Monday, January 29, 2007

Stories from travelers

The Washington Post online has online chats with their reporters and editors on a daily basis. One of my favorite chats is the Talk About Travel chat. Not only do they take questions about travel-related stuff ("Is $400 too much for a round trip ticket to Alaska?"), but they usually have a random question that they throw out to the public about their own travel experiences. Today's question: "Give us your best hot-to-overheated stories and win a prize. Tell us about a night in Mali without A/C or coming down with a bad case of sunburn on the Equator. With the freezing temps outside, we need the heat."

I chimed in with this, which some of you may remember:

Washington DC: Heat: On our Hawaiian honeymoon 3 and a half years ago, my new husband and I went sea kayaking. Unfortunately, we ran very low on sunscreen. After a few hours of kayaking, my husband noticed that the top of his feet were getting red. A few days later, while playing in the ocean, he saw what he thought was a jellyfish on his foot. He ran out of the water, only to discover that his feet had started to peel and that water was sloshing up under the dead skin, causing it to puff up.
Andrea Sachs: That is so grossly amusing. If the prize is aloe vera, you win!

And guess what! I did win!

Andrea Sachs: Wow, you guys were on fire with your questions and hot travel stories. For the woman whose husband had bubble toes in Hawaii, please email me your address so I can send you some aloe, or whatever else we have laying around for a prize.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I've decided I like ordering from catalogs. All kinds of catalogs. Yesterday I ordered sausage from New Braunfels Smokehouse for our latest meat-based party, Sausage Fest. Today I received a catalog of a very different kind, from Coach. Yes, those pretty pretty bags. I've decided that for my 30th birthday (which is only 7 months away, by the way), I want a Coach bag. Oh, and sausage. But since I can get sausage any time, I'm choosing the Coach bag as my gift.

(Get your minds out of the gutter, people. I really am talking about pork-based products when I say sausage. And no, not that kind of pork.)

Of course, the real problem with catalogs is that they seem to multiply. In addition to my Coach catalog, I also got a Lands End catalog. I'll probably get more meat by mail catalogs too. Actually, I think I got the Smokehouse catalog by subscribing to Texas Monthly, which I also received today. So I have lots of things to read now.

I do read normal things, too, of course. I'm planning on posting a blog soon on the latest book that I've read. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who needs Craigslist when you've got pawn shops?

Have you ever tried to sell anything on Craigslist? Its a really frustrating experience. You're emailing back and forth with people, and they're trying to bargain you down on a price, and then when you agree on a price, you have to arrange a mutually agreeable time for pickup, and then you just have to hope that they show up. I just don't have time for that. I've posted things on Craigslist twice: some moving boxes that we were giving away for free (FREE!) and a grill that we ended up not selling but which ended up getting stolen (STOLEN!) later. That's why when we got a new TV (in preparation for the Wii) recently, I wasn't sure what to do with my old one. Craigslist was out. I decided to pay a visit to my local pawn shop.

I visited my first pawn shop as a seller when I was about 18 years old. Several years before, when walking my dog, I had found a diamond ring in the street, laying amongst the leaves. The diamond itself was about the size of a fork tine, and I'm pretty sure it was 10k gold. I held on to it, taking it to the flea market once to see if it was real. It was, and I got offered $25 for it on the spot, which I refused. I took it later to a pawn shop, and ended up getting more than that, though not much more.

I pass a pawn shop pretty much every time I go to the grocery store. It has always surprised me to see it there, since its right in the middle of Georgetown. I had never had the occassion to go inside, so I was curious as to what kind of merchandise they had. I hauled my TV inside, and told the affable young man that I would like to sell my television. "How much are you hoping to get for it?" he asked. "Oh, around $50," I said. Which was a total joke. My off-brand TV was pretty much as ghetto as they come. It didn't even have those audio/video/stereo plug-ins, but it was cable-ready. Luckily, he found the joke funny, or maybe not so funny. "I'll give you $20," he said. With my awesome bargaining skills, I was able to get $25. Actually, I thought that was pretty good. Cuz, yeah, ghetto TV.

