Throwing things together, or as some people call it, cooking

Let me start by saying that I love to cook. My friends would say I’m a great cook, but I would say I’m still learning.

Take tonight for instance.

I’ve come to notice that once you have to fend for yourself, you fall into the same patterns. Chicken, steamed broccoli, rice, repeat (at least when your pinched for time between working the days you’re not taking classes).

So tonight I decided to mix up my typical broccoli. I added the usually array of spices (salt, pepper, garlic, oregano) and then threw in some new ones (paprika, beau monde, and herb du province). And I had a sweet potato so why not throw that in the mix as well! Toss it with some olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic to finish it off.

Voila! Toasty roasted goodness

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And it’s delicious.

So while that was roasting I decided to try something completely new: savory cabbage pancakes (or asian latkes as I’m going to call them).

I used the recipe linked above as a base and of course tweaked it because I didn’t have everything necessary but I had to use the cabbage before it went bad.

So after splashing oil everywhere, I successfully made a handful of latkes. And for my first time they were pretty good. Technically they weren’t perfect (it was a tad goopy in the middle), but cooking is a learning experience isn’t it?

I’ve had friends say that sometimes they get nervous about cooking, in regard to it not tasting good, not coming out the right way, or not knowing what to do.

Hey everyone starts somewhere. And everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Take me for example, I can make lasagna but when it comes to making anything egg wise (save scrambled) I’m at a total loss (sometimes I can’t even make scrambled eggs).

And I still burn things, under bake things (as evidence of this evening), and sometimes it just tastes terrible.

But that doesn’t deter me from making (well, trying to make) something completely new and out of my comfort zone. Some cooking isn’t an exact science either. Aside from temperatures and bake times, I usually just throw things together and hope it tastes good.

So you can take this as me rambling on a Monday night or find it as an inspiration to cook something new, or to start cooking in general.

Bon appetit!

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When your grandparents are the GOAT

Moving into a new place always has its trials and tribulations as I’m sure many of you know.

For the last week and half I have been riding solo (while my roommate is killing it with the NFL), trying to figure out how to essentially, “run a household.”

Mostly I’ve had a handle on things, others not so much. But who would have thought that my grandparents in Long Island, NY, would be the ones to walk me through everything. Via PHONE CALL. They don’t even know what they’re looking at, what model it is, or what condition it is in.

Yet somehow they have been able to explain almost everything that so far as been “not up to par.” And let me tell you, they know what they’re talking about.

Weather it’s plugging burners in on the stove, setting up a TV, or dealing with my A/C unit, every step they have told me has resulted in success.

See, this is what Google and (most) customer service lines lack. The knowledge of knowing how to do things before there were resources like those. As great as the two former can be (some of the time), Google isn’t able to decipher what the “hook looking thing on the burner is” and why it won’t “come unclicked.” My grandfather, however, knew exactly what I was talking about. And sure enough my stove top is working.

I guess it’s like having  on-call handy men that you pay with phone calls and life updates.

My grandma was very adamant that if anything else is to go wrong (which it probably will), do not hesitate to call. She even gave me the hours that are better to call her and my grandpa. How cute is that?

They really are the best.

I think it’s also a way for them to feel like they’re here and able to help me from 1,000 or so miles away. And I wholeheartedly appreciate all of the help and advice they’ve given me in the last week (and in the last 22 years).

If this gets you to call your grandparents just because you need help putting something together, do it. It may turn into a call you haven’t had in a while and becomes a really nice memory. I only get to see my family a few times a year (the result of going to school so far away). Also, enjoy your grandparents, not everyone has them. And fewer are lucky enough to have a relationship (especially a positive one) with them.

So handyman Vic and handywoman Marcia, thanks for all of your help this week and more. I love you.

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I hate to be that person

I really do, but apparently the only way we get results now a days is by complaining about it on the internet. So here I go.

As everyone is painfully aware, tomorrow is the presidential election.

The first one I am able to vote in (what timing huh). So I was the responsible US citizen and sent out for my absentee ballot months ago.

I received it in late September, and cast my vote my marking a dot while laying on my bed (anticlimactic isn’t it?).

I did my American duty and sent it out. Around the beginning of October.

Imagine my surprise when my roommate walked in from the mailbox holding, you guessed it, my absentee ballot.

So I called my local election office and the only way it will count is if I bring it in before polls close at 8pm tomorrow. IN NEW JERSEY.

My only option at this point was overnighting it. (Mind you it was already 4:30).

Cue grabbing keys and running out the door like a madwoman.

I get to the post office and thank god I’m annoying because the window was already closed and I kept calling out “hello” until the pair of hands I saw opened raised the window blinds.

Turns out, the wrong addressed was scanned (Oh I love technology) and somehow my ballot was floating around in the great beyond that is our postal system for a MONTH and was dropped back in my lap the DAY BEFORE the election.

As any good American would, I overnighted my ballot to make sure my vote counted. That was a pretty penny out of my bank account.

Once was all said and done, I called customer service to see if my claim would hold any merit and bring those numbers in my back account back up.

Alas, I only found more disappointment.

Since I sent the ballot out in the REGULAR mail a MONTH before the election, I have no grounds because there was no initial receipt. Unless my ballot gets there tomorrow later than the appointed time, I fall fault to the technology of the postal system.

