Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vegetarian Atlanta

Vegetarian Atlanta is officially up and running as of today. It is my newest project and I hope that it will become an extensive resource. My main idea was to review restaurants in Atlanta that a vegetarian can eat at, that aren't just specialty restaurants. Though it might take a little while to build a good review repository, I do have high hopes.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Poached Egg Obsession

It started innocently enough. We often frequent a lovely little restaurant called The Highland Bakery in Atlanta. It has fantastic food, though on the weekends the wait is unbearably long. For the longest while I ordered Ricotta Pancakes every single time I went in there. Occasionally I might have an egg and cheese sandwich, but I'd always go back to the pancakes. Until one day, in a twist of fate and sadness, my pancakes tasted like bacon. I was unforgiving and deeply saddened. I knew that I would never order them again. My soul was a little crushed.

And so I perused the menu anxiously, searching for a new favorite. My eye lighted upon the Eggs Benedict. Now, I like eggs a lot. I like them when the yolk is runny. But I hate hollandaise sauce. So I asked them to make it for me, but to leave off the sauce. When my wobbly poached eggs arrived atop a whole wheat english muffin, I was skeptical. I had been disappointed before. It was possible that this would be a bad date in food land. But instead, as the yolks ran down the side of the muffin and I took a juicy bite, I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness. It tasted fabulous. Just right. And so, I continue to order that same dish whenever we go to that one restaurant. Until a few weeks ago when they started screwing up the order by either adding the hollandaise sauce or, for some inexplicable reason, topping it with sharp cheddar.

I became sad again. My dish was, again, unreliable. I took matters into my own hands. I went to the mall, went to Williams-Sonoma, and purchased a Single Egg Poacher. It is a little egg shaped basket with holes in the bottom. I place it in a pan in shallow water, crack my egg in the little basket, cover it with a lid as best I can, and let it steamily poach my egg away. I take either a slice of toast or an english muffin, plain and dry. When the egg is done, I scoop it out, put it on the carbohydrate base, mash it up, and sprinkle it with salt.
When my husband isn't going to make it home from work, this is what I eat. My choice of dinner. Simple and delicious.

There is something great about choosing to eat something so simple alone. Oftentimes, I eat this sitting at my desk with my laptop open, frumpy and disarrayed. It is an easy joy and I like my eggs better than anyone elses.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nothing Else Matters

I wake up in the morning to my alarm irritating me, dragging me from my warm and cozy comfort. There is a huddled up blanket stealing lump in the bed next to me. I roll over and nuzzle the back of its neck. It is unresponsive. I ask it if it wants coffee and I get the tiniest of nods.

While I'm in the kitchen, making Columbian Supremo, I hear a thud as it rolls out of the bed and on to the hardwood floor, becoming my husband. He pads out to the kitchen and waves hello to me, not speaking yet. He fixes himself granola while I finish up the coffee. We sit at the kitchen table and quietly eat and drink coffee and wake up together. We don't need to talk to each other, and he isn't ready to yet. He needs a bit of time in the morning to see how his voice will be that day before he starts to speak.

We are comfortable with each other, secure in the knowledge that we love each other and want to be together. It is so easy. But all through breakfast I know that he is leaving soon and I am going to miss him. Thats the hard part.

"I love you more than everything" I tell him.

"I love you too."

And then the separation begins where I keep as busy as I can. I go to work, talk to my friends. When I'm done, I get on my little red scooter and ride the five minutes from my job to our tiny apartment. I get home before him and get the house warmed up a bit, the insulation is terrible and it gets cold in there so quickly. He'll call me to tell me he's on his way and I'll make him some Pomegranate White Tea when I know he's nearly home.
He'll come through the door with a call of "Redders?" or maybe "Wiferis?" to which I gleefully reply "Husband!" and scurry through the house to meet him, flinging by arms around his neck and breathing in the smell of him. And I couldn't care less if we go out or stay home, or what we have for dinner, or if we both just sit and work... he at his desk and me on my laptop on the bed, determined to be near him. So long as he is here, nothing else matters.

