Awkward Truths of 2013

It's no secret management has been slacking on the upkeep of this blog. Life has not started being any less awkward than usual, so let's do a 2013 round up before I head to Vietnam. Which I'm sure will be a lot awkward in and of itself.
hi; not a recovering addict
1. I ended up falling asleep in the backseat of car on the way to the airport while the client was driving. Luckily I woke myself up with a loud snore.

2. A little while later, I had a dream with a pop-scare in it and woke up screaming...on a crowded plane.

Side note: My dreams have been startlingly vivid lately, in a completely evil and horrifying way. All incredibly dark nightmares or really melancholy memories. Never, like, a really realistic walk through Candyland. It's only been within the past six months to a year that my dreams have gotten really vivid and dark. Any advice? 

3. I got into some serious beef with a waitress at a fancy french restaurant because she claims that "You can't order the cheese plate as an appetizer because it's only for dessert." It didn't help I was super late to the dinner (wrong train stop + rolling a suitcase around San Fran + STUPID GOOGLE WALKING DIRECTIONS IN BETA) and had already annoyed the hostess with my giant suitcase and frazzled entrance. Regardless, no one puts Baby in a corner and no one tells bRob she can't order cheese whenever she durn well pleases. Obviously I had to order two desserts because even though I wanted the cheesecake I still needed that cheese platter. 70% on principle.

4. This profound purchase from my most first ever IKEA trip:
taking name suggestions...
For those of you still wondering, it's a stuffed rat. Never bought a stuffed animal in my life; in fact, i threw most stuffed animals i received under the bed because they took up too much space (i was a bratty little pragmatist). But maybe the wind was just right and the planets had aligned and also i was feeling super sentimental about McFly, and i could not leave the store without him.

5. Earlier this evening "The other day" I rationalized a two-hour nap because my arm was sore from the flu shot. Heaven help this girl if she ever actually gets the flu.

6. That time I fell in five-minute love with the guy I sat beside in first-class. He smelled nice, wore a smart corduroy blazer, told me about his yachting trip through Norwegian islands or something, smelled nice, was tall, dark and ambiguously ethnic, and walked me to my next gate. We'd obviously be married by now if I had actually gotten his name. hashtag missed connections. (HAHAHA We were in an airport. Connections. I'm killing myself over here....).

7. After I got incredibly fussy with the US Air ticket agent because she couldn't find my flight to Philadelphia, she patiently asked me, "Could you mean Pittsburgh?" Yeah, I meant Pittsburgh. Snotty bRob doesn't know the difference between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

8. Early this fall I went on a date which we rounded out with a trip to the movie theater. Only neither of us actually knew what was playing, so we asked the ticket girl for recommendations for 'something funny'. She adorably suggested Don Jon. Neither of us was familiar with the movie, except I knew it starred JGL, whom i love dearly, and the ticket girl was just so darn adorable, so we bought the tickets.

Don Jon  was a bad choice.

My date and I had barely held hands up til that point, and I'll have it be known that watching sexy-time films [more like soft-core porn] together is not the relationship-builder you might think it is. The whole movie I sat as far away from my date as possible with my blushing head in my hands. You could have fit at least one other tiny person between us. You know how half the fun of movie dates is waiting for someone to grab your hand or look over adoringly mid-movie? Yeah, that never happened. As soon as the lights came on, I full on ran out of that movie theater without looking to see if my date followed. 

9. Awkward Truth number 9: My 2013 blogging record

10. This truth is more of a question, but everyone reads books in the bathroom, right? I believe in multi-tasking, but i'm starting to think maybe not everyone's as open-minded about efficiency. One semester I read A Streetcar Named Desire entirely while 'multi-tasking'. Follow-up question, if you borrow someone's book, is it implied that you'll be 'multi-tasking' with it, or should you ask explicitly?

Michelle if you're reading this, I don't mean your books. Honest.

I know. girl's a mess.




^^ that was obnoxious; you know it, i know it, move on.

I told a friend I've been on a real pie kick lately, to which he responded, "Baking or eating?" Fair enough...BOTH. It's so hard to find a good pie, don't you think? When is the last time you ate a pie that WAS NOT apple or pecan? Like never ago? Time to get more fun with our pies, folks. I want to eat flashy pie.

In that spirit, i potentially over-committed to making three flashy Thanksgiving pies. Notwithstanding my former kitchen experiences (weren't those so fun), i would say my attempts were marginally successful.

