Friday, September 25, 2009

Paralyzed by Indecision

Do you know how debilitating it is to be a "planner?" To be "organized?" To need to think through the details of every decision in life before doing anything, considering all possible positive and negative ramifications? After months of waffling in indecision, second guessing, and general whineyness (in my head, anyway), I finally decided that it was time for a vacation. Yes, internet, I waffled over whether or not I should plan and book a vacation for CPM and myself.

We're DINKs (double income, no kids). But the economy is in the crapper. CPM's job is with a family owned small business that is hanging on to life by the skin of its teeth. I work at a non profit, where 10% of the staff were laid off this year and the remaining staff got both no raise and a benefit cost increase, amounting to a pay cut. Ouch. We spent a lot of money on improving our house last year and vacationed indiscriminately. Then we bought a new car because I had to have one.

When I thought about all of this, I felt guilty for wanting to go on a trip anywhere. I felt guilty that I wanted to spend money on leisure. I felt like I should be socking away each and every spare dollar for... something.

I can't live like that. We have savings. We have emergency funds. We also have needs. I need a vacation. I need to lay on a beach and read a crappy book. So I did it. We're going back to Hawaii in January. (Dear internet robbers, my house will NOT be empty...we have three dogs, they stay home, and a whole family moves into my house to care for them.)

This will be our fifth trip to the fiftieth state. That seems crazy to some folks. But consider that I think it's crazy that people go to the same Jersey beach houses year after year. This is the same kind of crazy. Also, two weeks in Hawaii is less expensive than renting that Jersey beach house for a week. It's also more fun, in my mind.

The countdown begins. Aloha, bitches.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

I know what cookie I'm taking to Jaime's holiday cookie party this year:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Recipe here. Amazingly, they're vegan.

I coated them in Sugar in the Raw, because I like the chunky texture on finished baked goods. They're definitely spicy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I will make this again!

Last night I made this risotto recipe. It was exceptionally easy and incredibly delicious.

Finished Product

Red Pepper Risotto

Since I can never follow a recipe exactly, here are the details of my methods and modifications:

-I added a minced clove of garlic to the pan at the same time as the chopped onion. What is food without garlic?
-I added a pack of mixed wild mushrooms (probably about 4 ounces) to the pan at the same time as the red pepper. I wanted the extra richness of mushrooms. I also only used 1 red pepper because the other one that I had in the fridge got cooked the evening prior when I grilled dinner. Oops.
-I used Imagine brand No Chicken Broth instead of actual chicken juice.
-I got a cheap bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for the recipe and surprised myself by really enjoying a chilled glass as I cooked. I'm usually a full on Shiraz girl.
-I used 5 ounce container of spreadable chevre and the prescribed amount of grated parmigiano-reggiano for the cheeses
-I didn't add the turmeric. I might next time, just for the hint of color it would lend to the dish.

So, I've never made risotto before this, but I've eaten tons. I've been wanting to attempt one on my own for quite a while. I made this on a work night, which is impressive in and of itself. The prep is minor, just some chopping of the onion, pepper and garlic, it's the stirring of the broth into the rice that takes all of the time. I hovered over the stove with my laptop open on the counter, and a glass of wine nearby (losing a game of Scrabble to CPM, as usual). As I stirred the broth into the rice, I sampled, and it seemed flavorless. The magic happened when the cheeses and a bit of freshly ground sea salt were added at the end. It became a rich and creamy delight. I meant to prepare some vegetarian sausages to go along with this, but I honestly forgot about them while I was cooking. This would also be good with some oven roasted Ray's Seitan, which I would "serenade" in my magic recipe marinade.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I've got nothing.

Really. I've got nothing.

I'm busy absorbing the warmth and sunshine of summer's probable end.

I'm not sewing. I am uninspired and lazy.

I'm eating out too much. Follow me on Twitter and you get to see pics of the delicious food. Find me on Yelp to read my reviews.

I'm riding my bike as much as I can while it's still warm and the roads aren't covered by wet leaves.

I'm dreaming of a beachy vacation.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

A four day weekend! The last of the summer! I had big plans, mostly involving riding my bike. Here's what actually happened.

