Monday, June 27, 2011

Scavengers.

My best friend Tonya and I have known each other since we were in 7th grade. That is over ten years - so we've known each other since we were flat chested, acne prone, insecure middle schoolers, which basically means we know a whole lot about each other (and some of us, cough moi, are still flat chested. Thanks for nothing, puberty).

However, with that level of comfort and familiarity, there is the temptation to kind of settle into a norm, which is something that she and I do often.

We do the same things so often that sometimes I forget if we've ever done anything differently (and when I think really hard I cringe thinking of the things we've done in the past - like when I was convinced that playing beer pong with jungle juice was a smarter move than doing it with beer and ended up sleeping on a deck back in high school; or when she was convinced that mixing alcohol with juice or a chaser was for babies, and proceeded to take shots of straight Jack Daniel's at my house one night and wound up with alcohol poisoning).

When Tonya asked me if I wanted to be her partner in a scavenger hunt, I was immediately on board. For one thing, I was excited to get out of my house, but really, I was excited to do something different with her.

This was no scavenger hunt that was thrown together at last minute - this thing took over a month to plan, and involved so much law breaking (due to speeding, ignoring one-way signs, and horrible parking jobs in order to get things faster).

Although I've known Tonya for all this time, the scavenger hunt was probably one of the best times I've ever had with her - we are both extremely competitive, so we brought that, along with so many laughs, and an incredible strategic working of what would get us the most points. With over $150 on the line, we were hustling to find the most things, take pictures, and book it back to the starting location to continue on to find the hidden box of money (which we came in third place for - and it's a good thing because the box was in the deep end of a pool and Ton and I were both wearing white shirts).

We each took one for the team with certain challenges on our list of things to find and take photographic evidence of (like her having to ask a couple to hold their baby, and moi getting groped by not one but TWO people, which was 0% part of the quest, just an added little bonus).

For two girls who can barely find their way out of their own towns with a GPS, we ended up coming in third place all around -- and I was able to have one of the best nights I've had with my best friend.

My leg muscles will also probably never be the same - I haven't sprinted that much since training for my state tournament for soccer my senior year of high school.

These were a few (of like, a hundred pictures we took) of the things we had to do, to score 172 points.

Kiss a stranger
(This woman honest to God begged us to kiss her so she could be a part of the scavenger hunt).
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Pump a stranger's gas, and get a picture with a gas station attendant
(non New Jersey residents are rolling their eyes, I'm sure. Also, this was when I got my ass grabbed in Allison Takes One for the Team by Getting Groped #1 of the evening).
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Help a stranger cross the street.
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Take a picture with a fire truck
(we got really creative with some of these!).
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Drink a beer on a rooftop.
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Eat Wendy's in a Burger King.
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Stand on a double yellow line.
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Take a picture with someone wearing a yellow shirt.
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Picture on a blue slide, and at home plate.
(I promise I am not wearing a plastic bag).
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Hold a baby.
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Oh, and this wasn't on the list, but then I got groped by creepy, drunk, old man at bar.
Allison Takes One for the Team #2
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Twenty five point bonus for pulling this off.
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With a Dunkin Donuts employee holding coffee and a donut
(I did not get bonus points even though he gave me his number too - bummer).
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Switch clothes with your partner
(again, we should have received bonus points for doing this in a shady bar, and for moi feeling tres naked).
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We ended the night in the same shady bar where we switched clothes with the rest of the teams - and Ton and I left the evening with our friendship further solidified - and some very, very sore calf muscles.

Have any of you ever done scavenger hunts with your friends?

What is one of the most unique or fun things that you've done/do with your friends?

Currently listening to: Get Hooked (Grum Remix) - Nightriders ft. Grum

Monday, June 20, 2011

Easy Peasy Dinner and Dessert.

While I absolutely love, love, love to cook, and plan on doing a ton of it during the summer, sometimes time is precious, and I really don't have the time to spend hours chopping, sauteing, and prepping - then cooking something in the oven for an hour.

I've slowly been weaning meat out of my meals (I've actually abstained from it entirely for over a month now) - it's just something that's working for me, but it has absolutely not been easy, since it has meant cooking all my own meals, since obviously I cannot force my family into making this change with me (hello more reasons for my own apartment!).

So when I offered to cook the other night, I wanted something that wouldn't be ridiculously time consuming, would be meat free and healthy, but also totally satisfying.

I headed over to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, where I loaded up on seasonal fruits and veggies - and at Trader Joe's I found that they have whole-wheat pizza dough for (drumroll please)... $0.99/lb.

This pizza was seriously the easiest thing I have ever made. I slathered it with sauce (pesto on one because my mom isn't a tomato sauce fan, and organic marinara sauce on the other), sprinkled it with low-fat Mexican blend cheese, and then loaded it with vegetables.

Seriously - this summer, if you are in a food rut - try making your own pizza! This was so easy peasy and tasted AMAZING. Plus, it was great to have more than one slice with absolutely no guilt.

There really isn't a recipe, because seriously - use your imagination and do whatever you want with it! Switch the sauce from plain marinara, try different cheeses, put unique toppings - be inventive!

We also only had one pizza stone at my house, so I used a cookie sheet for the second pizza - so don't let a lack of a pizza stone hold you back from trying this either.

