Sunday, September 27, 2009

The little prince

On a rainy Sunday, I went to New Canaan,Connecticut, for my friend Heather's shower. She is having a baby boy in November. The baby's name will be William Drake Prince (after his father), but he's going to be called Drake. Or judging from all the crown and castle related baby gifts, the little prince. Or maybe the Fresh Prince of Brooklyn.

Here's Heather and me....doesn't she look amazing? Every time I see her I tell her that I hope to look like her when I am pregnant. She looks better than me, not-pregnant! She's even wearing high heels!

The shower took place at Heather's BF Malissa's gorgeous home. Her house is the type of place where you walk inside and the first thing you see is foyer with a big round table with a beautiful large arrangement of flowers. Yeah, it looks like the type of place that belongs in a magazine. I loved it. I was especially taken by her kitchen which is basically the size of my apartment.

This picture doesn't really do it justice. The appliances were sick. And all that counter space! What a fantasy! I was drooling.

Not only that, but the house had killer outdoor space and two dogs! My kind of heaven.

Malissa was the perfect host. First, she had us draw pictures on onesies which were later hung on a laundry line and used for decoration. I drew different fruits on mine and wrote "Fruity Guy." We ate delicious mini-food. I had about a hundred brownie bites, rice krispie treats and cupcakes. And there were games because there are always games at these sorts of occasions.

Heather got to wear a crown and open a ton of presents until she was completely surrounded by cardboard boxes.

The best present was someone who created a laundry line of baby clothes (similar to the decor), which Heather pulled from a basket. There were so many items, the line stretched all the way across the room. The little girls were delighted! Drake is going to be one well-dressed little man.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poker birthday party

Dan's birthday celebration continued on Tuesday, when we hosted his weekly poker game at our place with some festive food and cake.

Dan liked the cake...

...and the candles.

Dan got lots of presents, such as Wii Resort, a book, and four huge boxes of old 1980s baseball cards from Tom.

And of course, we played some Beatles Rock Band.

Some people played better than others.

We all had fun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You say it's your birthday

Monday was Dan's 30th birthday and yes, ever since Beatles Rock Band has entered our lives, everything has a Beatles connotation.

Since I am an incredibly thoughtful girlfriend, I suggested months ago that we should spend Dan's 3-0 in Cooperstown, NY, to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. Understand that this trip would involve me--not a sports fan--spending an entire day in a boring museum with Dan who would probably not let me leave his side for a moment because he'd be so inspired to tell me every minutiae detail about baseball history. Like I said, I am an incredibly thoughtful girlfriend.

The plan was good to go but then a few weeks ago Dan was invited to spend the same weekend at Adam's Bachelor Party and then he learned the exciting news that Brett from Switzerland was coming, and so birthday weekends and baseball dreams were swept aside for boys, just like that. I can't say I was terribly upset. (Thank you, Adam, for getting married!) I told Dan that offers like these only come every ten years so perhaps we'll go to the Hall of Fame when he turns 40. This comment was not well received.

(To help me out, I suggest one of Dan's fantasy baseball playmates/Ham readers come out to visit us and take Dan to the Hall of Fame. You know who I am talking about.)

So no big birthday extravaganza this weekend, but on his actual birthday day, Dan took the day off from work to spend the day with Brett and me. He gave us a list of things he wanted to do with us:

1. Go out for brunch
2. Beatles Rock Band marathon
3. See a movie (we saw the Informant)
4. Dinner with Nell and Adam for Ethiopian food
5. Eat a donut

This lucky guy gets everything he wants.

Our crew outside of Awash, the restaurant.

Dan checks out our spread. No, that's not all for you, Dan.

Friends. Together again.

Dunkin' Donut "cake." (photo by Brett)

Happy Birthday, love! I can't wait to spend the next 30 years with you...and hopefully 30 more on top of that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A new perspective on eggs

I have always been a scrambled eggs person, no question.

When I was a child, my mom made scrambled eggs by whisking eggs in a bowl with a little milk, pouring it into a buttered skillet and a few stirs later, it was ready to go. Once in a while, such as Easter, we'd go the hard-boiled egg route (where I'd eat the whites, my sister the yellows) or we'd place egg slices on top of a slice of rye bread slathered in mayo. We had the niftiest egg slicer contraption in those days that I thought was the coolest thing as a kid. When I studied abroad in London, I hated all the food except for the egg salad sandwiches I bought down the street from my flat. I ate one of those every other day. But for the most part we were a scrambled eggs kind of family.

