Nov 13, 2011

A day in the life...

I got up this morning to the sound of two-year old feet scampering down the hallway. Little Carrie Hod was up and ready for cinnamon rolls. We adults had stayed up last night making the rolls from scratch, and now they just needed to be baked.

While we waited, I rather clumsily put a french braid in Carrie's hair. She was very patient with me, and stood still - more or less - the entire time. But I think her mom Sarah and I were more excited than Carrie about both the rolls and the hairdo.

After a delicious breakfast, we eventually bestirred ourselves to go for a nature walk in Marshlands Comservancy. The baby, Liam, was strapped to his mother in a complex sling called a Mobli. Only a small tuft of hair attested to the fact that there was a person in there. Not wanting Carrie to feel left out, dad Brendan put on a blanket in which to swaddle her.

Soon Carrie was walking all by herself, though - leading the way, a brave little trailblazer. She tripped once or twice, but after just a few tears she'd be up and going again. So calm and resilient. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Nov 12, 2011

Visiting the Hod clan

I'm up in New York visiting my friends and their cute kids today. Their daughter is an introspective two-year old and their son is just one month. I'm sleeping in what will be his room once he can sleep on his own.

Lots of people with kids this age can only talk about their kids, and then usually to praise them. But I've known this couple for over a decade now, and they're not the kind to lose perspective. Sure, we mostly talk about their adorable kids - but we talk about the times when they're not-so-adorable. We also talk about careers and recent scientific developments and theories of psychology. We reminisce about our college days and retell our favorite stories.

The best part about visiting the Hods is that they don't ask the prying questions that other married with children couples often ask. They don't feel the need to affirm their way of life by making sure you conform to it. Accordingly, I have not been asked, "When are you going to get married and start a family?"

Nov 11, 2011


I feel like 11/11/11 should have been momentous, but really it was pretty ordinary. I had a busy clinic day, ran a few errands, played around on the computer. I was supposed to meet some work friends for drinks, but that kind of fizzled. So I spent a quiet, boring night at home with Harvey.

Last year, on 10/10/10, I was worried about finding a job when my fellowship ended in December. The year before that on 9/9/09, I was nervous about starting my fellowship rotation at the NIH. And three years ago on 8/8/08, I was miserable at my old job in Charlottesville. So maybe having an ordinary day isn't so bad.

Nov 10, 2011

Lost and Found

Today, on the way to my friend's place in Alexandria, I got lost. Horribly, irrevocably lost. It was dark, rainy, the traffic was tremendous, and my GPS quit on me. This was particularly terrifying for me, since I have almost no nascent sense of direction.

I hate that - I hate being the stereotypical Asian woman who can't drive, I hate how helpless and stupid I feel. The worst part is when I can't rise above it, when I can't laugh at myself. When I finally reached my friend's place, I actually broke down and started crying. It was humiliating - but my friends just have me a hug and brought me a drink and let me cry it out. Maggie helped more than she could know by just saying, "It's weird - you're so smart!"

It was almost worth it, to have my friends show me that just because I get lost doesn't make me a loser.

Nov 9, 2011

Tex-Mex casserole made "skinny"

We celebrated the boss' birthday today with a Tex-Mex themed potluck. We had chili with rice, salad, homemade salsa, cornbread and cupcakes (*drool*). I decided to be ambitious and bring a casserole - and I tried to reduce the fat of the recipe. Here's a link to the original recipe, and below is what I came up with!

1 pound lean ground beef turkey
2 cups salsa
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups corn tortilla chips, crushed
2 cups fat free sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onion*
1/2 cup chopped tomato*
2 cups reduced fat shredded cheese

*I cheated with a can of diced tomatoes and onions

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground turkey until no longer pink. I added some red pepper and salt to taste. Stir in salsa, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in beans, and heat through. If you're worried about the toughness of the black beans, do what I did and boil them separately for a few minutes. 
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread crushed tortilla chips in dish, and then spoon turkey mixture over chips. Spread sour cream over turkey and sprinkle green onion and tomato over the sour cream. Top with cheese.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

This was a huge success - people came back for seconds and took home doggy bags. Even my refined palate (hah!) couldn't detect the reduced fat-ness. I made a smaller vegetarian casserole for our receptionist - I just left out the turkey and increased the black beans to compensate. She was very appreciative, and my fellow omnivores enjoyed that version as well.