Front to back: Mango Chili, Honey Rose, Chocolate Chip Pies
In case you have any interest in reproducing any of these (I won't even be offended if yours look better), here're the deets:

1. Mango Chili Pie - Once upon a time, little bRob went to Mexico and had the best Mango Chili ice cream of her life. Really, the best ice cream of her life bar none. Since then I've been mad obsessed with the sweet-spicy flavor palate. The flavors in this pie were so spot on. The texture of the mango, however, was a bit of a turn-off. Textures don't typically freak me out, but mango is kind of stringy. Also, in case you're interested, Grandma was mad the pie was so spicy. By the way - I used the pie crust recipe from this recipe by simply doubling it. I am proud to say I have never used a pre-made pie crust. For better or worse.
Verdict: 4/5 pie stars

I might try this again with papaya. Then again I might just grow out of this hobby in a week or two.

2. Salted Rose & Honey Pie - I love a good honey chess pie, and I've been wanting to use my rosewater ever since I bought it. This pie was fairly simple, though after refrigeration the crust was very tough. I can't tell if this is a bRob problem or if that's how it's supposed to be or if it's the recipe, though I doubt it because look at her pictures with their moody lighting and raw wood tables and organic honey. I would trust her over me. I think the pie came out according to plan, tough crust aside, but the floral notes are a little jarring. I enjoy rose, but my dad describes the pie as tasting like "a bathroom deodorizer". If you, however, are more open to the florals, then this pie is for you.
Verdict: 3.5/5 pie stars

3. Chocolate Chip Pie - After a visit to Royer's Round Top Cafe outside of Austin the other day, I fell in love with their famous Chocolate Chip Pie. Obviously this pie was not as good as the actual pie, mostly because I overcooked it. There is nothing I hate more than a burnt crust. I'm getting angry just thinking about it. My beef with this recipe is that it tells you to cook until the knife comes out clean, which never happened....trust me, I overcooked the pie waiting for it to happen. I should have remembered that the pie is pretty tender and gooey on the inside, which would mean it would never come out clean. Regardless, this pie is a crowd-pleaser. Despite the toasty crust, my family ate the entire pie. Verdict: 3.5/5 pie stars (the pie will be a huge hit no matter what - i mean it's cookie pie - but i'm just so mad that it got burnt). Crust: http://flossysfuel.com/lemon-lavender-pie/

I also baked a Lemon Lavendar Pie a while back. It was alright. Note to self: Do not use a regular grater to zest your lemons unless you want giant chunky lemon zest. It was a little gross.

I also tried making bread from scratch for thanksgiving, thanks to Pinterest (duh). It actually went fairly well, though it was stickier than I anticipated and I never got loaf-y ball shape. Mine looked more like an amoeba or something. Whatever. it was delicious. Don't forget to take the lid off if you want that romantic brown crust. 

Also, check out that Le Creuset in her post. Now that I'm so good at bread-ing, I kind of need one. Wouldn't it be the perfect Christmas gift for that darling aspiring baketress in your life on whom you wish to spend $300? I actually found another dutch oven on sale, but the name isn't french so i'm not interested. hashtag bougie.
6 3/4 qt. Oval French Oven

(this color is called "Ocean". love.)

So that's me and my initial foray into baking. It's actually been very good for me, and I think I've worked up enough courage to try, oh i don't know, real food. Not today, but soon.

In other news, I'm going to Vietnam over Christmas, I am still in love with Jason Schwartzman and this guy I found in an LL Bean catalog, I'm mad obsessed with Blacklist, and I'm looking for a new sitcom since I finished It's Always Sunny (recommendations?). I want my next cooking adventure to be  Egg Tarts. If you never hear about the tarts again, it's because it didn't work. I'm looking to move to either Denver or Boston, so if you have any advice, hit me up. Finally, I should wrap up this post and go pack for tomorrow's early early flight. Let me tell you how thrilled I'm not about Monday morning flights.

Anyways, I hope you're doing well.

I'll just be over here living my baking dream, which may end with me quitting my job, moving to New Zealand, and opening a bakery, and maybe marrying a sheep farmer from Australia.



An Open Letter to No One // Edification

we heart it  via Darling, be daring.

Unless you've been living...oh, I don't know, nowhere, then you've probably heard about the Miley circa the VMA's debacle. That, in conjunction with her gratuitously sexual music videos and photos and erratic behavior, have driven her to the forefront of the public eye.

Recently, artist Sinead O'Connor facebooked an open letter to Miley Cyrus in which she describes how she is "extremely concerned for [Miley]" and blathers on about how Cyrus is being pimped, she is not caring for herself, she should use her talent instead of her sexuality, so on and so forth. Millions of people all over the interwebs have heralded O'Connor as some sort sort of martyr and mother figure for her deep-seated compassion and thoughtful advice to the younger artist.

Pardon my french, but I call bullsh*t.

A very public and open facebook post is NOT the appropriate forum to mentor or speak truth to a person in need. I find it troubling that so many people think that it is. (And based on Cyrus' defensive and questionable reaction, I would call into question its efficacy as well.)

