Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vegging Out

Man, the past few weeks have totally kicked me in the butt. My new magazine job is really crazy busy, plus I have been plugging away on my copywriting assignments on the weekends. Coming home from work each night to cook a meal using the CSA produce might sound stressful to some, but for me, it was such a great way to unwind and de-stress and feel like I was doing something cool. (FYI: Work is not cool).

Here are some snapshots of the first week:

Remember these scary guys?

They turned into this. Everyone on the internet told me that this garlic scape pesto is supposed to be amazingly good, yet everyone failed to mention how it would make you have stinky garlic breath for an entire 24-hour period after wards. It was worth it.

My first time cooking with radishes. Dan and I aren't big fans of the vegetable. I thought these fish tacos with salsa verde and radish salad were all right, but Dan said the radishes were a little hard to swallow.

One of my classic summertime salads: Lettuce, tomato, avocado, peaches, red onion and chicken. YUM!

Pan-fried gnocchi with kale. Probably our favorite meal of the week because I never cooked anything like it before. As Dan said, "I was surprised kale didn't taste so bad."

Sauteed fish with stir-fried bok choy. Better than it looks.

Roasted beets with feta, toasted walnuts, feta and chicken. (My least favorite of the bunch, through pretty).

You also might have noticed that yes, we have returned to meat. But I am still trying to make the meals veg-heavy, meat-lite.

Oh! I ordered some AWESOME ice pop molds from Amazon, so I have been making icy treats for us every week. The flavor this week was vanilla pudding.

Here's me after a long day at the office looking a bit ragged. No vegetables were harmed in the making or eating of this ice pop.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boom, 83!

That was my girl's score on the US History Regents Exam that I tutored her for. Yes, that means she passed. Mightily.

Here's the thing.

She passed by so much that she probably didn't really need the help. Right? I mean, how much difference could my flash cards have made when she cleared the bar with tons of room to spare?

Was I really such a poor evaluator of high school talent that I couldn't tell she was actually in pretty good shape, even when I was worried for her? Can high school kids be this dumb, even when they're successful? (Rhetorical.)

I suppose, on the other hand, my flash cards could've been so money that they lifted her from dismal to stellar. You really can't discount that possibility.

I'll never know exactly what questions she got right, but I'm excited to see the test questions when they come out online. For all I know, the essay question was like, "How tight was FDR?!"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Julie and Simon's BBQ

On the heels of their nuptials, Julie and Simon hosted a barbecue on their sweet rooftop patio in Brooklyn. The newlyweds outdid themselves with tons of delicious food, drinks, a rockin' sunset (how'd they do that?) and some fresh guitar-playing skills. Here are the highlights:

Meagan and Dan at the picnic table, where we parked ourselves for the majority of the evening.

A glimpse of the mighty fine eats on the grill.

Montana, a friend's dog, who became my friend.

Lots 'o beer drinking.

Baby Andrew, the youngest party-goer, entertained us in his pj's.

Dan and Julie, in a terrible shot of both of them, but this was the only picture I took of the hostess. At least Julie's arms look a-mazing as always. Unfortunately, Dan can't be redeemed here. Sorry!

Can you pick out the Statue of Liberty? Hint, on the left!

After feeding us all silly, Simon serenades us.

Waiting for the subway.

In case you are wondering what's going on here, when Dan gets tired -- or even when he's not -- he likes to lean all of his body weight against me or have me hold up his leg. I don't enjoy doing either, but this happens all the time.

Meagan tried to help me out. Dan complained she was not supportive enough.

The man's leg is so heavy, it really needs a two handed grip. I know. I have 8 years experience of leaning/leg holding.

Does anyone else out there have to do this for their significant others?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vegetable Nerds

Today was a very monumental day for the Team Squeen household. We received our first CSA share!

For those who don't know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you pay a local farmer upfront in the beginning of the season, and you receive a box of produce every week during the summer and fall. It's great because you are supporting a small farm, you get everything in season and it's locally grown and organic so it's better for the environment. The catch is that you have no choice in what vegetables you receive, so you're stuck with whatever they happen to give you.

Like these guys. These are called garlic scapes. I have never seen such a thing in my life! This week, we also received lettuce, kale, bok choy, beets, radishes and spring onions.

We're doing the CSA through Dan's work, and we have been waiting for WEEKS for the produce to come. It feels like we have been talking about it every day for the last two months. The weather has been a little funky on the East Coast, so the start date kept getting delayed because the crop wasn't so great.