Now I understand mistakes happen, I do. I make them constantly. But there is no reason that my ballot should have been floating around for a MONTH let alone having been scanned incorrectly in the first place (and no it was not miss-addressed because a mail-in ballot is a pre-printed envelope). And if it wasn’t a presidential election (and my first one) I probably would have been a little more understanding today. But it’s Monday and understanding went out the window hours ago.

I’m writing this in hopes that someone who knows someone tells someone who works at the postal service. I appreciate the postal service and they’re great. But I think with all of the technology and such that we have today, mis-read addresses, especially something that says “Board of Elections,” is ridiculous. Especially if it says “Board of Elections” the day before THE election.

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21 already?

Let me start off with saying Happy 21st Birthday Veronika!

I know you’re probably still sleeping out there in Cali so at least you’ll have this to wake up to.

You have no idea how much I wish I could be there or be home next week to celebrate with you. I hope you have a relaxing day and a night you have trouble remembering. We’ve been through a lot and I can’t wait to see the rest of the adventures we have after college (hopefully I’ll make it out to LA and you can come down to Georgia).

Here’s just a few reminders of all of the adventures we’ve had over the years (if I posted them all I think my server would crash).

I love you Vee! Happy 21st!!

Step Back

My Mom always said I was born with an Old Soul. I tend to think that’s because I think I was born too late (granted I was two weeks late but that’s not the point I’m trying to make).

I love my life and the people in it, but I think I was born at a time when the world is too fast.

We’re constantly checking our phones, hitting refresh, and are sometimes too connected for my liking (I’m sorry if I don’t respond to your message right away. I am doing something besides staring at a backlit screen. I’ll get to it when I can).

Maybe I feel like this because I like things most people consider to be “old fashioned.”

I like long drives to no where in particular.

I like driving with the windows down because who needs A/C when you have the wind.

I prefer handwriting everything and making lists as opposed to typing them up and using reminders (I just got a new notebook and I’m more excited than most would be).

I worry that my kids will have better typing skills than penmanship because supposedly script isn’t being taught in some schools anymore (I mean, writing a thank-you note has almost become a lost art).

I’d rather have a long phone call with someone than text on and off during the day (because I hate texting. If it wasn’t so convenient I wouldn’t use it).

I hate it when boys (or anyone really) send a text saying “here” instead of coming up and knocking on the door.

I can’t stand that the concept of dating now revolves around “likes,” texts back, and mind games. What happened to dinner and a movie? And no I don’t mean “Netflix and Chill.”

I also seem to remember a time during which when people went out, they wore actual clothes. Not oversized shirts and gym shorts/pants.

I’d rather carry around four books in my bag than a tablet with 100 on them because I like to flip the pages and see how much longer I have to go.

I like photo albums I can hold in my hand, not ones I flip through on a screen.

I’m one of the few people I know who listen to talk radio in the mornings.

Honestly, the only kind of satellite radio I like is “Radio Classics” where they play old shows from my grandparents time.

I’ve always liked Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and similar music from that time. A time I was never remotely a part of.

I guess the best way to describe how I think I see myself is a mix of Automatic and Noise.

That’s not to say that I don’t love my life or the people in it. I just think in the midst of everything we’ve lost how to be us. We’re glued to backlit screens and while trying to stay on top of every single little thing, we miss what is passing in front of our faces.

Maybe that’s why I tend to day dream about the past, and sometimes wish I could step back into it.

So maybe instead of texting someone, I’ll write a letter. Because that’s just the way I am.

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Happy birthday Alex!

19 years ago I was standing around in the hospital wearing a Rugrats shirt that said “I’m the Big sister.” (who would have thought you would end up taller than me after all those years)

It was right around now that you were finally born.

I can’t believe you’re done with your first year of college and entering your final teen years. It seems like yesterday I was just in your shoes.

You’ve come a long way from pigtails with a fuzzy pink guitar but you’ll always be my little sister.

No matter how much we fight or how much it annoys me that you take my clothes, I’ll always love you regardless of your mood in the morning.

I hope you have a a day filled with coffee, sushi, and your own personal cheesecake.

Sorry I can’t be there (again) but, hey, at least I’m not graduating on your birthday again.

Olive you,

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This is no national park

This is the view from someone’s once backyard. 

It’s the view from the Loggia of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. And let me tell you it’s even more breath taking in person. 

It’s the largest house in the whole country, has 250 bed rooms, an indoor pool and bowling alley, a vineyard and two hotels on the property. And that’s not even all of it. 

It took us longer to drive up the drive way (after taking a shuttle) to the house than it did to drive from our hotel. 

The reason I’m even here is because I missed Mother’s Day and on our drive back to Jersey, Mom and I decided to break up the trip and take a day to ourselves. 

So after coaching my last soccer game for the season we drove into North Carolina and spent the day exploring the grounds and the house that is The Biltmore. 

The house is stunning just on the outside and the inside is even more jaw dropping. 

One rooms walls were entirely stamped leather. The walls of George Biltmore’s room were GILDED. 

They have tapestries from the 1500s and one of them is the only one in the world. 

There are rooms that have architecture that is so intricate it’s a skill that is lost on today’s world. 

My Mom and I spent over two hours touring the house and we both feel we didn’t see even half of it (my inner history nerd was so happy). 

But we had some non-educational fun. With our ticket we recieved a complimentary wine tasting and let me tell you some of those were delicious. Of course we had to buy a few bottles to take back home with us. 

So now we can cross that one off of our to-do list but the Biltmore at Christmas is an entire different story. Therefore, we have an excuse to go back.