Thursday, July 31, 2008

Evidence!

I have played Ultimate for 4 years without any proof. But someone in my city league posted photos from this summer's games. And this lovely one of me was included.



"Look, I'm gonna throw this disc, whether you like it or not. And that big thug of yours doesn't scare me."

I found this photo of Abe from our old city league a few years ago. He's the one not catching the disc.



Sorry, honey. Maybe next time.

And since neither Abe nor I look very great in either of those photos, here are some more pictures from the old city league that make Ultimate look much more cool. I know these guys. Really.





Note the "Emergency" sign in the background of the last photo. We played next to a hospital. How appropriate.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Dumpling

A few weekends ago, Abe's cousin and her husband stopped by Ann Arbor for a 3 day visit. Which we decided was a perfect occasion to throw our 9th-ish something-annual Chinese dumpling party. The dumpling party started back when Abe & I were first married. We threw a Chinese triatharon (haha, so PC) for some occasion - Chinese new year maybe? - which involved making dumplings, playing board games, and besting Abe's little brother at Smash Brothers.

We downsized subsequent parties to just the dumplings, and standardized the format: make the filling ahead of time, as people arrive they bao (fold) the dumplings, we cook them up, people start eating once they reach labor quota (the unofficial rule is to bao about 2 dumplings for every 1 you eat). Sometimes we play games, but mostly just sit around, talking and eating fresh dumplings as they come.

Admittedly, the initial impetus for these parties was that Abe & I think dumplings are absolutely delicious, but time-consuming to make. Friends = cheap labor. After a party, we have a few hundred leftover dumplings to freeze for the weeks to come.

But we've discovered something else in the process. Most sociologists wouldn't argue with the fact that one of the best ways to bring people together is to have them share a meal with each other. But if you really want to bring people together, then don't just have them share a meal with each other, have them make it together. At our dumpling parties, people warm up to each other as they teach one another the art of bao-ing, laugh over failed attempts, and rejoice in successes. Instantaneous, shared, meaningful experience. Once we get to eating, the conversation just naturally flows. The feeling is warm, alive, comfortable.

As a test of our theory, we had about 17 people from the singles ward over last weekend for a pizza party and movie night. [Note of explanation: a "singles ward" is an organizational unit in the LDS church I belong to, made up of unmarried church members ages 18-30. Abe & I have been asked to help in the singles ward, which basically means get to know them, help them with any problems, and be an example of a good married couple.] The point of the evening was for us to get to know them, them to get to know us, and them to get to know each other. The latter perhaps being the most important.

Instead of having 5 hot, homemade pizzas ready for them when they arrived, we had a lump of pizza dough, a bag of unchopped veggies, and cans of sauce. As people arrived Abe ushered them into the kitchen where I gave out assignments: open cans of sauce, chop the green peppers, roll out this piece of dough, flour the pizza pan. All done in the calculating hope that people would feel comfortable in our house, and comfortable with each other.

We think our planned work. My favorite piece of supporting anecdotal evidence came from later in the evening. I asked Abe to get the flour out for me, and he said, "Okay, where's the flour?" and another guy in the group walked into the kitchen and guided Abe to the right cupboard.

Dumplings in Action (also, before the party really started)





Interested in the recipe?

Filling
1 head regular cabbage
1 head Napa cabbage
1 head bok choy
5 carrots (I use carrots for veggie dumplings, not pork dumplings)
Garlic and ginger - about 2 Tbs each, hard to put too much in
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 bunch green onions
3 lbs ground pork (substitute w/ about 2 c of bean paste for veggie dumplings)

Sauce
2 cups soy sauce
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp spiced chili oil (optional)

300 Dumpling skins

Directions
Chop all the veggies (cabbages, bok choy, carrots, garlic, ginger, cilantro, green onions) VERY fine. You probably need a food processor to get it fine enough. I coarsely chop everything up and then put it in a food processor a bit at a time with lots of water and grind away. Then I strain all the water out. This is the worst part of preparation. I like to do it the day before the party because it's tiring.

