Monday, May 31, 2010

Lunar Bingo

Some friends discovered and then invited us to attend Lunar Bingo on Saturday night. If you're having a hard time imagining what Lunar Bingo would be, just picture cosmic bowling, then add bingo cards. Darkness, black lights, bass-heavy music blaring in your ears and groups of people screaming in delight.

It started at midnight (which was a little late for us old-timers, we needed a preemptive nap at 9 to prepare) so we didn't even get home until 3 am! It was located at Fort McDowell Casino, and we didn't know what to expect. Old ladies? College students looking to get drunk? Truth is, there was a little of everything there, but the (how can I say this in the least offensive way possible?) less classy grouping was in high attendance. A lot of people with poor hygiene. A lot of strange tee-shirts with pictures of wolves on them. A lot of chain smoking.

Being in Arizona, where we have laws against smoking in public places, I've really gotten spoiled with the non-smoking environment. It's been so long since I've been in a public place with smoke that it's horribly surprising when you're suddenly stuck in a place from which there's no escape. Now, that's not fair, we could have escaped. But miss out on the chance to win the Black-Out Grand Prize Bingo Game? Never!

Point is, I find smoking to be the most abhorrent habit and a very rude form of public behavior. Period. I said it. I know it's judgey of me, but what is a blog if not a venue for posting my opinions? Off tangent.

If you're interested in trying Lunar Bingo, I'd advise you not to show up with only 5 minutes 'til go time. We missed the first game and were scrambling through the second to try to figure out what was going on. It didn't help that we only had two dobber-marker-things between five people. ("I need a dobber over here! Dobber STAT! I have three I-22's and she just called N-34!!")

The cluster that was that second game can really be captured in the following picture:
Some of us lost all composure, some found their groove, while others simply gave up:
You might be wondering why our surroundings don't look very Lunary. Well, I mentioned us getting there at 11:55. The HUGE room where the Bingo took place was filled to capacity, so we found spots in this strange little diner area off the main zone. It was obviously the home of novices and amateurs (like us) where no one really knew what they were doing. We kept calling it the Deli and really wanted a Deli-ite to win a game, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. We in the Deli were sort of the red headed stepchildren of the Bingo world, if you will. We could barely hear what numbers were being called, but the guy next to us could see the big master board through a break in the frosted glass. He would shout out the last number called, then we would shout it out to the Deli in general.
Anyway, it was a good time, but I don't know if I'd go again. Maybe if we got there earlier and got to sit in a non-smoking section (we heard that this was possible). It was a price preformer, though - only $8 for the whole night!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Feast of Cupcakes

I made 50 cupcakes this weekend for a housewarming party. The party was great - a really nice couple moved back to Arizona, so we're looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. I found another cookout game that I'm horrible at - ladder golf - which I can add to the likes of corn hole and croquet.

It was a potluck, so of course I volunteered to make some delectable desserts.









These were vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, topped with white chocolate shavings.
From a block of white chocolate. And my favorites, the chocolate sunflowers:I know Kai liked his.










Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sweet Champagne

When Michael and I went over to JP and Shannon's house last weekend, we had cause to celebrate! JP got a new job! It's closer to home and a promotion! We are so excited for him to start so we can hear all about it! To honor the cause, we toasted with some bubbly.Kai wanted in on the action, so he got some lemonade.I can't wait to go on the cruise with these guys. (Minus Kai. Sorry little guy, you're staying home with Grandma Kathy.) So much planning is going into this vacation. Just this week we've divied out tasks to research: the shuttle from Heathrow to Gatwick airports in London, the waterbus service from Venice airport to Venice proper, finding a London hotel to stay in for a night. I'm really looking forward to the adventure.

I've noticed that I've accidentally accumulated a lot of orange/peach colored clothing lately. Remember my shopping excursion? Well, I didn't really put it all together at the time, but while writing up a list of all the clothes I want to bring to Greece (I'm anal like that), I realized that I'm almost exclusively staying in the creamsickle side of the color spectrum. Will that be cool, when I'm looking back at the pictures? Or will it be odd, as in, might I be labeled that crazy woman who is always wearing orange who keeps entering herself in on-deck dance offs?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LOST, Continued.

