Shelly and I met in 2005, through our sorority:
To the most amazing, awesome, brave, caring, smart and funny person I know: My very best friend, Shelly!
Shelly and I met in 2005, through our sorority:
Shelly loves to be silly:
We like to bust moves like champions (Shelly is better than me):
Shelly loves to travel and see the world; she appreciates diversity:
Shelly is smart. She reads and listens and is constantly learning:
Shelly loves good food (and drinks!) and is a great cook!
Shelly is compassionate. She talks the talk, but also walks the walk:
Shelly loves animals - all kinds!
I'm not really sure what I did to deserve the friendship of such an amazing, wonderful person. Shelly is currently finishing up two years of Peace Corps service in Africa and will be coming home in just a few months! I miss her so much and even though we are apart on her birthday, I wanted to wish her a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I love you Shelly - many many many happy returns! To the next seven years - and beyond!
I’m tired, friends.
I’ve actually been tired for three weeks, just in case you wanted to know.
You probably didn’t want to know that, really.
The thing is, I’m back to the 9 to 5 grind and, along with some other things (like my trip to LA), have been totally busy. I feel like I’m in a constant jog.
I want to preface my statements by saying that I really like my job: the people are great, the work challenging (but not too challenging) and the fact that I get a paycheck every two weeks isn’t too bad, either. But man (and I know how cliché this sounds) I wish I had more hours in the day.
Don’t you think it’s strange how we’ve set up a society that requires us to spend a large majority of our waking minutes working at a job, just so we can survive? Doesn’t that seem ironic?
As I’ve said, it’s not that I don’t like work, it’s just that, when I’m done with work, I wish I had a few more hours, ya know?
It kind of reminds me of a Deep Space Nine episode* where they reveal that in the depths of space, where– and you’ve never thought about this, have you? – they artificially create day and nighttime, the average day is actually longer than 24 hours.
I love this. I want this.
But I still only want to have to work for 8 hours in my longer day. Apparently you get used to the longer days. At least according to Star Trek. And oh boy, how I wish it were true. Because I really really want more hours in the day.
And to live in the Star Trek universe. But that’s a different story altogether, isn’t it?
*oh what, you didn’t know how much I love for Star Trek? Deeply and intensely. It’s true.
So, where in the world am I?
Well that’s an existential question, indeed.
But literally and physical I’m in …Los Angeles. Better known as SoCal.
Being back in LA is a strange experience – I went to college here (in Orange County, actually and yes, there is a difference and yes, people down here care about that distinction) and I’ve been back only once, for a quick weekend trip for my twenty-third birthday. And as I got to thinking about it, that was quite a few years ago, which actually, is amazing. Three years feels simultaneously a lifetime ago and then again, just yesterday; it’s funny how life work that way.
Coming back down the grapevine, the geographic division between Northern and Southern California, I started to get a funny feeling –for years I took the seven-hour drive down South and, towards the end of that period of time, became increasingly sure that I was much too NorCal to be able to live in SoCal. (And people wonder why there are constant wars over what seem, to an outsider, like innocuous regional differences). It wasn’t so much that the place was unbearable. In fact, there are many redeeming qualities – the beautiful weather, the ocean, the great food (not only Mexican, but also a general interest in eating good quality, whole foods), the abundance of exciting things happening that you can only get in a big metropolis – to the greater Los Angeles area, but I was pretty sure that if I stayed, all the negative things would probably end up sucking out my soul. You see if you’re not careful, SoCal can get you thinking that things, rather than people are what matter most. You might end up thinking that having a sexy car is important because your car, of course is all about your identity. You may end up thinking you’re not thin enough, well-dressed enough or blonde enough. If you have a tendency, as I do, to getting caught up in aesthetic, it can be a slippery slope.
This isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen in my neck of the woods, but when you’re shopping at WinCo every week, it does have a tendency to keep you grounded in the reality of a variety of different lifestyles.
All that being said, I’m looking at this as a bit of a test. Decidedly, four years after having graduated from university, I’m pretty different.
Well, at least, I’ve a had a lot of experiences that have grown my perspective: seeing so many corners of the world, good relationships, bad relationships, new friends, hobbies, health issues, employment, unemployment, and disappointments. A lot has changed. And all of these things have altered my worldview.
So I’m interested to see how much more the me now can stomach what the me then found so utterly unappealing. It’s an intriguing question, the factor of perspective on our emotional response. I’ll be interested to see what things that irritated me then will pop right back up to the surface and which ones will make me that, nah, it’s not so bad after all.
I’m only here for a week, but it should be plenty of time to get a feel for it again. And, of course, see some friends who unlike me, have managed to maintain a semblance of class and a down to earth nature, despite the potential negative. But what can I say? They must be better people than I. So, we’ll see how the week goes.