Mix ground pork (or bean paste) into veggies. Abe's brother, Sam, once read that you should ALWAYS stir the ingredients in the same direction to keep the right consistency. A zen thing. We tried this on our last batch, and I think they were the best we've ever had. But don't consider 1 trial conclusive evidence.

Add about half of the sauce into the pork and veggie mixture and stir.

Now you're ready to fold. Put about 1 tsp of filling in the center of a dumpling skin. Don't try and stuff it very full. You will be tempted. But if you put too much in, your dumplings will fall apart. Wet the outside edge of the skin with a little water (dip finger in water and slide finger around outside edge). Fold the edges together (turning the circle skin into a semi-circle), and press firmly.

Fold and fold and fold. And then cook the dumplings. Boil a pot of water. Put the dumplings in. Wait for the water to come to a boil and let it boil for just a minute. Then dump a cup or two of cold water in and bring the water to a boil again. Boil for just a minute and then take the dumplings out. It should take about 10-12 minutes. The purpose of the cold water is the keep the water at barely a boil - this helps the skins stay somewhat firm, and not get slimy and fall apart.

Enjoy with rice and the rest of the sauce drizzled on top.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Long overdue - new diggs reveal

We've been in our new apartment for about 6 weeks, so it's photo time. And a video walk-through if you're really interested. I hesitated for just a second before posting the video, thinking that some diabolical person may watch the video and device a perfect floor plan of my house so they can break in and steal all of my expensive ... that's where I stopped. Because I own nothing worth stealing. And the video basically proves that, so it's probably in my best interest to post the video.

Prospective thieves beware - unless you are looking for a good collection of heirloom Ultimate discs or a "vintage" laptop, my house is a waste of your time.



Our place is on the first floor. Note the dead grass. Association fees at work.



From back to front: kitchen, bar, dining room.



Living room. Walls freshly painted in a lovely Tapioca Pearl.




Office. Most comfortable chair ever. I would sleep here if I didn't like Abe so much.



Guest bathroom. Shower not pictured.



Bedroom. Abe's closet on the left, mine on the right. Perhaps one of the best things that's happened to our marriage.



Craft area - a little alcove in the bedroom turned creativity station. It has gone unused so far. But it's there.

video
And, finally, the video.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

they say you should write down your dreams

Do you remember having journal writing assignments when you were in elementary school? I recently found a bright blue composition book from 2nd grade filled with the deep thoughts of an 8-yr-old. Perhaps sometime I will favor you with the more insightful entries.

But what I was more interested in was my teacher's red pen note scrawled on the inside front cover: "Your journal is well done and interesting to read. Keep up the good work." Ha, ha, ha. Why is this amusing? Because 16 years and 23 journals later, I am living proof that teachers can and do make a difference.

I suppose another variable was the fact that the church I belong to stresses the importance of keeping written records of our lives for our posterity. A family history, of sorts.

And so authoritative encouragement, moral obligation, and intrinsic interest resulted in a 50-pound box of my life thoughts, feelings, and experiences. From ages 14 to 20 I was particularly devoted to writing every single day. No matter how tired I was, at the end of the day I would scrawl a note or two. I got so good at journal-ing that I when I fell asleep while writing in my journal, my pen would actually keep going, writing incoherent half-dream thoughts. The result was some pretty amusing entries. I have transcribed some of them here for your amusement.

[date?]
I normally don’t do this, but I’m so tired and I must get up early tomorrow. I’ll tell all about it yesterday sometime this week tomorrow. Goodnight!

Friday, May 25, 2001
Sorry, I’m falling a sleep asleep right now. I start to write whatever I dreamt dream about and then nothing makes sense. Okay, had a piano competition – I did okay. I must be learn to a big loas – see – that was my dream talking. Ok – it’s a pass/frnad faill competition – I phopped I passing I hope at I did good.

Thursday, June 14, 2001
Funny story … I bought a camera battery at Walgreens and accidently dropped it on the ground. Didn’t till I got home. I notice us (sorry, I keep falling asleep). I didn’t notice it. Okay. I drove home, realized I mush have let so us and then reazlized I forgot them. Went back – operator said they were a car had already run over it. But I think the batteryies are okay.

