Monday, August 31, 2009

Midsummer Night's Dream

As I mentioned previously, I attended a health care rally on Saturday. Though I wasn't able to stay through the whole thing I was so proud to be there at all, and be marching for something so important. It was really inspiring that so many other people showed up too! Hopefully the ball really starts to roll on that issue, in a positive direction, and something can finally get done. I felt a little silly chanting, but I got over it.

Enthusiastic rally leader : "What do we want!!??"
Me : "Health care."
Rally leader: "When do we want it!!?"
Me : "Now?"

I wasn't quite that bad, but a public speaker (or shouter) I am not.

Saturday was kind of filled with important events, since that's also the day I handed over my security deposit for the studio I'm moving into (please work out!!). In between those two important events though I spent a really nice afternoon watching A Midsummer Night's Dream over on Governor's Island. It was great. The cast was wonderful (and I'm not just saying that because I know one of the actors!) and though my boyfriend is more of a theatre buff then me, I do always have fun when I go.

We were able to explore the island a little too, which, by the way, I cannot believe there are all those beautiful buildings and houses just SITTING there, wasted. I wish I had a camera, since it didn't even feel like I was in the city. One thing I am discovering about New York City is that there are all these little pockets in the city, where you feel like you're somewhere else entirely.

Governor's Island kind of feels like a post-apocalypse English countryside, in the nicest possible way. There's a little fort, and lots of cute little white painted houses, and stately brick buildings. There's also an abandoned stone hospital and a library with paint slowly peeling off the clapboards, which I think would make an great horror movie set.

I didn't realize there was a place like that just a seven minute ferry ride from NYC, and hopefully one day the city will be able to put it to some use. I think it would make a great self contained university campus, and my bf pointed out its Renaissance Fair potential (yes, I do have a dress I wear to those, I'm a little embarrassed to admit). If I ever get the chance to go to one here, I'll post some pictures for you all.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

On a lighter note...

This video is hilarious, especially if you're Italian. I think my aunt sent it to me. I don't think I've posted it before, so enjoy.

http://www.lifeinitaly.com/flash/default.asp

Edited to add: Ok, I totally have posted this link before. Oh well, deal :-).

Cheap NYC apartment update

I found an apartment within my budget (barely). Let me repeat that, because it is a little unbelievable to me. I found an apartment, a studio, that I can afford in Brooklyn. Now I am FREAKING OUT. I have to find someone to take over my current room, I need to pack, I need to hire a truck to move stuff, and I need to do all this without spending any money and in two weeks. Did I mention I only have two weeks to move?

All sorts of nightmare scenarios are running through my head :
1. No one will take my old room and I will have to pay two rents (impossible on my budget, by the way).
2. The apartment is a scam and I will show up to pick up the keys in two weeks and not find anyone there, leaving me homeless and out a security deposit.
3. I will move in but the apartment will be a nightmare, nothing will work, and I will have to move out again (where???).
4. I will move in and the building goes into foreclosure or burns down or something and I will have to move out again.
5. I will never find another freelance or full time job again EVER and my unemployment will run out, leaving me unable to pay rent and homeless.
6. My brain will explode.
7. Everything will cost double what I expect, I will find I budgeted wrong, and I will run out of money and end up homeless or something.
8. Some awful combination of the above.

So even though this is what I wanted, right now I am so scared it will fall apart I can't be happy yet. I'll be happy when I've moved in and everything is settled. Right now, I'm just stressed. Please send good vibes my way!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Health Care (yes, again)

Tomorrow I'm marching for health care. I don't remember ever attending a rally before but this is definitely a cause worth showing up for. Being a dual citizen I have had a taste of what government health care can be in my other country. I liked that taste. I had the flu and was able to see a doctor, be prescribed medicine and pick that medicine up all totally for free.

I love America, without reserve. But you don't get that here. Even if you have private health care there's always a co-pay and who wants to pay $40 for a visit and some medicine for just the flu? So we (well I, but I bet I'm not the only one) struggle on, sick longer than we have to be, costing our workplaces money by not being able to work. It makes no sense to me. If we have public libraries, public schools, public roads, etc. why is public health care so different? Because it's more expensive? If people could afford better early care less people would get sick enough to need the really expensive stuff.

