Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pulled Pork * Good Times * Tribond

In preparation for a very serious game night tonight, I slept 14 hours last night. Yes, you read that correctly....14 hours. I fell asleep at 8:30 last night (yes, on a Saturday night) and I woke up at 10:30 today. Don't judge me - I was completely exhausted. It was insane. Also, I knew I needed the rest if I was going to be playing a game with Justin and Alecia tonight.

If you think I'm a trash talker (admittedly, I am), Alecia is even worse! Yeah, Alecia, I'm calling you out! In her e-mail to me to confirm our plans tonight, I'm pretty sure she asked me "which game do you want to lose at Sunday night?"

So after church today, Katherine and I drove over to their house with a lot of game playing nerves. Heather and Jim were also there, so it was fun to see my neices and nephew. Before playing a game, Alecia and Justin fed us the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches and apple pie. I think this was part of their strategy - to make us lethargic and fuzzy headed from eating too much. After dinner, when we were choosing games, somehow the game that was chosen was Tribond - a game I am really weak at. Then they broke us up into "couples" which meant Katherine and I were a team. Another strategy as I see it. By saying "couples" they made Katherine and I feel bad that we didn't have a spouse and we had to be a "couple." This made us less focused on the game. Well played.

What we didn't know was that Justin and Alecia bought a new version of Tribond! We've only ever played the old version which is IMPOSSIBLE. If you've never played the game before, here's how it works: the cards give a list of three names or words and you have to determine what they have in common. The old version of the game was incredibly difficult. Here's a sample question:

Grete Waitz * Joan Benoit * Mike Gorman

Have you ever heard of any of those three people? Me either (they're all marathon runners). But the new version was much easier, with questions like:

Pinto * Wax * Mexican Jumping

Our only downfall was that Katherine and I never got a free move, while the other teams did. Sad. And my nephew was grabbing my arm for a long time yelling, "Wibis! Wibis! Wibis! Wibis!" (my name in 2 year old language) which was mildly distracting. But the game was very close. Very very close. We almost won. And while that might not be winning, it's about as good as it gets with Justin and Alecia.

Ok, now that I'm done with the game talk, I should say that we had a great time tonight. Justin and Alecia are great hosts, the food was delicious, and we had a wonderful time. Ruthie gets cuter every time I see her. And now that they have the new version of Tribond, I think we should get together again really soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving thanks and winning prizes

I don't normally enter contests, thinking (like most people) that I don't have good luck. But lately, I've been breaking from the norm and have decided to try my chances here and there. Twice this past week, I called a radio station when I thought I knew the answer to the name-that-tune contest (the prize for getting it right was Pistons tickets and I wanted those!). I didn't even get through either time. Then this morning, I entered a contest to win a gift card competition that the chanel 4 news was offering during the Thanksgiving Day parade. Once again, I lost. Actually, let's just say I didn't win - that sounds better, doesn't it?

But today a Thanksgiving miracle occurred and my luck changed. Here's what happened.

Every year on Thanksgiving, my family has a gingerbread house making competition (we actually make the houses from graham crackers, but that's neither here nor there). We started this tradition years ago when we got bored watching people slip into turkey comas after dinner and decided we needed some kind of after dinner festivities. So, we started a new tradition which somehow turned into a competition. I never win, or even think there's a chance of winning. This is mainly because of my sister, Katherine, who majored in art and is very creative, and has at times shown up to Thanksgiving with a tool chest full of special candy for her creations. Not that I'm bitter.

This year we had more contenders than usual, with friends coming and the kids wanting to join in. It was a tough competition, and my uncle Bill cheated by pulling out a gingerbread house he bought pre-made, and proceeded to decorate. He even made a frozen pond around the gingerbread house by melting blue suckers. It was a Ludington themed gingerbread (beach)house and I have to admit it was really cool. Polly made a moat around hers using the same method of melted suckers, but hers had Swedish fish in it, so it was even cooler. Here are some pictures:

As you can see, I was up against some stiff competition. I never dreamed I would win the contest. Ever. It didn't even cross my mind. When we were all done, we lined them up on the table and numbered them. Everyone got to vote for three. After the voting, Katherine announced the winners. There was a tie for third place and a tie for second place. But there was only one first place, and that was (drum role.....) me! I was shocked. Totally shocked!

