Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mosquito Love (And Hate)

Hello all, this is what I feel like today:

(via Ann Kelliot)

Mosquitoes love me. I must have sweeter blood than everyone else, because in a room full of people, I will certainly get the most mosquito bites. It's always been like this. Back home, my mosquito bites used to look like cigarette burns. That led to interesting questions in elementary school ("Honey, is there anything going on at home?"). Here, in DC, where it is humid, mosquitoes flourish and thrive on me and it ends up looking like I have bruises all over my body.

Yesterday, I got bit. A lot. I finally was able to do the tally of how many bites today, when I couldn't wear shoes for a long period of time thanks to the 17 bug bites on my feet. Plus the 5 others on my legs and bum (making sitting painful) that's a total of 22 bug bites from yesterday alone! Total summer tally? 35 mosquito bites. Summer has barely started, and I'm sure by the end I'll have lost a significant amount of blood.

Why not wear mosquito repellent, you ask? I do. I also take garlic pills, which supposedly help. I do everything to make sure the bugs don't get me (aside from wearing a mosquito net) and still they chow down.

Scientists has done research to figure out why some people are bit more than others. It all comes down to how we smell. Some people don't smell so hot to mosquitoes. Others, well, if you're me, it's like I'm honey and you're Pooh Bear. Except very, very competent.

I meant to make a post on the meatballs (and subsequent subs) I made tonight, but dang it all if I'm not in too much pain but to sit and veg on TV. And keep putting on anti-itch cream.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Plan, A Pan and Potatoes

Part of the reason I started this blog was too document my cooking exploits. ...Erm. I keep meaning to post something, but I keep forgetting to take pictures of what I'm doing! I've made lemon coconut walnut biscotti and twice-baked potatoes since I've started this blog (I am eating a potato right now. Delicious!). I haven't posted anything about them! I promise, the VERY NEXT cooking adventure I have, I will post here. This is more to me than to you, but at least you can hold me accountable.

Oh! But I am trying something new: I read somewhere that United Way awhile ago had a little campaign of trying to live on only $25 a week for food. I'm trying it! Well, sort of. I've set the limit a bit higher, to $35 a week for food, but so far so good! I spent $26 at the grocery store today, made twice baked potatoes and have enough leftovers to last me another 3-4 days.

So, not only will you get a dash of cooking, but a dash of me trying to budget! Here's to a healthier economy? For me?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Apartment Living

After being away for a weekend being sick as a dog (where does that phrase come from?) and not quite over it, really, I'd love to talk about apartment living.

I've never lived in an apartment before. For 18 years, I lived in a beautiful house. In fact, this beautiful house (as seen from the backyard):

I loved that house. And the story as to why I don't live there anymore, even when I am back home in California, is sad and one you've probably heard multiple times from different people in the past months. In any case, as I said, lived in a house for most of my life. Then, BAM! College! Move from a great house where I had my own room with a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom to a room half the size where 3 people (count 'em, 3!) are living. Big change!

Now I live in an apartment with 3 other girls. Here's a picture of the glorious kitchen:

And apartment living? Is different. Sure, the space is larger than the dorm, but still smaller than my home. I still have someone else living in the same room with me, and 2 other people besides in the apartment. I have to always remember to lock the door on the way out, I don't have backyard, can't have pets and live on the 11th floor, instead of the ground floor with a door that leads out to my backyard.

I think I'm loving it, but I'm not sure. I'm on a college kid's budget....I don't have the money to decorate and design this place like I'd wish. But I'm excited to think that one day I will have the money when I have my own apartment. And it will be beautiful.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Pasted Word

Sorry about not posting yesterday (or the day before. Hello 1:15am!)...I'm sick with the black lung, pop! Oh, how I want to watch Zoolander now. I think I just caught a cold, which is a silly name. I know some people feel chills when they have a cold, but I just feel horrible. Oh well, life goes on!

In any case, it's show and tell.