And if it's too expensive for the government, for a community as a whole, to be able to cover it, imagine what a drain on an individual household it is. Especially if you can't work due to your illness. Private insurance is so so so expensive. Too expensive unless you work for a business big enough to pay for it for you - which by the way, does cost you, because if your boss wasn't paying hundreds of dollars a month for your health care maybe they could give you that raise you want so bad. And talk about death panels, they turn people down all the time. Have you ever heard of a compassionate caring insurance company? Please.

I did some research. I'm young and healthy and it would cost almost $200 a month for me to get the most basic catastrophe insurance. I would still have deductibles to meet, still have co-pays, still have potentially thousands of dollars of out of pocket expense for an illness or accident. And it would cost me more than food does a month for something that could still bankrupt me and that I hope I would not ever use.

I would rather pay slightly higher taxes (yeah I said it) and know that I was covered, because those taxes could never possibly add up to what it would cost me to pay for private health care myself, or cost me as much as it would if I ever got sick while on that private plan. Not everyone can work for a big company and be covered. Lots of people work for small businesses or want to start them. Lots of people freelance. Lots of people, especially right now, are in between jobs and many artists/actors/entertainers may never have jobs that are covered. Do we not count?

So I'm marching tomorrow. I hope I'm not alone. And I really hope our Senators, and Obama, and Hillary and everyone else who has the power to make a change follows through and we finally, FINALLY, have what most other first world countries take for granted.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Books books book!!!

I am a bookworm (do people even use that word anymore? I digress.). Ever since I learned how to read, back in first grade, I spent most of my free time (and sometimes not so free time, like when a teacher was talking) going through book after book. I am especially proud of the fact that I had a grade school teacher tell me I was the only student she'd ever gotten into trouble for reading too much. I have noticed as I've gotten older that reading has gotten cooler, but sadly my choice of books still tends to be on the nerdier side, with fantasy and sci-fi being two of my favorite genres.

(By the way, just want to say I am not profiting AT ALL through this review or your clicking on the widget. Not that anyone thinks I am, but I wanted to throw that out there.)

I am currently in the throes of geek excitement over the fact that the newest book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, An Echo In The Bone, is coming out in just a couple weeks. I LOVE that series. It is a little romance novely, a little fantasy, a little farfetched in premise if I'm being honest - in short, not exactly War and Peace, but it is so well written and so engaging that really, who cares? For those who have never heard of it, the series follows a modern day woman who has fallen through a time hole into the 18th century Scottish Highlands, and who eventually moves with her hot Scottish husband to the new world, where they are sucked into the rising conflict between the colonies and the motherland (I like the term motherland. I don't get to use it enough). The author has obviously put a lot of research into each book of the series, and when I read through them I am not only entertained by the characters but I feel like I am learning a little bit of history despite myself.

It would have been easy for this book to end up as a fluffy little romance novel, I mean seriously, hole in time leading to forced marriage to old fashioned Scottish stud? Really? But it didn't, mainly because the characters actually act in a way that makes sense. Like, there are no heaving bosoms, no smoldering dark threatening yet lustful glances, no feisty declarations of hatred and independence immediately before brutal-yet-melting kisses.

On a side not, my pet peeve with romance novels (which this series isn't, just saying) is that both characters tend to be absolutely hateful towards each other, going so far as to beat, humiliate, rape (they don't call it that but seriously, even if the heroine ends up enjoying it despite herself, no means no) and enslave the object of their eventual affections, and still then call it love. Who falls in love with someone who treats them that way? That's not love, that's Stockholm Syndrome.

Anyway, the Outlander series avoids that trap and makes the leap into authentic historical fiction, with just enough fantasy and romance to appeal to lovers of those genres. The characters are intelligent and likable, and though there are obvious cultural differences faced by the main couple, those differences are discussed and worked through, not just ignored once the author has bled enough drama out of them. It is the ultimate story of star crossed lovers, with deadly enemies, epic battles, injury, torture and heroic rescues, but somehow it is all believable. And it is incredibly moving - I frequently find myself tearing up or laughing out loud while reading through these books. I cannot wait for the next book to come out - sometimes I wish I could just lock all my favorite authors into a tower and force them all to WRITE FASTER DAMN YOU but when those books finally arrive they are worth the wait.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sanctuary

I found a refuge today in an unexpected place. I'd been running around dropping off resumes, trying to keep on going, trying to carve a life and career in a city that takes no prisoners. It's been a cycle lately of resumes resumes resumes, just hoping someone will actually read one and see what I can do. Passing a tall brick wall I came to an open gateway and on impulse I turned in.


