A Visit to School

I spent the day out at my alma mater to visit with my fraternity. Today was the induction ceremony for new members, and I have a great-grandlittle now! Whenever I go out to school for things like this, I’m always a little nervous that I won’t have a good time, but today was actually really really nice!

First I met my brother for lunch. We went to this cafe just off campus, and had sandwiches, and talked a little bit. You really have to pry information out of him, though. I know he has a lot more going on than what he tells me about.

Then I headed over to the ceremony. It ended up that we were locked out of the building for almost an hour, so I had a lot of time to hang around and talk to everyone as they showed up. There were a couple other alumni there, and I’d met some of the current Brothers the last couple times I was out, so I knew who a lot of people were. (I was worried that I’d only know, like, three people, and everyone else would just wonder who I was and why I was there.) We finally got inside and had the ceremony, which went really well. I’m really impressed with the current Brothers – they’re really organized about everything, as far as I can tell, and they all seem really into the fraternity. There’s a lot fewer active Brothers than when I was in school, but they seem more dedicated. And a smaller group is easier to manage, anyway. Not that the organization is tiny – it’s a good size.

After the ceremony and requisite photos of the group on the front steps of the building, we all went out to Ichiban for dinner. The meal was great – I might like their cooking better than Hibachi! Oh, but Hibachi’s fried rice is much more delicious.

I headed back to campus after dinner to drop someone off, and then I was going to meet up with another alumni Brother, Dan, for coffee at the place where I’d had lunch with my brother, but it was closed already. So I picked Dan up at his house, and we drove around looking for somewhere that was open where we could just get a drink and talk for a while. We ended up driving all over creation (seriously, I put 40 additional miles on my car after arriving at school!) and eventually found a Border’s bookstore with a coffee shop. So we had some tea and chatted for a couple hours, and it was really nice. (Still living by our school, he has a lot of information about people.) Then I dropped Dan back at his place, and headed home.

The drive home went pretty quickly, though from school to where we’re living now is about an hour and a half – slightly further than when I lived at my grandmother’s house. I have been known to make the drive from MU to Gramom’s in under an hour…

Gimme Your Stuff!

Gimme Your Stuff

I found this web site that helps arrange swaps between people in different countries, and everyone had such nice stories to share! It sounds really fun, so I figured I’d get in on the action.

I can offer…

  • US and regional food and candies (including things like Philadelphia pretzels and Tastykakes, though I’m not sure how well they might hold up in transit, but I can pack them well), and organic foods from places like Trader Joe’s, which I know people are looking for.
  • US books, magazines, and CDs.
  • Photos and postcards from Philadelphia, Valley Forge, King of Prussia, etc. and other regional souveniers (especially from Valley Forge).
  • US cosmetics, etc.
  • Craft supplies, or any of the handmade items I sell.
  • …And probably lots of other things you might like.

I’d like to recieve…

  • Candy and snacks
  • Magazines
  • Regional art
  • Traditional clothing (if it’s easy to send – nothing too big)

So let’s swap!

Completed Swaps:

Incomplete Swaps:

  • With Miumiu in Malaysia – sent her package two months ago, haven’t received anything from her yet, and stopped hearing from her via e-mail. (See what I sent.)

Who here knows what a jelly cupboard is?

I won my first eBay auction! I am now the proud owner of a beautiful set of Sakura-themed bento items – a couple different boxes, dividers, insulated lunch bag, sauce bottles, etc. A similar set is now bid up to $71 (!!!), so I’m very happy with the price I got! But okay, this has got to be it with the bento stuff. And eBay. Because that can be addictive.

Luckily, after this weekend, we’ll have more storage space in the kitchen. My uncle is going to bring over an old jelly cupboard from my grandmother’s house. It used to be in my bedroom there. I figure we’ll put it in the back corner of the kitchen (the empty corner at the right of this photo), and we can stash a lot of the stuff that’s currently on the open little cart we have there.

We always had a jelly cupboard in the house growing up, so I figured everyone knew what it was, but in case you don’t, it’s basically a tall cabinet (maybe 4.5 feet?) with two drawers at the top, and below those are double doors that open to three or four shelves – presumably to store your jelly. It’s kind of antique-y and distressed looking, which isn’t really our style in our house, but I think it’ll look good in the kitchen because the wood is about the same shade as our cabinets and kitchen table. (It looks kind of like the one on this page, but a little darker stain and a metal latch on the doors.)

Tonight I’m going to make us spaghetti with meat sauce (probably meat sauce, I’ll have to see how this ground beef looks), and then I’m going to try to freeze some little bento-sized nests of it according to the Biggie method. We would go for a walk again, but GG got home late from his show last night and went to work later than usual (he got there at 8:30 AM, but that’s still late for him) so he’ll have to work later, and then he has this amp that he has to pack and ship when he gets home, sooooo I don’t think we’ll have time. I’ll have to wait to wear my fancy walking pants again.

