Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Geekin' it out at the MOA

I have to say blogland that yesterday was an awesome day! I got to go to the Mall of America and meet one of my favorite TV personalities, star of Good Eats and host of the new Iron Chef America from the Food Network. He was on the road promoting his newest book - Feasting on Asphalt which came from his show of the same name from last summer. In the show he and his crew road up the Mississippi River on motorcycles stopping at little diners and roadside places. He would only stop at those real places - nothing chained or common, but good tiny real mom-n-pop places.

His shows are the perfect combination of foodie and geek leading me to be in cooking show heaven. He is at once clever - bringing a lot of unique and popular culture quotations and themes into his cooking show (Good Eats), but my favorite part is that he includes the science that goes into cooking. He knows why you have to add things in a certain order, and explains it with cheesy models ala Mr. Wizard. He is hilarious and the shows are fun - and the recipes are good. (His roasted broccoli is one of my favorites, as is his chewy chocolate chip cookie!)

Since he was promoting his book he did a brief talk before signing all the books, and since my extreme geekiness led me to the mall as soon as the wristbands were being handed out I was in the front row for the talk. I got some great pictures. And he was hilarious and just fun in person. He took a bunch of questions from the audience, bantered with them all and everything.


How geeky is it that these photos give me little geek butterflies!



Please by no attention as I revert back to a 12 year old...
Sigh! Isn't he dreamy?



I think he may be talking about the Patty Melt as the perfect sandwich here. I agree!


And here I am with him as he is signing my small fortune in books. We chatted about being geeky and he wasn't sure if he was or not, and I think it is cute that someone who has a huge cult (read Geek) following doesn't fully realize his master Geek-ness! When we finished he called me Sweetie! I wanted to go buy more books and get back in line but I didn't.



I did get him to do his little cartoon Alton doodle though! Whee!

Seriously, I was super giddy about this. Ironically my hubby was jealous that I was able to go and would have been just as geeky right along with me! It was really amazing, and I was really excited how genuine and open he was to the whole crowd.

Oh and a little dirt - this summer there will be a Feasting on Waves where they go to the Carribean on Sailboats, and the summer after that - Feasting on Rails which combines the foodie, geek and train fanatic into a trinity of Geek love! Eeep!

Oh and if you don't have cable and have never seen this show or Good Eats before go and find someone who has some episodes and watch it. And until that happens here is his Good Eats episode Say Cheese(in two parts due to YouTube lengths). It is a good episode, but I love cheese and it seemed fitting for a good WI girl. If you have twenty mintutes to spare - enjoy!



And the second part...



Mmmmm. Don't you just love cheese blogland? I know I do.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Random Thoughts

1. For the first week since my Argentina trip I've made it to the gym at least 5 times this week. I hope to go tomorrow to, bringing the total up to 6! I do feel better when it goes this way, even though it takes a significant amount of time to dedicate from the week.

2. Speaking of Argentina - I still want to do a big account of my trip and my life has simply moved too quickly lately to do it. I promise that I will still get back to you on this blogland.

3. Hubby's classes are done for good now which in an of itself is amazing. He has a paper to finish (its almost done) and three finals in the next two weeks. There is light at the end of the tunnel for him and by extension for me as well.

4. Tomorrow is a busier day with work than I like my Saturdays to be, but on the other hand, it is the last Saturday I have work related things until VBS in June. Certainly that is a welcome respite, even though there is a lot left to wrap up the year. Still I think things are going well overall.

5. Allergies are starting to get me full force. Other than dust, which is around all year long, I tend to be allergic to trees and grasses all of which are going nuts at the moment. Hopefully things will balance out in a week or two, but right now my lungs are cranky and so are my sinuses. Ugh.

6. Chris and I kicked my parents butt in bridge tonight. We don't get to play very often because most people don't play bridge these days and it takes 4 people. Still it is a fun game and Chris and I are eager to play it when we get a chance.