I don't want to focus on the tabloid, star-studded, gossip-y controversy (i mean i totally do, but not right now), but rather the mentality driving a lot of the public response.

There are two very basic things we need to call out here:
  •  If someone needs guidance or counsel that you are in a position to provide, a discrete and personal conversation will go a lot further in demonstrating your concern and compassion. Leave loud public announcements and open letters (that are really more about you and your highly publicized "compassion") behind. It seems a little Pharisaical, don't you think?

 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 
Matthew 18:15

  •  All guidance and advice should come from a place of love.

Let all that you do be done in love. 
1 Cor 16:14

...Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.
1 Cor 8:1-2

How do we ensure that we are speaking out of love?

I would humbly suggest that we look at our relationship with the person to whom we are speaking. Do you have any actual knowledge about this person's life or struggles? Have you truly lived life with them? Been there when they've hurt, rejoiced when they've rejoiced? Have you built a foundation for a conversation, not a lecture? Preaching at someone is not loving. Building a sincere and genuine two-way relationship, one in which you listen and talk, is.

I've been a person in need of guidance and instruction. I've been entrenched in sin and had people speak Truth to me. But the advice and support that's meant the most has been given by people who loved me well. The ones who held their hand out when I was in need, who rejoiced with me in my blessings, and intentionally invested in my life...it's never been the ones who arrogantly step in only to  counsel and then step out again.

To the self-righteous open letter writers, to the people who are professional hand-shakers and five-minute conversation-havers in between the pews, to the Sunday School classmates who collect prayer requests like Pokemon cards but never follow up:

Just because you have an opinion doesn't mean it's your place to say it.

Counsel and advice should always be rooted in Love, and Love requires investment. 

Ok, that's my last open letter.



California Roadtrip: Big Sur, Seals, and Six Flags

Day 2: Big Sur & Elephant Seals

Much to the disappointment and annoyance of my sweet little sister, we drove down to Big Sur for some serious hiking. And by serious hiking I mean a 4 mile moderately strenuous trail...which I didn't think would be too big of a deal after my 37 near death experiences in Maui.

Big Sur is just a piece down the road from Monterey and Carmel, both of which were chilly and overcast when we stopped. Big Sur was grey as well, which I adored. Overcast days, especially by the sea, are so romantic, don't you think?

The grey sky almost melded into the sea, and when looking out at the horizon, you couldn't tell which was which. It was all just this slatey abyss.

the daily selfie. do you like my mullet?

We hiked the Ewoldsen trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

you can tell i take this hiking business seriously because i'm wearing spandex.

the one caveat I would mention about hiking the Ewoldsen trail is that it doesn't have what i would consider "good" views until well into two very steep miles. I didn't mind too much, because I love a good leg-burning, heart-pumping hike, but if you don't enjoy hiking for hiking's sake, and if you aren't an especially patient person, I would not recommend this trail.

The problem is that the trail is mostly in wooded areas, and the first few miles are just an uphill climb through trees. I don't know, maybe I'm just not a tree person. If you are a tree person, you'll probably get a get a huge kick out of it.

But once you got up those two miles, you come around the mountain and end up high above the ocean.

And if your name is not bRob and you don't make a habit of taking horrible pictures, you might snap a few gorgeous shots.

She only agreed to pose after a lot of cajoling.

the one bit of wildlife we didn't manage to scare away...

walking in and out of the park you'll see this beautiful little grotto [?] and waterfall across the road. 

minimal hiking required.

After leaving Big Sur, we drove down a little shy of Santa Barbara. On the way, a friend suggested I stop and visit the elephant seals (or sea elephants, as i prefer to call them) between the lighthouse and Hearst Castle near San Simeon.

Easily one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received. Like, cross stitch that mess on a pillow, good advice. The elephant seals are hilarious. Living proof that God is part comedian.

"don't look at me." 
I suppose the "elephant" part comes from their snouts, which look like abridged trunks. And their bodies are essentially lumpy potato sacks. They wrinkle and wobble awkwardly and pooch in the funniest ways.

Let's get serious - my spirit animal is probably the elephant seal.

"hey guys i called middle spoon"
and these guys have NO sense of personal boundaries. My favorite thing was when one seal would go up and hardcore shove himself between two other sleeping seals. Then one of the sleeping seals would inevitably become aggravated, grunt, and wibblewobble out of the way.

this happened every few seconds.

Also they flipped sand on themselves a lot. In a very nonchalant fashion. 

guys why'd you start napping without me?
I could have watched these guys all day. But I didn't. But I could have.