The best part is that this recipe only requires two "fresh" ingredients - sour cream and cheese. Keep some ground turkey in the freezer and the rest of the stuff in the cupboard, and you can have this complete meal almost any time. Enjoy!

Nov 8, 2011

A detailed list of the foods I encountered today

1. Bowl of cereal with fat-free milk
2. Ham sandwich on pumpernickel with lettuce, tomato, and a teensy bit of mayo
3. Side of strawberries and grapes
4. Light yogurt
5. Handful of popcorn (OK, two handfuls)
6. Turkey dinner with stuffing, green beans and biscuits
7. Small slice of pumpkin pie
8. A bite or two from a casserole I put together for work tomorrow

I'm trying not to obsess about this weight thing, and am failing completely. I got up early this morning and did a few quick exercises - and I'm still feeling it now. Odds are even that I won't be as good tomorrow, but only time will tell...

Nov 7, 2011

What a waist

So, I went to the doctor today and she told me that I need to lose weight - like, a lot of weight. And while this is nothing new, I had been doing well - I just fell off the wagon big time. Now begins the slow and painful process of climbing back up again.

I was watching an interview with Kim Cattrall (sex kitten turned cougar) about her current role in Noel Coward's Private Lives. Apparently, gaining 20 lbs for the role was fantastic for her, since "most of us have been on a diet for 30 years." And that scared the stuffing out of me, cause I can't imagine having willpower for that long.

Bottom line, I need to get to a place where I'm more scared of gaining the weight. SIGH.

Nov 6, 2011

3rd Annual Friendsgiving Feast

... was a complete success. This is a potluck dinner / fundraiser I do a couple weeks before Thanksgiving (one of my favorite holidays). We ended up with two turkeys, two kinds of stuffing, three kinds of mashed potatoes, and much more. Then we had to clear most of that away to make room for all the desserts! Surprisingly enough, I think my favorite dish (besides the garam masala gravy my mom and I made) was the parmesan asparagus my friend Sarah brought. Favorite dessert, hands down, was Gayathri's carrot kheer. Thanks to everyone who came out for fun food and philanthropy, we raised almost $150 for So Others Might Eat! Also, I now have turkey leftovers to last me until next Friendsgiving.

P.S. Please see Facebook for the pictures I'm too tired to re-post at the moment.

Nov 5, 2011

Adventures in Home-making

I awoke this morning to a scene of wanton destruction. Unlike every other morning of my life, it wasn't totally my fault. My pet rabbit, Harvey, had escaped his enclosure. What's more, he managed to tip over his supposedly un-tip-able one-gallon water feeder. His timing was, as usual, impeccable - I had planned to clean the apartment prior to the arrival of my folks this afternoon, and I had brunch plans that would take up most of my morning. SIGH.

Somehow I managed to corral the bun, clean most of his mess, rush through a shower, and make it to Eastern Market in time for brunch with my friends. We ate at Ted's Bulletin, a classy kind of place with a very tasty breakfast menu and "adult" *wink wink* milkshakes. Thus fortified, I was able to return and pretty most of my place up in time for my parent's arrival. As I'm also having my Friendsgiving dinner tomorrow, I exiled Harvey to the guest bedroom and spruced up the place with decorations stol- I mean, re-purposed from my friend Kristin's wedding a few weeks back.

My problem is, I don't have much of a nesting instinct. So beyond this, my house is kind of stark. I'm hoping the liveliness of the company will make up for the austerity of the room. No pressure, dinner guests!

Nov 4, 2011

Well, that's unfortunate.

Sooooooo... The NaBloPoMo prompt for today is, "When you write, do you prefer to use pen and paper or the computer?" At the risk of sounding judgmental, I found it utterly inane and not worth my time. Maybe there's a challenge in coming up with something awesome in response to a terrible prompt. If so, challenge NOT accepted, NaBloPoMo. Find someone else to do your dirty work.

I'm still going to keep posting my own inane commentary, don't you fret. Like how I got up before dawn in order to get a sale price on frozen turkeys. I'm having my annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner party slash fundraiser this Sunday, "Friendsgiving." A bigger turn-out this year (hopefully) necessitated buying almost 30 lbs of turkey.

When I went to the store earlier this week, I was advised that the sale prices started on Friday. Accordingly, I dragged my sorry carcass out of bed before 6am this morning - which goes against my essential nature - and headed over to Giant. I had just enough time to grab the birds, toss them in the fridge, and head to work. Simple, right? WRONG.