Beautiful. Like a secret garden, a little oasis in the city. Tangled vines and flowers, tall guardian trees shading those who had come to find peace. I sat for five minutes, then five more, my book in my lap, just staring at those vines. Ten minutes is all I can sit - I haven't discovered stillness yet. I'm a girl who has the tv on with a computer on my lap, a book on the table next to me, constantly changing channels, always refreshing my browser. I am still learning how to dive into a pool of peacefulness and let it engulf me. Still learning how to quiet my mind. But I was able to find that quiet for ten minutes in the middle of my day.

I walked around the garden then, admired the wild order of it. I went into the little thrift shop next door, curious to see if the same spirit lived there as in the garden. It did, and some cute clothes and shoes also lived there, for when I have more money to spend. Then I dropped off one more resume and came home. If those hours of walking and dropping off papers today come to nothing, it's ok. My payment, if it can be called that, for today's work is finding that little garden right when I needed it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pet Rapture

Have you ever worried about what would happen to your pet after all the Christians were brought to Heaven? Fear no more! My boyfriend just told me about this website, a post-rapture pet care service.

Image courtesy of Eternal Earth Bound Pets
Now, if you're like me, you don't know what the Rapture is. Apparently it's when God comes down and picks up all the good Christians and brings them up to Heaven. Since I guess pets can't be good Christians, they will be left behind with all the non-believers and sinners. And some clever non-believer has decided to make a little money off this, by offering (for cash! that people are willing to pay!!) to take care of those poor left behind pets.

Hilarious!!

Now, it does seem to be a bit of a catch-22 legally since if the people who run the website actually believe in the Rapture, wouldn't they be taken up too? And if they don't believe in it, then they are blatantly scamming people. So I feel like at some point they're going to get sued. But then again, maybe the pet loving Christians are willing to take that risk. Either way, in a country where the inventor of the Pet Rock can get rich, obviously this website has a chance too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vanilla Wafers

What I did with my evening :



I would post the recipe but it's my grandma's and I have the feeling it might be a deep dark family secret. Basically butter frosted with butter, though. I'll check and if allowed will post the full recipe later. Yum....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Would You Do?

Ok, internet, I'm looking for feedback. Am I being hyper-paranoid or was this guy actually a pervert? You tell me.

I was on the subway today, wearing my normal summer outfit of a (stretchy in this case) tank top and capris (see below). Nothing particularly scandalous or low cut, but showing a little skin.
I told you I'd be using my built in camera a lot.

As I sit there reading, I hear the click of a cell phone camera. Looking up I see an older man, could be a professor or businessman or something, fifties, innocently looking at the screen of his phone. The thing is the lens of his camera phone was pointed at my me. At my chest. Now, I don't know that he took a photo down my shirt but I was sitting and he was standing and that's what it looked like to me. Not being sure I restricted myself to catching his eye and glaring very pointedly at him before raising my book a little higher and continuing to read. If I was sure what he was doing I would have called him out, but I wasn't.

What would you have done? Have similar things happened to any of you out there? Frankly, with the stories you hear about the NYC subway, this is probably pretty tame, but it's still aggravating. I'm posting a picture of my outfit, sans head, in case it makes any difference, but even if I'd been sitting there in a bathing suit I don't think it makes creepy behavior ok.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jon and Kate plus Cash

Ok. As everyone knows I am sadly addicted to large family TLC shows. While 18 Kids and Counting is my wholesome ultra-conservative fix, Jon and Kate has become my trashy reality show fix.

I have previously fallen on Jon's side of the Jon and Kate Plus 8 showdown, just because I felt like Kate really did everything she could to belittle and drive him away in later seasons (wow, I can't believe we all know this much about this random family). But you know what? I take it back. He is being such an ass now that I am completely going over to Kate's side. According to PerezHilton and TMZ he is so irresponsible with money that Kate has been given most of the control, and she was a good enough mom to put money into college funds for her kids while Jon squandered his. Plus, he is dating multiple women, talking to paparazzi, making endorsement deals and generally being an idiot.