But then yesterday, Dan and I were giddy with excitement, knowing that the start day was here. That's right, we were excited about VEGETABLES. That's when I decided to call us Vegetable Nerds. I mean, seriously.

Dan has basically become a vegetarian in the last week and a half (he will only eat fish). While I won't go that far, I can't wait to try new vegetables and improve my cooking skills. I am very good at following recipes and then buying the ingredients, but now I have to learn how to cook with what I have. I will be documenting my cooking adventures here on The Ham, if you are interested.

Oh, we will also be getting fruit starting in July. YUM.

Apparently, the New York City Council has a bunch of vegetable nerds, too. They started a Facebook Fan Page for the CSA and posted pictures of what they are calling Vegetable Palooza, which is basically city council employees selecting their produce for the week.

Here's Dan elbowing his way to get the best stuff and stealing the last bok choy from the chick in pink. You go!

The stuff is currently overflowing in my fridge, and I have no idea what I will do with any of it yet. Wish us luck!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Time out

I REALLY want to get a new camera lens. It is very expensive, and my husband thinks it's a bad idea.

"After the 365 project is over, you will will probably stop taking pictures," he said.

"No, I won't!"

"Yes, you will."

"No, I won't!"

Two months later, I have kind of stopped taking pictures.

Yesterday, I made blueberry crumble bars, and there is absolutely no evidence of it ever happening. Not one picture. Shocking, I know. One day later, there is no more cake in the house, which isn't as surprising.

Today it was a gorgeous summer day, and I was stuck home working. (Oh, in case you were wondering, on the very first day of
unemployment last month, I got a phone call about a new magazine job and a few days later, an email with this huge copywriting assignment.) I am grateful for all the work, but I admit, I started to feel incredibly depressed about spending this nice sunny day coming up with interesting ways to write about make-up brushes and wondering what's the point and asking myself if I will ever get to do anything interesting this summer.

To Dan's encouragement, I left my desk and went on a long walk, bringing my camera along. The sun was too hot and harsh, but it didn't matter. It was nice to come back.

I still want that stupid lens. Even if Dan is (sorta) right. I'll show him!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Meatless Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...

I haven't had meat since the "porterhouse incident" on Sunday. Definitely the longest I've gone without carnivoring. Other than the time I went three days without any food at all, I can't think of a time when I've intentionally skipped meat, certainly not for more than a day.

It started because my body was calling for a timeout after that ridiculous meal at Commerce. And then I just wasn't hungry for it. The thought of any meat just seemed like too much. Plus Brett and Emily eat vegetarian at home now and they seem so healthy for it. And by day four I did feel a little better without it, a little more "pure" or something. (Placebo effect? Yeah, definitely possible.)

Going meatless hasn't been as hard as I would've thought either. Salads at lunch, with beans replacing the chicken. Yvonne has made dinners of tilapia, chowder, vegetarian chili. Last night at the diner I had eggs and pancakes. Still, tonight we're going out to dinner with Adam and Nell, and it's hard to imagine ordering the vegetarian plate, continuing to go out of my way to avoid meat. On the other hand, I'm curious how long I can keep this up before becoming miserable. Who knows, maybe there'll be a good-looking fish dish.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Look Who's 2

This is Michela. She likes monkey pajamas, Dora the Explorer, and going to grandma's house. And for the next year, she is our favorite 2-year-old. Happy birthday, Little M!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ah, New York City life

You don't expect any surprises when you take your morning pee, least of all the one I got this morning. I'm standing over the bowl when I see something move out of the corner of my eye --

"OH! Shit!"

I cut it off mid-stream and closed the door behind me. Because there in the bottom of our tub, standing on its hind feet, was... a mouse.

I told Yvonne what prompted my outburst and saw the look of terror on her face I expected, probably the same one I had. I saw her glance at the bathroom door, and blurted out: "Don't go near it! You'll freak out!"

We both needed to shower, though, so we couldn't just wait this thing out. We quickly put our heads together, and came up with three possible courses of action:

1. Grab a trash bag, throw it over the mouse extraordinary rendition style, scoop him up and toss him down the garbage chute.
2. Drown it.
3. "I could shoot it with a rubberband, and try to get a good head shot."

For some reason, we didn't explore that last option any further, and decided Plan 1 was our best bet.

So I put on rubber dishwashing gloves, grabbed a new garbage bag and went in.

