Thursday, December 31, 2009

Miss Carrie, in the kitchen, with an artichoke

Tonight I am watching “Julie and Julia,” which I got for Christmas, and which is one of my favorite movies as you have probably already figured out from my previous two blog posts about it (here and here). The thing is, I am just so much like Julie and Julia. They are both insecure, neurotic, self-centered women and I am too. Take today for example (or possibly this whole week). It is New Years Eve and I have been “bitching” (as some have pointed out…including myself…sorry, please excuse my French…) about not having fun New Years plans. Well, I feel I have been complaining about not wanting to hang out with couples on New Years, but it has been interpreted (and rightly so) as complaining about having no plans at all. Technically, I was invited to four events – all of which involve couples and all of which would have been enjoyable – and while I really don’t want to present myself as the “single girl who hates being single and complains about it semi-constantly,” I kind of am…especially when it comes to New Years Eve plans. Now, I am blogging after just finishing a far too big, but very delicious, dinner and contemplating whether or not I should go join my sister and some of my best friends for the rest of the evening (and trying to get over feeling like a horrible friend and party pooper if I don’t).
This is something else you should know about me: I get really weird on holidays. I get very introverted and anti-social and “glass half empty”-ish. There are days, such as New Years Eve, where all I honestly want to do is sit at home by myself and relax. I like it. It energizes me, which is textbook for introverts. Thus, a big part of me is decidedly happy to be writing this entry alone with my lovely, adorable dog, Lucy laying at my feet, and watching a movie (and then will be switching channels between Anderson Cooper and Ryan Seacrest as they bring me into the New Year). My family (and friends and roommates, and now that I am announcing it on a blog, probably the rest of the “world” – or whoever it is who actually reads this) thinks this is a very strange and annoying thing about me, especially because nights like New Years Eve are meant to be spent with others. Thus, I am like Julie and Julia, because I am self-centered and stubborn and cause great confusion, annoyance, and frustration to those who love me the most.

All things considered, I also thought I would say that in the spirit of watching “Julie and Julia” tonight I made artichokes to enjoy as an appetizer. I love artichokes. I think it is one the most wonderful foods in the whole world. I always used to (and still do) love when my mom made them for dinner and I always assumed they were difficult to make, but I was mistaken. They are super easy and I make them in the MICROWAVE, that’s right, the microwave. Here is the “recipe” (if you should even call it that, haha) thanks to my wonderful mom:

One artichoke per person
Trim the artichoke (cut the stem, slice off the top, and cut off the top of the unsliced leaves).
Rinse thoroughly (to get the dirt and possible bugs out).
Find a dish that can sort of snugly hold the artichokes and add about a half a cup or a cup of water (I just put some in to cover the bottom and less than half an inch of the artichoke base/stem).
Add some drops of lemon juice and a couple shakes of garlic salt to the water.
Cover tightly with saran wrap and cook in the microwave for 14-15 minutes.
I eat mine with mayonnaise or melted butter, but if you are really adventurous I recommend eating it with both for more options, fat, and deliciousness. It is simply heaven in your mouth.
(photos from here and here.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The decade I lost life’s training wheels

Many magazine and newspaper writers are saying this decade has not been one of our best. It has been full of high unemployment rates, natural disasters, terrorism and war, and a terrible economy, and while all of this is true, my experience has been quite different.
This decade brought the 9/11, Obama as President, the age of Apple, two wars, an obsession with Orange County, and many gold medals for Michael Phelps. It was the decade of social networking with Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter… and blogs.
On a personal level, this decade has been crucial to my growth and development, which given my age is no surprise, but I am going to write about it anyway, as any time we move into a new decade is impressive and a perfect time for reflecting.
2000-2009 were the years I became an adult. The decade before was full of me growing up and learning skills and social behaviors and establishing a foundation, where as this decade has been about shaking that foundation, learning about myself and experiencing life. It was the decade I lost life’s training wheels.
In this decade I graduated junior high, high school, and college. I made lifelong friends – many of them who I have known and been close to this whole decade. I began my adult life. I figured out more of who I am, what I want, where I’m going, and how to create the life I need. This decade brought me a love education, a passion for women’s rights, a growing and challenging walk with the Lord, a core group of friends, chances to travel, an obsession with books and writing, an understanding about the world we live in, an interest in politics, a lesson in love, and lots of laughter, friendships, and great memories.
(photo from here.)