Now, enough tv, back to my actual life. :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Constructive Use of Time

I've spent a good hour looking up celebrity plastic surgery pictures. Renee Zellweger, I'm looking at you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care

I just wrote to both of my state's senators to express my views on the current health care crisis. I don't know if anyone will ever read it but I feel good that I've done something to try to influence our representatives to fix the system. It is not enough but maybe if enough people write in praising the attempt to fix and change health care instead of screaming in fear against it, some progress will finally be made. Health care in this country is clearly broken and something needs to be done. Please, if you have something to say on this issue, please add your voice and write to your own representatives.

Cute Cats

When the cats are being good, there is nothing cuter (well, I'm sure your newborn baby/puppy/whatever is pretty cute too). Below is a little video of them grooming each other, which, I don't know why, but it kills me every time they do it. Like, they are sisters and friends and love each other and it is so cute awwwwww!!!

It is things like this that make me wonder if I am already the crazy cat lady.


video

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rock On...or not

Despite being a total city girl I have a secret little place in my heart for country music. One of my favorites is Matraca Berg, who not only is a great singer but has written some of the biggest hits in country for singers like Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and Deanna Carter (Strawberry Wine, great song). And I cannot find her cd!! It's so annoying. I had her Lying To The Moon & Other Stories cd and I went hunting for it yesterday and I think I may have lost it in the move. And I hate having to rebuy cds that I already own. The cheap in me dies a little each time I have to do this. Same thing happened when my Bruce Springsteen got stolen (along with my laptop, but it's the cd that is a continued thorn in my side).

This is one of the unfortunate consequences of moving. There were a million great reasons for me to move, career being the main one, but let me tell you it is really annoying to try to fit all your stuff into a mini van and then realize months and months later that not everything made it. And the one song I really wanted to hear from the cd, the reason I was hunting it down, is impossible to find even on youtube. Grrr.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tips to save and make money

Alternate title : Saving, It's Not Just For Grandmas Anymore!

I sometimes feel a little ridiculous at the lengths I will go to save some money, even though in this economy being that kind of ridiculous is a good thing. Here are some things I do, and some things I should do, that can add up:

Free Stock Photos for websites - FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1.Recycle! In NYC every beer bottle you return to the store nets you 5 cents, so rather then throwing them out I always save and return bottles. In addition Whole Foods credits you 10 cents for each bag you bring yourself to the store, so not only are you saving yourself space in your cup board (if you hoard all used bags as I do) you are saving some money.

If you're really insane (I'm not this insane yet, but just wait) you can do a little neighborhood clean and collect bottles you find on the ground to return. Near nightclubs and bars seems like it would be fertile pickings. I would feel a bit like a bag lady doing this, but hey, maybe you can get a group together for this and then buy a nice bottle of wine with the proceeds?

2. Sell your hair! This one's a little out there, but if you're planning on cutting it anyway and have healthy hair, why not? It's not like it's doing anyone good in a landfill. If you want to donate it that's nice too.

3. Cook enough food in one go that you have left overs. You're saving the electricity/gas used to cook a second time. If you're working outside of your house, it saves you the money you would have used to buy food. Plus, I'm lazy that way, so heating leftovers for 1 minute beats having to spend another hour cooking.

4. Online surveys. There's plenty of options - Survey Spot, Survey Savvy, HarrisPolls, Global Opinions Panel, etc. You're not going to get rich doing this but every dollar counts, right?

5. Sell blood/plasma/sperm/eggs. I haven't done any of these because I wouldn't want a mini me running around that I didn't know about, in the case of eggs. I would sell blood but they won't take mine because I've lived in Europe too long. Isn't that outrageous? With the blood shortages they have not accepting the blood of people who've lived in Europe more than 5 years? I believe it's a mad cow issue. Anyway, if you can and you want to I think you can make decent money doing these things. Even when money is not paid for blood, a lot of the volunteer blood centers give out t-shirts/coupons/bribes of some sort. I have several t-shirts collected from back when my blood wasn't considered to be on par with poisonous acid.

6. Sell used books/clothes/things. I have a bunch of used paperback books sitting in a box waiting for me to do something about them. I plan to one day to sell them, and probably should have already since they're taking up space and I already have three full bookshelves here and four full bookshelves in storage at my mom's. Strand in NYC buys used books but they prefer books in perfect conditions and they prefer hard covers for buy backs, so I'll probably have to go through Craigslist or something instead (the books I have are second hand romance and mystery novels, so not really what they're looking for...). I've heard some stories on the news lately about selling your clothes back to various stores and you can always put furniture for sale on Craigslist or in a garage sale or something. Especially because people throw furniture out all the time, if you were really motivated you could refurbish stuff you find and then sell it for a profit.

