Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year In Review, 2010

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Went to Japan! It was seriously the highlight of my year-  a great time, with a great friend.  I can't wait to go back. 
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did okay with my Yearly list, but I want to complete EVERYTHING on this year's list before I turn thirty.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Nope!

 4. Did anyone close to you die?  I am very lucky to be able to say no.

5. What places did you visit?  I visited friends and family in Rhode Island, went to Chincoteague Island in Virginia. I also spent a lot of time driving back and forth to New Jersey.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? Last year I said: "A better sense of purpose and direction. Some answers for questions I've been asking myself for a long time. "  and unfortunately, I have to repeat that.  and make it happen this year.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? I don't think I have any specific dates burned into my brain, just some good memories throughout the year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?  Beginning my new Cookbook Blog, I think.

9. What was your biggest failure?  Not completing all of my 28 in the 28th list,  sitting at home in my apartment much more frequently than I wanted to.
 10. Did you suffer illness or injury?  let's see.... I fell and jacked up my wrist in Japan,  I burned myself pretty badly in November... I think those are the two major ones.
 11. What was the best thing you bought?  I didn't really make any big purchases this year, but I think the groceries for The Project have been pretty awesome. Oh! My palm Pre is pretty great.
 12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My sister! Her first semester in grad school, and she's a straight A student. Woo, for the Super Smarty!
 13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I try to not get too appalled and depressed at other people's behavior. I can't think of anything right now that I was appalled enough to put on this list. I may come back to it.
14. Where did most of your money go? Rent. Food. Cat expenses. (same as last year!) and some car expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?   Trip to Japan!  Week in Chincoteague, Beginning the Cookbook Project!
 16.  What song do you associate with 2010?  This is hard, because the most recent songs are the ones that have been on the brain recently. (namely the Glee cover of Teenage Dream)  but I also listened to a lot of Edie Carey (like every year) and The Rescues, and The Weepies.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?  Happier
b) thinner or fatter?  Fatter
c) richer or poorer? poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I'd read more. I knocked about eight books out on vacation, but I am not reading as many books as I would like to.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Staying in my apartment when I could be out doing things. there is life outside my apartment!

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2009?  With the family, in New Jersey.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Nope, not even a little bit.
22. What was your favorite TV program? GLEE.
23. What did you do for your birthday in 2010?   I had a wonderful birthday this year- I went to Chincoteague Island, where my mom and aunt and cousin had rented a house, and ate good food, and relaxed. it was winderful

24. What was the best book you read? Hmmmm. I can't think of anything that stood out in a crazy awesome way, but I really liked Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan

25. What did you want and get?  An awesome Cuisinart Food processor! (also awesome kitchen supplies.

26. What did you want and not get? A fancy camera, and an ipad. I don't think they'll be on the menu this year either, but a girl can dream.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?  Toy Story 3. and Harry Potter. It's a tie!

28. Did you make some new friends this year? I did!

29.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think a better sense of direction in life would have made it somewhat more excellent and satisfying, but I feel like like i've had a pretty good year.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? haaaaaaaaaaaaa.

31. What kept you sane?  Good friends, Talking to my cousin Kelly on the phone, and emails with my cousin Kate.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Rachel Maddow.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?  The striking down of DADT was an awesome end to a fraught political year. Mostly, I've just been annoyed that Democrats couldn't get more done. 
34. Who did you miss? I think I missed My little cousin Evan the most- He's growing up so fast, and it's hard that I don't get to see him as often as I'd like. It's better now that we can Skype and I can see his cute face on a regular basis.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.  You're the only person who can make YOU happy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snippets from a wonderful Christmas weekend

*Waking up on Christmas morning and having biscuts and white gravy with bacon on the side. As my sister said, it was the Best. White Gravy. Ever.

*The little dog that my sister was dogsitting. so tiny! so cute! So well behaved!

*Getting into helpless giggle fits with Helena on the couch. My cousin Dan's girlfriend can give my sister a run for her money on giggle attacks, and at one point, I was lauging so hard my sides hurt.  Helena, you're my favorite.

*The framed tea towel that my sister gave me that says "when life gives you lemons, make gin and tonics"  Love it! and it's going to look great in my dining room

* How happy my uncle was when he tried the shortbread cookies I made. That, right there, is why I love to bake and cook.  He liked them so much that he ate three of them on Christmas morning!

*Everybody liked the ornaments I made for ornament exchange

*Thinking about all the recipes I'm going to make in my new food processor.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the time with my family, above anything else. I had a great time hanging out with them, and talking, and laughing, and generally having fun.  It was really hard to leave- I had to bail early on Sunday in order to outrun the snowstorm that dumped 16 inches of snow on them, so I missed the second get together with the cousins I didn't see on christmas.  But I hope I'll see them soon, and for now, Skype-ing with my little cousin will have to suffice.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ten things that are making me happy right now.