Wow, 2009 is already over. Where did the time go??? My Grandma always told me time goes faster as you get older and she is totally right. 2009 has been very good to me. Full of new friends, a new job, and new understandings about life. I began the year in a deep rut and depression and empty both emotionally and spiritually, but I am ending it full of life and joy and Jesus. This was one of the best years I’ve had in quite a while.
This year I learned a lot about God. I learned about His grace and mercy, two things I tend to overlook. I learned He is alive and well within me. I learned He is the Great Comforter and that He loves me even when I am terrified to go to Heaven. Speaking of Heaven, my trouble with that led me to the counseling office and I am so glad it did. Counseling has been the MOST beneficial and best part of 2009. I have learned coping skills and gained wisdom and self-esteem and humor and a more balanced a healthy view on life, especially mine. My counselor has been a gift from God and I am so thankful for her. This year also brought me closer to my co-workers. I am surrounded by fun and lovely people all day and have developed some very close ties with some them. This year brought me a permanent job in CAPS, for which I am most grateful this year. 2009 also brought me friends. People I see many times a week and have a fun time with. I am still navigating my way through their group and a lot of bonding still needs to occur, but it is a solid start and I have been needing it for quite a while. I do, however, have two very good friends from 2009. Kristy and Nichol have been my rocks this year and I am so blessed by them. I don’t know where I would be this year without their friendships. This year brought health to my family and also added blessings to my extended family in finding the “lost sister.”
Last year I wrote a blog about 2008 and said this about my hope for 2009:
May it be a year of continued good health for me and my loved ones. A year of stability and deep friendships. A year with less transition and change. A year of thinking positively, and less fearfully. And a year of continuing to view the world through God's eyes and to continue to pursue happiness.
And so it was.
I had a stable year with less transition (except in my living situation). I dealt with my fears and was happier. And I learned a lot about myself through the Lord’s eyes.
So, to 2010, may it be year of graduating with my masters, growing deeper in newly formed friendships, gaining the ability to control and limit my fears without extra help, walking closer with the Lord on a more daily basis, taking more adventures, writing more, fostering deeper bonds with my family, and continuing to pursue happiness.
Happy new year to you and yours. God bless.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twelve days of Christmas

Oh how I love Christmas vacation! Love, love, love it. Twelve days off work, friends come home for the holidays, presents under the tree, sleeping in... all of it. Mostly the missing work thing and being in San Diego for longer than four days (because now that I'm an "adult" this only happens once a year).
I came home today, but break really started last night. I went line dancing with friends and met up with another friend and had a fun time. I am a bit obsessed with line dancing (as if you didn't already know this from reading my blog). Today my mom and sister and I made traditional Icenogle family Christmas cookies (see pictures). Then we had a lovely family dinner when my Dad got home from work. It is such a treat to eat dinner as a family when you don't live at home anymore... at least it is for me. :)
On the agenda for this break is seeing many old friends from high school. I seriously love Christmas break because we all get to see one another again and flash back a few years. I miss those days, so any chance to be together again is wonderful for me. I have the annual Christmas Eve with the Helton's tomorrow and then my family and I will go to my aunt's in Riverside on Christmas day. After that, my week will be full of getting together with friends, sleeping, watching cable, going to North Coast Church (back to the church I love) and relaxing with the family. I'm looking forward to every minute!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Couch potato