Starting back in last August, I'm going to say a few weeks before I left California for DC, I decided I would like a notebook. Not just a run-of-the-mill, picked-it-up at Barnes and Noble or Borders notebook. No, I wanted something unique, that I would love to carry around and scribble notes, lists and doodles in. Harkening back to my days in elementary school, where girls would cut and paste words from magazines and decorate their binders with them (now that I think about it, my 10 year old friends cutting up issues of their mom's Cosmo and putting words like "sexy" and "hot" on their binders seems wrong), I decided to take direct inspiration from the magazines I read. All the magazines I read on a frequent basis can be listed on one hand: Budget Travel, Conde Nast Traveler, Mental Floss and that's it. Sometimes Time, Foreign Policy and Newsweek, or my brother's Popular Science if I felt the urge. Anywho, so my notebooks definitely had a travel vibe with a bit of random tossed in. I thought I'd show you the three (well, 4, but I made one for my dear friend Mikendra as a Christmas gift) I've made so far.

The original! I didn't realized I had to a certain extent color coordinated each cover until after I had made them. I put clear polypropylene (cellophane) over the covers, so they'd be protected.

Number 2...unfortunately, this one didn't get a covering, so it got beaten up pretty quickly (I believe I took it across the country three or four wonder!) I love the back cover on this one.

And here is number three, the one I am currently using. Of all of them, the front cover on this one is my favorite. I used clippings from Mental Floss for most of it, with I think a bit from Budget Travel. Here is a closer look at it:

I love these things. Sure, cut-and-paste isn't original, but the results distinctly are, always. It is a personalized space in which to write the overflowing fluttering thoughts in my head. Oh! I've got it: these little cut-and-paste covers reflect the purpose of the notebooks: to create something like order out of the seeming chaos of my mind. There's my concise reflective thought of the night.

Anyway, I'm off to bed. I keep sneezing and coughing and it is not a pretty sight. Good night!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Glee and Such

First, let's talk about Glee. The preview pilot episode just finished on FOX, and I am so excited for the season to start. For those of you out of the internet-radio-newspaper-televisions loop (Glee has been everywhere!), Glee is a show about the worst glee club ever and one teacher who is trying to take this group of underdog singers to nationals. It features songs (like Don't Stop Believing, Somebody to Love, and Rehab) that are performed only in the context of rehearsal/performance, so it isn't like a musical, but it is just fantastic. The show seems gimmicky, and it is, but it is incredibly snarky too.

(Video via Fox Broadcasting)

On top of that, one of my good friends, Chris Colfer, is in the show. He plays Kurt, the very fashionable, gay, and sarcastic boy. With a great voice. I've known Chris since high school, where we were in drama together, English (I'm relatively sure we made the teacher hate us), and speech and debate. We are both very sarcastic (very) and our relationship is based on this sarcasm. However, this statement is completely free of sarcasm: I am so happy for Chris, so excited that this show looks like a huge hit, and cannot wait to see where it takes him, which as far as I can tell, is big places. Congratulations Chris, you have gotten the break you've deserved (don't let it go to your head).

Here's Chris, singing Mr. Cellophane (which, for his personality, on and off screen, is ironic).

Good night everyone!

(Oh, and carrying a set of drawers through Dupont Circle at 5:30pm is an interesting experience. Taking it on the bus was even more so. Luckily, DC once again proved to be a city filled with kind people.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Wheels on the Bus

...Get Me Around Town.

Back home in Fresno, I never rode the bus. First, there was no point. I had a car. Second, the buses back home are so inefficient that even if I didn't have a car, it would be easier to just bum a ride off a friend than to wait for a bus that may not arrive. The only time it was practical to use any type of public transportation, bus or train, was in San Francisco.

However, now I live in DC. I don't have a car, and I need to get around! So where does that place me? At the whims of public transportation. I will admit freely that it does have its drawbacks. The Metro is constantly undergoing "scheduled track maintenance", delaying trains. The bus system isn't foolproof by any means, and more than once I have waited 30 minutes for a bus that should have been there half an hour ago. Trying to make schedules when transferring between buses and rail is difficult, improbable, and the instances where it does happen are few and relished.

But, I still love taking the bus. I always meet the most interesting characters on the bus, have the most memorable conversations, and, unlike when I take the Metro, I get to see the city I live in.