7. I have been feeling very hard on myself lately. I really need to cut myself some slack and give me more credit than I often do. Afterall, I would tell anyone else the same thing, so I'm trying to follow my own advice! Hehehe. It is not as easy as it seems.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wishing I was Mrs. Fix-It

I think my blog, and many others I know have all come to something of a standstill since we found out the news of our friend Emilie about her cancer's reoccurance. (P.S. If you haven't been over there to wish her well yet please do so, she can use all the thoughts and prayers of the folks out in blogland and I know she has been a very good friend to me so if you like me even a little bit, please add her to your prayers too!)

I think we are all in shellshock and worried and frustrated by the immense unfairness that is going on in her life. I know I have been that way since I heard the news, tearing up at random moments thinking about her and all that she must face now when she should be able to be home with her family and their newest addition.

And I keep thinking about it, trying to come up with some way to "fix" an unfixable situation even when I know that I can't. Instead, I can make a meal, or maybe babysit, or just sit and listen, or even talk about my favorite American Idol just because I know she loves the show (I'm rooting for both Davids at the moment). And this can be helpful, and it still feels like it isn't enough.

I have this urge to "fix" for my friend Emilie, but also for my hubby who is in his final 2 weeks or so of law school. I know he is stressed, a stress compounded by the repeated failing of his computer, and I know there is little I can do to "fix" that too. I can be a great cheerleader, and deal with the cleaning and cooking. I can make his favorite foods, and suggest fun stress-relieving activites *cough* but I can't do the work, or stop his senioritis, or finish his final paper.

In the end, I can just do what I can for both of them. And that is all any of us can do. And I know I feel like I'm not doing enough, but I can listen and care and do what I can and hope in some way it helps. And lo and behold, it was another friend doing just that for me, listening to me worry for my friend and my husband, who made me feel better myself. So it does work to do simply what you can, even when you can't fix it. It does help. Thanks for listening Tiff!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Increasing the Coolness Quotient

(Of course, I realize that by the use of the word quotient I have once again displayed my extreme geekiness before I have even begun, but you know, I am ok with that!)

Last night I got to go see Santana at the Xcel center with my dad. If you will recall from this post, I won tickets last week thanks to KS95. We were in row 5. The concert was amazing and being so close was simply wonderful. You could actually see Santana's hands on the guitar doing the amazing things he can do. (The opening band The Derek Trucks band was also awesome and the lead guitar (Derek Trucks) was my age and so amazingly talented) This is just how close we were - I am sitting or standing in my seat for all of these pictures. Unreal.




Here is my hippie dad and I enjoying ourselves. I was so glad he could come up just for the concert and I was so thrilled to be able to take him to a concert I knew he'd love!

I have to say, this was a fun and energetic concert, but it was more than that. Santana is one of those performers who speaks opening of love, faith and hope. Of peace and joy and compassion. This weekend has been tinged with sadness by the news from a dear friend Emilie whose cancer has returned. In fact, I wondered if I should even bother with this post. It seems somehow meaningless compared with the news she is dealing with. She is a woman who I admire so much, who has two young boys at home and who is loved in so many ways. And she is struck with something that is so unfair to me that I can hardly stand it.

And yet, for me last night, this concert was a way to remember that there is more than sadness, fear, pain and death around in the world. I'm praying for a miracle for my friend, but I know that miracles take many forms and I know that she is loved and cared for by so may people and by God. So I will stay faithful and cling to the hope and grace God provides. This rock concert, loud and energetic as it was, was a nice reminder for me, and hopefully I can in turn help her as her life gets far to difficult to be fair.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Progress...

At a routine check of some meds and such at the Dr. today I got weighed. I was last there on Feb 7th. Since then, I've lost 12 lbs. I know I complain that I haven't seen much progress on the weight loss so I want to be sure to stop and take notice of this. That is 12 lbs on the same scale, and it was even right after lunch. 10 weeks or so which means I'm averaging a lb a week which is right what you are supposed to do. Woohoo!