1 Half a day left of work and then I'm off for four days!

2 Making lemon drops- I can make gummy candy! so neat.

3 All my Christmas shopping done, less one person, who is notoriously hard to shop for.

4. I love when people request I make things that I've made for them- most recently, my dad requesting cheese straws. (yay!) makes me feel good.  Especially since he doesn't usually request things.  (unlike my mom, who requests crunchies at every opportunity :) )

5  I had a really good hair day this week.  (It's not today, but that's okay)

6.  Christmas is coming!

7. An awesome drink that my friend Julie created, which is comprised of Whipped cream flavored vodka, Pumpkin liquor, and sheer wonderful.

8. Learning how to make martinis for the first time, and drinking my first martini. (So good! I have been missing out on a great drink)

9. Glee Tuesday. I really like having this weekly tradition of getting together with friends, watching a fun show, and cooking good things for them.

10. Four day weekend deserves another list item, because I'm SO HAPPY about it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cooking With My Dad - breakfast burritos

Ever since the first time I made breakfast burritos for myself, my dad was interested in them. I had made a bunch to freeze and eat for breakfast. He was trying to figure out how best to use them for the Methodist Men bible study that he has once a month. And by best use them, I mean finagle me to make them for him. 

And then, I have been making breakfast burritos for my sister, and her stressful grad school life.  When she told my Dad that I was making them for her, he called me and said, "hey, when you're home this weekend, you should make some breakfast burritos for me"  And because I'm a good daughter, I did. 


Ingredients:  Onions, cheese, beans, eggs, tortillas, salsa, sausage. (not pictured: butter and milk. I must have forgotten them in the lineup)

Cracked eggs in the bowl before whisking

Sausage Sautéing away

Breakfast burritos pre-rolling
Burritos assembled before rolling.

Burritos are really easy to make- I'm not going to provide a recipe- just put in the stuff you like, roll, and freeze.  

Completed Burritos Ready for Freezin

Then, when you are ready for breakfast, pull one out, wrap in a paper towel, and microwave for two minutes. Ta-da! breakfast on the run.  I make all sorts of versions of these, and they usually average out to less than a dollar a burrito (depending on ingredients) which is much cheaper than getting breakfast out on your way to work. Plus, you know everything that goes in them. 

Chief Dishwasher

Most awesome kitchen assistant ever.  When I made these (and cooked for the whole weekend while I was home), and my Dad did all the dishes that I made. And I will tell you that I created a lot of dishes.  I only wish that he would come down to Baltimore and do my dishes all the time. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Val's guide for keeping your cat off your christmas tree.

Step one:  Set up your Christmas tree. Admire it! oooooh, aaaaaaaah, it is delightful! it is pre lit! it is sitting nicely on your little side table, and makes your apartment look nice and Christmas-y.

Step two: go through your Christmas ornaments, and bypass anything that is breakable. (You will be glad about this later)

Step three: Plug in tree, watch cat eyeing lights with glee.

Step four: Admire your decorated tree.

Step five: spray cat who is gnawing on the branches of the tree with water bottle. Cat runs away.

Step six: spray cat who is gnawing on the branches of the tree with water bottle. Cat runs away.
Step seven: spray cat who is gnawing on the branches of the tree with water bottle. Cat runs away.

Step eight: You are about to leave the house! Yay! there is life outside your apartment! (that, or you are going to work)  Unplug the tree, as you do not want to come home to electrocuted cat.

Step nine: Return home.  Find tree on floor, mangled.  Pick up tree, fluff branches, and put ornaments back on.  Repeat every time you return to the house.

Step ten: spray cat who is gnawing on the branches of the tree with water bottle. Cat runs away.

Repeat until insanity is firmly set in.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sometimes I do stupid things (Cinnamon Challenge Edition)

Many moons ago, I talked my cousin Potter into starting a blog. I had been blogging for awhile, and when he stared his, I was glad, because he's smart and funny, and talked about things that broadened my horizons. (We have very different tastes in music and movies) and when I was talking about doing Holidailies, I was telling him that he should do it, since he hadn't updated his blog in like a year (he corrected me, saying that it was six months).  I then gave him a (slightly adapted) pep talk from 30 Rock:
 Okay, here’s your pep talk. You’re not a blogger. You’re James Potter, all right? So quit whining, and NUT UP. You’re right. If you can’t do this, you ARE a failure.   This conversation was occurring through my cousin Kate (his wife) and she kept saying things like "you should tell him you won't cook him things unless he blogs every day!"  Which in turn, made Potter go into "You Can't Threaten Me Withholding Things, Make Me Something First and Then I'll Blog" mode.  Potter does not like to be threatened. So then I mentioned that I had cooked an entire dinner that he ate, including cocktails and appetizers, and ... lo! he updated his blog! *

So a thing that you may not know is that I am competitive.  I often do not win, but I like things that are a contest, and have a winner, and cheering for someone, and trash talking, and a general spirited competition. It's fun! I especially like the trash talking part. 

