Monthly Archives: November 2011

a confession of the culinary sort

i am about to admit something, something i never thought i would say.

something that has haunted me for quite some time up here in mason city, done in the quiet hours where no one is around to witness or criticize.

i like to cook.

there, i said it. are you happy, mom?

somewhere along the line, cooking has stopped becoming a chore to me. i find myself looking through recipe books now and dog earring pages with things that i think sound good. i group my grocery list according to what food i want featured in my meals each night. i don’t mind shucking out $60 in groceries and whip up some meal that takes much longer to make than it does to consume.

what the hell is wrong with me?

granted, i don’t do anything extravagant or noteworthy (see my friend Erin’s blog Foodtopia if you’re looking for something like that), but i find myself in the kitchen every night making some meal for the boy and me. he will usually come home, make some exclamation about how the house smells good (then I give him a treat, it’s sort of like a pavlov’s dog experiment) and then we will sit down and eat and watch dexter. it’s become a nice little routine.

but recently, evan has come up with a new challenge for me. given that we spend around $100 every couple weeks on groceries, he is asking me to use up what we have in the cupboards/freezer/refrigerator before we go shopping for anything else. now, if anyone knows me they know i can’t back down from a challenge. especially if it involves making money or saving money (i’m easy, what can i say). so for the past few weeks, i’ve been documenting what i’ve had for supper (yeah, that’s right, we call it ‘supper’ ’round these parts)… here goes:

Monday 11/21: wasn’t that hungry and evan works late on mondays so i had chips and salsa with melted cheese. don’t judge me.
Tuesday 11/22: made these crescent chicken things- a recipe passed down from my mom and a lundberg family favorite. they are probably one of my favorite meals, but it involves all sorts of unhealthy things like cream cheese, bread, and salt (probably why i like it so much). also cooked up some broccoli.
Wedesday 11/23: met krista and jordan out for hy-chi (hy-vee chinese food). it was only okay… but it was also only $6 a piece for an all you can eat buffet.
Thursday 11/24: thanksgiving leftovers and pumpkin pie (the only pie i really enjoy, mostly because of the whipped cream)
Friday 11/25: some delicious seasoned chicken halves we got on discount from super target for 1.67. they had been sitting in our freezer for god knows how long. also stirred up some potatoes.
Saturday 11/26: hamburger helper meal from 2007. yeah, gotta get that out of the cupboard at some point. apple slices, cut to perfection (super thin and almost like chips).
Sunday 11/27: casey’s pizza. kind of cheating, but evan’s parents came up to help me paint my office so we had to feed them and i didn’t want them to suffer through our meal challenge.
Monday 11/28: leftover casey’s pizza. hey, i do alright for myself. (btw: if you ever want to win me over get me a casey’s pizza with mushrooms, pepperoni, and black olives. it’s my absolute favorite, and i don’t care what anyone says- casey’s pizza is the best pizza known to man)
Tuesday 11/29: used the rest of the ham leftover from thanksgiving to make ham fried rice. had to buy an onion, but i don’t really think that’s cheating…
Wednesday 11/29: okay, i admit it, i caved. while i was withdrawing money at target i bought two delicious and cheap spinach and herb encrusted beef pinwheels. for $5. total. BOOM.

in total, for the 1.5 weeks that i was actually at home, the total amount i spent on food was less than $30 (counting the pizza, my order of chinese food, the onion, and the pinwheels). i feel pretty good about that. and the fact we are clearing out this ridiculous amount of food we have stored up– our bomb shelter just isn’t quite big enough for it all– makes me feel like we’re accomplishing something.

i should also perhaps note that evan did end up caving and buying some groceries- he’s been sick the past few days so he stocked up on chicken noodle soup, an assortment of teas, pomegranates, and… pie. (i think the pie was more of a “feel good” sort of purchase.) 🙂

next week i’ll be in des moines and i’m pretty sure i will at least triple that amount of money while i’m in town. i have this problem i call FOMO (fear of missing out). i hate the idea of fun going on and me not being a part of it.

routine

sometimes i hate routine– i hate knowing that i have to be some place at some time and i’ll be doing the same thing as i did before… and i’ll be doing it again.

and yet sometimes, sometimes i find it strangely comforting. when i don’t have a routine, i find myself wondering what to do with myself. if there’s some task i should be accomplishing or some goal that needs to be set.