So don't mind me if I do I have a little blog pat on my back today. I of course wish it were more, but I'm trying to ignore that voice and be happy for what I've already accomplished. Go me!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday Musings

Today has been a really great Monday so far. It seems rare to have a Monday where things are going well but it has been kinda nice to have a day go smoothly - especially a Monday. Here are a few reasons why this Monday is good, and a few other random thoughts for you!

* I had a lovely day on Sunday after a grouchy morning. Chris and I had a date for brunch and then both took a very nice afternoon nap. That took away the last of the tiredness from the trip and I woke up much more cheerful than I had been.

* I also went to the gym on Saturday and Sunday which helped reboost my energy and dedication to getting to the gym. The rennovations of our gym are also moving along nicely and we are now in a new part of the locker room and it is very nice and relaxing. I just wish they would bring the scale back so I could check if I lost weight on my trip (Some days I think yes, others no)

* I managed to succeed in my new (small) better-Liz goal of eating breakfast each day. This is something I know I need to do to help me lose weight and is one of my newest additions to my plan of getting healthier. Added to the gym I hope I'll start seeing some results soon!

* Also, good or bad, the purple in my hair is starting to fade. I'm really proud of myself of living up to my end of the bargain and I think it was pretty cool. I'm even considering whether I should go over it again to keep the purple a bit longer. I'm torn about that. Still, I think I make a pretty great rocker chick!

* My dear hubby has less than a month to go before he graduates law school. He has lots still to do and is pretty stressed about it, but I am SO proud of him and all that he has accomplished. I know that he will finish strong and will be a great (and ethical) lawyer. And that's really a wonderful thing to know. Also, it is exciting to be getting so close to some major changes and I'm hopeful about what is in store for us. (Which isn't to say I don't worry about it to, because I'm quite talented at worry, but today I'm feeling very positive about the upcoming changes in our lives!)

* Today the sun is out and it is starting to warm up. I didn't wear a coat today. Perhaps that was a bit of a premature choice but it feels great to be outside and in the sunshine again. And tomorrow is supposed to be 70 degrees!

* I made a nice dent in my weekly to do list here at work. I still have plenty to do but for a Monday I feel like I was fairly productive.

* And the kicker! I won tickets for Sunday's Santana concert from KS95. I am in the 5th row! Since Chris is busy with work my dad is going to come over from WI and go with me and I'm just as excited to get to take him as I am to go myself. (My dad is (among other things) a classic aging hippie guitarist - in the best sense of the term!)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Purple madness!

Hey blogland,

Who wants to see my hair? I ended up doing streaks to help it show up on my head better. I hope that the kids won't think it is a cop out but I actually think that my rocker hair turned out pretty cool. I'm really kind of enjoying it and I hope it washes and wears well as it fades. The purple is supposed to wash out in 5-10 washes but we'll see. I think it looks pretty neat now and I hope it comes through well online. Hopefully the kids will like it too...

Before...

More Before...

My hair in the hands of a crazy person (aka Kim)..

Here we go...

Action Shot...
Can you see it?
All dry now...

From the top...

Purple stripes...

So what do you guys think? It is surprisingly cool and subtle I think, yet I think it will count for the kids. Plus I think it will wash out a bit more normally than having a whole purple head would. So there you go....Liz with purple hair!

Public Service Announcement:

If you want a good laugh come back tomorrow when i post pictures of my purple hair! I am going purple due to a lost wager with my Sunday School kids. They raised a lot of money for Bridging Inc - a local charity that provides basic household goods to families in transition (homeless, abused women, immigrants, etc). So I'm going purple. The kids picked the color and tonight one of my teachers is dying it. I'll have pictures either late tonight or tomorrow. Wish me luck and stop by tomorrow for a good laugh!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Just a glimpse of what's to come.

Here are a few photos from Iguazu falls, the first stop on our trip. These hardly do it justice and represent two different halves of the falls. They are all like 2 Niagra's tall and about 5-7 Niagra's wide. It really was something spectacular. I'm working on the post of the first days but since it is freezing and snowing out I though I would show nice warm water instead. The water of the falls was like 80 degrees and even though it was cloudy on the day we went it was lovely and probably 80 out. If it had been sunny I know we would have been in the 90s with like 90% humidity so yay for rain!