In my haste to expel my pent up feelings about Lost, I didn't bother to post the pictures from that fateful evening. This is my chance to let my camera catch up with my mind and post the pictures surrounding the events of my previous post. If last post was a textbook, this post would be Appendix A.

First, the peanut butter cookies from the cookout. I love peanut butter. I love cookies. What I don't love is peanut butter cookies that come out all hard and flat and dry. I used a suggestion from my mother in law and cooked them for the shortest suggested time, then pulled them out of the oven and let them continue baking in their own gooey goodness. Also, I took care not to push down too hard with the tines of my fork so my little dough balls weren't squished too flat. The result? These soft, chewy, puffy sugar-coated pillows of heaven:The Bakery's been updated after this photo shoot.


We finally got around to making the Montgomery Inn ribs from this post! We were going to eat them on Saturday but made impromptu plans with JP and Shan, so it was called off. It worked out well, though, because now these ribs o' perfection could be consumed on Lost night. It was optimal.

Check out these steaming puppies. The scene: the living room couch.Please note:

  • The plastic bibs that came with the ribs.
  • The bowl of extra sauce.
  • Wetnaps. (These three points lead me to conclude that They obviously know me well. Almost too well.)
  • The remote control placed on Michael's side of the table. He thinks he's better at stopping the fastforward function on our DVR exactly when a show resumes.

I was ready for a date with Destiny.

Oh, but they were delectable. Fell right off the bone. I didn't even need a knife. I went through the emotional turmoil of deciding whether to save some ribs for later (2 nights of MI Ribs > 1 night of MI Ribs) or eat them all (it was Lost night - a special occasion!). Luckily I had the restraint of a champion and a husband with one rib left over, so I still have five ribs available for my consumption.

After the meal we were both fit to burst. Michael claimed that a little dose of Grandma's Ole Cough Syrup (alcohol) helps digestion. (Any fact checkers out there?) So we had a short one between friends.
Please check out my newest review on Pita Jungle!

Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST Thoughts

As can probably be guessed by the blog title, this post is about Lost. If you do not watch Lost, you might not be interested in the following text. If you do watch, but haven't seen the finale yet, do not read on unless you want to see major spoilers!

I'm serious! Major spoilers below!














Okay.

Michael and I had a glorious Lost marathon yesterday after getting home from his work cookout. We did spend some hours chatting maturely with his coworkers, but we also spent quite some time playing baseball with the little kids (around 2-8 y.o.) in the side yard. Laughing maniacally as I tried to spin move away from getting tagged out earned me the nickname "Weird Girl" from the kids, which - let's face it - I've been called before. Michael was dubbed "Big Dude" and proceeded to hit a homer over the back wall, which caused him to get boo'ed off the field (yard) by teammates (me).

So back to Lost.

First let me tell you that I really loved the ending. I loved the way it felt. I loved a lot about it. But before I really get into it, I want to bring up all the questions that I still have that didn't get answered. Once again, this post will probably mean nothing to you unless you are a Lost watcher.
  • What is the island? Why can it move, change time, be magical, heal, etc.?
  • What is the heart of the island? Why is it so important that it can affect the rest of the world (if the evil gets out, it goes everywhere)?
  • How did the Man in Black become the smoke monster? This is under my held belief that MIB was alive when Jacob tossed him into the lightcave, but that his journey through the cave killed his body, took his soul out, made it into some kind of magical smoke monster shape-shifter and took away most of its humanity.
  • What was Widmore's deal? What was his motive? What was his interest in the island?
  • Could MIB/Smokie kill the other candidates after Jack became the new protector? They shouldn't have been candidates anymore.
  • What is the significance of the people that were or weren't in the final scene? Why didn't Ben Linus go in? Was it because he hadn't come to grips with his own death? Or was it because those people weren't really the most important of his life (Alex, etc.)?
  • Why weren't Ana Lucia, Michael, Faraday, Charlotte, etc. there? Will Faraday and Charlotte meet up in their own little gathering?
  • Wasn't Nadia much more important to Sayid than Shannon? Season one was a long time ago, but I thought their love affair was pretty short. Nadia was the love of Sayid's life. Why was Sayid with Shannon in the afterworld rather than Nadia? This is one example of a greater question:
  • What about all the other important people in the survivors' lives? Their children? Their parents? The people Kate, Sawyer, Claire, etc. met after they got off the island? Were those other people just not important enough to be included in this afterlife? Or was this really just Jack's afterlife, so he's just surrounded by the people that were important to him?
  • Was Richard in the afterworld/life
  • Did Desmond ever get off the island?