because here’s the thing about amanda lundberg. i am never satisfied with who i am. there are phases of contentment, but i always think i should be doing something to better myself. i want to learn languages. i want to get good at guitar. i want, i want, i want.

but i rarely ever do.

and then i complain.

so this is where routine steps into play. if i realize there are things about myself i want to change or get better at, i have to actually take steps in that direction or really, i just need to shut up. but one thing i am good at is making lists. so here goes another one:

1) I want to learn how to play guitar. i know how to play guitar in it’s simplest form. i know the four basic chords that make up a lot of songs- i could probably play along with any christian camp sing-a-long (yes, be impressed). but i can’t play a b chord. i can’t keep a strum pattern. i can’t play through a full song by myself.

so what am i going to do about it? well, i’ve started taking guitar lessons with an old college friend who lives in mason city. and after my second lesson i can now play through the song Skinny Love (Bon Ivers) without a problem. sure, it’s not in the original key he sings it in and i still stumble through some strumming issues… but i can play it. heck, i can even sing it *cough*when no one is around*cough*.

2) I want to learn another language. Fluently. none of this half-assing, “i kind of know spanish so this should be easy and when it’s not i’ll stop trying” shit. i just realized last week that my online rosetta stone has been renewing itself for months without me doing anything about it. i am going to try to dedicate at least an hour a day to learning a language. i’ve already started on italian, so maybe i will continue… but dutch is beginning to sound better and better to me. why? well, for one, i’ll be going to belgium next year for work and that is the main language that they speak. and for two… well… shut up, you don’t know me. 😉

3) I want to stop drinking pop. so really, i’m going to stop drinking pop. i’m usually pretty good about it, but when i’m hungover all i want is something sickeningly sweet or unhealthy. usually both. on that note, i should probably cut back on my alcohol intake as well…

okay, we’ll start by tackling those three things. (reducing alcohol intake is another battle for another day). and then we will self-improve other areas as we see fit.

a 2-Year toast

evan and i have “officially” been dating for two years. since we didn’t really have a set date we called each other boyfriend/girlfriend (wow, that sounds cheesy), we decided that thanksgiving was an appropriate day. 2 days before thanksgiving we had our first date. the night before thanksgiving he saved me from making a huge mistake at the bar (turkey trotting, never a good idea). and on the night of thanksgiving we met up again and went out for dinner and a movie. that weekend i went to visit him up in mason city, and the rest is kind of history from there.

i’m not saying things are perfect now or that things have ever been perfect. both evan and i have made a lot of mistakes in our lives, before and after being with each other. there have been times i wanted to throw in the towel because i know i deserved better and there have been times i know i have been crazy and irrational and treated him in ways i shouldn’t.

but really, there is no one i’d rather go through these imperfections with. i love that we don’t quite match up in interests (he’s very outdoorsy, i am a computer nerd), but match up in values. i love that our families get along so well. that we get to cuddle on the couch under a blanket and watch cheesy movies like christmas vacation. that we can make fun of each other and not take it personally. that he’s not the jealous type and still allows me to be me.

anyway, in honor of two years with mr. evan peterson, here are 10 of my favorite photos of us:

This is the first picture that Evan and I have documented. It was on Thanksgiving in 2009 and we had gone out to dinner and then to a movie. Unfortunately, there were no good movies in the theater at the time and we had to settle and see “Old Dogs.”  This was also before Evan told me he hated getting his photo taken, so I got some good ones where he couldn’t complain.

New Years, kicking off 2010. I just like this one because he looks so handsome.

This photo makes me laugh every time because I just feel it describes our relationship so perfectly. Evan is a biker and skate skier, but he has asthma problems sometimes. I didn’t realize our photo was being taken at this moment, but I feel this is probably what I said to him while he was recovering.

Taken at one of Evan’s favorite spots in the world, the Iowa State Fair. This photo was taken AFTER he told me he hates photos, so I love the big grin he gave me.

At Derek and Linsey’s wedding in 2010. Evan was a few hours late to the reception because we had argued on the phone whether or not he had to dress up. He had decided not to- left town, felt guilty, and went back home to iron some dress pants and throw on a tie. And he looks gorgeous.