Oh and if you were wondering...

yes, I did practice safe tourism!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dazed and Confused

Today has really been a rough day for me. I know it is a combination of traveling, renewed work stresses and processing from a trip but I'm just out of my norm. It didn't help that my morning began with a confrontation from a fellow staff member - one who has never been shy about her disdain for me, fueled in part by the fact that she had applied for my job as well but it went to me instead.

I'm feeling tired and out of touch. I've been taking my mental breaks from work today catching up on blogs and emails from folks. There is so much going on that I feel like I've missed eons of time and not just 10 days. And what is going on is adding to my processing of the world and my trip.

I process after each trip, thinking through the things I have learned and seen. I'm slow about it. If you asked me today, I can tell you the trip was amazing and a wonderful experience. I can say a few other things, but I don't really know what all of this experience means for me yet. I'm not able to jump to decisions or make bold statements about my time there.

Instead, much of my thoughts flip flop around. There is a melancholy at being home and leaving a place that I have come to love in such a short time. There is a joy at being reunited with my husband and the other people in my life that I enjoy. There is a tinge of sadness that I am no longer just out of college and able to drop everything and spend a year in a strange country learning to love it. But, there is a different tinge of sadness that I don't have children to come home to, but instead I have left some amazing children behind in Azul and missed so many changes that happened in my friends families in a few short weeks. And i can't be in both places.

There is trying to figure out how God was working down there and how it will change how I work here. There are the piles of work that got put aside while I was gone that all need attention now. There is a yearning to help beyond the means I have to help and an overwhelming joy at bathrooms larger than a coat closet. There is a joy finally having a chance to be alone, and a loneliness at being alone with all these big thoughts.I'm feeling a culture shock coming back to a country that can be so ignorant and materialistic, and yet not-so-secretly glad to have my Tivo, my plumbing and my computer back in my life.

There is strong mix of wanting to get back into the gym, and resting my sore muscles and my overthinking brain. There is an equally strong mix of wanting to keep up my small meal eating I did there and wanting to eat every food I missed until I'm stuffed silly. I want to tell everyone about the trip and I want to keep it to myself in a secret place treasured in my heart.

I want all of it and lots more. I'm cranky and lonely and tired, but at the same time I'm excited, motivated and moved by what I saw and experienced. So how do you process something that leaves you with so many minds. It takes a while. So bear with me.

I hope to start posting some pictures tomorrow. I forgot to bring my camera with me today at work and our laptop is currently dead at home and we are trying to fix that with tech support and such, so it won't be today. If I haven't caught up with you yet, know that I'm getting to it all. And my trip was wonderful - every minute of it - even if it did apparently leave me with some sort of weird multiple-mood mental disorder. *blush*

Monday, April 07, 2008

Jiggity Jig

Home again.

I just wanted to let you all know that I'm now state side again. My trip was amazing and I have lots of stories to share but I'm still processing, decompressing, catching up and doing the laundry. After all, it has only been 4 hours. But know that a big update is on the way and I'm doing my best to catch up on all that has been going on!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Azul

Beunos Dias from Azul Argentina. I´m here over lunch checking in with the world outside this tiny Argentine city. Our group has been working hard at the daycare center we sponser, painting and whitewashing everything fresh and playing with the kids. Plus we´ve been making a lot of friends down here. It is amazing how connected you can become to someone you can hardly talk to but it is true.

I have a lot of pictures and stories but an internet cafe with a spanish keyboard isn´t the place to tell them. But, I´m having a great time (even though it is tiring and a little overwhelming in places). We leave Azul on Friday morning for a few days in Beunos Aires before we return and I´m sure there will be so much to see in the next few days.

I wish I had more concrete stories to share but I don´t have much time left so here so I´ll just say that i miss you guys and I can´t wait to tell you all about it.

Oh, and if you know my hubby give him lots of birthday wishes on Sunday, April 6th. I won´t be back yet to pamper him properly and he´s stuck at home doing homework.

Love you all!