Written 01/29/08

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ode to My Scooter

About a year and a half ago, my car broke down.... again. I was frustrated and my insurance had just increased because I had moved into the perimeter of the city.
I decided I had had enough. I now lived less than two miles from work and it really made no sense to keep driving a car. I knew that riding a bike wasn't going to work for me. I had tried it once and my life had started flashing before my eyes before I even got half way.
I decided that my best option was to sell the car as is, and get a scooter. So I went and purchased the first brand new vehicle I have ever owned.... a 2006 Kymco Agility 50cc scooter. It's red, it's shiny, and it only costs me $85 a month to finance. Because I don't have to have insurance on my scooter, it was already saving me $65 a month because my insurance was so high. Then, of course, there is the money that I save on gas. My beloved Pontiac, Lola, was costing me about $60 in gas a month. Thats a fill up of $30 every two weeks, on a good week. I'm estimating quite low of course. My scooter, Bartholomew, costs about $2.90 to fill up every ten days. Thats about $9 a month. And my scooter gets 80 miles per gallon.
I had purchased my scooter in September. As fall deepened into winter, it got a lot colder in Atlanta. But as I was never on my scooter for more than 15 minutes at a time, it seemed okay. Then it got wonderfully warm and soon I was scooting around town in the summer wearing strappy dresses and heels.... which, I confess, do look a bit silly when wearing a helmet. But I loved it. I loved that getting places seemed to go such much quicker. I loved how much easier it was to handle my finances, and how I was able to take the money that I was saving and put in to paying off my other debts faster. I loved never having to pay for parking.
And then this winter began. It's harder now. I have to ride at night and it's been really cold. When it rains, I'm so chilly and I really miss my car. Sometimes I almost think about caving. Then I remember that my scooter paid for itself in 9 months. I remember that fuel prices are only rising. I remember that insurance companies overcharge. I remember that zipping down North Avenue with my hair blowing behind me makes me feel like I'm in a movie. I remember that everyone I talk to about scooters gets all excited when I tell them how much I love mine. And most of all, I remember that winter is nearly over.

Written 02/01/08

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Measurements Were Invented By Heartless Bastards

I swear it's a giant conspiracy.
It's me against my sister, and she's winning.

When Michelle asked me to be a bridesmaid for her wedding in May, I instantly accepted. Of course I did. I mean, she's my sister and there will never be another person with DNA so closely resembling mine.

I expected that she would pick out a bridesmaid dress from a store or a catalog. I would go to the store, try on a couple of sizes with nice single digit numbers, and that would be that. When she showed me a picture of the dress she had chosen my first thought was :

"Wow. It's pink".

The initial panic over the color was quickly eclipsed by her next comment.

"I'm having them specially made, so I'll need your measurements".

If this were a movie, there would be a close up on my face with a look of shock and horror on my face. You see, getting my measurements taken means that I have to have some other person wrap their arms around me with a tape measure and tell me exactly how many inches around I am... in large numbers.

But, as previously stated, she's my sister and I do love her. So I went and got measured.

It starts off kind of easy. First they go for your bust, which is a happy number because if it's a big number it's actually a good thing.

"34 Inches", says the friend of my friend who is doing me this embarrassing favor.

Next we move on to the waist. Now, I'm not too worried about this because I've always had a little waist, and I'm sure that my previous state of 24 Inches hasn't increased too much.

"27 3/4 Inches", she says, being kind by not rounding up.

Wow. I've gained four inches around my waist. Okay, thats not such a huge deal. I can sort of handle that. Of course I'm going to get bigger as I get older. I breathe through it.

Now the hips. It's a deceptive title. What she's really doing is measuring my ass. Measuring all the way around my ass and my hips. See, with hips, you can write them off as child bearing. With an ass though, well, that's really just something to do with the pint of Bailey's Haagen Daz you may or may not have eaten in two sittings this week.
And with your butt, no amount of breathing in will save you.
She wraps her arms around me. I pray she doesn't go for a bigger tape measure.

"40 Inches. Let me just double check that. Yes, 40. All done!"

She sounds almost like I should be happy that she's finished but all I can think about is the fact that my ass is 40 Inches of giant jiggly madness, and that the bridesmaid's dress my sister picked is going to be the most unflattering garment I ever wear.

Now that my proportions are completely messed up, how will I ever shop again? I mean look at it this way:
I have a size 4 or X-Small Bust. (Thanks for the insult on that one).
I have a size 6-8 or Small Waist. (This I can still handle)
I have a size 10 or Medium "Hips". (Double digits, you found me you evil bastards)
How on earth is anyone supposed to deal with that? I mean, come on!

One thing I will say, though is that I have three months before the wedding and today I am going out to use the last of my cash to buy myself some exercise shoes. I don't want to be "skinny", nor do I plan on starving myself to stick thin insanity I just want all the parts to match!