So, I just realized this is the last weekend before Christmas. Actually, because it is Sunday afternoon, the last weekend before Christmas has basically passed. I am either really not in the Christmas spirit or I live too much in my day to day activities… or maybe it is a mixture of both. I think living away from home makes me forget about Christmas. I mean, we have a tree in my apartment, but I hardly even notice it. It is not as beautiful or full of great memories as my tree at home. I didn’t even decorate it this year. Plus, no neighbors in my complex have put up lights (our old complex did… including us). I think lights on houses should be mandatory because it really gets me excited for the holiday season. With Christmas being on Friday I also realized this weekend was the weekend for Christmas sermons (aside from a Christmas Eve service), and I really like Christmas sermons… especially at North Coast (my church back home). Hearing a Christmas sermon might make me more motivated to go to church tonight (in San Dimas).
I am so unmotivated. I used to be motivated. I used to be a total achiever and get things done and always be on time with things and sit around and worry about stuff until I completed it. These days, that doesn’t happen as often. Things relating to work are the only things that really prevent me from being able to fall asleep. I mean, at this exact moment, I should be opening my mail, paying bills, cleaning my apartment, or doing some homework, and yet, here I am writing a blog and wishing I could watch some more TV. Is that bad? Part of why I love living by myself and being an adult is the fact that I can do exactly what I am doing right now. My bills will get paid, my apartment will get clean when I can’t stand it anymore, and somehow I still get A’s in school, so maybe it is okay to be completely lazy. I just have a hard time justifying it to those around me… or maybe just to myself.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top Ten: Rachel memories

The first time I met Rachel I learned two things that would turn out to be pivotal to our friendship: she prefers to hug and thinks I have good things to say. We were both in Alpha (a freshman orientation leadership program … and much more than that) and I had just said a closing comment on our “body image and sexuality” talk (a female only conversation that day) and was crying (because by the end of that discussion every girl was crying) and Rachel came up to me and pealed her way through the girls around me and said “hi, I’m Rachel, can I give you a hug?” She told me how much she loved what I shared and that she totally agreed and could relate. It was the only time we ever talked that year. That was August of 2005.
Flash forward a year. I arrived at Alpha training for my second year and drove up to Azusa wondering what I was thinking to volunteer again. I didn’t know many people in Alpha that year (yet) and thought it couldn’t possibly be better than the year before and I felt very sad and lonely to be leaving home after the summer. I walked to in check in for training and Rachel saw me in the office and ran up and gave me a giant hug. I didn’t even remember if I knew her name. She then (very excitedly, which would not be a surprise if you knew Rach) offered to walk with me to take my bags up to the dorm room I was staying in for training. I talked to her again periodically that first week, but we became friends during our training time in the Tenderloin of San Fran the second week. That was August of 2006.
In August of 2007 Rachel moved in with me and my roommates, because, after a year of friendship, we were pretty much inseparable and a force to be reckoned with.
Now, we live in two different states living two very different lives and yet we are still super close and talk at least once a week, usually more, and I am going to be in her wedding this June.
Rach is visiting this month and I am SO glad! We have a ton of fun and my life is so much better when she is local. Rach made a joke the other night about the fact that she wasn’t in my last top 10 things I am thankful for, and I told her she would get her own blog entry, so this is it…

Top Ten: favorite Rachel memories

(note: this is not an exhaustive list and also note, like so much of our friendship, most of the memories will not be fully understood by others).
1. Sitting on the floor of the YWAM in San Fran when I told her it was okay to cry and not to listen to her Alpha Counselor about how she should act.
2. Being together so often and having the same brain that our favorite professor, Dr. Noble, laughingly called us “Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum” (there is still a question about who is who).
3. Spending time in Laguna.
4. Spontaneous outings (looking at big houses in Pasadena, going to the Ivy, week night dinners, etc.).
5. Pillow talk.
6. The night Rach came over when a man with a gun was (possibly) on campus and I was freaked out.
7. Singing songs from Wicked in the car.
8. The (almost) all-nighter during finals week with Amy (aka Spo Spo), as we prepared to ace our Literary Criticism final/class (which we did).
9. Montana’s.
10. Laughing… always, always laughing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top Ten: Be thankful instead

Well, I was going to write a post about my rough day today and have a complaining tone (because I do it so well). But, I just got off the phone with my mom and she wisely advised me that every time I want to complain about something I need to name five things I am thankful for instead. She told me this in the context of a very specific prayer and God convo and a want that has been plaguing me of late, but the advice works no matter what.

