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Showing posts from November, 2007

Ummm

My manager, who I just met for the first time in person (we work across the country from each other) basically told me I don't look a day over the age of 15. Is this flattering or should I be insulted? What specifically about me protects my true age from view? Is it the lack of caked on makeup and lack of wrinkles? (That would be flattering). Or is the distinct lack of sophistication and adult style? (That would be insulting). For those who know me in person, what do you think contributes from my appearance to my youthful (apparently) look?

Things that are on my mind today

Last night I saw Mist, the new Stephen King movie. It was ok. The plot narrowed in on a few key themes that were repeated throughout the movie- regret, guilt, death, fear, and base instincts of mankind. The movie ends with a sense of hopelessness and regret. I think there were also some subtle digs against the current White House administration and the war in Iraq but that could just be my own bias talking. He also picked on religion as well. Overall the story kept me riveted and the movie was fear inspiring without being too gruesome (still not safe for the little kids of course). One of the things on my mind today is the famous expression "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger". This is a quote of Friedrich Nietzsche. Do you think this sentiment is actually true? Do you think there is scriptural support for such an assertion or is it a case where man's accepted wisdom is off kilter from scriptural realities?Another thing on my mind is an article I read in the Wash…

Saving Money

This week I've been focused on saving money because I'd like to stretch our budget further to allow for more traveling. Here is a quick list of fast and easy things I did since Saturday to lower monthly/annual expenses. Perhaps some of the tips will work for you as well:1. Current cable bill was $54/month for basic analog cable. Called Comcast and negotiated a promotional rate- $39/month for digital cable PLUS HBO, good for 6 months. In another 6 months I will call back and negotiate again to extend promo rate. Savings over initial 6 months = $15/month*6= $75.2. Began conscientious driving. Less use of the stop and go braking by maintaining more distance between myself and the car in front of me. Also using cruise control on the highway to maintain better fuel regulation. Finally, keeping speed to 65mph or below (80mph as I like to go kills fuel efficiency). I was getting 25mph and I am now getting 29mph with the changes. That's about $6.40 a week in savings based on curre…

Thanksgiving Trip 2007 Day 4 and 5

Friday morning the crew (A and her hubby R, myself and hubby J) rolled out of the home of A's parents at 5am. You haven't seen attitude until you've seen Long Islanders in line at Best Buy at 5am for the biggest sale of the year. There was a lot of swearing, pushing, rushing, and at one point customers formed a human chain to stop new customers from entering the store ahead of those that had been in line since 2am. It was intense and a lot more physically aggressive than similar Black Friday sales events held in Virginia. After Best Buy we popped into Home Depot, ToysRus and Sears. A lot of great deals. The only thing that was disappointing was the sales tax. 8.6% for NY state and another 4 or 5 % on top of that for local taxes. Ouch! Some things I really don't miss about living in NY and sales tax is definitely one of them. By 9am we had completed 3/4 of our Christmas shopping for the year and we headed to a diner for breakfast. A quick breakfast and review of our pur…

Thanksgiving Trip 2007 Day 3 : Feast Day

This years Thanksgiving feast was like no other I've experienced before. Early afternoon J and I helped A and her hubby R and the rest of A's family setup for the Thanksgiving party. Every year her parents host a celebration gathering for their friends and family in the NY Russian community. The party averages 25-50 guests and features Russian cuisine, live music (courtesy of A's father and brother) and lots of laughter and joy. Although I would miss the traditional American turkey and fixins I looked forward to broadening my culinary horizons. I did not have any experience with Russian food prior to this event. We setup the main table in the party room upstairs with the main entrees...From left to right: (back row) seafood salad, cabbage turnovers, chicken dumplings, fried white fish, spiced chicken in crepes. (front row) pickled cabbage, onion/pea/carrot salad, beet salad, vinegar roasted pork,  2nd dish of chicken in crepes, 2nd dish of chicken dumplings.Turkey wings wi…

Thanksgiving Trip 2007 Day 1 and 2

One true test of friendship is the joint vacation. I’m happy to report that A and I passed with flying colors.Tuesday was a rough day. A lot of deadlines and pressure at work and to make matters worse, J’s car died and we had to have it towed to the dealer for repair. “Steering wheel lock malfunction”. A warranty issue, so it will be repaired free of charge, but still no fun to deal with. I had to take the VRE into work and the metro to A’s house in the afternoon. J met me at A’s house. We had dinner with A and her hubby (R). Fantastic food- baked chicken, fresh asparagus and pecan raisin bread that J brought from Wegman’s. After dinner the four of us packed up A’s car and headed to Long Island for the holiday. Traffic wasn’t too bad and we made it to Bayshore in less than 6 hours. A’s parents welcomed us with open arms and lavished us with a spread of tea, honey, cheese, bread, and pate. Once we had our fill of treats, we hunkered down for a nice sleep and said ‘Goodnight’ to our fir…

