Monthly Archives: November 2008

MARTHA!!!

ms_cookingschool_cov_l

My Pal Al was really a great pal today – she waiting in line for nearly 2 hours to get Martha sign a cookbook for me (and she got one for herself)!

Last night I emailed her to see if she might be able to go see Martha for me (MS was in Dallas, not Houston) –  I like to give lots of notice when I ask my friends to do ridiculous favors for me 😉  But she knows how much I *heart* Martha, and was really such a great pal!  THANKS AL!!!!

I really wanted her to personalize my book to read:

To my best friend, Ting.  Love, Martha Stewart

or

To my BFF, Ting.  Love, Martha Stewart

Other acceptable phrases:

To another creative genius, Ting.  Love, Martha Stewart

or

Get cooking, Ting!  Love, Martha Stewart

Unfort, Martha was not personalizing her signatures. But I am just so excited to have a signed book!!

Advertisements

Friday

Friday night we went to Del Friscos – a popular steak house here in H-town. It was the 3rd restaurant I ate at this week, and also the 3rd restaurant where I valeted my car! Valet parking is very popular here – you can valet at nearly all restaurants as well as at the Galleria! Very odd, and somewhat annoying – always have to make sure I have a few dollars on me.

Anyway, the restaurant was not too bad – better if you are a carnivore, I bet. And oddly enough, most of the side veggies had pork (bacon or ham) in them. Blah – why would you need pork in your potatotes or spinach if you are eating a huge steak?! Anyway, I had the ceaser salad – pretty good, lots of dressing, stuffed flounder – stuffed with cheese and shitake mushrooms.

I had been looking forward to a lobster tail, but luckily I was paying attention when our (overly animated an hyper) server mentioned that she had 22 and 26 pound lobsters, and that the price per pound started at one hundred and blah blah blah. Seriously?! Who would pay $2200 for a lobster tail?! Ri-donk-ulous!!!

After din, we headed over the LB’s house for her rescheduled bday celebration (her original bday party was foiled by hurricane Ike) – she is just so cute! so are her friends – especially her roomie and BFF, C-line. They were really cute together – they have known each other for so long, it was like watching sisters together. and their mannerism were even very similar! I met a couple of her brothers, who were adorable.

lb_bday

LB looks so cute – too bad my numerous chins are showing off. And the piece de resistance – a 2 man mariache band!

img_1848

Fun times!  (But Boom and I couldn’t have too good of a time, as we had a long run on Saturday morning)

Land of 10,000 Restaurants

Already this week, I’ve been able to try two new restaurants – Dolce Vita and Indika. Very different, but both highly regarded in H-town, where restaurants stretch as far as the eye can see.

Tuesday night I met Jen, my friend from H-town Seals, at Dolce Vita. I hadn’t seen Jen since September, so I was really excited to catch up with her. She is also a crazy traveler – for work and pleasure, so finding a time when she is physically in Houston was quite a challenge. Anyway, she made a few suggestions, and Dolce Vita was one of them.

I had hear so many good things about it (“It is my favorite restaurant ever!” etc) that I was apprehensive that I would be disappointed, or that it just wouldn’t be able to live up to it’s hype. I started with the arugula salad. It was big! and arugula is so peppery that I definitely couldn’t eat the whole thing. Then I had the margherita pizza – it was quite tasty, but I kinda felt like it could have used a bit more cheese on top. And then we shared the baked berry thing a la mode.

And everything was good – but I wasn’t as blown away by it as some are. I guess pizzas seem kinda simple – so not too difficult to make a good one. We also split a bottle of vino – which accounted for not feeling so hot on Wednesday. It was such a nice night and we were able to sit outside – so that was a major plus. [The weather these days is great! I really love that is it cool, but not cold. I wouldn’t mind if it got a little bit colder, so maybe in the next few months…]

It was great to see Jen. She is a talker! I really like her and hope that we can get to know each other better. She is literally traveling all the time. In Oct, she was in H-town for 2 or 3 days total! Next Friday she is off to Peru (I am jealous!) to hike Manchu Picchu and then explore the rest of Peru – for 2 weeks! Fun times!

blulogo

On Wednesday, I met Linsay at Indika for dinner (incidentally, Dolce Vita and Indika are on the same block!). This place is also highly rated, but I hadn’t hear too many people talk about it. (Another friend, Lori, did say it is a great place for veggies, so I wanted to try it.)

I got the Vegetarian sampler – it was small samplings of some of their veggie dishes. Pumpkin soup, mashed sweet potatoes, a “meat”ball type thing, a corn and spinach samosa (spicy!), and a couple other items. Almost everything I really loved – the goat cheese stuffed dates were the only items I did not enjoy. Everything was so flavorful! And not curry, but spices and just general tastiness. I love when places make veggie dishes as yummy as meat ones.  And of course the naan – it was a little crispier than I would have liked, but delish none the less.

Was really great to catch up with Linsay – she is dating J, a friend of a couple friends in RIC, which is how we got hooked up with them to begin with. She is so cute! She and J just got back from London – and had a great time. They are planning a trip to Panama in Jan – how cool is that?! J’s also remodeling his home – I am hoping it is done by New Year’s Eve so they can throw a party! Anyway, I really like Linsay and J – hope to be able to get to know them better as well (seems like we are always out of town when they invite us to do stuff!).

Tomorrow we are going to Del Frisco’s on a work-related dinner for Boom. Should be interesting – as it is a steak house. I guess I can have some lobster! And it is a mini-chain – looks like there are 7 of them in the nation. Will review that when I get a chance!