The man and I in Seattle, in front of the first Starbucks. This was our first vacation together and Evan’s first time on a plane. My shirt says “Everyone Poops.” 

Halloween. I LOVE Halloween, I love making a fool of myself. Evan does not, nor does he like to go out and party, so I always choose simple costumes for him. This year we went as Wolverine and Storm (X-Men). I bought the claws and borrowed the leather jacket. My friend Krista styled his hair, please notice the fine details. We take our Wolverine’s very seriously. 

I love this. We were grooming ski trails one night a bit outside of our home. The night was so quite and calm and we saw nocturnal wild-life, and just cuddled on the ski groomer while defining the trails. We also look like we are entering Mortal Kombat with our facemasks. Evan can be Reptile, I call Scorpion. “GET OVER HERE!”

Ahh, Halloween again. This year we went as Dexter and a victim. I bought him the shirt that Dexter wears and everything else we took out of his closet. My costume was relatively cheap, but slightly complicated to make. But regardless, I wore my grey chucks. And I got fake blood on them, but that is a small price to pay for how fantastic these costumes turned out.

Our most recent photo, on Thanksgiving 2011, marking our two year anniversary. We didn’t do anything special just the two of us, but we had Thanksgiving with his family (a total of 45 people were in the house), and then halfway through the day we made our way to my grandparents’ house to see my family. We both love this time of year because it gives us a chance to hang out with our families, eat big meals, and just be thankful for all the good things in our lives (which are plentiful).

So that’s our last two years in a nutshell!  Here’s to two years, and to many, many more!

my kryptonite

overall, i think that i do all right for myself. i have a job i enjoy, my family and friends are top notch. i am what some call the cat’s meow. 😉

but, it has recently come to my attention that i do have one piece of kryptonite just waiting to destroy my body of steel (hey, don’t ruin it, this is my fantasy/blog).

i love…

…i love sad eyes.

there. i said it.

now, i know what you’re saying to yourself. i mean, besides agreeing with me, you might be asking yourself questions like “what the heck are sad eyes? or “is she making this up?” well, let me enlighten you:

in this real life “chicken or the egg” scenario, i will bring you back to when i was around fourteen years old and fell in love with met a young man by the name of tim. i liked many things about young man tim. he was just what my teenage self was looking for at the time- a very scrawny, short male with dyed black hair, punk attire, and an air of “cool.” over time we became good friends (and he got less punk and filled out a bit more). the attraction some-what faded, but the love for his eyes always remained.

looking back, i can’t say whether i originally liked tim because he had sad eyes or if i like sad eyes now because i liked tim, but either way, the kryptonite was formed.

now after this heartfelt tale of teen angst and semi-heartbreak, you might be saying to yourself, “this is a great story and all, amanda, but what is a sad eye?!” i’ve drawn a diagram to help explain.
(…and by diagram i mean i just labeled a portion of a photo.)

as you can see, the eye itself may not be sad. heck, the person the eye is attached to is most likely not sad. but the angle of the eyelid, the expression it gives a person makes it appear as if they could burst into tears at any moment. beautiful, sad-eye tears.

and tim isn’t the only person in the world that has sad eyes. if you are familiar with the television show The O.C., the person who plays teen rebel heartthrob ryan (ben mckenzie) is an example of a celebritied sad eyed wonder. dancing with the stars mark ballas (yum) is another. and if you need more proof these sad eyed beauties exist i have two [three] words for you: JAKE [muthaf&ckin] GYLLENHAAL.

…but it wouldn’t be a problem if it were only celebrities that carried my crippling weakness. i can admire them, i can fantasize about them, no harm done. it’s not like anyone i know NOW, not like anyone i work with could have this sort of specially-bred-amanda-killing eye shape.

EXCEPT FOR ONE.

ugh. it’s a good thing i only see him like once a year because things could get real creepy real fast. not in a “i would actually do anything” sort of way. …just more in a “i will stare at you until you notice, then continue to keep staring because now those beautifully sad eyes are trained on me” sort of way. you know, absolutely normal stuff. i mean, i’m pretty sure it’s a compliment if you were to say to someone, “all in all i’m not that attracted to you, but i would make you marry me solely for your eyes if given the chance.” yeah, that’s complimentary, right?