Do you have any other questions to add? I'd love to read them in the comments section.

So I'm sort of bummed that more of these big questions weren't answered, but I also knew going in that there would be major ones left unexplained. The Numbers, for example. It's just an interesting part of the island that were probably never going to be explained fully. Still, the whole concept of the island was one thing I was hoping to get closure one.

Moving on to what I loved. The ending. Let me tell you why I loved it.

Because I think the most desperate desire of this lifetime is to know that there is something after it. Maybe not for everyone, but it is for me. I know my own deepest fear is that there is nothing after this life. That if - God forbid - something happened to Michael or me, that we wouldn't find each other in another world.

That's probably why people fear death so much, especially those without a firm belief in God. I'm sure that even those who do believe have fear because, what if...? I believe it was the brilliant Albus Dumbledore who said, "It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more."

This episode painted the picture that we do find one another after death. We are reunited with the people that meant the most to us in our lives. That no matter how or when we died, we aren't alone. It isn't over. Love still exists after death. Wow, that makes me hope so hard it's true. I mean, as a God believer, I already believe it's true. Almost all religions hold that there is some kind of conscious existence after death, right? But sometimes I wonder if I believe it just because I'm too afraid that it might not be. I cried there on the couch and Michael wrapped his arms around me and promised that we'll find each other after we're gone.

So there was a big twist at the end of Lost. The flash sideways that we'd been watching all of season 6 had been a strange afterlife-like purgatory where Jack and the others kept bumping into each other before remembering their lives. I loved how this turned out. I loved the line that "there is no 'now' here."Plenty of the survivors had died before and even after Jack, but they were all united at one time and place.

There are plenty of nay-sayers out there, but I'm holding to it: Lost was a great television show. In an age of Jersey Shore and Tool Academy, Lost was a show that dared to be smart, including physics and electromagnetic science. Instead of dumbing a show down to appeal to a wider audience, it kept it real saying, "This show is going to be confusing and intelligent. Keep up if you can. Enjoy the ride if you can't." I like that. I'm going to miss it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Simple.

For putting up with my moodiness.
For important life discussions in bed at 6:40 am on the unusual day when you can sleep in 'til 7:00.For your strange-yet-romantic assertions during LOST. ("I would die with you on a sinking submarine that just got blown up if you were trapped by metal bars and couldn't escape.")
For letting me lay across your lap and for playing with my hair.
For your one-liners that make me laugh during the season finale of Grey's Anatomy. ("What hasn't happened in this episode? What's next, monkeys flying airplanes?")
For making Breakfast for Dinner, which I came home to from the gym, after a day when I was feeling blue.
I love you, M.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Links of Late

Shout out for my Dad! He spoke at the commencement ceremony of Delaware Technical College!I'm a proud daughter. He got to wear a hood representing his own graduate degree in engineering from Purdue. I mean, really, how many people can say they were asked to be the featured commencement speaker at a college?! Other than President Obama, of course.

I openly started sobbing at work while watching this incredible video. Why did the song have to be Whitney Houston?! She gets me every time! Animal stories make my heart feel good.

I'm also really into this song right now. Doesn't it just wake you want to dance in a funky robotic way?

Michael and I are so different. Last night we ended up hanging out with our favorite new parents Remi and Cole. Michael and Cole went to a friend's house to watch the Suns game while Remi and I stayed home to ogle their baby and eat and girlchat.
This is what I like to call the sleeper hold. (Not to be confused with the maneuver the Hubs tries to pull on me when we get in wrestling matches that end up with me being very upset because, how could I ever, ever beat someone that much stronger, anyway?) Check out the babe's adorable little hand clutching my shoulder!