The good thing about pawn shops is that you don't really get seller's remorse. If I really want it back, I can go back in a few weeks and give them $27 to get it out of pawn. Or, if I'm really desperate in a few months, I'm sure it will be for sale for the low, low price of $40.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Adventures on the bus

There are parts of D.C. that are notorious for bad parking. My neighborhood is one of them, but at least we don't have the bands of roving drunks that are prevalent in Adams Morgan, a hip neighborhood that has cheap restaurants, partying college students, and lots of bars. Despite the abundance of restaurants, not a lot of them are any good, with the exception of Amsterdam Falafel, which isn't really a restaurant, and San Marco, which is scheduled to close soon, if it hasn't already. So, me being me, I don't really have a lot of reasons to go over to Adams Morgan, unless I'm invited to a party, which is why I was there the other night.

There's a bus stop a few blocks from my condo that takes me straight to the heart of Adams Morgan, and parking in Adams Morgan being what it is, I try to take it. However, like many bus lines in D.C., this particular bus line seems to have more than its fair share of eccentricities. I've had a strange experience every time I've ridden this particular bus line, and Saturday night was no exception.

Everything was going well when I first boarded the bus and paid my fare. Since my stop is actually at the beginning of the line, buses will idle at this stop for several minutes before actually leaving. The bus driver announced that we'll be leaving in 8 minutes. There were several people already on board, including a woman who asked me if I knew where a certain street was. I didn't, and neither did anyone else on the bus. It turns out an elderly woman was lost. She had been riding different buses for several hours hoping to find her way home. She lived in Hyattsville, MD, which is nowhere near where I live. The bus driver decided that there was no way she was going to take off with this woman on her bus, and more importantly, let this woman get off the bus, when it was very obvious she didn't know her way home. She decided to call her supervisor to come pick the woman up. A noble choice indeed, but now we were delayed. We waited 20 minutes; no supervisor, but another bus pulled up. We all got off the bus, but discovered that we had to wait another 15 minutes for that bus to leave. The elderly woman was fully prepared to board the 2nd bus, even though it had been explained to her that a supervisor was coming to pick her up. She had no idea that we were delayed because of her, she was just ready to go home.

I ended up taking a cab to my destination, and pretty much got ripped off by the taxi driver (thank you D.C. for failing to put meters in the taxis). If I had any confidence that the elderly woman knew her address, or that a taxi driver wouldn't try to rip her off, I would have offered to give her money for a cab ride home. I think the bus driver did the right thing, even though it turned a $1.35 ride for me into a $10 one.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte

Today I was looking around for a bathroom and decided to stop in at Starbucks. As I was finishing up in there, I noticed a sign for the seasonal "Cinnamon Dolce Latte." I hadn't really been planning on getting anything, but the sugar-free syrup option really piqued my interest, so I decided to get one. Unfortunately, the people in front of me didn't speak English, so I had to wait an extra few minutes while they mimed their order to the baristas.

I decided to try the no-fat, no-sugar Cinnamon Dolce latte, and despite a slight artificial sweetner aftertaste, it was pretty good. Best of of all, when I calculated the Weight Watchers point values, it was only two points! A very nice treat for me, indeed. I can only imagine what a treat a full fat, regular Cinnamon Dolce latte would taste like.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I want to quit the gym!

Remember that Friends episode where Chandler wants to quit the gym but they keep trying to stop him, and he and Ross end up getting a joint bank account? I kind of felt that way today when I told Curves that I need to cancel my membership, except since its a women's only gym, there was no hot guy to try to convince me otherwise, so it was a lot easier.

I decided to quit Curves because my work gives me a huge discount to become a member of the Washington Sports Clubs, and I can use any of their facilities in DC, Philly, NY or Boston. With the discount, its even cheaper than Curves, and of course the hours are better and they offer classes and a personal trainer. It was a hard decision for me, mostly because I try to be non-confrontational, and also because Curves gave me a lot a support through my initial weight loss. Of course, they wanted to know why I was leaving, and I told them that I got a good deal through work.

Anyway, let's see how I do.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions

A few years ago, I decided that I don't think New Year's resolutions are effective. Basically, a lot of people are all deciding to change their entire lives on the same day. And they do it not because they really want to change their lives, but rather because the new year seems like a good time to start something new. As a result, new year's resolutions tend to fall by the wayside by mid-February.

I'm not making any resolutions because of the new year, but still have my own personal goal to lose more weight. Today, I made my first recipe from my new cookbook: hummus. Usually, hummus is pretty high in fat because of the olive oil and tahini. This recipe uses no oil and less tahini. Still delicious. Thanks to my family for buying this for me!

I think I enjoy losing weight because I enjoy cooking. I know that seems strange, but I now have the opportunity to make new recipes and try new dishes. Who knew it could be so much fun?

Everyone has to have their own motivations, I guess.