Whole wheat pesto pizza [with grilled asparagus, tri-colored peppers, onion, black olives, and carrot].

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Whole wheat pizza [with organic marinara sauce, baby spinach, tri-color peppers, red onion, carrot, and grilled asparagus].

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*~*

For a complimentary dessert that can help you get in a serving of fruit, I have another ridiculously simple and fool proof recipe for you guys, that I actually made for the first time on Mother's Day and have made for myself probably twenty times since then!

Sometimes it can be a struggle to get your daily servings of fruits and vegetables - I love having fruit for dessert, but sometimes I need just a little bit more.

The recipe is actually for sauteed peaches, but we had over two pounds (thanks, Costco) of strawberries that were basically begging to be used, so I threw them in with the peaches. This recipe can really be tweaked for individual servings, larger servings - whatever you want, but it is delicious and ready in less than five minutes!

Sauteed Peaches (or whatever).
Tweaked from this recipe.
4 servings

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. sugar
4 large peaches, sliced and cut into wedges (obviously this is the part that can be tweaked)

Instructions:

1. Slice peaches, or whatever fruit you choose into wedges/slices (don't keep them whole).

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2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.

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3. Stir in the sugar into the melted butter.

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4. Add the peaches/fruit into the sugar butter mixture. Stir together until the sugar dissolves (you'll easily be able to tell when this happens).

(Sugar hasn't dissolved yet).
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(Dissolved sugar - stops bubbling and turns almost a pinkish color because it blends with peach juice).
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5. Cook until peaches/fruit are warm and coated with the sugar/butter mixture (about 2-4 minutes).

Coated and perfect.
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6. Serve immediately (with a scoop of ice cream/whipped cream, if you like!).

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Seriously - easy peasy and DELICIOUS (and healthy!).

If you guys have any good, low-cal, vegetarian recipes, please send them my way.


Currently listening to: MSTRKRFT ft. John Legend - Heartbreaker

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Personal Touches.

I recently Skyped with my roommate (who I lived with for all four years of school), and we were reflecting on the fact that just a little over one year ago (on May 8th), we were graduating from college.

So much has changed since then - for better and worse.

One of the biggest adjustments that I have had to make is the loss of freedom and sense of identity I had when I was at school. I went from having an apartment, friends that I lived with who were always available to do things, limited responsibilities, and a sense of ownership in my life.

See ya later, apartment and unconditional freedom.
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I love having projects - having things that make me feel like I'm accomplishing something. Being a slob kabob and lounging around watching TV all day is something I can do once in a while, but I'm not one of those people that can just sit around.

I miss having something to call my own. I miss having projects, having things that make me feel good about myself - that are mine, and mine alone.

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My family gives me free reign to do what I want in my room and everything, but it's still just a space that I'm pretty much borrowing from them. The house screams that it's theirs, and there really isn't much that is mine.

Exhibit A & B: It works for WASPy parents, but it's just not me.
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In my room right now, there are little things I've done that make it more moi and less my parents, but they're so minuscule in the grand scheme of things, and just make me desire my own space where I can have total control all the more.

Coffee table books that appeal to my interests.
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Magazine holder (actually a handwoven bag I bought from a trip to Africa - I love the color!).
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Corkboard to hold my costume-y necklaces.
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When the opportunity came for me to move into one of Poppy's homes (he kept the house that he bought with my Nana back in the 50's, unbeknown to any of us until a few months ago), fix it up, and help to clean out all the accumulation of crap from probably 50 years up - I jumped on it.

Immediately I started dreaming of ways that I will fix up this little house -- the little touches that even a limited budget can help to just bring a sense of identity.

There isn't a ton of free reign associated with moi moving, but there are enough little and inexpensive things that I can do to really bring my personal style and character into this house (once the green shag carpeting - no really! - is removed, of course).

Apothecary Jars.
Perfect for storage in just about any room of the house. You can find them anywhere - garage sales, antique fairs, Etsy.

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I love that this one is vintage and French!
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Fresh flowers.
My mom has flowers everywhere in our house. Every room has some floral arrangement, and big or small, I love that it just adds something special to a room - even just an unexpected pop of color and life.

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Mini home bar.
Perfect for entertaining, and can be as big or small as suits you!

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Pictures.
I love pictures - whether of family and friends, or of fun artwork. I think the framed art/photos around a house really say a lot about who lives there.

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Shelves with personality.
Use shelves to showcase the things you love! Paint them, fill them, arrange them to fit your style.

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Mason jars.
Whether to hold flowers or items, or to be used as glasses, I think these are ridiculous country chic. I cannot get enough of Mason jars, and plan to not buy glasses, but just use a ton of these instead!

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Unique odds and ends.
I love little statement pieces that say something about the things that you love.

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So, until I can have complete control (and a much bigger budget than what my dad is giving me for this little project), I'll be keeping my dreams on a smaller scale - and enlisting the help of friends to help me paint, move boxes, and do all the bitch work (plying them with promises of homemade dinner and wine helps).

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I'll keep you all updated -- there is still so much work to be done until I can move in, but I'm excited about the prospect of being out on my own (even for a short time) again!

How do/would you decorate your home? What inexpensive touches do you have in your room/home that give a sense of your personality?

Hope you're all doing well! xox

Currently listening to: Power - Grum.