So, here is a Top Ten list of what I am thankful for today. Thankful for right now.

1. My mom's wise and Godly advice.
2. Remembering my weekend with my family that ended yesterday.
3. That my beloved friends are coming home for Christmas (especially Amy and Nikki).
4. Heating pads and electric blankets.
5. TV on DVD (today, I am specifically thankful for "Sports Night" (especially Dan Rydell, the cute news reporter) and, therefore, the mind of Aaron Sorkin).
6. Anderson Cooper... today because he was the guest host of "Reggis and Kelly." He is so darn adorable and funny.
7. That I am considering writing more than blog entries lately.
8. Comfy sweatshirts.
9. Ugg boots.
10. Butter cookie wafers with marscapone and lemon curd (thanks to Trader Joe's and Nichol).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Adentures in Cooking: Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Bundles

I am cooking… a bit. I blame it (in part) on my friend Nichol and her lovely food blog. I “baked” for my work Christmas party last Thursday night. I say “baked” because I actually made No Bake Cookies (my Grandma’s recipe). I went over to Nichol’s house so she could help and inspire me, and so we could spend some time together. I also went over because I love her kitchen and hate mine (but you already know that…haha).
Tonight, I made Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Bundles. Well, sort of. I ate them together anyway! The bindles didn’t work out that well, but everything tasted great! So, in a complete copying mode of Nichol, here is what I did:
I got the recipe from Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network’s website. I have been having a craving for asparagus and love salmon lox.
First, I roasted the asparagus. I laid it out on a baking sheet. I covered the baking sheet in foil for easy clean up (I am anti-washing dishes). I drizzled it in Olive Oil (maybe too much because it was smoking in the oven and popping up off the baking sheet) and salt and pepper. I roasted it at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
Then, I let it cool while I got the salmon ready.

Really, I just opened the package and tried to find the thin slices…which is where I ran into my problem. The salmon lox weren’t sliced the way Giada’s picture looked and I tried to wrap one piece…
But then realized I would probably end up cutting the asparagus and eating it in bite size pieces with the lox, so I just did that (which I’m sure Giada wouldn’t do). I paired my meal with white wine, Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck (or as the classy call it, Charles Shaw’s) Pinto Grigio.

It really was yummy and very easy.

Getting ahead of myself

(Photo from here, the stuff I've been dreaming of...inspired by "You've Got Mail").

I am so getting ahead of myself. I’ve been doing this a lot lately. Dreaming about a life I am not able to have…yet. I am dreaming of my own cute small house. A house probably located back home in Oceanside. Decorated with pottery barn-esque furniture and design touches… a red couch, a mural painted wall, pictures of yummy food in the kitchen, pot holders above a stove, a bookshelf of cookbooks, bookshelves galore, a guest room, lavender soap, a fire place, lots of windows, and a quilt on my king size bed (probably made by my wonderful and talented Mom).
I have been dreaming about children. Okay, babies. Always babies. I am a sucker for babies. Seeing them and holding them makes me choke up (this post is scaring off all potential suitors…I know). Speaking of suitors…I am dreaming of a wedding and a marriage.
I know things are getting bad because I have ordered the Pottery Barn catalog, just to look at and get ideas from and dream. And, on Friday, I almost bought a puppy – even worse, a Chihuahua (crazy, I know) – simply because I loved holding something small and warm with a heartbeat in my arms. Gosh, should I be admitting all of this so publicly? I just can’t help being honest, hopefully you can appreciate that… hopefully.
Plus, I have been cooking…so I must be thinking domestically!