Life is what happens while you are making other plans

Note: Buzz, Michael, and Wild-r-f – I cannot reply to your entries that you leave on the lj site since the feed doesn’t allow anonymous comments and I don’t always even see them unless I remember to visit my feed entries there since I don’t get email notification when you’ve left comments there.If you want me to be able to answer questions you ask me in your comments you’ve got to click-through to the actual blog (link is always under the title of the entry) and leave your comments on the actual blog instead of the lj feed. So the plan *was* for J to take my car to work this morning, dropping off the pups at the kennel for boarding over the holiday on the way to work. I was going to drive his car to work and then drop it off at the dealer on the way to A’s house because the “steering wheel lock malfunction” warning light keeps coming on and causing odd problems such as preventing you from turning the car off, or preventing you from turning it back on. Late last night the light came on…

Men, be careful

Men, be mindful of the monthly hormone cycles of the females you love and live with, be they wives, mothers, sisters or daughters.Let me share with you my own ridiculousness from this weekend as an instructional tale. On Saturday could totally tell in my mind that it wasn’t me that it was my body having hormone issues but I still couldn’t help it. I just wanted to cry and fight. J happened to pull the sheets and blanket off of us because they were crooked and he went to fix them. He fixed them and then he pulled them back up onto him, leaving my side down, inadvertently. I was fuming! And freezing! I REFUSED to pull the sheets up myself though because *I* had not pulled them down and *he* ought to have to fix them. Of course I wouldn’t tell him either; I expected him to *know* he had uncovered me and to realize his oversight in not putting them back on me. Then when he didn’t notice I got all weepy and started to cry. Because now I was cold AND unloved and unnoticed. So I was shiverin…

The holidays are approaching rapidly

I had a fantastic weekend, as I hope you, my readers, did as well. Friday night I spent the evening with my friend M playing phase 10 at her house, and then J and I had a very late date night that consisted of viewing the new movie Beowulf at the theatre with friends. I did not like the movie at all. A lot of violence, a lot of sexual innuendo and no redeeming moral or otherwise entertaining values, presented in the CGI style of The Polar Express. Also in 3d (required special glasses). For what it’s worth, Angelina Jolie plays a convincing demon. Saturday J and I headed to Sam’s club in Woodbridge for their “Taste of the Holidays” event for members. Basically, a lot of delicious free food. After that we came home and cuddled and napped until it was time to head off to our church’s 3rd annual Ham and Oyster fundraiser dinner. My friend D came along to join in on the fun and we had a good time. It was nice to catch up with her and introduce her to folks at church. We barely had time to…

del.icio.us ?

So I'm a little late to the game and just now experiencing the joy that is del.icio.us

Are any of you using it? Add me, add me!
http://del.icio.us/jenniparks

I admit it

I am a food snob. There, I admit it again. I don’t shun food (as my waistline sadly attests to) but I tend to feel frustrated with people who don’t live up to my expectations with regard to their culinary experience and tastes. In my defense, they’re not particularly high standards to meet. A few months ago I met a woman who rules out entire categories of food based on color- she won’t try anything orange or yellow. And she told me that her most exotic culinary tasting was…rice. Every other opinion I formed on this lady was filtered through the knowledge that she is a culinary ignoramus. Today I had a quick and healthy lunch at the Thai restaurant down the street. A woman and a young man (her coworker I believe) sat at the next table. She remarked to her guest that she was open to trying something new as long as it had familiar ingredients and was not at all spicy. First, why do people go into a Thai, Mexican, or otherwise traditionally spicy cuisine restaurant and ask for no spice? …

Important Technical Annoucement

For those of you reading this blog through a syndicated channel (such as on social networking sites like deadjournal or livejournal), please understand that there are two ways you can make comments:You can comment on the social networking site itself, by clicking on the ‘post a new comment’ link/button you see on the page. You can also reply to other people’s comments on the site by clicking ‘reply to this’ to one of their comments. However, using this method, I may not ever see your comment, since I am not an active member of any of the networking sites that my blog is fed to. Also, I cannot reply to your comments left on the networking site since I do not have an account to reply with. You can click through the link to my actual blogspot site (the link is always directly under the title of the post) and then leave your comment directly on my blog. So one extra click with this method but the benefit is that I get email notifications of these comments and can read/reply to them.