Before thanksgiving, Kate and Potter and I were talking about the Cinnamon Challenge, something that like the Saltine challenge, stupid people do. The basic premise of the challenge is that you put a teaspoon or a tablespoon of Cinnamon in your mouth at once, and try to swallow it. Somehow, through the trash talking (I... am pretty sure on Kate's part), there was a throwdown to do the cinnamon challenge.  And Kate "Volentold" Potter to do it to challenge me (not really, he wanted to do it anyway, he's just as competitive as I am). I made the caveat that I would do it, but not on Thanksgiving, because if I was going to do this, I did not want to get sick on Thanksgiving.

And so in the conversation about updating his blog, Potter mentioned that I hadn't done the cinnamon challenge.  So... here you go, Potter: 


* On the night I made dinner, the cocktails were Rum Punch, and I didn't get a chance to use my best threat: "update your blog or I'll Rum-Punch you in the face!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ten things Tuesday: Ten things that are making me happy right now

1) People who find my website by searching "something to make me happy right now"
I get some unusual search strings, and I've gotten some depressing search queries, but the ones that make me happiest are the ones that are people looking for something to make themselves happy. People! make a list of what makes you happy! You may be surprised at how many things are going your way. I know that the hardest lists that I make are when I'm feeling sad, or depressed, but it always makes me feel better to write out the things that are good that I have going on.

2) Top Chef is back!
I may have had some issues with last season (wanting to punch Angelo in the face was one of them) and I wasn't thrilled with Just Desserts, but this All Star Season looks like it's going to be goooooood.  I have my favorites that I'm cheering for, and I hope the ones who I dislike will be dispatched with quickly.  Plus: the challenges in the first episode, especially the elimination challenge, was AWESOME.

3) Glee
The last new episode of the fall before the winter hiatus is tonight, and I am really, really looking forward to it.  I love Christmas Episodes of things (I am also really looking forward to the Community Claymation episode)  and despite that they are singing one of my least favorite Christmas songs, (Baby, It's Cold Outside) I think that the video of the two of them is super cute, and it's awesome that they have two boys singing to each other on primetime tv.

4) Cannoli Donuts
My friends Lisa and Katie were in Rochester for Thanksgiving, and while they were there, they procured a dozen donuts filled with Cannoli insides.  They gave one to me last night, and I feel that it is safe to say, I will never be the same again. it was EPIC.  I want one right now. It is probably a really, really good thing that they are all the way up in Rochester. 

5) I re-arraigned the furniture in my living room, and it is much more cosy.
Initially it started because I wanted to put my Christmas tree up, and just ballooned from there  the result:  Pictures were hung,  (Including a sign that I have been meaning to hang FOREVER) and I am much happier with how my living room looks.

6) My grandmother's coming to visit!
Every year for Christmas, she makes the trek up to New Jersey to spend it with the family, and this year, as part of her trip, she's spending a weekend hanging out with me (and my sister) in Baltimore.  I am so glad she's coming- We're going to cook from the cookbook, hang out, and generally have a good time.

7) All the recipes I've made for the project lately have turned out really well.
And now, just saying that, I'm sure I've jinxed myself.

8) Staged Reading of Steel Magnolias!
My theater company is doing a staged reading of Steel Magnolias in February, as a fundraiser, and I am really excited!  I'm going to be Annelle. I am also glad that my friends are having a viewing party of the movie... because I've never seen it.  I am excited nonetheless (plus, I'm going to make a red velvet armadillo cake for the occasion)

9) My tragic clumsiness turns out to be delicious
So... I was at the farmer's market, and I picked up a container of chevre with cranberries on the bottom, and fumbled, and dropped it on the floor, causing the container to crack. I resigned myself to buying it, and my jaw dropped to the floor when the woman told me that it cost 13 dollars.  (I am not so accustomed to buying thirteen dollars worth of cheese... ever)  but once the cracked part was dispatched with, it is actually REALLY tasty.  I don't know that I would buy it again, but it was definitely a happy accident.

10) Christmas is coming.
This year I'm making edible gifts for most of my family, and I can't wait for them to try them. I will be spending my three day weekend next week putting together the stuff that's going to be in them.  Can't Wait!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holidailies- Hello! I'm Val

I am going to try to push through the awkwardness that is an about me entry, and just hop in.
Hi! I'm Val. 
I am 29 years old, and I live in Baltimore, Maryland.  I love to cook, and am currently cooking my way through the Essential New York Times Cookbook, but that blog is seperate from this one, and you can find it here.  I am a member of the Iron Crow Theater company,  If you're in Baltimroe or the surrounding area (or like to travel!)  We have shows coming up in March and June of this year. I don't act very much (or very well) so I'm mostly behind the scenes, but it's a ton of fun. I like chiling out with my cat, hot chocolate on cold mornings, and listening to (roughly) the same 50 songs over and over again. 
I thought holidailies would be fun, because I'm not diciplined enough to do NaNoWriMo, I feel like I could definitely do this challenge.  Plus, I've never done it before, and I really liked reading the entrie II love my blog! It is awesome.  I feel like some of my real life blogging friends should do this too.   So: TimKatie, Brenda, Katie,.... who am I missing?  You guys should all do Holidailies with me.  Also: I need more friends in real life who blog. Friends: get on it.
Ok! I promise to try to be less boring than this entry would suggest.