's vehicle at the baggage claim, and she whisked me away to her super-clean apartment. So nice! So what if the airline happened to lose my luggage! With hotbabe's offer of a washing machine and even the loan of a pair of socks, my worries were pretty minimal.

2. STACY. Yay! I paced in the hallway of hotbabe's apartment, waiting for Stacy's knock at the door, and then threw myself at her! Oh, and the gift bag she gave me! Overwhelming amounts of Stacy-ness. I have been working my way through the gifts at an alarming pace. If you are the fan of Stacy's food posts that I am, you probably can guess what some of the items would be. But along with the 100 calorie microwave kettle corn and the fabulous yet stomach-cramp inducing mints (they didn't have that effect on me, I'm lucky that way) there was also a pin from THE WOODS. It has a turtle on it. I can't decide whether to pin it to my spring jacket or mount it somewhere near my desk. There were a million other delightful things, including a Minnesota Heritage cookbook of ethnic recipes that I could not pry away from Isaac when I got home!

3. Tavern on Grand was so wonderful! This is the place famous for walleye and it definitely lived up to its reputation. I had a blackened filet, and a ROLL (my first major break from the south beach dieting...) and a BEER (minnesota beer no less, though I can't remember its name) and also vegetables and some of Stacy's coleslaw. Good good coleslaw and amazing walleye. I was savoring every bite, and had to defend myself a little from the busboy who didn't understand my slowness. But our waiter was so nice and took our picture, but not with my camera (calling hb and Stacy (and Greg) please post a picture).

4. Just Truffles = Just Tremendous (I can't help myself). The selection was so overwhelming, but I eventually settled on a Bailey's truffle and a Caramel Truffle. Oh yum. The inside was so so so buttery. I nibbled my way to happiness and overstuffedness. Stacy models a truffle. Look at her beautiful and well-fitting green shirt also. Then we cuddled on the couch. Awww.

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Gosh, now I'm getting a little depressed. But I'd better get going, we are meeting our friend Max (google success story) for dinner tonight.

More to come....

Monday, March 27, 2006

Minnesota and Christine - BFF.

Oh my gosh, what a fun weekend I had! It must be captured in list form and I wish I had time to do it now. Also, my pictures are much less good than Stacy and Hotbabe's. I want a "say walleye" picture!

I left Minnesota wondering what I did in a previous life to deserve people being so nice to me. Drinks were bought, a pedicure gifted, and I was treated like a princess (thanks for the loan of the tiara hb!) And I have looked at every item in my Stacy gift bag about a hundred times, and tried out almost everything...the 94% fat free kettle corn is going to be my afternoon snack. I can't wait.

More to come...with pictures.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Minnesota trip preparations!

I'm going to Minnesota in only 27 hours. This is very exciting, since I have had my ticket for about 5 months... I have done all sorts of things to prepare for the trip - physically, mentally, and spiritually (ok, not spiritually, i'm not sure what that would entail).

Here is a brief list:

1. Started exercising again so that I don't collapse when I go to "The Club" with Stacy.

2. Attempt to memorize the 14 superfoods. My copy of Superfoods Healthstyle has not come in at the library yet though. :(

3. Underwent the pain of professional eyebrow maintenance so as not to look out of place among the better groomed Minnesotans (like Dan).

4. Checked out from the library that science book that Dan is always talking about - though I haven't actually listened to it yet... I think I'm definitely nerdy enough to like it a lot though. I'm such a suck-up.

5. Also, I tried to listen to my favorite NPR show talk about the new Prince album. I'm not the biggest Prince fan... (see, not sucking up) though I do love this cover by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. (was that sucking up, or trying to show off my nonexistent "indie music" cred?)

6. I checked out Little House on the Prairie DVDs from the library to get myself in a hotbabe mood.

7. I looked at Stacy's netflix queue 34 times a day to get myself in a Stacy mood.

8. Learned to love myself and believe that my blogfriends will like me just the way I am. Probably.

Can't wait to see you this weekend!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Birthday report!

Food took on more meaning than usual for my birthday this year. Last year was full of pescatarian delights since it was a Lenten Friday. This year was full of all the things I've been avoiding for 4 weeks. It was a festival of sugar and white flour and trans and saturated fats. The first stop on Saturday fulfilled all of these nutritional non-goals.

The Doughnut Plant. Check out these pictures. I had planned to have a better photographic record of the day but I forgot.

These are the best doughnuts I've ever eaten. And God did they taste good after not eating anything this bad for me in ages. I had a peanut butter glazed, banana cream doughnut and Isaac had a pistachio cream (which I would get next time). Saved for later...a coconut cream. Yum.

Then we walked down to Chinatown and Jing Fong - the big dim sum place I have mentioned before. We met Tiffany and Mai and Li-Ling and I-Chen... Dim sum yum. It pretty much looked like this, like it did last June. The food looked like this this (the thing on the right) and this....