When Michael and I reunited at the end of the night I was ALL talk. "What did you guys talk about? What do men talk about? Your jobs? I mean, how much can you really have to say about basketball players, really?" His response was, "I don't know. What did you guys talk about?"
This was the point where I talked at him for thirty minutes and only interrupted myself to say, "Are you still listening?" "Mmhmm, why?" "Because your eyes are closed and you're breathing heavily." He's obviously not as interested in womens' private lives as I am in mens'.

Please read my newest review of Thai Basil!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Prius Related Bragging...COMMENCE!

I just want to take a quick moment to talk about how much I'm loving our new car.

Our first full tank of gas put about 10 gallons in it. (This scared me since my 4Runner took about 22 gallons). Well we ended up driving 535 miles on it before the gas light came on! Our trusty MPG doo-hickie said we'd gotten 56.9 miles per gallon on the tank!

I'm not exactly sure how this compares to all other cars out there, but it seems pretty nice to me! Especially after driving a bigger car for so long! Don't get me wrong, I loved Izzy the 4Runner, and I'm really going to miss having a big car to transport things in, but I'm not going to miss the gas she ate up!

In case the above sentence seemed strange to anyone, it's been a family tradition to name our cars. We've had a Jimmy, a Bob Ponti, a James, a Mitsi, a Holly, a Sally and an Izzy. So without further ado, I'd like to announce that we've named the new car Penelope. Penny for short.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Late Plan Makers

Our weekend plans were all arranged rather last-minute. On Friday night we got a call from Remi and Cole asking if we wanted to go to Jazz in the Park up in Scottsdale. This did interrupt my thrilling plans of going to a Zumba class, but it fit three of our five main criteria for a great time. Those being a.) being outdoors, b.) live music and c.) a baby wrapped in a Moby Wrap.

In case you don't know what a Moby is, here's a pic: It was a great night and a really awesome atmosphere. Except for the group of people behind us that started smoking, it was perfect. Seriously, people still smoke?! There were kids all over the place! I'm sorry if you smoke, but this one just baffles me. We secured ourselves a roomy spot on the grass, as you can see, far from the mosh pit nearer the stage. The jazz was great!

Then Saturday night we ended up having a game night with JP, Shannon and some new friends Bethany and Vince. Kai went to sleep in the back bedroom while the adults got into a competitive match of Trivial Pursuit.

When it was time to go home, Kai came and hung out with me on the couch while his parents got their things together. Isn't he a sweetie?

Check out my newest review of George and Son's up in Scottsdale!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Taste of the Midwest

As you know from my last blog post, I was originally hired as the Phoenix Barbeque Examiner. Well, I've been reassigned to Cheap Eats Examiner, but when I first told my parents about my new side gig I was the Queen of the 'Que.

A few days after being hired on (and coincidentally the same day that my first article was published), my parents notified me that I should check our front stoop upon getting home from work. I did, and this is what I found:

It would be accurate to say I was so excited I was in pain, hence my facial expression.

Montgomery Inn Ribs. Geez. Just click on that link and try to see if you don't immediately start drooling. They are the home of the world's greatest barbequed ribs.

My parents sent me/us two racks and a bottle 'o sauce to celebrate my new gig! Isn't that the sweetest. I teared up there on the stoop. Michael was momentarily concerned before he read the title on the box and realized they were instead tears of joy. I had to explain that, yes, I was that excited about the ribs, but also that they were tears of reaction at how sweet my folks are.

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

The love of my life. Er...other than Michael, that is. Better not wear that white outfit when we choose to devour. I've been known to get sauce in my eyebrows. Don't quite know how that works out.

(Blog readers, you know I love you because I'm willing to post such an unattractive picture of myself).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The 411 on BBQ

I got a new job.

Okay, it’s not really a job. It’s more like a side-job/hobby that I’ll be pursuing when I'm not at my real job. But I’m totally excited about it.

I got hired as the Phoenix Barbecue Restaurant Reviewer for Examiner.com! Is that or is that not the most random thing you’ve ever heard of? When I applied I selected a few food types I enjoy/eat often, and they hired me to be their resident BBQ reviewer. Must have been my sassy devil-may-care self description of why I’m qualified to write about it.