7. Raise your own herbs/veggies. This doesn't really work as well for city dwellers but if you can, why not? It's fun too.

8. My friend's host mom would use a loom to weave their dog's hair into yarn and knit sweaters. FOR REAL! Seriously. And they were soft too. I actually think this is pretty cool, so if you are motivated enough to do this not only will you get warm sweaters out of it but it is an instant attention getter at parties to tell people you do this (or know someone who does). If you happen to have such a sweater on hand, even better.

9. Umm, turn off appliances when not in use? I know, I'm starting to run out of ideas, since everyone knows this one already. But did you know that if the appliance is still plugged in it's still sucking some juice? So actually unplug for maximum benefit.

10. And just to throw some of the simple ones out there : Coupons, sales, buying used, LIBRARIES!, home cooking cheap food, paying off credit cards (saving interest), walk as much as possible (saving gas/public transportation money), add ads to your blog, etc.

Does anyone else have any tips? I noticed I was able to save a lot more once I broke down my budget into what I could spend per day, because that was easier to keep track of. I'm always looking for a new way to save money, so I sincerely welcome any new advice.



*On a side note, why does the text on different posts show up as different sizes? I don't try to change it, and I just select normal size when I try to fix it. What's up?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Spicy, cheap and delicious

And the food's not bad either. Dadum dum!
 
Aren't I funny? Anyway, moving on. I'm posting a recipe for Agli'e Olio, another Italian classic.

You can make it with kitchen staples, so it's a great recipe for in between shopping days.  It is comprised of garlic, hot pepper flakes or fresh chopped hot pepper, olive oil and (if you want) anchovies.  Throw some pasta into your salted, boiling water. While the pasta is cooking, heat up enough olive oil to coat the pasta and gently brown the chopped garlic.

Once the garlic is looking just a little brown, throw the pepper flakes and anchovies into the garlic and oil mixture.

  Be careful not to burn the garlic. I managed to brown it a little more than planned in the above photo since the olive oil was too hot when I added it in.  Let it all simmer and once the pasta is ready toss it into the now flavored olive oil and mix it all together.  Add a little salt and pepper if you want, but otherwise that's it. You're done! 

Half Hour Meals

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Banana Bread

I decided last night to take advantage of my rotten bananas and make banana bread.  When life gives you lemons.  What I did not do is make sure I had all the ingredients so after mixing everything else together I realized I had no eggs.  Nor did my room mate have eggs (*well, she did but they are 2 months expired. Do you think she knows or should I say something?).  Therefore I saran wrapped everything and hoped it would still be good today.  

Notice dirty dishes in background. Wait. Don't notice them.
So after running around doing various other useful things today, I went and bought eggs. And chocolate chip cookie cake.  It was on sale! I'm not a saint.  BUT eggs were bought.  And added to ingredients.

Not all eggs made it to the bowl. Oops.

I wish I could somehow photograph the smell because nothing smells better than baking sweet stuff.  Seriously.  

Tada! In the background you will see the chocolate chip cookie cake, also good.

*Side note for everyone who wants to know how to tell an egg is bad - put it in a bowl of water. If it floats it is bad. If it sinks it is good**. If it stands up and semi-floats, your guess is as good as mine.  Eat at your own risk.
**As far as I have heard. If it actually kills you don't sue me, I didn't know.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rotten Fruit

My poor baby tomatoes (I know, I'm sad) have blossom end rot.  As this is the first time ever a tomato plant of mine has gotten to the fruit phase, I am probably more concerned about this than is strictly normal.  I've done some research, and low calcium in the soil and dehydration can cause this, so apparently my plant is a post menopausal marathon runner.  Or something.  

My bananas are totally black too, but that just means banana bread.  I love that old bananas work great for that because then forgetting them and letting them spoil ends up working in my favor.