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Also, Tiffany gave me this CD, which I have been wanting ever since I heard of it. It's a tribute to a famous and very prolific Bollywood music composer, R.D. Burman. His widow, Asha Bhosle (one of the greatest playback singers of all time) sings many of the songs, and the Kronos Quartet (string quartet) made new arrangments for the instrumentation. It's a really beautiful album, and we are planning to see the Kronos and Ashaji on April 8th at Carnegie Hall. yay! Thanks so much Tiffany!

Then it was time for tea with balls (bubble tea) which I couldn't pass up. See our big straws...this picture also from June. I guess we really can't find anything new to do here in this boring city!

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Then we went to Chocolate Haven...something new for me, which was so good! You can see other people's pictures here. I got to see Mr. Jacques Torres himself, consulting with the chocolate makers. And more importantly I ate 6 delicious pieces of his chocolate. Flavors sampled: Chai tea, passionfruit, earl grey tea, hazelnut, espresso, dark ganache...oh yum.

Then we went to the Union Square Barnes and Noble. Did you know that people at this B&N are much better looking than the people at the Upper West Side/Lincoln Center B&N? I didn't. But I totally lost Isaac in our quest for a place to sit down, and we finally found each other like an hour later, and then we had to leave.

So we went home and ordered Indian takeout (thank you God for all of your wonders, but especially naan bread) and watched Nicholas Nickleby. With Christopher Plummer (capt von trapp)! He was so good! The kid they had playing the title character...not so much. Also, with Romola Garai from Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights. Really like her.

So that was my birthday! Oh, but I forgot to mention my present from Isaac - knives! A gorgeous santoku knife (which I will continue to mispronounce as santuko for the rest of my life). And a big cleaver! Wow. I cut a tomato with the santoku knife this morning and it was like butter. I almost died.

Thanks to my dim sum buddies for the treating too! It was great to see all of you...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day! This post doesn't acknowledge the day in any other way!

My sister told me I had to post something new! So I'm falling back on my old list format to catch up on the last couple of weeks....then I'll get around to the thing that I got tagged for (thanks ab and walktrot!)

1. Watching the Oscars is way better with friends. I didn't know that I really NEEDED to have Tiffany punching me in the arm to tell me Salma Hayak needs to tone her hotness down a notch. "She's TOO hot!" and Mai making an amazing fat free mustardy dip. Excellent.

2. Previously I have just been stuck watching the show alone while Isaac sulked in the other room. But even he had a good time this year.

3. Going home for my mom's St. Patrick's Day party was the best. Last weekend I got in my share of corned beef and cabbage and got to see everybody. Parents, siblings, brother-in-law, boyfriend-in-law, and one of the dog-in-laws. The only person missing was my husband who had to stay in NYC for a running race, his sister's arrival, and a string quartet gig at a wedding. Busy fellow.

4. Isaac's sister came to town! This resulted in a LOT of eating out, though not much falling off the eating wagon. Also, for a birthday treat, my father-in-law commissioned Lisa to take me out clothes shopping. I would say it was fun, but clothes shopping is never totally FUN for me. Although not worrying about the price tag was a huge bonus.

5. I found a dress for the formal thing at the end of April. Lisa totally talked me into it seeing as how it cost almost as much as my sister's wedding dress, and was something so....something....that I would have been unlikely to even try it on on my own. It looks like the Marilyn Monroe dress from the Seven Year Itch.

6. It looked like one size smaller would be perfect.

7. Received the one size smaller dress from the store in Westchester.

8. I will need breast augmentation surgery to fit into the top of the dress.

9. Crap.

10. So I guess I have to go shopping again. On the upside, I also got a bunch of cute casual clothes that are actually in my size.

11. Tomorrow is my birthday!!!

12. I have been fantasizing about what I'm going to eat tomorrow for a week. It will include (don't read this part Mai): doughnuts from The Doughnut Plant, chocolate (I want to try Jacques Torres) and dim sum with my favorite leaf-wrapped rice thing. Also, I hope to fit in some Indian naan, a coconut bun from Chinatown, and a hunk of French bread. Maybe the bread will be dipped in chocolate. I'm not sure yet.

13. In other news....I listened to the Book-on-CD version of Anna Karenina. Isaac gave away a major plot element (as in the ending) just as I began reading the book-book last year...I kind of lost steam. While I was listening to the book on CD, he managed to give away the next most important tipping point of the story. I don't know what part of "i'm not familiar with this Anna Karenina story" he didn't understand....

14. Anyway, it was good. I guess one shouldn't read classics hoping for suspense anyway. I think Tolstoy wrote his male characters a lot better than the female ones though. I don't even think he wrote all that great a character for Anna actually.

15. Now I'm on to Crime and Punishment...but it's seriously depressing. And I have read that one before, so I know it's just going to get worse.

