Thursday, February 26, 2009

When it rains, it pours

Eeek! I knew it, I called it, and I did not disappoint. I've TOTALLY slacked on this blog. I feel like the kind of person who signs up for a gym membership on January 2 and never actually works out.

Between work, closing on the house, moving into said house, moving a tenant into our condo, work, family, friends, work (did I mention I'm new and trying to make a good impression?), training for my half-marathon...yeah. I am crazy, therefore life is crazy? Something like that. I would prefer to spread out all the wackiness and excitement, but this is how things seem to be for me. I graduated law school, studied for and took the bar, planned my wedding and started a new job all within a four-month span a couple of years ago. So! This is nothin'.

I miss my family and friends though. I know I haven't been too accessible by know who you are...I promise once things settle down, it's on for wine night on the new porch!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Last week was crazy, hence the lack of posts. I started the new job and so far, everything is great! Everyone is incredibly nice and welcoming, including my boss. The work is interesting, the firm is great - life is good. I'm of course in my adustment period, so I'm a little frazzled because things are simply unfamiliar, but hopefully that will change soon.

We heard some bad news this weekend. Hubs' step-brother has advanced colon cancer and the prognosis isn't good. Not that it changes anything, but he and Hubs are not close (there is a big age difference and frankly, they don't know each other that well), but it still makes you evaluate the important things in your life. Which leads me to my next point...

The older I get, the more I appreciate my family. (I know, cue the Barbara Streisand music.) God knows mine isn't perfect, but the bottom line is, we love each other. And that matters more than anything. I wouldn't say I ever took mine for granted, but once you see how cruel and - maybe even worse, indifferent - some "families" are to one another, it really gives you a different perspective. I feel incredibly lucky that no matter what, my husband, mom, dad and brothers ALWAYS have my back!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

No need to be a genius

I just finished reading Outliers, written by Malcom Gladwell, and found it so interesting that I actually woke up two days in a row and dove right in (I usually read before going to sleep only). The book is based on Gladwell's theory that one's family, background, culture and plain old luck play much more of a role in that person's success than intelligence or IQ. For example, Bill Gates is smart, obviously...but maybe more critical to his success was the sheer luck of being born in 1955, attending a school called Lakeside, and most importantly, being dogged in his interest in computer programming.

Why does it matter that Gates was born in 1955? Because according to Gladwell, it meant that Gates was coming of age right at the time when computers were emerging from obscurity (Gladwell points out that many other major players in the computer revolution, like Steve Jobs, were all born within an approximate five-year range in the 1950s.) And Gates went to a prep school that had a PTA-like group which purchased a computer for the students to use - and Gates was hooked. He was 13 years old and spent hours exploring computer coding and programming - very unusual for that era. So by the time he got to college, he was not only light years ahead of most of his contemporaries, but he also had the bonus of tooling around with computers for thousands and thousands of hours.

I thought the Bill Gates story was interesting, but let's face it - Bill Gates probably IS a genius along with the other fortuitous events. What I found more compelling were the anthropological studies that led Gladwell's theory of why, for example, Asians are better at math. (Two main reasons: Western languages like English have a much more cumbersome and illogical numbering system, whereas Asian numerals are logical and succinct - this means that Asian children learn their numbers at a younger age and therefore get a leg up on their Western counterparts. The other main reason is sheer work - kids in China are in school almost double the time American kids.)

Then Gladwell goes into this whole dissection of rice cultivation in southern China back in the 15th and 16th centuries - and of course I'm reading along, wondering what the hell he's talking about. But the link was fascinating: the southern Chinese depended on rice for pretty much everything; it was their currency. It was also extremely difficult and precise to yield good rice crops, and it required constant diligence and back-breaking work year round. But the rewards were worth it, so the Chinese worked extremely hard. Gladwell contrasts that culture with French peasants during that same time period. They worked far, far less and literally hibernated in the winter - took to bed and purposely tried to slow down their metabolism and conserve energy. (The French were also subject to the feudal system, unlike the Chinese, Gladwell theorizes, so the Chinese had much more incentive to be movers and shakers.) So the theory goes that hundreds of years later, this Chinese work ethic and general frowning-upon of idleness means that Chinese kids harder.

Sounds crazy, right? But I couldn't help but think about Hubs, who is half-Chinese (MIL is from Taipei). When we first met, I was a little awed by certain characteristics completely foreign to me (no pun intended), like his immaculate closet (I swore he must have measured the hangers in finger-width spaces). He worked 14 hours a day and would still speak energetically to his boss on the phone at night after finally coming home. He worked days on end without a break with minimal complaint. Not zero...just not as much as someone else - ok, me - would have. Everything had to be goal-oriented, even Sundays. (Which frankly, can be kind of annoying - I'm deeply committed to my Sunday morning coffee-and-new-York-Times-in-bed routine.) Sooo....I'll be nice the next time Hubs pesters me at 7 am on a Sunday about what my "plans" are for the day. He can't help it, it's in his DNA!

Seriously, read the book. Whether you buy into it or not, it's still interesting and definitely makes you think about your own life a bit differently.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Changes all around

My lady-of-leisure break is coming to an end in a few days...WAH!

Truthfully, I'm a little relieved. I've enjoyed sleeping in (if you can call a few days here and there of sleeping till 8 am "sleeping in"), but I've decided that without 1) a vacation lined up, 2) friends in like situations or 3) work-at-home jobs (or kids), this whole staying home thing is kind of for the birds. Remind me in six months to kick myself for saying that.