When I went to the check-out, one of the birds was ringing up at full price. That is to say, THREE TIMES what I had planned to pay. I frantically pressed the "need help" button on the self-check out panel, but since it wasn't yet 7am the store was running on a skeleton crew. Finally, a stock boy came over and used the overhead pager to summon a manager.

First, she cleared my order. She rescanned my order. She cleared it again and used her own bonus card number. In the end, she had someone re-weigh the birds (not sure why this was necessary, but at this point I was not going to argue) and check the circular for the actual price per pound. Then she entered the calculated values in manually and I was finally able to check out.

At this point I was sweating profusely and would almost certainly miss my bus. I hauled the turkeys back home, threw them in the fridge, and trotted out to the bus stop. Luckily for me, it was a few minutes late and I was able catch my bus and make it to work on time. Phew!

People better appreciate these birds, is all I'm saying.

Nov 3, 2011

Procrastinators unite... tomorrow

Day three and I'm already behind on the NaBloPoMo prompts. There's only one solution - do two at once! That's what she said.

Prompt #2: If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?

Duh, an endless buffet. At Kentucky Fried Chicken for preference - although the lack of palatable veggies would likely send me to an early grave anyway. My best KFC story comes from my recent trip to Richmond for my friend Kristin's wedding. I arrived pretty late in the evening, and I was all on my lonesome ownsome until my friend Erin's flight arrived. So I went to my go-to comfort food, sweet ambrosia from the Colonel himself .
"They told me I could be anything I wanted. So I became a cartoon character."

It was the guy at the register's first day, so I had to give my order to him two or three times. Very... slowly... He was grateful for my patience, having no idea that I would have endured this, and much more, for the greasy goodness of a three-piece meal. I noticed the box was much larger than I expected, but toddled off with my prize without a second thought. It wasn't until I got to my hotel room that I realized that KFC employee was an angel sent from god.

That's right - three piece meal made of all breast pieces. You might be saying, "ugh, eating that much chicken would be disgusting." But you are a liar. It was basically one of the best nights of my life.

Prompt #3: Can you listen to music and write? What song did you hear today?

Yeah, sorry, can't stop thinking about KFC. It's just sooooo tasty, y'all. I dream one day of having a family, so I can finally order a bucket of chicken and not feel weird about it. And after my last meal is served to me and they take me off to the chair, my last words will be, "Mmmmmmmmmmm, original recipe."

Nov 2, 2011

Lessons from the Family Sri

Yay, it's the return of "Lessons from the Family Sri." For those of you who missed our previous classes, please click the "lessons" tag below.

Today's Lesson - Communications

Me (calling my brother on the phone): Hey, Monster! I'm making you the beneficiary on my life insurance, and I need your social security number.
Him: Umm...
Me: Let me guess, you don't want to say it over the phone.
Him: Right.
Me: I don't suppose you'd like to send it via email.
Him: Ha!
Me: Then what the hell am I supposed to do? Use telepathy to read it directly from your mind?
Him: Yes. Go!
Me: I will destroy you someday.

Nov 1, 2011

Oh, hi...

I'm going to try to get back in the swing of blogging by joining in on National Blog Posting Month (also known as NaBloPoMo ... no, seriously). This is mostly because I'm too chicken to work on a novella for National Novel(la) Writing Month (NaNoWriMo - you can't make this stuff up. Well, I guess you can, but I didn't).

Anyway, the first prompt was something like, "what is your favorite part of writing?" I guess my favorite part of writing (and life in general) is making people laugh. I had one of my bosses cracking up today with my 'Indian parents' routine, complete with accents. For anyone who knows me, you know I do this all the time and that it is comedy gold. The best part is that my parents like me to "talk like an Indian," too. They used to make me trot out my little routine at dinner parties for the amusement of their friends. So embarrassing, but obviously it just provided me with more and more material. A vicious cycle of hilarity.

My boss: Sri, you are so funny!
Me: Yeah, but you know it all comes from pain.
My boss: Ha ha... ha?

So, yeah. I have heard from a couple of people that this blog is funny from time to time. Honestly, laughing at myself and life is the only way I stay sane. Well, relatively speaking...

Next: "If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?" Prepare yourself for a breathtaking tribute to KFC.