Dan is a scrambled egg person, too, so I have continued the tradition, making scrambled eggs for us nearly every Saturday. When I lived in the dorm, I ate scrambled eggs. When we go out for brunch or to a diner for breakfast, I eat scrambled eggs. I never consider ordering eggs any other way. When I think eggs, I think scrambled.

The rare occasion I did try making eggs any other way were not successful. I can recall the first and only omelet I've ever made--a mushy mess of eggs, tomato and spinach--that went into the trash can after a few bites. Once in a while, I will order an omelet in a restaurant just because I can't make it myself, but mostly I just get the scrambled.

Until yesterday, where I made fried eggs from my Cooking School Handbook. (I must admit, I felt a little ridiculous reading a recipe for eggs--but this book has 22 pages devoted to the topic). I might have made fried eggs before, it not being a memorable experience that I am not entirely sure when, but somehow it was different last night. The first one was so sinfully easy, and plated on top of a tortilla and salsa, it was downright delicious. I made another, this time the yolk wasn't so runny and I didn't even need the other accompaniments--just a pinch of salt and I ate it quickly and joyfully. The third time, I flipped the egg over to make it "over easy," and this, my friends, taught me something about myself.

I like my eggs over easy. Thirty years of my life gone by, I didn't know.

Who knows what will happen when I learn to poach?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beatles Rock Band: We love you yeah, yeah, yeah

On September 21st, Dan will turn the big 3-0, and my birthday follows two weeks later. For our birthday presents, we decided to buy each other the new Beatles Rock Band (with a little help from our friends, aka Dan's parents).

Ever since we heard the announcement about Beatles Rock Band, Dan could not stop talking about it--the great music, the instruments, the visual effects, the fact that you could sing harmonies. (We all know that Dan LOVES harmonies). I have never seen him so excited about a video game EVER.

Since we never bought any other Rock Band game, we had to buy all the instruments. That means we now own the custom-made Beatles-era guitars, drum set, special microphone with stand and an extra mic for harmonies(!)

Now Dan could fulfill his fantasy of playing on John Lennon's Rickenbacker guitar.

Although Dan prefers Paul McCartney's bass, which Dan promptly called "my bass."

Did this ever happen to you when you were a child--you went to your friend's house and the friend claimed possession of the coolest toys that ONLY he/she could play with and you were stuck with second best? This is what it felt like playing rock band with Dan for the first time. Of course, he got to play with the cool bass. But then when we were ready to play the guitar-heavy "When My Guitar Gently Weeps," I was stuck on bass, so he could rock out on the guitar solo. Dan assured me that we will have this game for a long time, and I will have my chance to play the cool parts. Besides, he's been waiting for this day to come all summer, so how can I stand in the way of his fun?

Does anyone want to come over and play?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The best day of the year

I love going to the beach. As a child, my family would spend our vacations on the Jersey shore, so I have wonderful memories and feelings about water, sand and sun. I find the whole experience so relaxing. I can sit on plastic chair, look out to the ocean and be content for hours...days even.

And then there's Dan. He may be a man from California, but just like parks, the beach is boring to him. After a few hours of beach bliss, the man is ready to go home. Part of the problem is that Dan doesn't like how East Coast people do the beach.

When you live in LA and you want to go to the beach, he explains, you get in your car in voila, in 20 minutes you are there. You can go to the beach at 2 and leave at 3, no big deal. On the East Coast, since it's a bit of schlep to the coast line (at least an hour, in most cases), people tend to make a day of the beach, heading out early morning and leaving around 5. This is no fun, according to Dan. And then there's the fact of money. On the West Coast, the beach is a free man's land. On the East Coast, in most cases, you have to pay to go on the beach. "Boo! Hiss!" Dan says.

On top of all of this, Dan only likes to go to the beach when the weather is "perfect." While most people enjoy the beach anytime the sun is out and the temperature is above 80 degrees, Dan likes it to be uncomfortably, sweaty hot, all the more reason to go into the water. Beautiful, sunny summer days will come by where I will suggest we go to the beach, and Dan will shake his head saying, "It's not hot enough."

The only time that Dan has ever suggested we take a beach vacation is when his favorite band Cracker was playing in Point Pleasant, NJ a few summers ago. And sometimes he will agree to go to Atlantic City with my parents. Cracker and gambling, that is the only thing that will get him to the beach. (Don't expect us to take a typical beach honeymoon).

But since I love the beach so much, Dan has promised that we can have at least one beach day every year, a day I like to call The Best Day of The Year.

