Sunday, December 9, 2007

"Nee-how, dai jin" (hi and goodbye)

Yikes. It has been a loooong time since my last writeup. Part of that time I have been in China on vacation with the fam. The 13-day trip was eye-opening and fascinating, as I saw some amazing stuff. We started out in Beijing (the first day was the coldest, rainiest day of the trip), flew southwest to Xi'an ("she-an") to see the Terra Cotta Warriors, then west to Shanghai. Our tour group consisted of about 28 people from my parent's town with a median age of 50, so my lil' sis and I were the youngest of the group. Some of the highlights from the trip was seeing the Great Wall of China (Badaling portion, just 1 hour north of Beijing), Terra Cotta warriors (even more amazing than what you see on the History Channel), Temple of Heaven (the symbol of Beijing), all the preparations for the 2008 Olympics, the gorgeous modern architecture of Shanghai, and of course, the culture. I felt pretty worldly before the trip, having traveled around the U.S. and a whole 2 times to Europe and once to Mexico, but this experience was completely different. It was interesting to see the modern Westernization of the cities, yet there were haunting reminders that I was in a Communist, third-world country. You would see a flurry of Starbucks and KFC's, yet with staunch soldiers standing outside them, making their presence known. Our bus would drive by huge shopping centers, only to pass by run-down "Hutongs" (old village complexes) and people hauling vegetables on the back of their bicycles. It was quite surreal.

Secondly, I always thought I looked kind of different, or more American, to most Chinese. So it was odd to me to be approached so much and greeted with a "nee-how" ("hi") and "blah, blah blah blah blah" in Mandarin. When they figured out I couldn't speak back to them, they had a funny look on their face and giggled. Maybe many of the Chinese have never met anyone who looks like them and doesn't speak the language! It made me feel that fine line between "American" and "Chinese" that comes up at times, when I have a mini cultural identity crisis. When I don't know how to define myself. I look like these people, but I don't speak the language, eat the food, or live their life. It made me think "should I be like them? should I be able to fit in better than most?" And does that identity borderline even exist? Hmmm...heavy stuff.

Anyway, the next 10 entries are notes from my travel journal. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tasty Treat

Halloween 2007 turned out to be kind of huge parties and trick-or-treater levels were down year-to-year (in researcher speak). However, I did love my costume! Following up the 2006 TV Set costume, I recycled the same "TV Set" into a Chinese take-out box. Take any old cardboard box, cut the top flaps into semi-circles, paint it white and accent with red writing to make an easy chinese take-out box. You can't really see my t-shirt in the photo, but I also added iron-on letters to an old t-shirt that said "Food." Hence, "Chinese Take-Out." It was cute but did not win me many prizes. I don't think I can recycle my box again so I may have to resort to some sort of stupid slutty outfit/uniform (nurse, firewoman, policewoman, maid...why the sexed up occupational themes?). Then again, maybe I'll find another box and be a refrigerator or least I'll be warm. My Chinese Take Out Box has yet to go into recycling, as Mr. Biscuits is enjoying it as his fort in my living room.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday Comfort Food

After the long work week, the last thing I want to do is cook. However, since our friend Murphy was our house guest last night and I was craving some good old comfort food, I decided to put on the apron. I love homemade lasagna, but I hate the work and time that goes into it. Thanks to Trader Joes and a little creativity, I whipped up this last minute lasagna in about 60 minutes. I know the golden rule of cooking for guests is not to make something you haven't tried before, but since Murphy is a good sport, why not?

After Work Lasagna

1 Box Barilla Lasagna (the kind you have to boil)
2 jars Trader Joe's Marinara Sauce
1 container Ricotta
1 ball of mozzarella (sliced)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
Trader Joe's Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage (I used 2)
1/2 minced onion

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil water and cook noodles until al dente. Saute onion and set aside. Mix sauteed onion with ricotta and mix in eggs. Slice sausages and saute, chopping gently to small pieces. Once sausage is cooked and in small pieces, add marinara sauce.

In a large rectangular pan, spray lightly with non-stick spray and add a little marinara sauce to the bottom of pan. Layer noodles with ricotta mixture, another layer of noodles with sausage/sauce mixture and sliced mozzarella, and so on. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Holly Go Lightly

Shoe mavens rejoice! Holly Dunlap, Creative Director of oh-so-fab classy shoe goodness, Hollywould, is coming to a Target near you! Hollywould is known for classic designs, sexy heels, and signature ankle bows. How cool is it that through October-December, I won't have to shell out $200+ for a pair of her shoes, but only $29.99??! Yes, that's right, $30 bucks. To top it off, there is a line of matching bags (how ladylike). I am eyeing this tote, as well as a pair of red satin heels.