But really. Wish my tomatoes luck!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Hunting Instinct

My bf recently got back from a trip and brought the kitties a new toy.  I've posted a video below of them "playing" with this toy, with catnip scattered on it.  WITH CATNIP, PEOPLE! 

video

No wonder they're chubby.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Overkill

I've already posted today, and don't actually have much more to say, but as I've descended into a really bad mood I wanted to share that and maybe therefore dispel it.  Nothing majorly bad has happened or anything, it's more like a million little mosquitos nibbling on my feet.  What I need to do now is go read the news and then be grateful that my life is better than all of the poor people that have real problems.  That would be the productive thing to do. What I'll probably actually do is read celebrity gossip and stew for a bit longer. 

Italian Pride

My aunt e-mailed me this video a while ago, and I think it's absolutely hilarious, so I am sharing it with you.  It is a cartoon that illustrates the clear differences between Italians and other Europeans and, sadly, it is actually fairly accurate.  

And since I'm going all Italian today, I'm even wearing my Italian pride shirt, which just about any female with Italian blood now owns but that I HAD FIRST!!!  I've had this shirt for 7 years now, so all those other girls copied ME.  Hmmph.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sap

Everyone has heard of the two journalists who Clinton (male) went over and rescued from North Korea, right? Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  Ok, does anyone manage not to cry when watching the video of them landing back in the U.S.? Because I totally lose it every time.  



Saturday, August 8, 2009

The long goodbye

My brother and his gf just took off to return to Miami.  She left a nice little piece of Hershey art for me to admire and then immediately disassemble and eat.  

 My only remaining goal for the day is to grab some Bloody Mary ingredients for a brunch I am attending tomorrow.  No better way to start a Sunday.  

Friday, August 7, 2009

Silence

House guests are wonderful.  House guests are wonderful but so is a day of total peace. I sent my brother and his gf out into the wide world of Manhattan alone today and have been doing nothing but basking in the silence and eating leftover pizza all day long. I even cleaned the bathroom.  That is not anywhere on the top of my list of favorite activities but the day seemed to call for some king of useful action and that was it.

I even decided not to go out, after showering and dressing up and fully planning to do just that. I'm enjoying the peace too much.  Also, I'm broke, but mainly the peace thing.  I finished the book I had been reading, replied to some e-mails, did I mention that I ate pizza, and just generally lazed through the day.

On a completely unrelated note I recently discovered that I can download Oblivion to my Mac, I just have to do this complicated thing where I first download Windows, and then maybe buy myself a two buttoned mouse.  Yay!  Customer service will be on the phone for that one.  Lucky them. For those who don't know, Oblivion is this kick-ass game where you can be an elf or a lizard (though they're not called that, they're called Argonians) or whatever and run around collecting treasure and creating potions and saving the world.  It's fun.  I am not a big gamer but I am just a little obsessed with that particular game, an obsession I blame on my father's refusal to let me buy a gaming system as a child.  Take that, Dad.  I'll rot my brain if I want to. I did not get so far as to actually complete the installation process today but I will. Oh, I will, and then I may actually disappear for a few weeks while playing it.

The Great American (Italian) Pizza-off

As promised, I present to you the pizza-off, a result of far too much sibling rivalry.  My brother and I got right to work trying to out-cook each other when we got back from a full day of touristing around NYC (yes, I'm using it as a verb. Don't know or care if that's actually done).  My brother's girlfriend is operating as assistant and judge.

Below: us toiling away in the kitchen.



We made two pizzas each. My first one was a classic potato pizza, no sauce, seasoned only with rosemary and salt.  


I added some mushrooms and cheese to the far corner of it, and then popped it into the oven.

My brother decided to go with a thin crust cheese and mushroom pizza as his opener.  We got a picture of it pre-mushroom. We also got a picture of it post-mushroom but he's pretending to lick it so I decided to spare you.

Not to be outdone, I created a thin crust mushroom pizza of my own.  After all, I needed to clearly demonstrate that my pizza was far, far superior to his and what better way to do that then to create a better version of the same pizza?  We have a very healthy relationship.  He is helping me photograph my rolled out dough below.

I got another photo right before it went into the oven.  I added some potatoes to one corner, and used the last of some (possibly already expired) goat cheese in the middle of it.  

Right about the time my 2nd pizza went in, my brother's pizza was ready to be taken out and eaten.  So we did.

It was good. I was nervous.
Both of my pizzas were ready to sample at that point too.  I threw a piece of thick crust potato mushroom and thin crust mushroom on each plate.  