16. So I'm thinking of listening to The Kite Runner instead, but is that going to be just as depressing? Something about the setting of Afghanistan makes me think it might not be cheery. Mai read it recently and said it was really good, what do you think Mai?

17. I'm going to Minnesota next weekend!!!! I can't wait.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

fitness update

So, the eating plan (let's not call it a diet) is going well! Once they let me drink wine again, I was like, okay, I can handle this. With the wine drinking has come the working out. Not in that order. It's been fun to get my weights out and jump around the living room. Somehow it was not so fun for my downstairs neighbor at 7:30am on Sunday. Oops.

I'm seriously the worst neighbor ever. At least I haven't gotten the tap shoes I've been coveting. Yet. Anyway, I have started working out after work to appease said neighbor, and keep him from killing me. He looks kind of like Michael Rapaport by the way. You know, this guy....

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Except the neighbor wasn't smiling. He was kind of pleading. Anyway, he'd better be happy now, because I am conditioned to eat when I get home, and now I have to exercise instead. Bleh on you Mr. Fake Rapoport.

But I'm happy to report to my sister Katie that I have been exercising again, because she was all sad when she read on my blog that I went on a diet because it was like I switched over to some other side of people who try to get skinny with diet only. My other sister told her that she shouldn't tell me, but she did anyway, which is good. And I'm back on the exercising side Katie! I'm wearing the inappropriately short shorts and doing the pivot and kick. And the pump and the curl, and the crunch and the squeeze. Rah rah.

My first fitness-motivating event is coming up soon, and it's my birthday! Of course, I've decided that in honor of it being a fitness motivating event, I will pay no attention to my eating on that day! That makes sense. Instead I will go to Chinatown (I heard that Tiffany and Mai want to have dim sum!) and I will eat rice and dumplings, and then I will buy some sweet and delicious Chinese pastries, and be off the wagon for just one day. yum.

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But until then, wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

tibetan monks + sufjan = :)

Last Wednesday Isaac and I went to Carnegie Hall....it was a benefit concert for the Tibet House. They try to preserve Tibet's "unique cultural and spiritual heritage". I was excited because Sufjan Stevens (!!!) was playing. Along with Antony and Damien Rice. And some other people...

So I got to see Sufjan sing exactly two songs, which made me happy and sad at the same time. Why didn't they let Sufjan play more, and have that electronic violinist play a little less? Seriously. But we got to hear the song Casimir Pulaski Day on Casimir Pulaski Day. Except then I realized after using my friend google, it wasn't really the Day, since that would be the first Monday of the month. But it was March 1st, the day in the song...i'm totally rambling. The other song he played was "the NPR song" aka The Lord God Bird. :)

Other highlights of the evening...Antony sang You are My Sister. Oh Antony. The whole audience did this weird shifting in their seats on hearing his voice. Also, Damien Rice's Cold Water, which is my favorite song of his. It was kind of creepy how perfectly he and his backup vocal girl sang it. Just like we were back in the recording studio.

Other highlights in people watching: The one guy in the cheap seats who was wearing a suit looked so upset during the first "spoken word/singing/electronica" performance that I thought he was going to leave. Okay, so it was a little political...I guess he was the one guy in the room who actually likes George W. Bush. His date soothed him by letting him smell some money. Just kidding, I don't know how she soothed him.

Robert Thurman (Uma's dad) was there since he's the president of the Tibet Society. He got up and spoke some Tibetan, and introduced some monks, who did (guess what?) some Throat Singing! I was happy to hear some more of this weird technique, although I wish that it had not provoked a renewal of Isaac's throat singing efforts.

On a completely unrelated note: Two of the package delivery guys at work are cultivating a new look. Like the guy who sang the Humpty Dance. All right, i guess it's just the glasses and the prominent noses that are taking me back in time to the humpty hump. Not really their fault.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

when was my last wine post again?

On Monday we got 18 bottles of wine delivered. You people who were all excited about the food delivery must be excited about the boozemobile visit too! :) Manhattan living does have its perks. Astor Wines, one of the best wine stores in the city, is moving down the street to a new location, so we took advantage of their great 25% sale. Also Astor Wines seems to have a lot of the value (read: cheap) wines that I like to buy. They had a decent selection of underrated and value-priced Spanish, Chilean and Portuguese wines, and I ended up getting 18 bottles for $75. That includes tax and everything. I hope the wine is good because it was only like $4 a bottle. And we will be drinking it for a while.

Tonight Isaac and I are headed to Carnegie Hall for a special concert - I hope it is as good as I think it will be so I can write about it tomorrow.

Oh, and happy Ash Wednesday. Two well-meaning labmates have tried to get me to clean off my forehead so far. Only women will do this. I guess the guys are just laughing behind my back, because I'm pretty sure they don't know why my head is dirty either.