The first attempt to bag it was a pretty feeble swipe. I didn't want to get too close lest it run up by arms or leap onto my junk or something, and it easily jumped out of range. Still, seeing him on the run was helpful, because it was clear the mouse couldn't get out of the tub on his own. (I'm guessing he climbed the shower curtain to get in, but he obviously couldn't scale the tub to get back out, poor guy.)

On try number two, I snapped open the bag some more, gathered my courage and draped the opening over the mouse. And he walked right in! I scooped it up and held fast onto the top -- and then I could feel him scrambling around in the bag. (!!!) I couldn't open the front door because that would mean taking a hand off the open end of the bag so I called out to Yvonne: "Bring me some shorts!" She came out of the bedroom and I stepped into a pair of gym shorts. She threw the door open and we ran down the hall to the garbage chute.

I could feel it scampering more furiously now, so I hit it against the wall to stun it, but that only riled it up more. I tried it again, with a little more force this time -- I can't hurt an animal! -- then once more, and by that time Yvonne had the chute open.

In it went.


What a way to start the morning.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Speaking of Birthdays

Dan and I went to New Jersey this weekend to celebrate my dad's birthday. The big 7-0. Pete and Jen threw a barbecue in his honor. Many family members came (some who I haven't seen in ages) and as usual, there was plenty of eating. I made a carrot cake. It was good even though Dan refused a single bite. There were walnuts in it along with cream cheese frosting. Oh, the horror.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Dad with his four children: Annette, my half-sister Jola, Pete and me.

For more pics, go here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


It was Jason's birthday again tonight. I mean, it's been a year since he treated a bunch of us to a fancy lunch for his 30th (it was the day of the USA-England World Cup match), but it's crazy how the time flies. Tonight, we all went out to Commerce. Yvonne and I had the fried chicken appetizer as a prelude to the porterhouse steak for two. (If there'd been a side of pulled pork, I probably would've said yes to that, too; make it a trifecta). The waiter kinda upsold us on the porterhouse. Said it was IN-SANE. It's like he knew exactly who he was talking to. For the record, it was pretty darn good, but I've had insaner.

Yvonne and I were totally full -- we didn't even finish our creamed spinach -- so when we saw that the "birthday cake" dessert (exactly what it sounds like) comes in truly ridiculous portions, our decision was easy. Yes, please!

Happy birthday, Jason!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Weekend, Part 2

Yvonne and I just saw the new Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris. Probably the best thing we'll see this year. Really, perfect. Not just because I closely identified with Owen Wilson's character (a friend of mine actually referred to it in describing my worldview -- and not as a compliment), but the jokes are all spot-on.

Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali is pretty fantastic, too. Dali in movies reminded me of the screenplay he wrote for a Marx Brothers movie: Giraffes on Horseback Salad. I can't find it online anywhere, but I remember reading some lines when it was on display at MoMA a few years back, and it's as insane as you might imagine, yet also funny (even though Groucho apparently didn't think so). This gives you an impression.

Anyway, do yourself a favor and see Midnight in Paris.

The Weekend, Part 1

Saturday found me, along with Kayleen, Justin, Nien, Kim and a couple of Julien's friends from school, in Philly to watch Julien assistant-coach the Univ. of Texas rugby "7s" at a televised tournament. (Yvonne was at a baby shower. She missed out...)

First, a word about rugby. I don't really get it either. But it's pretty similar to what we used to call on the playground "smear the queer." Things were less politic then.

Sevens rugby is a much faster game than traditional rugby. Played by smaller, quicker guys, who still manage to destroy each other out there. And the games are only 14 minutes long, which no one could really explain, but helps keep things from getting boring. So we saw about eight matches in one afternoon, including a UT victory and a well-played loss against Arizona, one of the better teams in the nation, apparently. Two things came from all this:

1. I finally understand (mostly) how rugby is played; and

2. I've adopted Texas as my alter alma mater.

Lemme tell you, people love Texas. Tons of cats came up to talk to us in our Texas Rugby shirts, or flashed the "hook 'em" sign to us. I did not know about the love for Texas, but it's a thing. Even Yvonne knew. (?) And apparently Kayleen can't even wear UT gear in public because it gets too much attention from people on the street. Like a rock star. Anyway, I enjoyed the friendly attention, and having an alter-ego as a Longhorn. I can't wait to rock the burnt orange again.

Also, we got out drink on pretty good. Hey, it's a rugby tournament! Suffice it to say that on the way back to New York, I only made it as far as Justin's couch.

I told you Yvonne missed out.