Hollywould Fifi Tote, $49.99

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bringing SexyBack to SacTown

Boy, that Justin Timberlake has an insane effect on females. Following up to my previous post, my concert-bud Clau got some last minute tickets to the JT show at Arco Arena so after work I rushed over to Forever 21 to get some non-stuffy-sequined attire and off I went. Sacramento was the last stop on JT's tour and he and his crew really put on a good show. We started out in nosebleed section 218, but were able to take over our friend's much-better seats about 5 songs into the show. The new seats were in the middle of skankville, as girlfights erupted, obnoxious comments yelled, relationships were consumated, and lightweight drinkers over-indulged to the point of sickness. However, Clau and I had a great time and danced like we were 20 year old clubbers again. All this on a Tuesday night in Sactown...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This Just In...

As of 4:30pm this afternoon, I am going to the (rescheduled) Justin Timberlake concert at Arco Arena tonight! This was entirely unexpected, as I did not bring extra clothes, makeup, anything with me, but I guess that is an excuse to do some power shopping before he hits the stage at 8:30pm. Thanks to my friend Clau and her fairy godmother, dreams do come true!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Emmytime (Spoiler Alert)

Of all awards shows, the Emmy's are my favorite. The Oscars are a little too austere for my taste (even with Jon Stewart and other comedian hosts), Golden Globes are a nice preview to the Oscars but its spontanaiety is overplayed, SAG awards are mainly a popularity contest (only Screen Actors Guild members vote for their faves), and anything MTV awards is just fluff programming for MTV to give itself a little ratings boost. I'm a TV-girl at heart so I really enjoy seeing talented people get their due. I pretty much agreed with most of the winners. However, I didn't quite agree with Ryan Seacrest as host (why did he have to dress up in a costume from "the Tudors?" come ON.), the whole Jersey Boys/Sopranos tribute (their Jersey roots is the only thing they had in common. 50's pop and Mob families just don't mix), the theatre "in the round" staging, and the creepy Neil Patrick Harris/Hayden Paneterie banter ("so you're 18 now...").

Random Winners and Commentary:

Drama Series: "The Sopranos," HBO. AGREE, this show is so well written that I don't mind the grit and gore.
Comedy Series: "30 Rock," NBC. AGREE. Tina Fey reminds me of my smarty-pants friends. This show reminds me of working at a network and the insane dysfunction that prevails. Love it!
Miniseries: "Broken Trail," AMC. Westerns always win. But I still heart Robert Duvall.
Variety, Music or Comedy Series: "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," Comedy Central. I admit that I am part of the generation that gets my news from "The Daily Show." Infotainment is key to our multitasking age group.
Made-for-TV Movie: "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," HBO. I watched about 15 minutes of this is a heartwrencher of a movie. I can't stand watching movies about the topic.
Reality-Competition Program: "The Amazing Race," CBS. No surprise, this wins every year.
Actor, Drama Series: James Spader, "Boston Legal," ABC. Good, Creepy, Actor. Every time I see him, I think of "Secretary."
Actor, Comedy Series: Ricky Gervais, "Extras," HBO. AGREE, HILARIOUS. I thought it was great that Steve Carell from the other "Office" accepted it on his behalf.
Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Robert Duvall, "Broken Trail," AMC. AGREE, he's so good at playing old, hardened, cowboys.
Actress, Drama Series: Sally Field, "Brothers & Sisters," ABC. Hmmm, I didn't see the series, but I do like Sally Field. We like her, we really like her.
Actress, Comedy Series: America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty," ABC. Good for her. I remember her in "Real Women Have Curves" and I think she's a great role model for aspiring actresses.
Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Helen Mirren, "Prime Suspect: The Final Act (Masterpiece Theatre)," PBS. Who doesn't like Helen Mirren?
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Jeremy Piven, "Entourage," HBO. I wouldn't say he's comedic, just nuts. Too bad that he is the only talented one in the entire show.
Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Thomas Haden Church, "Broken Trail," AMC. From "Wings" to "Sideways," Love him!
Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Katherine Heigl, "Grey's Anatomy," ABC. I liked that she corrected the announcer-lady about her name pronounciation and how she announced that her mom told her she wasn't going to win. Her mother must have been so proud at that moment.
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Jaime Pressly, "My Name Is Earl," NBC. She's pretty good at playing white trash. However, I didn't like that she called herself "the little engine that could." That just seems egotistical.
Directing, Drama Series: "The Sopranos: Kennedy and Heidi," HBO. That was an awesome episode.
Writing, Comedy Series: "The Office: Gay Witch Hunt," NBC. Classic "Office"!