Friday, May 17, 2002
It’s official. I’m done with high school! What an incredible feeling…finally, to be done. We had a closing social for seminary I 1/(afa + fm) * Ѳ – 2.cos/2^s

Monday, May 27, 2002
I hung out with Brittany and Cherise tonight. We went to the student family homework, president manual. I mean – student ri? education I meand student family heart in the lost no

Wednesday, May 29, 2002
It was swell fun, hower I understand what Mom have said when she remembers study day and everone being left alone with nada to some project mom might and I’d walked with not much to do. But I do have a lot to do. It’s the whole high school family where everyone knows everyone.

Thursday, May 30, 2002
Brittany and I went to Mary’s for dinner. Mary’s in with her aunt/uncle for the summer. We watched a movie “An American Rhabsody”. It was foreign and good.
Then we got peaches and fruit snacks at Albertson’s. We went to the park on the highest rise of the family facks playground, spread out good consleliation 10/10. Then we went to Mary’s. We sat on the balchony what we sait on the patio, mokeny, balcony and talked. We looked at stars too.

Friday, July 5, 2002
After Salt Lake City we drove to grandma’s. We ate and then went to the “Tree Bung  asleep. Rodeo in Plymouth.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Me and Cherise scrapbooked everything together. Well, shorted and we watched a movie, and I hold believe my 5 pages of all finished still had from for Chercker  asleep

Friday, July 18, 2008

Would you like serifs with that?

The new header is my own creation from http://www.typeisart.com/, where you can doodle using only the basic units of typography.

btw, I think the new colors were inspired by my recent thrift store purchases (see clothes from yesterdays post). Talk about accessorizing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

thrift store come-back

When I was a teenager I took cues from my older sisters and pinpointed the top thrift stores within a 10 mile radius of my home near Phoenix, Arizona. Savers was always a good bet, Buffalo Exchange had fun but pricier merchandise, and there was the little place across the street from Adrian's, the tasty don't-look-in-the-kitchen Mexican burrito shack.

I built a good collection of clothing standards and eccentrics from my frequent trips to these stores. When I moved to Provo, Utah, for college I immediately looked up the second-hand possibilities. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that the competition here was fierce. Provo teems with bargain hunters flying the banner of "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." Thrift store pickings were slim. Early morning shoppers snatched up the truly gently-used items, leaving behind those items obviously given to a thrift store for a reason.

As I continued to come home empty-handed, my forays into second-hand land slowed. But after 2 years in my new diggs here, I have re-discovered the power of a good thrift store. And so I extend a warm thank you to all my neighbors who keep up with the fashion trends, never wear the same shirt twice in a month, and feel a moral tug to donate to the poor, for adding 1 pair of shorts and 4 shirts to my wardrobe for a grand total of $9.

Give them a hand, folks.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Brainstorming Session: Solving Food

I'd like to harness the creative energy and wisdom of everyone who may be reading my blog to solve my food problem. I enjoy making and eating good, healthy food. But it takes time and money to do that. Any suggestions for how I can accomplish the following goals?

- Cut down my monthly food budget
- Get in 5-7 servings of fruits/veggies a day
- Eat less meat but still have hearty meals for 2 people with high metabolism and energetic lifestyles (Abe is always hungry after any meal that doesn't include a big hunk of meat)

And for the more ambitious:
- Come up with an efficient system for storing recipes I like, adding new recipes, finding a good combination of recipes each week when I plan out meals, and generating shopping lists from those recipes

Sunday, July 13, 2008

the ethics of Moving Up

About a month ago Abe & I graduated from the realm of 1-bedroom cheapo college apartments to a spacious, new 2-bedroom condo. We had done 450 square feet or less for the last 4 years, in an attempt to be conscientious consumers and wise savers.

But 4 years is a lot of time to accumulate stuff. And that stuff needs a place. Plus, as much as we love each other, we needed a little space, too. I've spent the last 4 years knowing exactly where Abe is whenever he's home. And I don't just mean, he's in the kitchen. I mean, he's standing by the sink, holding a bowl under the water faucet. Because in all of our apartments, we could see from any location to any location. I was thrilled when, during our first week in the new condo, I knew Abe was home, but I couldn't find him!