[and no, jessica, i will not include a photo to further my embarrassment, although i wouldn’t put it past me either. maybe for your birthday when this thread is long and dead.] 

[okay, you talked me into it]

evan, on the other hand, has perfectly normal eyes. beautiful eyes, in fact. brown, large, almond shaped, with looks so cute he could melt you by glancing in your direction (i don’t let him do that to people anymore, it is a mess to clean up). and given the chance, i don’t think i would want him to have sad eyes because i think it would take something away from how he looks now, which is almost perfect to me.

but still… i have to admit. the sad eyes have a certain pull over me. and i don’t really mind drooling over  staring at  admiring  crushing on …ahem. occasionally glancing at co-workers/friends/celebrities/random people on the street that have them.

but now that i’ve bared my soul, i need to know a few things:

1) does anyone else have any strange weaknesses they would like to share with the class?
2) does anyone else have pictures of people i can stare at and keep in a secret file on my desktop? (i think this is my version of porn, haha)

a little sumthin-sumthin about me

i wrote this on Facebook a couple of years ago when those “top 25 things (i want you to know) about me (because i’m that egotistical)” notes came about. while i was looking over it today i realized a lot of it is still applicable and can be used as a little bit of insight… well, about me.

the new comments are written in red.

1) I have started doing one of these stupid notes five times. I always ended up closing the window because I didn’t want to be “that girl.”

2) Yes, I have seen Office Space. You are not that original by making fun of my last name. (my last name is Lundberg, so i get a lot of “mmmm, didja get that memo”s or “hey peter, what’s happening?”s.)

3) I love making lists. I think I got the idea off of High Fidelity, and I’m obsessive compulsive enough that it stuck. I probably have a top 5 of most things I care about.

4) Ridiculous songs are my kryptonite. So is bad karaoke. Some examples of these songs are “Hurt So Good,” “Sign, Sealed, Delivered,” and “Hungry Eyes.”

5) I love to travel. I know it’s not that interesting of a fact– I’m just putting it out there.

6) When I was a child I used to think my parents were bears dressed in people suits and they took the suits off after I went to bed. I tried to sneak downstairs multiple times to catch them in their natural “bear” state. (um, no… i’m not embarrassed about this at all.  …not…at…all…)

7) The next car I get will be a Mini Cooper. A yellow one. With black racing stripes. (boomshackalacka. wasn’t lying.)

8 ) I want to be a mutant so bad that it hurts. I would say when I’m in a car and just thinking, 70% of the thoughts are about my superhuman abilities. The other 30% is divided among current events, to dos, and food.

9) Rachel Tell forced me to eat cherry tomatoes as a child when we were playing Boxcar Children because “Boxcar children eat what they can get!” I feel this was a very traumatic event that tainted my taste buds and feelings towards a certain vegetable. I couldn’t eat tomatoes until last summer.

10) I can play piano, guitar, bass, and percussion instruments. I can play none of them well.

11) My family is the most important thing in the world to me. I feel very blessed by them, in the truest sense of the word.

12) I love it when my guy friends have a girlfriend/wife because it alleviates any pressure or misconceptions about the relationship we have. I also get upset when people question my friendship with guys– if I wanted it be more, the intention would’ve been known. Given that, I fully believe Tim Maybee and I will be married if we are ever single at the same time. 😉 (*sigh* Tim Maybee is now married [and not to me], so that one is nullified. i guess i will keep Evan around.)

13) I want a dog. I’d like to teach it to play dead and make an “arooo” sound when he falls over.

14) Ellen Page and I would be friends in real life, I am almost positive about this. Sarah Silverman could hang out with us too. Taylor Swift is not invited. (Scarlett Johansen is not invited either.)

15) Sometimes I forget I am Asian. Is that weird?

16) I honestly love my job. I feel that is weird to say, especially being 22 years old and at my first job out in the real world. (i’m 25.5 now, if that gives you any indication of how long ago this was written.)

17) If you use the wrong their/they’re/there or your/you’re I will automatically lose respect for you. It’s nothing personal… but get some brains.

18) I think that sometimes I come across as arrogant, which is never my intention. Most of the time I am being sarcastic. The other part of the time I am being deadpan. The other part, I’m just stating facts… I am, in fact, awesome.