In case you're wondering what a first place gingerbread house looks like, here's a picture. The next picture is me with my prize. That definitely makes this the best Thanksgiving ever. I know it sounds like I am forgetting what Thanksgiving is all about, but I'm haven't forgotten. I have many many many things to be thankful for. Like all the votes I got in the contest today. That was the best.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A new tradition

This year for Thanksgiving, I offered to bring two things: the cranberry sauce and the rolls. This is a big step up from what I normally bring, which is nothing. This is also sort of a big deal because I had never eaten, let alone made, cranberry sauce up until a couple weeks ago. So I thought it'd be best if I did a trial run, which I did. And it turned out great! We all ate it on vanilla ice cream and loved it.

So I felt pretty good about bringing that to Thanksgiving. But then I think I got overconfident about my cooking abilities because my next thought was, "cranberry sauce doesn't seem like enough. I should make something else." So I got this crazy idea to make homemade rolls. I thought it would be fun to get up early on Thanksgiving and knead the dough, let it rise, knead it some more, let it rise more, and so on. It seemed very old fashioned and festive.

I found this great recipe that I had never used before, but which looked delicious. I was a little concerned that the recipe was four pages long, and in paragraph form, not bullet points. But I figured I could follow it easily enough if I just read along and stayed focused. I started out strong:

But after that, the directions got incredibly complicated. I think it read something like this:

"Roll out dough to exactly half an inch. Cut into circles, using a geometry compass for precision. Find the center, using a protractor, and poke with two inch needle. Spin around in a circle three times. Fold 1/8 of circle of dough over, then turn 1/6 into center and press down. Unfold, brush melted butter on circle. Turn 1/3 of circle upwards and flip whole thing over. Let rise for awhile, until rolls look super yummy. Then unfold and follow the whole process again, but backwards while singing your favorite song from Fiddler on the Roof. This is important. Place triangle shaped rolls on baking sheet at an angle."

My head was spinning by the time I put them in the oven. Not one of the rolls was the same size, or anywhere near it. Once baked, they were actually quite good, as long as aesthetics don't matter to you. I think I'm going to have to find a different recipe for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Familiy ties

Last year I made a photo album for my Grandma for Christmas. At the time, I couldn't tell if she liked it or not, but I have since learned that she opens it up and looks through it every day. So I decided to make her a new one for Christmas this year with pictures I took throughout the year.

As I've been compiling this year's album, I've been realizing just how much I love my family, and how my nieces and nephews hold a special place in my heart. They are such special kids and I feel so blessed to have them in my family and in my life. They are full of such unconditional love and I just adore them. If you'll indulge me, I want to share with you one picture of each of them (there are four) and tell a few things about them that make them so special to me. I'll start with the youngest.

Samantha was born in March, and is Heather's youngest. She's mild mannered, and cracks up at everything her older brother and sister do. When she's excited to see you, she flaps her arms and legs. It's too cute. I can't wait to see her personality emerge as she grows. She's such a little sweetie.

Ethan is Heather's second child. I love his energy and huge personality. Another sweet thing about him is that he likes to cook. A couple weeks ago he "helped" me make puppy chow and had a huge smile on his face the whole time. But my favorite thing about him is that he's a total snuggler. I was recently lucky enough to watch The Jungle Book with my nieces and nephews, and Ethan snuggled right up to me on the couch when the movie started.

Isn't she beautiful?! Paige (Heather's oldest) is full of life and love. She has a very big personality and it's been cute to see how she pronounces my name. Last year I was "Dawidabis," and now I'm "Salibis."She reminds me of me at her age - trying to get a lot of attention and very spirited (aka bossy). She's a total girly girl and always wants Katherine and me to paint her nails. She also gives power hugs so tight you practically can't breathe.

This is one of my favorite pictures of James, my brother's son. I took it this summer when we were on vacation. Katherine bought him this coon skin cap from a souvenir shop and he wore it all week. He even held onto it when he slept. James is such a great kid. He has the most witty sense of humor and has been cracking us up for years. He's also very sensitive and always feels bad for kids who's feelings were hurt or who are less fortunate. He's growing up right before our eyes and won't be a kid much longer which he often reminds us about. This summer when we were at the movie theater, I reminded him to go to the bathroom before we went into the theater. He informed me that he's almost a teenager and doesn't need to be reminded about when to go to the bathroom. Almost a teenager!? He was nine at the time. He just turned ten. I know I wrote more about him than I did the rest, but it's not because I love him more (I love them all equally!), it's just that I've known him longer.