Another Thursday Morning

I am all kinds of agitated this morning. It took me almost two hours to get to work because of traffic. I don’t understand, absolutely *cannot* understand why DC metro residents have such severe trouble driving in the rain. Is everyone a transplant from the desert? What’s the story here? Normal amounts of rain (it is not coming down in sheets or buckets or anything serous like that) and they cannot handle it. Accidents everywhere. Drivers progressing at 5 miles per hour. And while I am driving and trying to stay calm by listening to happy Christmas music on XM 103 I am tortured with music by Manheim Steamroller. I can’t stand that group. I saw a dump truck in front of me at one point with a gigantic sign on the back which read “Don’t Push”. That’s exactly how I felt – don’t push me this morning.Please pray for my friend A. Her grandfather is undergoing serious surgery today for cardiovascular issues. Blogspot needs mood icons. Things to do this week:mail my friend M overseas her choco…

Thanksgivings past

Do you hold many happy memories from Thanksgivings past? This morning on the way to work I reviewed my Thanksgiving memories on my mental viewfinder. Out of 30 Thanksgiving holidays, only a handful stand out as memorable, and not typically for joyous reasons.

There was my first Thanksgiving away from home. I was 14 and attending school on the East Coast. It was cost prohibitive to travel cross-country for the holiday so my parents cooked up a plan for my sister in Alabama to pick me up instead. We had not seen each other since I was 9 and she had come to visit us in the Southwest. There wasn't much to talk about during the 12 hours drive to her place in Huntsville. For the Thanksgiving meal we dropped in on her local friends. I looked to the food for comfort from my feelings of isolation and homesickness, but even that missed the mark. There were no mashed potatoes! None! How does one *do* Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes??? Tears rolled down my cheek as I tasted my first bite …

Braised Pork with Thyme

This is a the very fabulous recipe that I made for dinner Sunday evening. Its an adaptation of a recipe found in an old issue of Saveur (Oct 2005). I served it alongside a salad of spinach greens topped with tomato,cucumber, cornbread croutons and rasberry dressing.

Modifications to the recipe- I didn't discard the veggies after straining. I kept half to serve alongside the meat and the other half i pureed into the gravy.

4 T olive oil1 3lb shoulder of porkSalt and pepper3 onions, sliced3 carrots, peeled and sliced2 ribs of celery, diced 1 T thyme
2 bay leaves1 bottle of white wine1/3 cup creamHeat oil in dutch oven. Sear meat 10 minutes. Transfer meat to dish and season with salt and pepper and set aside. Add onions to pot and cook over medium-high heat, scraping browned bits stuck to the bottom of pot until they are lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Stir in carrots and celery and cook until lightly browned, 4-6 minutes. Return pork and juices to pot and then add thyme, bay …

Strange twist

In a strange twist of fate, while attempting to create an account on blogspot to run this blog under today, I discovered that I already had a blogger account circa 2003 that I had forgotten about. I had several blogs under the account (fitness, free writing, dreams, tech reviews, and others).

In the free writing blog there is but one post and I've reprinted it below. I want to dedicate it to my "sister" Katy and her precious little boy. Premonition or coincidence?


~Benjamin~

Little one, I love you.

ten fingers; ten toes
my eyes; his nose

such pride; such joy
It's all for you, our precious boy.

When it seems
that stars and dreams
are just too high
you'll learn to fly

Before you know,
a thousand moments come and go
a thousand snowflakes on the grass
before the end has come to pass

We will go but you will stay
and on a sunny summer day
you'll hold your own within your arms
and be moved by his charms

his ten fingers; his ten toes
his mother's eyes; his father's nose

Sharing the Bounty

I have a backlog of Saveur magazines – my favorite cooking mag. I’d like to pass them along as I finish extracting the recipes from them. The articles cover travel and regional cuisine and the magazine overall is fantastic. The recipes are usually delicious as well. If you’re interested in being the next link in the chain to get the magazines from me when I am done with them each month, let me know. If you are local we can do the hand-off in person or if you’re an out of towner I can send them to you if you cover postage (this is quite a deal given the regular yearly subscription cost). Just reply back and let me know as soon as possible.