That Burger was Worth It

Had a good night last night. It was such a beautiful day out, GG and I wanted to go for a walk, but I couldn’t find my comfy walking jeans and I didn’t have any other pants with pockets that were comfortable enough to go walking in, and I was really uneasy about leaving the house without a key or my phone or something. So instead of walking, we went to TJ Maxx and I got a fantastic pair of Danskin pants for $19.99 (compared to $40, according to the tag!), that are spandex and polyester and have a little pocket for a key and a phone! Then we went to Five Guys Burgers and Fries to undo any good I’ve done watching what I eat – but it was delicious. We also went to PetSmart so I could get some non-rat poisoned food for the kitties.

When we got home, it was still light out, so we ended up going for a walk after all! We planned our route to go past all the houses in our town that we like, and since our town is so hilly, we got a lot of good uphill walking in. It’s pretty much impossible to get lost on a walk around town, because you can just point yourself downhill and eventually you’ll get back to our street!

After our walk, I got a shower and made my lunch for today, and then we sat down to watch Lost in Translation. I fell asleep maybe 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through, but I didn’t really “get” it anyway. Though some of the things Bill Murray said were funny, as were some other cultural Japanese things (like everyone handing him business cards and gifts in the beginning – they totally do that!).

I have 430 reports to run for work today, and I’ve done 68 so far. Suuuuuck. Luckily, I have some good music to listen to, because GG gave me his Best of the Talking Heads CDs to put on my MP3 player. They sound so much like TMBG in some songs, musically and lyrically! I’m also listening to the Team America soundtrack, which is really good. I mean, the songs are funny (and full of little jokes I don’t remember catching during the movie), but even the instrumental stuff is really well done.

Naughty Kitty!

Yesterday morning I got up and went downstairs to feed the cats, as I always do. We have a little throw rug in the kitchen doorway to cover up a big hole in the carpet underneath, and as usual, the kitties had apparently been playing with it overnight and it was out of place. When I went to fix it, I saw something shiny on the floor underneath, which I thought was maybe a plastic wrapper. Then I realized it was a giant shard of glass! It was shaped like a knife blade, and maybe 6 inches long and an inch or inch and a half wide at its widest point, coming to a sharp point at the other end. I couldn’t believe it! I looked all over the house trying to find what might have broken, and I still have no clue! It was as if they had broken something and cleaned up almost all of the evidence, but didn’t know what to do with this last little piece, so someone stuck it under the rug. I think I know who was behind this. (He’s so bad!)

Chinatown Trip

GG and I went to Chinatown on Saturday! The day started off pretty nice – we got lunch at Mei Lei Wah, and then started going into pretty much every shop that we thought might have bento boxes or supplies, or other interesting Asian goodies. As the day went on, though, things started getting creepier and creepier. The sky got gray, the stores we were going in were just creeping us out… in one shop, we were cornered in a narrow aisle by a 91 year old man who told us some story about when he was a little boy and his younger brother stole something from a five and dime and their mother, who didn’t speak English, made him go return it… We ended up in this video store run by two guys with really messed up teeth, but they really knew their stuff when it came to horror films, so GG discussed all his favorite obscure movies with the one guy, and ended up buying a couple DVDs. (Is it odd that the covers of the DVDs look like they were printed out of an inkjet printer?) Anyway, the day was a slight success, I did pick up a bunch of fun Japanese snacks, and I found the one bento box in all of Chinatown.

Last night we had dinner with Ed and Kate, and then we watched The Illusionist. I didn’t really know what it was going to be about (other than an old-timey magician), but it was really good!

Tomorrow our chimney repairs will begin – finally! They couldn’t start until the weather was nicer, which it now is. I had to go meet our neighbors for the first time, when I told them that the chimney guys might have to build some scaffolding into their back yard for a couple days while they’re working.

I eBay-ed!

I’ve apparently had an eBay account since July of 2004! And here I was thinking that eBay was the last thing on the internet that I didn’t have an account for. So, even though I wanted to wait until we go to Chinatown this weekend, I couldn’t help myself – I bought a bunch of bento stuff from an eBay store. (It wasn’t so bad, because she doesn’t have the 1000% markup that a lot of the bento sellers do, and she combined shipping from Japan, and from what I can tell, she ships very quickly.) So I made my first four eBay purchases today, and I’m very excited! This could be the beginning of a dangerous habit, though…

So I got a two-tiered bento box (no dividers, which I had wanted, but I’ll make due) that comes in a set with a bag, chopsticks, and three little side containers with lids. Also, a set of cute little monkey head sauce holders with little banana spoons (!), animal-head sauce bottles, and three rice molds. (But if you look at today’s lunch, you’ll see that I already figured out how to make onigiri without a special mold by doing it in my silicone muffin pan!)

Today at work we’re having a birthday party for everyone with February and March birthdays (we usually have one party a month for everyone in that month, but there was only one Feb. person, so we held off last month). Also, I have all this rabble scrabble data entry to do. And this afternoon I have a two hour meeting with senior management in our department to talk about how we’re going to use this new software. And it’s probably going to turn into an argument or something. And it’s supposed to go half an hour past the time I usually leave for the day, and I have band practice tonight, so I’ll really have to rush when I get home if I want to catch a nap before band…

OMG, is every post about bento?!

GG and I are probably going to Chinatown on Saturday to shop at all the funny little stores, and hopefully I will be able to find a bento box and/or accessoriess!