Thanks for letting me talk about them. I can't wait to have kids of my own some day. Kids really do add so much joy to a family!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And that's why I'm still single.

My friend Sarah and I get together 2-3 times a week to work out. Along with exercising, these sessions are mostly about catching up and talking about our lives - one part of our lives in particular really. I'd say the breakdown of our conversations is something like this:

5% how was your day
5% miscellaneous
90% men/dating

We talk about guys we're interested in, dates we go on (Sarah has the most hilarious date stories of anyone I know), and dissect much more than we actually should. Should I confess that? (Too late.) We talk about the good and the bad. But one thing I've noticed lately is that many of our stories or complaints end with the conclusion, "....And that's why I'm still single."

Now, I should make it clear that we take equal responsibilty for things occassionally going badly - we don't just blame the guys. Recently I told a story which upon telling, made me realize that I handled a certain situation badly. We laugh sometimes when we realize that we probably don't always know what we're doing in the dating department (and that's why we're still single!). I mean, why else would two smart, fun, attractive, humble women still be single, right?

In thinking about this, I've come up with two solutions to solve my dating problems. One: ask a guy friend to go on a date with me. I'd tell him up front that it was a "teaching" date, but we'd never mention that while on the date - otherwise it wouldn't be natural (as if anyone can be "natural" on a date). He would observe my dating behavior and at the end give me feedback. Of course, to make it realistic, he'd pay for the date. I mean, it'd have to feel real, right?

The only problem with this one is that if he gives me negative feedback, I might get mad and try to break up with him. Then he'd have to remind me that we're just friends and let's face it - things might be awkward for awhile.

My second idea is to do what George Costanza from Seinfeld did at one point, and that is to do everything the opposite of what my instincts tell me. If it worked for George, it's guaranteed to work for me, right? For example, if I feel like I should not call a guy, I'll call him. If I am too scared to talk to him, I'll approach him. Um... this one sounds like a lot more work than the first one and much scarier.

See what I mean? Already I'm rejecting two perfectly good, reasonable ideas. One thing is for sure though, in discussing our dating lives Sarah and I have learned something important: we know what not to do, but we don't know what to do. Ok, that's not true. We don't know what not to do either. One of these days we'll figure it out, but until then, our work out sessions will have to double as dating therapy sessions. And hopefully someday these sessions won't end with the same refrain.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The reason for the (winter) season

In an effort to survive the inevitable cold weather coming, I'm going to try to post occasionally about things I enjoy about winter. Consider it a form of winter survival therapy! And please share anything you love about winter along the way. With the winter coming, we'll need to support each other.

Today we had our first snow. I mean, our first snow that felt like winter - we had a dusting about a week ago, but it didn't stick in this area and was very light. But tonight, it was real. It didn't stick very much, but it was heavier and.... winterier. Even the air smelled like winter. This was the first time I'd smelled it this year, and I can't explain why, but I kind of liked it. I'll confess that as Katherine and I were driving in it tonight, I said something about how the snow was actually quite pretty. Don't quote me in March after the tenth snow storm, please.

Anyway, as I was saying, I thought if I share some things I like about winter with you from time to time, winter might be more bearable. Today the thing I'll share is: pomegranates. I love this fruit! They're my favorite seasonal food for winter.

Of course, some might argue that it is because of the deliciousness of the pomegranate that we even have to endure winter at all. A Greek myth tells the tale of Persephone, who because of eating the seeds of a pomegranate, was doomed to stay in the underworld for three months a year. During this time, her mother, Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, missed her so much, she stopped all produce from growing while she was gone, thus creating the seasons.

That story might make you want to turn on the pomegranate, but trust me. After that first spoon full of juicy seeds, you'll forgive. The pomegranate may be the reason we have winter, but I think it's deliciousness is it's way of apologizing. And I accept.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Clip show

I've had blog writers block this week. Yesterday I started a blog post about how I've tried to like yogurt but no matter what, I still hate it. About half way through the post, I thought, "I can't do this to my friends. I can't make them read this post. It's just too lame." So I spared you. That's the kind of friend I am.