Anyway, last week it was a bit of a stretch to occupy myself, but this week I've actually been super busy because....we bought a house! Yep, fun times. But also the beginning of a thousand-and-one things to do. I've been extremely diligent because I know my time to do this at will is limited, so I was very happy we were able to do the inspection today. I was even MORE happy my dad took time from his busy schedule to come with me (totally unexpected). Hubs is away for work, so the company and advice was much appreciated.

(I had to laugh- to myself- when my dad started to answer questions I directed to the inspector...awww Dad. I don't think he'd like the inspector butting in if someone asked surgical questions, right? Anyway, it was cute.)

So I forsee a lot of home-decorating posts in the future and I'm welcoming any advice or links to pictures you may have! In a completely unrelated note, I gave that chicken fried rice recipe a second shot and MAN, what a difference a few key ingredients can make. I'm going to leave that as a parting gift - enjoy! (Sorry I don't have any pictures, but it does look lovely with all of the chopped scallions).

Healthy Chicken Fried Rice - in honor of Grace
1 small onion, thinly sliced and halved
1 zucchini
1/4 medium yellow pepper
1 can sliced water chestnuts
4 oz. frozen peas
1 lg. carrot, jullienned
2 c basmati rice, pre-cooked and chilled
4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken, sliced on the grain (totally appropriate to use Publix's lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken....just sayin')
1 egg
soy sauce (I like reduced sodium)
ground ginger, approx. 1 tsp.
sesame oil
chopped garlic
3-4 scallions, washed and white and green parts chopped

(In case you haven't noticed by now, I eyeball measure ingredients)

In a wok, heat approx. 1 tbl. sesame oil over medium-low heat with garlic and onion. Add julienned carrots, yellow pepper and ground ginger. Cook until slightly tender, approx. 5 minutes. Add zucchini, cook for a minute longer, then add peas and chicken.

Meanwhile, in a separate nonstick pan, scramble the egg and set aside.

Raise heat to medium high, add 1 more tbl. sesame oil and the chilled rice (the chilled part is verrrrrrry important!). Stir quickly, add a few shakes of soy sauce and cook until heated throughout. Combine the scrambled egg to the mixture, add more soy sauce if desired, and apportion to serving plates. Garnish with chopped scallions.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Chicken fried rice: epic fail

I hit a bump in the culinary road tonight. I tried to recreate my mother-in-law's chicken fried rice, which is pretty much my idea of Chinese food heaven: fluffy rice married with crispy vegetables and only a smidge of chicken, topped with plenty of chopped scallions, and - most importantly - not greasy AT ALL. I've never been much of a Chinese food fan because everything is so oily and the MSG makes me thirsty like an untreated diabetic, but MIL's rice is scrumptious. Too bad mine came out nothing like it.

I'm pretty sure my minimal forethought and lack of ingredients are to blame. I had fresh zucchini, onion and yellow and red peppers on hand, but no scallions or soy sauce. The end result was ok in my opinion - certainly not what I'd call slop or throw away, but strangely, Hubs loved it and promptly ate three bowls. The major lesson I took away? Scramble the egg separately and add to the rice mixture at the end. Trust me. I'm going to ask MIL for her recipe and give it another shot soon.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year

This year, I resolve better about updating this blog! I've always been a pretty introspective person but it's somewhat difficult (ok, tedious if I'm being honest) for me to commit these thoughts to writing. You're probably thinking, then why bother? Believe me, I know this blog isn't a significant contribution to...well, anything.

My friend M also maintains a blog and expressed concern about the fact that hers doesn't have a specific theme. I say, who cares! I read stuff every day - articles, magazine snippets, hell, even advertisements in the ladies' room - that does absolutely nothing to enrich my life. Sometimes you just need a mental break, a change of perspective, or in my case, an outlet. I'm actually a pretty private person and it's not in my nature to blather about myself verbally,'s my blog and I'll blather if I want to. Just kidding.

Moving on. I hope you all had a fan-freakin'-tastic New Year's Eve (or Day - whichever one is the more exciting at your present stage in life). Hubs and I went to a good party with good friends and had a good time. Sounds pretty good, eh?

I'm so looking forward to this year. Frankly, 2008 was getting tiresome in our house. Nothing major - no health problems or serious issues, but the bad news just kept coming and it was getting old. But as a wise lady has often told me (thanks Mama), life is a bell-shaped curve. Things have started looking sunnier, and Hubs and I are excited about that.

On that note, I'll bring this rambling post full circle: I've left my job and am starting a new one in a few weeks. In the meantime, I'm enjoying a couple of weeks of much-needed mental relaxation, and I'll definitely be more attentive to the blog. So I want to know: are you excited for 2009? Why? Leave a comment and give me some more food for thought!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

There's a goose in my office

Well, not really, but I'm sure my coworkers think so. I have a miserable cold and am letting out the most undignified honk of a cough every five minutes. I let Zachy sleep on our bed last night (shhhh) and I'm pretty sure I drove him away too.

As Murphy would have it, I have an appointment this afternoon and I REALLY don't want these particular peeps thinking this is par for course with me (e.g. cherry-red nose and accompanying snotrag). I already had a phone conference this morning with one of our clients, and I could practically hear her distaste coming through the wire. Who could blame her? I hate when people like me come to work sick, hacking and sneezing and touching every communal surface possible.

Poor Hubs. I gave him the scourge and he's traveling this week for work. At least I get to skulk home at the end of the day and get into our fluffy bed with clean sheets and a warm puppy. It's the little things.