And in case you're wondering how our hours upon hours in the car went down, Marena and I got into a pretty heated discussion about Old Crow Medicine Show vs Darius Rucker Wagon Wheel. I don't know how it lasted so long because obviously OCMS has a lock on Wagon Wheel and Darius Rucker's version is a pathetic adulterated sham, but educating your little sister takes time, I guess.

The car now has a strict no-Darius-Rucker policy.

Darius, I think Hootie wants you back. Or at least country doesn't want you. - bRob

Day 3: Six Flags

Since my sister isn't such a big fan of hiking and wanted to do something a bit more "fun", we wanted to spend one day in one of California's plethora of amusement parks.

Our first instinct was to go to Disney, but at half the price and with a fraction of the little children running and screaming around, Six Flags seemed the more appealing option.

But what we didn't take into consideration is that while Six Flags isn't geared towards children, its more mature audience consists of lovesick teenagers who grope one another in the line for the Roaring Rapids. I'm not judging, but I did have a front row seat for an ungodly number of hours.


Regardless, i think marena enjoyed the rides and i got through two roller coasters before i realized how old and curmudgeony i am and swore off theme parks forever. Not altogether a bad day.



California Road Trip: Monterey & Carmel

So I don't know if you're as obsessed with my comings and goings as I like to think you are, InterWebs, but my little sister and I are currently on a California road trip.

Let me tell you how WEIRD it is to go on a vacation as an adult. I spent the first three days of vacation agonizing about this report I'd done for work and whether or not people knew where to reach me in case of some catastrophic work emergency, like, does anyone know what bRob renamed that one stupid file? and then i anxiously bit my nails and waited for people to send emails back and forth going, ugh bRob is the worst how could she leave us in the middle of this project OR ugh bRob is the worst thank heavens she's gone. But apparently no one's sent that email yet or they've just forgotten to 'cc' me.

Paranoia aside, I figured I might chronicle some of our travelings across southern California (you'll note that I refrained from calling it SoCal, and for your sake, will continue to do so), so at the very least, Grandma won't be so worried about whether or not we've been kidnapped by hippies and whether or not we're staying hydrated (we aren't).

It should be noted I put WAY too much faith in my phone camera. I kind of gave up using my camera camera, because it doesn't always get colors right, but apparently once you expand a phone photo to larger than 2 pixels, it looks like someone drew it with a crayon. And what i mean by that is why is my phone camera so blurry...
Day 1: Monterey & Carmel-By-The Sea

I was a little disappointed in Monterey. While the aquarium was lovely, the town itself was a bit of a drip. I did find a great used bookstore, much to Marena's disappointment. And then, in addition to the eight books I brought with me, I bought two more used books. About dragons. Whatever, I go through weird phases when I'm on vacation. 

[Number of books purchased: 2. This will be an ongoing count throughout the roadtrip.]

Without further ado, I present: the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

It blew my mind a little bit that this is what sand dollars (a sand dollar colony?) actually look like when they're not dead and on your Christmas tree. 

This little buddy was a bit of a camera hog. Baby Turtle was dallying and dancing right in front of the glass and this was the best photo I could capture. Typical.

An angel seahorse. That's not what it's officially called, but that's what I would call it if someone bothered to ask me my opinion.

This picture, in case you can't make it out, is the picture of a dwarf seahorse. As if seahorses weren't cute enough. My sister's finger for scale.

These are jellyfish. Can you believe it. Also - you should probably be super grateful, I've spared you, no joke, 37 mediocre blurry jellyfish pictures right now.

An overly attentive aquarium worker trapped us for 15 minutes to tell us about all the birds surrounding the aquariums. the BIRDS. Not only am I an introvert who doesn't like to be trapped in conversation, but I especially don't super want to be trapped in a conversation about birds. So I asked him to take a picture so he'd stop talking and then tried to escape like 3 more times.

color me hilarious.

This next series of photographs is from Carmel-By-The-Sea. They sure don't do the place any justice, but I am in LOVE with Carmel. It reminds me a lot of the Hamptons. It's absolutely gorgeous, on the ocean, romantic, quiet, and a lot of delusional rich people live there. And the window displays are to die for.  

Obviously you can't see because 70% of this picture is road, but Carmel has amazing, beautiful houses. Glamorous, modern, etc. All on the edge of the ocean (that is too cold to swim in, might i add) with these giant trees shading them. 

I don't even know what these are but I like them.

This display was really gorgeous but you know me and my photography skills...

That dress is probably my soul mate.

Skinny [and delusionally rich] bRob would wear the HECK out of this outfit.

I mean how adorable...

And of course there is a store devoted to mermaid paraphernalia. 

Add one cup of hot chocolate and about 3 hours of driving and I think you've got a healthy idea of our first day in southern California.

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