But I was thinking about how sometimes on TV shows, when they need a break from writing, they do a clip show. In all honesty, those have never been my favorite episodes. Regardless, I decided to do something like a clip show for this post. But unlike the Golden Girls clip shows, I'm not going to show you a bunch of related posts and tie them together to solve some kind of problem at the end. I wish I could, but very few of my posts are related. What I figured I could do is update you on a few old posts that I never followed up on. So, if you ever wondered if we sold that awesome clock last month, or if I continued my reign as Dr. Mario champion, your wait is over my friends.

The Clock
Remember this gem? This clock was on our free table at work and was given to me by my coworkers, Justin and Kathy. I tried to re-gift it back to them, but somehow it kept ending up back on my desk. In case you've forgotten or you're new to my blog, we tried to sell it on craigslist. Our price was fair (trade for Snickers or $125) You are going to be shocked when you find out that it hasn't been sold yet! One person did respond to our post - someone using the alias "Vernice." It seems however, that Vernice may have been on the run because she told Kathy to respond quickly, that time was of the essence (or something like that). I guess Vernice moved on because we never heard from her again. The good news: the clock is still in my possession.

Dr. Mario
Don't worry, I'm still dominating. And writing that last sentence, I'm realizing that I'm as obnoxious as ever when it comes to Dr. Mario. What is it about this game? I mean, am I seriously bragging about my Dr. Mario skills in my blog!? Dr. Mario does weird things to people. My friend Brian wrote about our recent match in his blog, and it was pretty funny.

Halloween Costume
Thanks everyone for the great costume ideas! I blended them all together and went to the party as a Yeti Bat Vampire Slaying Smurf with scissor hands. Ok, that's not true. The truth is that I was still sick and ended up going to the party...are you ready for this? Without. A. Costume. I'm still disappointed in myself when I think of it, but there you go. Oh well - there's always next year.

I think that's enough for today's clip show. If you're still reading, thanks. And don't worry, I'll be back to normal blogging soon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's coming

I'm not sure I'm ready for this. After a pleasantly warm fall, winter is sneaking in. We got our first dusting of snow last night and I'm just not ready for it.

Yes, I know that winter has it's good parts. I'm especially able to remember these in the summer, when winter is a distant romantic memory. I say romantic because when I'm not actually in it, there does seem to be something romantic about winter. Staying inside, wrapped up in a blanket, sipping hot cocoa in front of the fireplace. And really, I do have some good memories of winter. I'll share one of these memories with you, more to comfort myself than anything else. A couple years ago on a cold winter night, my friend Jon was over and we decided to walk downtown to get some hot chocolate. We sat inside the warm cafe sipping our hot chocolate, cupping our hands around our mugs to warm our fingers and looking out the window, watching the snow fall out of the night sky. On our walk back, the snow was so beautiful and the air was so crisp, we walked right past my house and extended our walk until we could no longer feel our fingers for the cold. The snow was beautiful and winter almost seemed magical.

However. Notwithstanding some fond memories of winter, the reality is pretty harsh: driving in the snow, slipping on ice on the sidewalk, scraping your car windows on cold mornings, scraping your car windows on cold mornings (that one is so brutal it needed to be said twice), cold noses, many layers of coats, scarves, hats, gloves, thick socks, months with little to no sunshine, etc...

Whether I'm ready for it or not, it's coming. It's not here yet - the air smells different when winter really starts - but it's around the corner.

How do you guys get through the winter months? And I'm mostly talking about January through March/April. Snow and cold weather feel festive in December because of Christmas, but by January winter has already overstayed it's welcome. Last year one of my coping methods was to perfect my hot chocolate recipe, but that only got me so far. If any of you have any winter survival tips, please share. Or if you love winter and think I'm crazy, please tell my why you love it. I'm getting nervous... it's coming!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Daily funny

Even though it's Friday, I needed a laugh this morning. In case you do also, I thought I'd share this with you. It's a digital short from SNL that makes me laugh so hard! It's ridiculous, but I guess that's what makes it so funny.

If you think it's dumb, try not to judge me. ;) Also, based on feedback I've gotten, maybe I should warn you that some people are finding this video scary.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I can't help myself

What an emotional and happy week. I've been unsure about what I wanted to say on my blog about the election. I think most, if not all, of you know that I am an Obama supporter. I've tried to not to talk about it much on my blog because when I first started my blog, I made the decision to keep it surface level and... safe, I guess. I certainly don't want anything I write to anger or upset any of my friends. And I know that some dear friends who read my blog are quite unhappy about the results of the election.