So far I’ve published two articles, so I can officially say that I’m a published writer! Should I be embarrassed that my first ever published piece of work is a negative review of a barbecue joint? Maybe. I'm not at that point yet, though, I'm just excited.

I will be paid for the work (my understanding is that I’m receiving something like pennies a day) but the real reason I’m doing it is because I love to eat, I love to write and I’ll be able to say, “Yes, Mr. Literary Agent, I am a published writer. You should really consider representing my novel."

I’ll give you the link to go to my page in a sec. But first, when you go here, would you do me a favor and read both my stories? (Yes, I’m aware that the one on Rustler’s Rooste is negative. I need to establish credibility, people!) Check out the pictures on the slideshows too!

Also, only if you want to, subscribe to me near the top of the page by clicking on the “Subscribe” button. You’ll be notified every time I post an article and I’ll make a few extra pennies, so win-win, eh? No pressure if you don’t want to, I have no way of knowing who subscribes and who doesn’t. And if you decide you want to try to be an Examiner, would you list me as your reference? They have a pretty sweet referral deal.

Edit from later: Great news! I've been promoted to a broader topic! I'm now the Phoenix Cheap Eats Examiner! This means I can write about all kinds of restaurants, not just BBQ. (Lord knows I'll still be eating it though, I do love it.) I wonder if anyone stumbling across my Cheap Eats page will wonder why I've only written about barbecue so far. Anyway, I'm excited because this gives me more scope! Here is my page:

Julie's Cheap Eats Examiner Page!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All in White

Arizona's in bloom! Which means pleasant cottony sights like this one:
And a lot of sneezing for me.
Neither Michael nor I spend much money on ourselves. I mean, we go out to dinner and movies and Greek festivals and everything, but we hardly ever buy clothes for ourselves. It had gotten to the point where I was essentially wearing the same five outfits to work every week and my 'going out' clothing options looked like this:
1. Dark jeans with black tank top
2. Dark jeans with blue tank top
Michael's wardrobe is in a similar condition. So we decided to take some money out of our checking account, quit husbanding our funds and treat ourselves to some smokin' new outfits. (Isn't it strange that the word 'husband' can mean 'to use sparingly, to conserve'? It does.) (If they saw my husband's generous use of Clorox wipes, they might have to reconsider the term, eh? Zing!)(I'm kidding. I can't really complain. His approach to using the wipes is definitely preferable to my own, which usually entails using the little wet cloth until it's filthy and tattered.)

Anyway, while I was out shopping this weekend, I couldn't help but imagine myself wearing these things on the black cliffs of Santorini. Which might or might not have inspired me to purchase one pair of white linen pants.
When I did a fashion show for Michael later, he agreed I looked very cruisey.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's all Greek to me.

Last Sunday started out like most Sundays do around here.
"What do you want to do today?" "I don't care, what do you want to do?"
But Michael was struck by a bolt of inspiration and decided he knew exactly what we would do that afternoon. He wouldn't tell me what it was.
"But I don't like surprises!" "Yes, you do."
Here is where he took me on our surprise outing:
The 'Taste of Greece' festival at Tempe Town Lakes! What a great way to get us prepared for our trip to Greece in less than two months! (I wonder if Greece will be as windy with dead grass flying around everywhere?) Although there was no economy crash around the Town Lakes region or riots or protests, so I guess it wasn't that realistic. (Ouch. Greece, I'm pulling for you guys! Hold out for two more months. I know of a group of six that is on their way who plan on stimulating your economy a.lot.)

We ate gyros and Greek fries and watched children dance traditional Greek dances.
Which was adorable. It was pretty much them stepping side to side as a big line for about 4 songs.
And - you know me - the day wasn't complete until we'd had dessert. Check out these loukoumades. They were like little doughnut holes that were saturated with cinnamon, sugar and honey.
Opa!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bedroom Remodeling

Well shoot. I finally getting around to photographing our back bedroom and I can't even find the "before" pictures. I think I'm pretty bad at this "before/after" posting thing.

Anyway, our back bedroom used to be very bare. It was just white walls and carpet. I really wish I could find the picture from when the previous owners lived here because there was a weird spot where blue ink had splashed on the wall (they decided they liked the look, so didn't wash it off, apparently) and the room was the most cluttered man den ever. (Have you ever heard that it's good luck to leave something in the house for the next owners? Our predecessors left a calendar of girls in their bathing suits. Don't you learn just too much about people when you move into their home?)