19) I like to quote movies, music, etc. If people can pick it out of a conversation, it is obvious they have good taste.

20) Being a Christian is more than going to church. I am a very spiritual person, but I don’t see the necessity of flaunting it in a pompous fashion or berating someone for not believing the same thing as me. It’s love, not judgment, that’s going to change the world.

21) I love to read and usually end up finishing a book in a day or two. I should probably slow down so I can enjoy the process, but it’s too difficult for me.

22) Games like hide-and-seek make me nervous. I feel if I was in a horror movie and a killer was chasing me I would jump out from wherever I was hiding because I couldn’t handle the suspense.

23) Meeting new people is a rush to me. I love making new friends. Having said that, there are a handful of people I would do anything for. I love and respect them, and they have shaped who I have become. You know who you are.

24) I’m not really “bad” at anything, but I’m not good at much either. I am pleasantly mediocre at most everything I do.

25) I ran out of interesting things about me. If you feel I should add something, please put it in the comment below. (i’ll add one now, for the sake of argument. even though i highly enjoy “city living,” i am a pure country hick at heart. i love country music, riding four wheelers through the woods, and drinking crappy busch light beer i can get at the hometown bar for 1.50 a can. most of my friends hunt and have deer heads mounted on their walls. we had the largest graduating class while i was in high school, with a grand total of 53 kids.)

things i discovered while in italy.

a good ol’ f/u.

…as in follow up.

……from my previous post.

Some tips I discovered while traveling around Italy

Language
  • Well, there’s a language barrier. There’s that.
  • Learn basic phrases in Italian or the language of any foreign country you’re traveling to. Even if you sound stupid, at least it sounds like you’re trying.
  • I feel it would be useful to learn the phrase, “Can I pet your dog?” I realize it’s not for everyone, but it really would’ve came in handy for me.
Venice
  • Venice is expensive. Gondola rides are 80 euro per person (around $120) during the day and 100 euro at night. You may be able to find cheaper rates, but on worse canals. Just do it in Vegas. 🙂
  • Venice is a complete tourist trap… but it’s very beautiful and definitely worth seeing.
    …But maybe only for a day. You can hit all the big things in Venice in one day.
  • Venice has TWO train stations. Make sure you book your trains for the right one. Sounds stupid, but worth repeating.
Rome
  • You WILL wait in line for approximately 2 hours to see the Vatican. It is 15 euro, 31 for a guided tour (and they will sell out quickly). If you’re feeling risky, street vendors offer you tickets and a tour of the Vatican, St. Peter’s, and the Basilica (free entry on the last two) for 45 euro and you can skip the line. It’s your call. It could be worth it.
  • Just assume people are going to try and steal your money (pick pocket) on the bus. It won’t make you the most friendly, but it won’t get you robbed either. Bus line 64 is the infamous line for gypsies and thieves. Both 64 and the 40 will take you to the Vatican.
  • ^ Speaking of the bus lines, you can pick up bus tickets at any tobacco shop for 1 euro.
  • Also, the pick up and drop off spot for the buses are not usually the same place. That doesn’t make ANY sense to me.
  • Stay at the B&B Smart. It is located in a decent area by the train station, it’s cheap, and Isa is the most hospitable person I’ve ever met.
Additional Information
  • It’s important to figure out how to get to your hotel/destination ahead of time. I’m learning the value of this. It makes Jessica much less upset.
  • Be aware of culturally respectful things – some cathedrals have dress codes. You can’t wear too short of shorts and you can’t wear tank tops. They will make you buy a shawl. They made me buy a shawl. It cost euro and it felt like a thin paper towel.
  • Um, gelato. It’s delicious, try it if you’ve never, savor it if you get the chance.
  • It happens in touristy places in the US too, but there are people in costumes who will encourage you to take pictures with them. They WILL charge you, this is not just for their enjoyment. They will also charge you if you take a photo OF them, so if you do… well, be sneaky.
  • Public seating is scarce. A lot of restaurants will have a place to rest, but you need to eat or drink there to use their facilities. Also, restaurant owners, waiters, etc will heckle you (in a fun, good natured way) for you to eat at their restaurant.
  • Grappa. Oh gawd, grappa. It’s an Italian alcohol that’s anywhere from 35-65% proof. It tastes like gasoline and burns even worse. My European co-workers keep assuring me that “aged grappa, colored grappa” is delicious. I don’t know if I believe them.
  • Limoncello, on the other hand, is delicious. But should be sipped. It’s usually served chilled and after-dinner. The first time I had it I took it like a shot. My mouth went numb immediately after.
  • If you ask for water with your meal, it will come in a bottle and you will have to pay for it. A LOT, as they jack up the prices at meal time. Best to just get a pop or a glass of wine. 😉 Or a couple glasses of wine. Hey, you deserve it.