There are many other things to love about our new place. An entry way and hall closet for coats, a dishwasher (three cheers!), a laundry room - kind of - , a spare bedroom converted to office space, a screened in porch for summer evenings without mosquitoes, separate bedroom closets, a guest bathroom, carpet without 40 years of someone else's who-knows-what ground into it. The list could go on.

I am really grateful for a comfortable, enjoyable place to live. And part of me says, Hey, after 4 years, you deserve it. But another part of me wonders. I have been to a few countries (and even within the U.S.) where I have seen families of 6 or 7 living in a smaller, dirtier, older places than I have ever lived. I don't think I need to preach about how unequal the world is - we've all seen it in varying ways.

So my question is, what do I do about my dishwasher? Or my hall closet? Or my screened in porch? If I get the opportunity to have these small luxuries, I take them. But where does that leave the family of 6? I lament the larger, unfair forces of the world to the background of my humming appliances.

And it makes me a little uncomfortable.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

So you don't have a job...

What does a person do who is not going to school, working at a job, or watching children?

Welcome to my life. Here is a snippet of what I do to keep my mind sharp, my skills marketable, and myself from going crazy.


#1: Organize my clothing by type and color.


#2: Make sure that the pen jar is amply supplied.


#3: Label boxes and containers.


#4: Clean the lids on my spice rack.

Oh, and #5: post on my blog.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

3 Cheers for Family Reunions

...especially when they include 4 nights and 5 days in Hawaii.

A few highlights from our recent trip to Oahu for a family reunion. This is for those of you who won't make it through the 60-photo slideshow in the next post down.

Abe's grandmother (on his father's side) is from Hawaii, so this was a reunion spectacular, with the whole family plus some time with Grandma's brothers and sisters and their families. We're talking 3rd cousins twice removed, easily.


Excellent accommodations.


4th of July from the rooftop overlooking the ocean.


Building Gong Manor on the beach at Kailua. Check out the retaining wall - Gongs 1, waves 0.


Sunset at Kaena Beach. Accompanied Gloria and Carl, the newlyweds (not pictured) followed by greasy spoon garlic shrimp (also not pictured).


Kayaking to islands and perfect beaches in Kailua. Various cousins pictured here.


Disc on the beach. Many, many times.


Sea turtle swimming on the water surface right next to our boat, then diving down. Yes, it is that shadow you see. I promise.


Sunburning.


Dim Sum lunch with Grandma.


Hiking through the rain forest to see Manoa Falls. "Abe is hidden somewhere in this picture. Abe, will you stand up, please."


Watching others brave Leptospirorsis (carried to Manoa Falls by pigs, watch out - pig hunting on Wednesdays and Sundays) and landslides to bath in the ... waterfall? hello, dry season!

The Aloha Spirit

Obligatory flickr slideshow of our most recent trip - Hawaii!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Readibles

I thought I should add an explanation about one of the sidebars on my blog - Erin's Bookshelf: Recently Read.

For a while I've been searching for a way to get book recommendations and keep track of books/authors I like. A few months ago I started using GoodReads (side note: has anyone else noticed how every new online community or web-based company has a two-word name smushed together with both words capitalized?). I have really enjoyed goodreads. My friends rate the books they're reading, and I get daily emails updating me on their reviews. If they like the books, I check them out from the library, and I usually like them too. I also rate books and write reviews, so I get to keep track of my reading and re-visit authors I forgot I liked. GoodReads? Good Stuff!

Okay, enough of the infomercial.

So back to the sidebar. My sidebar is linked to my goodreads account and it will show what I just finished reading on goodreads. So if you're looking for book recommendations, you can use that. But it may be a good idea to click on the titles to see my review, because some of the "recently read" books that show up are recently read and hated.

And if you haven't joined goodreads and like reading books, then you should join. I'll be your friend! And if you are on goodreads and just never post about your reading, shame on you for free riding on a public good.