Written 01/26/08

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Doctors Without Borders

I have been a supporter of Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres) for some time. I think this organization is one of the most important and well-meaning organizations around right now. I feel that it warrants supporting, and it warrants writing about.
Let me give you a little back story into why I feel strongly about this.
I feel that the Medical Profession, especially in America, is very very corrupt. I feel as though not all, but a significant amount of Doctors are in it for the money. The humanitarian idea of going through Medical School to save lives seems to be waning. I state, again, that I know this is not the case for everyone, and that this is only my opinion. I understand the human need to make money to survive, but I feel as though the state of the medical profession in America is so deeply capitalist that it has lost sight of what is important. People. Happy, healthy people. Children that can get medicine any time they need it. Adults who don't have to suffer through mountains of debt because they were in an accident. It shouldn't be this way.
Doctors Without Borders is an organization that goes into any country in the world, even those war torn and dangerous, to offer medical aid to those in need. It's that simple, and it's that hard.
When people think about humanitarian needs in the world right now, they might think about the conflicts in Iraq, or the problems in Darfur.
Did you know that there are also majorly under-reported humanitarian issues in Somalia, Zimbabwe, Armenia, Abkhazia, Georgia, Cambodia, Kenya, Thailand, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Niger, Sri Lanka, Congo, Columbia, Myanmar, Central Africa and Chechen? And that isn't the whole list. Trust me.
Doctors Without Borders helps bring not only immediate emergency relief, but also puts in place vaccination programs, water sanitation, works to combat hunger, and provides shelter where they can. They do this without prejudice, and often with considerable risk to themselves. These are often licensed Doctors who are giving their time to this cause. They are taking time out from their practices and their families and they are flying half way around the world at times to help people they don't know. They deserve some serious kudos.
I am writing this mostly because I am broke. I donated money back in December. Not a lot of money, but that which I had. I'm going to ask you a favor. Next time you think about going to Starbucks, or you go out to eat and think about getting dessert, or maybe you go to buy yourself something online, stop. Have a think and remember what I just wrote. Then don't buy that one item, that one time. Take that money and donate it to Doctors Without Borders. Even a few dollars can do so very much. As an example, $3.75 will provide a child in a famine stricken country with 2 nourishing meals a day for two weeks. Thats roughly a Grande Vanilla Latte. If you do decide to donate, make a comment here and revel in your goodness.

And thank you, so very very much for reading.

Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders Donation Link

Monday, February 18, 2008

AFK: Tornado

Atlanta is one of those wonderful places in America where it gets nice and warm in the summer and not too terribly cold in the winter. We have one snow a year, and everything else is fairly calm. We're just far north enough to be out of hurricane range, and just far east enough to be out of blizzard and tornado range. Or so I thought.
Yesterday was a grey day. We woke up to a distinct lack of sunshine and checked the weather. Yep, another stormy day where we had to take the van instead of the scooter to run around town. Husband and I ran some errands early in the afternoon, and then headed over to our friend Bret's house to hang out, code, knit and play Mario Party. It was an afternoon like many other quiet sunday afternoons. Then the rain started.
It was slow at first, but then it started to really come down hard. Our friend Nick was outside in the carport working on his new motorcycle. Then work called me to check on my schedule for the coming week, and offhand they mentioned that there had been a tornado spotted in East Point, which isn't too far from us.
Laptops were pulled out immediately, doppler was checked, satellite images of the area were accessed, and we did indeed see that we were under a Tornado Warning. Not a Watch, an actual Warning. Bret confessed to being deathly afraid of Tornadoes. I told him that it was okay, that they didn't scare me. He could be scared for me, and I'd be calm for him. So we all agree that if we see hail, or hear a freight train, we head for the basement. So we sit and continue our knitting and coding.
Then the sirens start going off.
This is Atlanta, we didn't even know we HAD sirens. We leap to our feet, grabbing the expensive handy electronics as we go. I run to the front door and yell for Nick to get inside. We head down to the laundry room in the basement. Then the rain stops and everything goes kind of quiet, including the sirens. We sit there for five or ten minutes. Then the siren starts again and the rain comes back. And then the siren stops.
We gingerly head back upstairs, keeping one eye on the windows. As the rain settles back in, we breathe a sigh of relief and decide to go see a movie.
I confess, I was fairly excited by the prospect of a close call by an unexpected weather phenomena, and I really had no idea we had sirens. I am glad that that was the closest we got, though. It was certainly an interesting twist to an otherwise quiet afternoon.