While the thick crust pizza is juicy and rich (and is compared both to quiche and shepherd's pie by my brother and gf), it is declared too un-pizza like, and the real test rests in the thin crust.  For fairness' sake, you can see below a side by side comparison of both of our thin crusts. Mine is the slightly crispier looking one on the left.

They are both delicious.  We are all in an agony of indecision.  What to do now? Hey, my brother still has to make his second pizza.  Chocolate pizza! Heart shaped chocolate pizza. This is inspired by our visit to Chocolate By The Bald Man a couple days ago. His girlfriend helped to carefully place each marshmallow on top of the pizza, using the utmost self control in the process. Below are the raw and cooked pictures. There are also some peanut M&Ms in the corner.


After we eat this, we all die.  We are dead.  For the sake of being able to record this for posterity I choose to run away from the light and re-enter my body.  The chocolate pizza was amazing.  Really good.  

But none of that brings us any closer to declaring a winner in the pizza-off.  On the basis that the final pizza, however good, is just as un-pizza like as my thick crust, I am declaring a tie.  My brother's thin crust was cheesy deliciousness, while mine tasted a little bit more of crispy olive oil and was just as good in a subtly different way.  Each of our 2nd efforts were totally different but still eagerly appreciated by all.  I guess we'll just need a rematch next time he visits.  I'll be ready for him.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All quiet on the Western front

Or something. I am maintaining radio silence this week mainly because my brother is in town and I've been quite busy.  Tomorrow is the highly anticipated Pizza-Off and that will be thoroughly documented.  Recipes will be added.  Pictures will be taken.  Maybe a poll? Not that that will be necessary as I'm sure we can all agree that my pizza will be better.  In the meantime, enjoy the picture of my poor cat being held up to the computer camera by my brother.  She is ridiculously mellow about being manhandled.  I love my new computer...


"I hate my owner."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tourist exhaustion

I spent the day with my brother and his girlfriend running around the city looking for shoes.  That was the goal of the day and while it was not accomplished I am happy to say that NYC has no shortage of shoe shops.   In fact, considering that every other shop or so is dedicated to foot clothing, I'm wondering how they all stay in business.

In between making laps of these various and sundry shoe stores we went to Strand, where I hunkered down happily for an hour reading a book I had no intention of buying while my the others browsed equally happily on the various other levels.  I love Strand.  Love love love love love.  There is a Barnes and Nobles just a block away from Strand, and I don't know how they stay in business when you can buy the same book, used but in stellar condition, for half the price over at Strand.  

After we had finished rolling around in the books we retreated to Chocolate By The Bald Man and ate ourselves into a sugar coma.  We had a chocolate drink each and split a huge Sundae and we almost died.  Really. We did. There were multiple tables around us where each person had their OWN drink and their OWN dessert and I don't know how they didn't immediately develop diabetes and fall into sugar comas.  Not that it wasn't worth it - I love that place, though we spent more on the drink and shared dessert than we had on a full lunch each the day before.  

In housing news I am pondering a room I saw. It is half the size of my current room and more expensive but in a much better neighborhood and the woman who showed it to me seems nice and sane.  I'm going to need to make a decision quickly, like tomorrow, but it is just. so. small.  It has no closet.  My furniture will absolutely not all fit.  Still, nice cute building and apartment.  I'm confusing myself just typing all this.  Decision pending.  

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Seafood Pasta on the cheap

My brother is visiting and so I decided to go all out and actually spend more than $.50 on dinner.  I was able to make a kick ass seafood pasta for around $10.  I cooked some baby octupus, shrimp and scallops in onion and garlic and then added some canned tomato later on in the process.  Since I was making myself a Lemondrop (well, I made my brother mix it for me) I also splashed in some lemon juice.  The usual herbs (basil, thyme, salt, pepper) were thrown in, as well as some olive oil.  And tada!


Beautiful pasta! 

And also notice that I was able to take that photo with the built in camera on my new Macbook.  There will be many more laptop pictures in this blog's future.  I also garnished the plate with a little basil, just to make it pretty for all of you.


One more. 

Notice in the background where there's flour on the counter from my home made bread.  Yes, I do rock, thanks.  Next up: Pizza-off with my brother. He is under the delusion that his pizza will be better than mine. Pictures will be provided.