Also, I’ve talked him into taking me to this crazy dollar store called Dollar Ocean tonight. It’s one of the scariest dollar stores I’ve ever been in, but we were there once before and I saw a large assortment of crazy Asian items with “engrish” on them (in fact, I submitted a few photos to engrish.com, though I don’t think they were ever published), so I’m wondering if maybe they have some bento boxes or other items.

If all else fails, I’ve found a few things on eBay that I like. I don’t have an eBay account (I know! Crazy!), but I don’t think it’ll be a problem to buy “buy it now” items from eBay stores, and pay right away – and it’ll help me build up feedback, should I one day want to participate in an actual auction. But it feels so dumb to spend like $15 on a bento box online, plus $10+ on shipping (!), when people are picking them up for $1.50 at local Asian stores.

I do like the Fit & Fresh lunch set, but the large bottom compartment makes it hard for me to pack things, and while I like having an ice pack, it can drip condensation on foods as it melts in the box. So I would still like to get a regular bento box, and just carry an ice pack with it if need be. (I would think keeping it in my insulated lunch bag would be good enough.)

St. Pat’s Icy Weekend

This was a fun weekend. On Friday, I left work early because of the crazy ice precipitation. It took me 50 minutes to get home – usually it’s 20. GG had also left work early so he could practice for his big show that night, so we were home together and it was nice. It turned out that his show was cancelled because of the weather, so we just stayed in and watched 20/20 and ended up falling asleep until 3 AM and then going up to bed.

We got up Saturday morning and went out to attempt to shovel. I was able to clear off our cars, but GG could barely chip through the layers of ice on our sidewalk and driveway. At one point, this guy drove by who said he had a snow plow, and for $20 would do our driveway for us. GG said, “Even if it’s solid ice?” The guy said he would go home, get some breakfast, and try it on his own driveway, and if it worked he’d come back and do ours. He never came back. GG went back out later, after the sun had been out, and shoveled a little more. He wanted to just spread salt out over everything, but our salt bag was almost empty, so I told him to use it sparingly. He came inside a while later and told me we had more salt than when he started. How? He went across the street to the town maintenance building (where guys were in and out all day with their salt and plow trucks), and asked if he could get a cup of salt to finish salting the sidewalk. He figured since the sidewalk was a public area, they’d help him out. They ended up shoveling his bag full of salt! Yay!

Saturday night, GG’s band played a St. Patrick’s Day show at this place in Northeast Philly. It was pretty fun, and you can see my pictures here. Among the highlights of the show were this grandmother (I know because she was there with her kids and grandkids) shimmying all over the singer, the creepy leprachaun, the three (huge!) middle-aged men who acted like drunken frat boys all night, and watching the band struggle (successfully!) through “Friends in Low Places” in exchange for possibly getting booked at some better clubs. Luckily, the show started a little earlier than normal, and they were finished at 11:30. Afterwards, GG and I went to this diner nearby that he said had really good burgers. The keyboard player and his girlfriend came along, but she had a migrane and felt really sick, so they left soon after. GG had his burger, I had some cheese fries, and then we went home and passed out.

Yesterday I went out and did some errands during the day, while GG met with a family friend who’s had a mural business for 20 years. They went around to look at some of the murals this guy’s done, and GG was very impressed. The guy also gave him some good tips, so hopefully he’ll be able to use them if he ever really gets his business going. (This guy has a four year waiting list for people to get murals!) Later, I organized GG’s closet – this was a follow-up project to organizing his dresser, which we did a week or two ago. He’s got a couple huge bags of clothes to donate, and I arranged all his hanging shirts by style and color, and folded his work shirts neatly, and his pants, and put extra clothes in a plastic box up on a higher shelf. Now, let’s see how long he can keep it looking this neat. I made us fondue again for dinner, and it worked out much better this time – I got lots of compliments from GG! I used different cheeses and less wine, and I think that’s the solution. I almost wasn’t going to pack a bento box for today, but at the last minute I threw something together. So my lunch today is pretty much the same as on Friday, except there are only two Crowns (because I only ended up eating two on Friday).

More Bento, and Crazy Weather

Well, I’ve been bento-ing every day since I got the Fit & Fresh boxes. Today’s lunch is the first one that feels like the foods actually “go” together, but so far it’s working out well. I’d really like to get a cute “real” bento box. You can order them online, but they can get expensive, especially with shipping. I want to go to Chinatown and look around there, but I don’t know when GG and I might have time to go. I’d like a box with the layout of the pink one in this picture, or one like this with movable dividers, so if you see one, let me know. (I’m kind of liking these Hello Kitty ones from JBox – they’re not too cutesy. This one with two layers [one with divider], and this “tight bento” with two inner dishes.)

There’s some crazy rain/sleet/snow thing happening outside. I might go home early, since I have a vacation day I need to use by the end of March anyway, so I could take a half day today. Maybe I’ll go after lunch, because I am really excited to eat this meal I’ve packed… Everyone here at work is really freaking out, though. And there’s lots of accidents on all the roads around here. I should’ve just brought my computer home with me last night and worked from home today.