We had bad weather this summer, so The Best Day of The Year didn't come until Labor Day weekend. The weather was perfect for me (not Dan hot) but since it's the last weekend of summer, he had no choice in the matter. Although I love the Jersey shore, it's a long day trip from the city, so for TBDOTY, Dan and I will often take the Long Island Railroad to Long Beach, NY.

After years of doing this, we have a routine. Get to the train station around 10:30. Take the hour long train ride. Visit the grocery store by the train station to stock up on sandwiches, water and fruit, and then walk up to the beach, where we will stay the day. This year, we invited our friends Nell and Adam to join us, which made the day a whole lot less "boring" than usual.

When we go to the beach, you can count on the following things:

We'll get some serious reading gets done. Here, Adam and Nell demonstrate.

Dan will get a glob of sunblock in his ear. Random parts of his body will get sunburned (i.e. one arm but not the other, a splotch on his thigh, the back of his neck etc). Never his ears though.

Yvonne will be happy!

After the beach, the four of us came back to the city, washed up and went out for a seafood dinner. It really was a wonderful day....even Dan agrees. Can't wait until next year!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cupcake heaven

Have I found my true calling?

Today I volunteered at a cupcake catering company in my quest to figure out what to do with my life. I met up with Keavy, the owner of the business, at her kitchen, which she rents out through a Brooklyn community space devoted to start-up businesses. For the next three hours, I helped her bake and frost about 250 mini-cupcakes ordered for a wedding tomorrow. The bride requested a sampler of most of Keavy's flavors, so we had the chance to make everything from red velvet to chocolate blueberry to lemon & lavender.

Keavy is a super sweet girl. Not only did she invite a complete stranger--that would be me--into her world, but she gave me the inside scoop of starting a business from scratch. She was so easy to talk to. She went to art school and after she graduated, she became obsessed with cupcakes, began developing her own recipes and started her business two years ago, selling her sweets at a weekly flea market and taking custom orders. Her business is booming and boy, doesn't it just sound so easy and completely do-able?

I think I did a pretty good job helping out until we got to the frosting. Keavy pipes all of her frosting using a pastry bag which made me realize....WHOA, I need to practice doing this. I wasn't as proficient as I would liked (I've only done it once or twice before), but Keavy was completely cool about it, assuring me that it took some practice. Whenever I made a mistake, she just swiped my bad frosting job off the cupcake and made me try again. I've decided that I would like to practice icing techniques in one of my next cooking school sessions.

I thought I would be tired by the time we finished, but I felt exhilarated and was sad it was over. Keavy gave me a sampler of sweets to take home. At press time, my favorite is the strawberries & creme, but really, they're all pretty good.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

When life hands you a lemon....

....make lemon meringue pie!

Cooking school is still going strong.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Seventeen minutes

To apply for a job, it used to be that just had to send in your resume and cover letter to be considered. Now more and more, companies are requiring you to fill out these elaborate online applications that ask an obscene amount of questions about your entire life story.

This afternoon, I decided to tackle one of these applications for a well-known company for a job that was posted today on a job board. I knew that I was absolutely qualified for this position. In fact, it was a no-brainer. I was a perfect fit. There was nothing in the job description I couldn't do or handle. It took me over a half an hour to fill out the whole online application--on top of writing a tailored cover letter and attaching my resume. But whatever, this is how it goes. This has been my life for the last few months. I hit the submit button and went on to the next application.

Literally, SEVENTEEN MINUTES LATER, I get the following email in my in-box that says: "Thank you for your interest in the position at XYZ Company. We have carefully reviewed your skills and qualifications. Unfortunately, we do not have an appropriate job opportunity for you."

I never take job rejections personally, but I feel
a gentle suggestion is in order.

Dear HR Department for XYZ Company,

I know that you are probably busy people, though apparently not that busy because I got a rejection letter from your company SEVENTEEN MINUTES after mailing you my job application that took me FORTY-FIVE MINUTES to complete, but I need to get something off my chest. When it comes to sending a rejection letter--considering that it's just a form letter anyway--I wonder if it's possible that you wait at least a day to send it. Twenty-four hours would be good. At least then we can all PRETEND that you read through my stuff. Don't get me wrong--
I am THRILLED for the honor of wasting my time to tell you about every job I've ever had, my education, my "elaborate" criminal history and a whole other pointless stuff you really don't need to know. But since you are obviously terrible at your job in the first place for not spotting my raw talent, great experience and utter awesomeness from my application, it wouldn't hurt anyone to have a little more time to "carefully review my skills and qualifications" anyway. I believe this small change would really make everyone's days and outlook on life much better in the long run.

Have a good day.