things i discovered while in ireland.

now, i’m not claiming to be a travel connoisseur or even have a good handle on what to do or what not to do while you’re on vacation/holiday. but here are a few tips/observations that i took down while in ireland that may not be in every travel guide.

Alcohol (because this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart)

  • Smithwicks (pronounced “Smit-icks”) is a beer and it is only 3.8% alcohol, but cost 4.5 euro. This is a rip off, do not be tricked.
  • It is more expensive to buy in “bulk” (like a six pack) than it is in the United States. You are almost better off buying the bottles individually.
  • A Guinness & Black is a Guinness with black current added, it tastes a bit like licorice. Females will usually order this to make the drink sweeter, although I’ve been told “if you don’t like the taste of Guinness, this isn’t going to help.”


The Lay of the Land

  • Your State-side insurance does not cover you in Ireland. This may seem like a rip off, until you start driving. Then you realize why.
  • The roads are bat shit crazy. Just get used to it.

[photo borrowed from ms. jamie to prove my point]

  • …To expand: the roads are narrower, the shoulder is almost non-existent, and there will usually be shrubbery right next to the road so if you veer a bit too far you will get a passenger side-full of leaves. Tour busses are usually oversized and will naturally cross into your lane of the road. Everything is backwards. Driver’s side is on the right, shifting components on the left, you drive on the left-hand side of the road, and you take roundabouts (“rotaries” in Ireland) in the opposite direction as you would in the US.
  • Roundabouts have two lanes, but just always stay in the outside lane. It’s safer for you.
  • Invest in a GPS unit. It saved our lives.


Hotels/Public Places Toilets

  • Toilets are not made of porcelain, they are plastic. It’s the same in Italy. I’d say they just don’t know about how superior porcelain is for your bathroom needs, but they have bidets (bedays?) and those are made of porcelain, so they obviously know this material exists.
  • While you’re in the bathroom, look around. The hot & cold knobs are always separate. I’m not sure why. You either have to choose hot water, cold water, or just splash around to get a happy medium.
  • The normal European adapters do not work in Ireland; the outlets are the same as the ones used in England. I feel I knew this ahead of time but just disregarded the information.
  • Some hotels will have adapters and will let you borrow them, but don’t bank on it. If you forgot one or brought the wrong kind, they are usually fairly cheap to go out and buy. Most grocery stores, pharmacies, etc will carry adapters.
  • “Ground floor” – The ground floor is always 0, not 1. If you have a room on the first floor, go up a flight.  I guess it makes sense.
  • Can’t get your lights to work? Some hotels require a key card to be left in a slot by the door for your light switches and power to become active. Seem strange and pointless? It is. (Also note if you are charging something while you’re out you will need to leave a card in the slot for your outlets to stay active as well.)
  • In Europe it seemed we could pick up free Wi-Fi at every hotel/B&B. I don’t know if this was just luck, but it was very handy.
  • FREE breakfast is FREE. Enjoy it.


Other Observations

  • Bacon – It’s just ham. Fried ham. This alone would be a reason why I couldn’t survive the rest of my life in Ireland.
  • It’s so much colder in Ireland than you think it will be. In June I think the highest temperature it reached was 65 degrees F. I wore a sweatshirt or a jacket the entire time we were there.
  • Cliffs of Moher – The Cliffs of Moher are worth the drive and the six euro entry fee. (And I’m cheap!) It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. While you are there, go through the areas you’re not supposed to– nobody stops you, everybody does it, and the views are incredible. Just don’t blow off the cliffs… I’ve heard that happens.
  • People are very nice and friendly in Ireland– probably because we speak the same language, but it made the trip even more enjoyable.
  • Everyone in a bar will know the words to American Pie. I find that funny.