Today I was taking the bus to get back to my apartment after going to Target, and I had my flat mate Rachel's cart with me, filled with my purchases. The bus driver said enthusiastically, "That is such a good idea! Why if whoever came up with that put on a commercial for it, it would sell like that. Old people would love that! They could lean on it and use it like a walker and carry their stuff in it. That's great!" Enjoying our conversation, as I got off the bus at my apartment, he said, "Have a good day, beautiful!" I laughed and told him the same. A few hours later, I had to get back on the bus to head to my job. Getting on, who is my driver? The same guy! He laughed when he saw me, saying "Hey! It's good to see you darling!" I replied in kind, got off at my stop by the National Cathedral, and he said, "Now I know to be looking for ya!" while at the exact same moment I said, "I will definitely be seeing you around!" Obviously, we are destined to be best bus friends. It is experiences like that, where I get to have a fun time with people who are so enthusiastic and joyful that make my day.

Long live the bus! It may not be the most efficient means of transportation, but when it comes to good times, it sure beats driving alone in a car with nothing but the radio for company.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

An Inconspicuous Start and Childhood Books

Well, I've been wanting to start a blog for awhile, something to chronicle a life in DC and other things that interest me as well.. Here's to hoping I can consistently update!

What I really want to talk about today are children's books. I love children's books. They have imagination, humor, drama and beautiful artwork, when they are good. When they are great, it will be years later, after you've gone through a lifetime of stories, you will still remember the children's books from your childhood.

Here's Roald Dahl's take on children's books (oddly enough, found this in a book of ghost stories he put together):
I say it because I am convinced that they are one of the most important [facets of creative literature]...Children's book must also divert and entertain, but they do something else at the same time. They actually teach a child the habit of reading. They teach him to be literate, they teach him vocabulary and nowadays they teach him that there can be better ways of passing the time than watching television.
I completely and absolutely agree with Dahl. Children's books have so much to them that people take for granted. But a parent (which I'm not), and a child, and the lucky few who remain young at heart (and I like to think I am) understand and love children's books.

Lately, I will be reading something or watching something or looking at something and I'll remember a book from back then.

The most recent one I remembered was The Jolly Mon, by Jimmy Buffet (yes, that one) and his daughter Savannah Jane. Growing up I loved this book. In the back the music sheets and lyrics the book is based on were attached, and I remember my dad learned to play it on the guitar and we would sing along. It was the story of a man in the Caribbean with a fantastic voice and magical guitar that could charm the fish right out of the sea. This book was sumptuously illustrated. The watercolors, done by Lambert Davis, are soft and filled with greens and blues and bright splashes of yellow and red...colors that make you wish to be on a Caribbean island somewhere. In fact, this book I distinctly remember helping kick-start my passion for doodling. I recall drawing banana trees, dolphins, guitars and the Jolly Mon for weeks after I first got this book.

I could go on and on about the books I loved, but I'll just mention a few more, and almost all of them have beautiful illustrations. The Salamander Room, by Anne Mazer, was another book that drew me in thanks to the illustrations, done gloriously by Steve Johnson. It was the simple tale of a boy finding a salamander and imagining all he would do to make his room the perfect place for it to live. The illustrations didn't stay inside the borders, making it seem as if, if I only imagined hard enough, my room would be like the Salamander Room too.

The Jolly Postman series by Allan and Janet Ahlberg was wonderful in that you could take out the letters - you were involved in the story and it was filled with little quirks and jokes that made you giggle. The books by Jan Brett, particularly Town Mouse, Country Mouse. Even as a child I thought how fabulously detailed all the illustrations were. Finally, the works of Chris Van Allsburg, of Jumanji fame. In particular, his book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, which I will admit I did not know about when I was a child, but rather stumbled upon in a used bookstore in Berkeley. This book was beautiful, and amazing, and so simple.

What books did you love in your childhood? Which ones will you seek out so you can read them to your children (I will be so excited the day I can show these books to my kids, sometime in the future!)

(Also, horribly long post! Hopefully my wordy habits will cut down a bit.)