So what do I do... do I move on and not mention it? Or can I write that I am happy and hopeful and moved and emotionally overwhelmed that Barack Obama is going to be the next president? I suppose the mere fact that I am writing this in my blog shows that I feel a need to express myself and my happiness. But I also don't want to offend or stir up angry feelings in anyone.

If you voted for McCain, I respect that. I trust that you voted for who you thought was best and that you believed in him. You and I probably have a lot of the same concerns and worries but take a different approach as to how to solve them. I hope that you can respect that I choose Obama because I believe him to be the best candidate to lead the country right now. I voted for him because I've watched him and listened to him during his campaign, and I trust him and have high hopes for him. I can't wait to see how he does, and I hope to see him become the kind of president we need him to be. And I am happy this week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Well done, sister suffragettes!

I'm no history expert, but I do know that women haven't always been allowed to vote. This election day I have to express my gratitude for the women who worked so hard to get the right to vote for all women! I've thought about them a lot lately and feel very indebted to them.

I've always been excited about voting. When I turned 18, the first thing I did was register to vote! I have my parents to thank for my voting enthusiasm because they have always encouraged us to vote and be involved. My sister and I will sometimes joke about how we occasionally get calls from our dad saying, "did you vote today!?" And we say, "vote for what?" because we didn't realize there was a school board election or something like that. So then we have to quickly read up and on it and go down to the school to vote. It's easy to sometimes forget about the smaller scale local elections, but my parents have taught us to care and be aware.

Whether the election is big or small, it's really a wonderful thing to have your opinion heard. I know I'm just one person among millions, but I take my vote very seriously with the belief that every vote counts. I'm excited that election day is finally here. Today is a historic and exciting day! I hope you'll all get out and vote! Happy election day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Emily!!

Today is my dear friend Emily's birthday. She recently moved to Utah (even after I begged her not to - she's selfish like that but I still love her). And I didn't get her new address in time to send her a gift on her actual birthday, so my gift (until my actual gift arrives in the mail) is to dedicate this post to sharing some of my favorite things about Emily:
  • She loves Michigan (especially Ludington) as much as I do.
  • She's definitely one of the funniest people I know.
  • She keeps trying at Dr. Mario even though she stinks at it (kidding!).
  • I've seen her chop wood in flip flops and a dress.
  • She loves Gilmore Girls as much as me. Maybe more actually.
  • We have almost the exact same car.
  • It cracks me up how she's afraid of old buildings - even fake old timey buildings!
  • Our nieces and nephews are be-fri's.
  • Her love of shrimp scampi is both unparalleled and inspiring.
  • We fought over Josh Turner (with Katherine as well) and lost, but our friendship remained strong.
  • She has two tool sets - one girly one, and one not-girly one and she's not afraid to use them!
  • She makes me laugh when she says, "life's a bear."
  • She's a really great friend.
So, that's a short list. I could easily come up with much more to say, but I'll leave it at that for now. Happy birthday Emily!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas? Well, Halloween is officially over. But the great news? Next comes Thanksgiving and Christmas! Every year I'm surprised at how early the Christmas decorations come out in the stores. I know this bothers a lot of people, but I actually like it. I know some of you will think I'm crazy for that!

Meanwhile, the fall colors are still here, as beautiful as ever. I've been dog sitting for a sweet dog, Daisy, for the past week or so. She loves to go for walks at County Farm Park in Ann Arbor, which I had never been to up until a week ago! It has really nice walking trails, and the colors on the trees are gorgeous. I took the picture to the left there yesterday. If you guys haven't been there, you should check it out!

Anyway, I hope you all had a great Halloween! Anyone have anything terrrrrrifying happen? I hope not. I went to a Halloween party, then I watched the Changeling, which was scary as always (surprisingly it hasn't changed since the last time I saw it). I also passed out candy and was pleased that the weather was perfect for trick-or-treaters, which is rare in Michigan! I remember trick-or-treating in my winter coat some years, which sort of made dressing up underneath pointless. It bummed me out, but the promise of gorging myself on candy when I got home made all that pain go away.

After trick-or-treating, the first thing I'd do was dump out all the candy and admire my loot. Then I'd divide it into groups: chocolate, fruity, suckers, and undetermined. I've since learned that this is a not so uncommon. Now, as a so-called "grown up" I just buy the candy I like, and hope for left overs. This year's left overs should last me least Tuesday.