On Friday, I got my haircut. It was supposed to be a trim, but the guy went a little nuts and I now resemble a Romulan. It's okay, a little hair product fixes it right up. I then took a really long nap and woke up in time to go out for dinner. Missed workout day 1.

On Saturday, I intended to take a really long bike ride, then go out for brunch. 11 miles into my ride, I got a flat tire, and had to be rescued. I still went for brunch. Then I took another really long nap. When I woke up, the spouse and I went to get pizza. Missed workout day 2.

On Sunday, I wanted to make up my missed workouts with another bike ride. Instead, the spouse and I had a home cooked breakfast (eggs, homefries, tempeh bacon, english muffins) and then decided to drive to Atlantic City for the day. Missed workout day 3.

While in Atlantic City, we decided to try Buddakan for dinner. Full disclosure: we are mostly vegetarian with some leanings towards pescetarianism. Sometimes we eat seafood. This was one of those times.

Scallops in Black Bean Sauce
Scallops in Black Bean Sauce

Wild Mushroom Chow Fun
Wild Mushroom Chow Fun

Chocolate Pagoda
Chocolate Pagoda

Coconut Rice Pudding
Coconut Rice Pudding

Not photographed because I was fighting with the dark lighting in the restaurant: Edamame Ravioli and Wild Mushroom Dumplings.

The food was awesome. The service was eh. Once we placed our order, we were fine, because the food runners just dropped the food off as it was ready. We simply waited a bit longer than we would have liked to place the order. Perhaps we were just hungry.

I'm currently waiting for the spouse to fix my bike tire so I can not miss workout day 4. He's in his comfy chair. I'm not sure he really wants to get up.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy Anniversary

6 years ago today, I was in Las Vegas, about to get married. I remember waking up in our hotel (the Aladdin Hotel and Casino, which is apparently now the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino), and turning on the news to a weather forecaster wearing a parka, because it was in the low 70s that morning. Brrrr. Break out the cold weather gear people! Later that day, when we stepped out of the limo at the cheesy wedding chapel, the temperature was 105 degrees. (Everyone says this, and it's was a dry heat!)


No one, with the exception of a few friends, knew that CPM and I were eloping. For almost a year prior to the trip, I researched, plotted and planned "our vacation." We left home on a Sunday morning, arrived in Vegas in the early afternoon, checked into our hotel, and then went straight to Chipotle for burritos. CPM was super excited to have me experience Chipotle. There were none around us at the time. When I took my first bite, I knew this trip would be amazing. A chorus of heavenly beings erupted into song as I partook of the most holy of meals...the fast food, built for me burrito. It was obvious from my burrito infused joy that this marriage was meant to be.

That night, we acquired our marriage license at the appropriate office. About 10 minutes after that, we were playing on the slot machines on Fremont Street. No rehearsal dinner. No fist fighting in laws (yes, I've seen this happen). No stress. Just pure fun.

Taken right after we got our license: look how happy I am!
Just got our license!

My first foray into the seedy world of gambling!

Naked Ladies

The following afternoon, we were married by Elvis. He wore a black jumpsuit and sang a few songs. As part of our vows, he made us promise not to step on one another's blue suede shoes. Immediately following the Elvis ceremony, we were actually legally married by the judge who acted as our witness. We exchanged loaner rings, since we had only decided to get wedding rings on the day before we left home. We took a bunch of pictures in the Doo Wop Diner. We conversed with our Elvis and chatted with our limo driver. The whole process lasted a little over an hour.

Our name in lights.
Our name in lights!

Cheesy. Incredible.
Wow. Cheesy.


Still awesome.

After the ceremony, we went back to our hotel room, changed into "street clothes," and proceeded to walk the entire strip, and ride every roller coaster thereon. Okay, so we drove to the ones at the Stratosphere, the Sahara, and Circus Circus. It was hot! We did walk over to the one at New York New York.

Our wedding dinner was at some cool Italian restaurant that was in the mall in our hotel. For the first time, ever, I drank an alcoholic beverage in front of CPM: it was a Cosmopolitan (I'm sure I was obsessed with Sex and the City at the time). Such a momentous occasion. (Now I'm a full fledged lush!)

I would highly recommend the whole eloping experience to anyone considering marriage. No fuss, no muss, no stress. It was a vacation, except, we also got married.