5/10 Edit: Found some pics of the 'before' bedroom on an alternate computer! Here they are:
If you look closely you can see the ink splatter:
We had some pale greenish blue bedding for that room, but we decided it had to go. We tackled our first major project and here are the results. We painted the walls light gray. I sanded down then painted a little bedside table and this dresser we got off Craigslist.
We knew we wanted some art for those large empty walls but were pretty lazy in our search for it. Art is so beautiful, but it can be expensive. Well my parents offered us a huge painting that used to be in their home in Wichita. After they sold the house out there, they had all this furniture leftover. My brother and I have definitely reaped the benefits of this turn of events. And who'd have guessed it, but it turned out that the painting was the exact shade of purple that was going in to our guest bedroom! You can't really tell here, but the watermelon in the painting adds a really cool splash of red to the room.

We also got this quasi-full length mirror on Craigslist. I say 'quasi-' because it's a little smaller than I thought it was going to be, but you can see your full length if you stand a few feet away (which is what most people do anyway, right?). I love how old-fashioned it looks. Michael thought we should sand it down and paint it so it matches all the other gray in the room. Do you think we should? Please vote in my new poll. I kind of love that dark cherry finish.
So bedroom done, front yard - you're on deck!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gala Gaiety

As the hour of my work Gala approached, I was glad that I'd had the spray tan done. As I hope you agree, the end result looked pretty natural.
I had bought this new dress when my Mother In Law, Judy, was in town. And though I loved the dress, I sort of wish I'd been warned that it was an outdoor event. It did get a little chilly toward the end.

But here you can see our beautiful background (Camelback Mountain - you can see the head behind us) and my beautiful coworker Gena. I love this shot of 'the girls' at work.
A couple people asked me if Michael was invited to the Gala. It was never explicitly stated, but spouses weren't really invited because all of our staff was working the event. It wasn't hard work by any means, but I'm sure it'd be a little weird for Michael to be mingling with strangers while I checked people in at registration. Anyway, I guess he could have come for the open dance part at the end of the night, but by the time I heard he could come he was already on his way to hang out with JP and Shannon.

I think the event went over well. Great location, great weather, great food. I did, however, spend an hour untangling about 100 wired glow neclaces that we were passing around as favors. It wasn't too bad, though; I had a cup of gelato and the music of Earth, Wind and Fire to jam to.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Evolution of a Spray Tan

I elected to get a spray tan this week for two reasons.

1. My work Gala was this Saturday and my dress is yellow. Yellow can be a difficult color to pull of with a pasty complextion
2. A coworker gave me a coupon to get a discount

So here I am in the (new!) car, anxoiusly awaiting my first attempt at a booth-style spray tan. (I did an airbrush spray tan before my Junior Prom where a little old lady sprayed me down in my underwear - I was in my underwear, not the little old lady. But that's a story for another day.)
The experience: Positive. The spray itself was surprisingly chilly, causing me to giggle slightly, then desperately try to keep my face straight to prevent any wrinkles in the tan. I contorted myself into all the Robot-dance-move-like positions needed to get an even tan. So here I am 5 minutes post-Spray:

You have to leave it on for 4-6 hours, but my friend at work recommended leaving it on for at least 8, which is what I did. I was a little worried I'd look too orange, but I don't think that was the case.

One piece of advice to future tanners: wipe your feet off after the tan. Or else your feet will look like this:

Don't worry, I got rid of most of the damage with the pass of a pumice stone. Now, I know that this 'after' shot isn't exactly scientific because its in a new setting with new lighting, but I think you get the picture. Stay tuned for pictures from the Gala to see the true end result!

On a side note, I'd like to thank Amy and Erik for putting up with me on Friday. I saw them Friday afternoon and they tolerated my freckled appearance and spray-tan-smell with poise. The sad news was the reason for the visit: I was taking them to the airport so they could visit home once more before moving to Texas. Michael and I are definitely sad to see our friends go, but we're happy for Erik's new job and their new adventure.