No Rest for the Weary

The rest of my weekend was packed! Bright and early (well, it was actually pitch black) on Saturday morning, I ran 9 miles – I think I was supposed to run 14, but I was tired from Halloween. Impressively, Boom ran 17 miles! I told him he needs to start getting some milage in during the week, not just waiting until Sat to do a long run. These days I am trying to run 4 days a week, and between 20 – 30 miles a week. This week I ran 4 days – my milage was only 21 miles, so on the low end of my self-imposed spectrum, but at least within it.

Next up was a tour (organized by the JLH) of the Houston Food Bank. It is quite an impressive facility! The guy giving us a tour had a lot of impressive stats – one of the ones that stuck with me was all the food in the food bank (it is a huge warehouse) is given out within 24 days of being received. Another interesting fact is that 70% of people that get food from the Food Bank are NOT homeless. So they are the working poor that have to decide between medication and food. or house payments and food. They are a central receiving facility, and 400 non-profit organizations get food from the food bank.

Next up – my friend R and I went to DiverseWorks (an art gallery of sorts) to see the exhibit “Ben Tecumseh DeSoto: Understanding Poverty”. Wow. It was really moving and very eye opening. I guess I kind of live a sheltered life, but I didn’t realize what an issue homelessness is, and Houston has a large homeless population, probably in part due to it’s mild climate.

For me, homelessness is something that is really hard for me to understand. Why are people homeless? Why don’t they just get a job and save some money so they can rent an apartment? And I never know how to respond to panhandlers – I don’t want to give them money b/c what if they use it on booze or drugs? But, as a human being, I feel bad seeing a fellow human being in such a plight.

After seeing this exhibit, I am realizing that homelessness is so much more complicated than I ever imagined. Most homeless people have mental health issues, which perpetuates their problems. Many are suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), some from being military vets, and others from horrible events in their lives. Most have been abused in the worst ways – sexually, emotionally, physically – from a small age by the people who were supposed to love them the most.

They are all “just one bad decision” away from either being fine (i.e. living week to week) or being destitute. Something that I just can’t really imagine – can’t wrap my puny brain around. They don’t have any sort of safety net that they can depend on, if they make that one bad decision. I think of Boom and I, and if something really horrible ever happened, there are so many people we could depend on to help pick us up – my parents, my sister, his parents, his sibling, friends, etc.

I think it is easiest to lump all homeless people together and say that they are lazy, scary people. Makes it easier on folks to ignore them without feeling bad. These people have given up on themselves, but they somewhat can’t be blamed, as they have never known what it is like to have a fighting chance – stable family life, role models to look up to, friends to lean on, etc.

I think I am really going to try to learn more about this problem, try to understand it the best I can, and see what I can do to help. There is a local youth homeless shelter in Yarb’s and R’s neighborhood – Covenant House Texas – I have emailed them to get more information on some of their programs. R and I also want to do a Saturday volunteering session (with Yarbs, hopefully) to see what it is all about.

In my Pollyanna-ish way, I think most people are good. And theses youth that find themselves homeless and hopeless, maybe they could be put on a better path if they just had a chance. Makes me feel really lucky and thankful to have been born into my family

It seems overwhelming, what could I really affect with this huge issue of homelessness? But I realize I have to think that I can make a difference by doing my part / what I can, and if everyone made an effort to do their part, these big issues would seem less daunting. And for the pragmatists, helping get homeless people off the streets would lessen the tax burden on all of us.

Intense stuff for me – I didn’t cry at the exhibit, though there were many times I wanted to, but I did cry when I got home and was talking about everything with Boom. Makes me sad and a little guilty feeling. Hopefully I can get involved in a meaningful way to help chip away at the problem.

Lastly, I left for work around 530pm – for a pre-performance dinner with donors / prospective donors, then mingling in the Green Room with Patrons during intermissions, and then working my post-valet shift. Was home around 1130pm. Whew! Made for one tired Tingaling. and Sunday morning I totally forgot about the time change, so was up an hour earlier than need be! Highly annoying.

So a very full and interesting weekend. I am hoping that next weekend is a bit calmer than this weekend, but I can’t complain too much!

Halloween!

Had a great time – it is always fun to dress up! We had some folks over around 730pm to help pass out candy to the kiddies:

“Reggie” and her trainer!

A geisha and her ninja!

It was really fun wearing a wig! And because Boom’s was so over the top, I basically looked normal, even though mine was hot pink! We even cut a tuft of hair off Boom’s ‘fro and taped it to his chest! HI-larious!!! Our grapes getting squeezed was clearly the main downside of wearing wigs. Such relief when we took them off!

Then we headed off to Sammy’s to see…

and they were HI-larious! So fun and random and silly! Most of them had hair like Booms. And they were choreographed, too! As per the usual, I love it when people can make fun of themselves and not take themselves too seriously – and they fit the bill perfectly (read “Our Story” on their website)!

The best costumes we saw there were:

Michael Phelps – bold, since the guy was just wearing a swim cap, “gold” medals around his neck and leggings! And he didn’t have the body so MP, so even more bold! and his little buddy was dressed up as a male gymnast in a wife beater and teeny red shorts, was perfect b/c he is a wee one himself.

Care Bears – there was a gaggle of peeps (boys and girls) that were dressed up as different Care Bears. I loved it – thought it was so cute (and not slutty, which is what most of the ladies there were going for).

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf – cute couple costume. Made even better b/c the guy was really tall and big! so he was quite scary as the Big Bad Wolf.

Unfort, due to being thoroughly exhausted from a bear of a week, and needing to run in the double digits of miles (well, I only ran 9 – Boom ran 17!) the next morning, we didn’t stay until all hours or drink too much, which is likely more the norm for that band. But it did help to make for a more pleasant day on Saturday, which was awesome.

Anyway, a great time was had by all – I like that most people in H-town were dressed up! Fun times!