KD's Note: I would cut the oil a bit, and double the rest of the dressing ingredients to really up the flavor intensity.
Lemon Garlic Orzo Pasta Salad with Feta, Bell Pepper and Tomato (adapted from Epicurious)
12 ounces orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups crumbled seasoned feta cheese (such as basil and tomato; about 6 ounces)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 cup chopped tomato
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard and cumin in small bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper and add to warm orzo. Allow to cool slightly.
Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add crumbled feta cheese, chopped bell peppers, Kalamata olives and tomatoes.
Add dressing to orzo mixture and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Well, I’ll give you a chance to guess in the form of some commonly heard phrases in this region.
Stereotypical phrases from my current geographical location that you hear way, way too often in real life:
“Let’s go to the beach today, brah.”
“¿que pasa hermana?”
“And now, back to Storm Watch, 2012!”
“Oh em gee, it’s like, freezing out!” (Any temperature below 70)
“Have you seen my hoodie?”
“Have you seen my rainbows?”
“That drive is gonna be… 20 minutes. Unless there’s traffic.”
“Let’s go to fro-yo!”
Oh and one more hint: there’s lots of sunshine here – and stars, too!
I woke up this morning, like many people do on a Wednesday, to my alarm. I could hear it, somewhere in the darkness of my bedroom, sounding off its inoffensive reverberation – its docile, yet gentle tone. I upgraded recently to the classic iWhatever dinging, effectively banishing my (at least) thirteen year-old alarm clock and it’s evil, vile, drone to the corner of my bedroom.
I should have gone to the gym. But, having once again fallen asleep with the lights on, perched next to my laptop on my bed, with a full face of makeup and only enough resolve to take my contacts out the night before (clearly this incident is still engrained in my mind), I somehow didn’t quite have the oomph this morning. Instead I found myself groping through the morning darkness, trying to figure out where I’d set my iPod, which conveniently was telling me it was time to get up.
Aha! Under my second pillow, where surely in my exhausted state, I’d mindlessly dropped it down and just as easily forgotten it in myzombie-like state.
I told you friends, I’m a morning person.
Despite my distinct lack of athletic zeal, I was up and decidedly awake (see above morning personness related statement). So I wrote a long note to my Best Friend (who tragically, lives in Africa*) and, finding that there was still more time before I absolutely had to get ready for work, I thought it would be a good idea to take a harried stab at my culinary nemesis.
Actually scones and biscuits. Oh, how you mock me you devilish baked goods.
Ever since I first tried to make a biscuit and added way way too much liquid, I’ve never quite been able to get the texture just right. I’m always afraid that I’m going to add too much liquid, because always always the recipe says not to add too much. Ok, I get it. But I get cautious when I’m told to be cautious and by golly, it always seems to backfire. I don’t add enough liquid and end up over mixing. They’re either too chewy ot hard as rocks. Not ideal.
So this morning, for no reason other than the presence of a carton of buttermilk with a rapidly approaching expiration date, I decided to make some scones before work.
And let me tell you.
They were delicious.
Light and buttery, with a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft, sweet interior, these scones were off-the-hook.
It’s amazing what will happen when you stop thinking too much about something and let your instincts guide you.
30 minutes to pick a recipe, prep, cook, bake and clean up will take away the chance for questioning. To act is of the essence then, to listen to your gut on everything is what will get you through.
The scones are just scones, don’t you see? But the microcosm is the thing; it’s how we see the bigger picture in all
the little things. Let go. Stop worrying. Trust your instincts. Act. But also prepare, research and listen (because I’d certainly been doing those things before I decided to make scones in my free morning moments). I think it was Seneca who said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” and certainly he was right. But success takes action and no amount of opportunity and preparation will bring you to the moment where you find the courage and time to take the first step.
*And by tragic, I mean she is in the Peace Corps, being an amazing, awesome human being. I personally am counting down the 5 months because let’s face it, I’m selfish and I totally want my bestie back.
Simple Sweet Scones (Coffeehouse Scones) (adapted, only for method, from Joy of Baking)
2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
2/3 - 3/4 cup (160 - 180 ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place oven rack in middle of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In the bowl of a food processor, using the blade attachment, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse to combine. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the food processor, blending into the flour mixture until the mixture should look like coarse crumbs. With the processor running, add the buttermilk and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and pulse just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix. t will look a little dry.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and kneadthe dough gently and form into a 7 inch (18 cm) round that is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch (6.5 cm) round biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet and brush the tops of the scones with a little milk.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Can be stored at room temperature for a few days.
Makes about 10 -2 1/2 inch (6.5 cm) or 8 wedge-shaped scones.
Baker. Traveler. Writer