Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The School Lunch Project

I stumbled across an interesting blog via Janel's food blog - Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project. An anonymous school teacher, "Mrs. Q," decided to eat school lunches right along with her students every day in 2010 and blog about her experience as a means of raising awareness about how nutritionally lacking school lunches are. Isn't that an interesting idea? I salute the woman for her determination; I know I couldn't bring myself to eat pre-packed chicken nuggets, shrink-wrapped and over-cooked vegetables, or limp fruits in sugary juices day after day!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vegetarian Birthday Dinner

About two weeks ago I turned twenty-seven, and my wonderful husband and friends indulged me by going out to dinner at the restaurant of my choice - a vegetarian restaurant. In case you don't know, my husband is about as opposite a vegetarian as anyone can get, and none of my friends are vegetarians. And not only did these fantastic people agree to go to a vegetarian restaurant with me, but they agreed to go to one a good 40 minute drive away! It made me really happy. I had been wanting to go to The Red Lentil for a while - ever since I read Janel's review of the restaurant on her food blog.

We started with some yummy appetizers: the Hummus/Pesto Zattar Platter (spicy hummus served with pita bread, drizzled with pesto), the Eggplant Caponata with Sundried Pesto Crostini, and for the less daring, a basket of corn chips with salsa. Both the hummus platter and the eggplant caponata were really good. I didn't try the chips - they looked like they were out of your standard grocery store bag of chips.

For an entree, I decided on the Butternut Squash Polenta - grilled polenta with squash, oyster mushroom ragout, and sesame asparagus drizzled with cilantro sunflower seed pesto.

I'm not usually a fan of mushrooms, but the polenta and asparagus sounded so good I decided to try it anyway. Plus, I figured, everyone else at the table was eating outside of their comfort zone, so why not me too? I loved the polenta and ate about half of the mushrooms before I was just too full to eat more. I'm really glad I tried this dish! (I didn't have my camera with me, so all these are iPhone photos of a slightly inferior quality - sorry!)

Nathan, not surprisingly, wasn't feeling too adventurous in such a foreign setting (No chicken fingers on the menu? What?), and ordered plain nachos. I have to say, the waiter kind of made fun of him. But he seemed to enjoy his plate of food nonetheless.

Chaz and Keith both ordered the Mexican Pizza, which looked amazing: black beans, mango, red onion, corn, mozzarella, and fresh avocado and cilantro.

Nathan's brother Andrew (who is living with us this summer - good times!) ordered the Vegan Caesar Salad (Yes, Nathan's brother eats vegetables - a true inspiration!) and posed for this lovely photo:

And Jillian ordered the Sweet Potato Quesadilla, which I didn't get a picture of but looked delicious.

I'm pretty sure no one enjoyed the dining experience as much as I did, but everyone was a good sport about it and I really enjoyed my birthday dinner!

After dinner, Nathan seemed about maxed out with "healthy food," so we headed for home rather than getting dessert. But once we got home, he decided we should walk to McDonald's (there's one within a mile of our house) and have sundaes, since what's a birthday without dessert?

From The Red Lentil to McDonald's - an ironic yet satisfying 27th birthday.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Parrot of the Night

I posted once before with a collection of my favorite YouTube performances of the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute. This morning I discovered a new one to add to the list: a parrot's rendition!

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Better Than Anyone!"

A Russian piano teacher I had for a semester in college once issued me an "assignment" to look in the mirror each morning and say to myself (and I suggest you imagine this in a Russian accent), "I'm beautiful, I'm talented, and I have [sic] boyfriend!"

Well, I stumbled upon a little girl on YouTube who takes that idea to a whole new level. And I think it is pretty awesome. Here it is - "Jessica's Daily Affirmation."

Weather Watching

Yesterday we went into Boston with some friends and wandered around the Prudential Center for a bit. Suddenly rain was coming down in torrents and the wind was blowing sheets of rain in gusts against the glass walls and ceiling. While we were watching the rain, I snapped this photo with my iPhone. For some reason I like this picture.

A brother-in-law, a husband, and two good friends.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Longest Night

Today is the 66th anniversary of 6/6.


I have never been to the Normandy American Cemetery. I've never walked on the shores where our men landed or seen this place where everyday American men became heroes and turned the tides of the war.

But I am told by a friend who has looked on those rows of crosses and stars that visitors to that historic site can read the following inscription:

The American Cemetery at Colleville:
The Longest Night

At the top of the plateau overlooking Omaha Beach, gently sloping down to the sea, whence came the liberators, this plot of French soil has been given over in perpetuity to the United States. Here lie nearly 10,000 soldiers.

On a low wall, around the monument, figure the names of the 1,557 soldiers whose bodies were never found.

Look how many of them there were
Look how young they were
They died for your freedom
Hold back your tears and keep silent.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Youth Symphony Photo

A parent took this photo of the children's orchestra I conduct at our spring concert. What a great group of kids I had this year! I think I miss them already.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Kick-Butt Update

Back in November I wrote on my blog:

"Still figuring out how I feel about all these events and what exactly I plan to do next, but have stated publicly that 2009/2010 is going to be The Year In Which I Start Kicking Serious Butt In Life."

The sun is shining and life seems good, so it feels like a good day to update all two of my blog readers (Hi Mom, Hi Dad) on my butt-kicking quest.

This summer has been awesome so far. Okay, I know it's not actually summer yet, but indulge me. When orchestra gigs peter out and June wedding gigs begin, when the weather gets warm and my green bean plants are already past my ankles, when my end-of-the-year studio recital is fast approaching and summer lesson schedules are being set up - well, it seems like summer to me.

I've been oh so productive lately. The weather, unlike last summer when it rained all the time, is glorious, and I have boundless energy. I've hauled dead trees and masses of branches from the yard back into the woods beyond the yard, and I've pulled thousands of weeds, and I've planted perennials all over the place, and gotten my vegetable garden going. I've gone for a run most days lately, including one five-miler earlier this week. I've worked out at the gym frequently. I'm thinking about training for my first half-marathon. I've learned to drive Nathan's stick shift Honda (under duress, because some moron hit my car while it was parked in front of my house), and I haven't killed anyone yet. I've been making yogurt in the yogurt maker my parents gave me when they visited, because I'm just that advanced in my journey to enlightenment - I make organic homemade yogurt, mmmhmm. Speaking of foodie enlightenment, I get to pick up my first CSA share of the summer next week. Incidentally, I also turn twenty-seven next week.

Twenty-seven is definitely more of a "late twenties" age than a "mid-twenties" age, and I realize that I'm getting up there towards 30. And in case I wasn't aware of my advancing age, the issue of Marie Claire that arrived in my mailbox yesterday informed me that women lose 90% of their eggs by age 30. Thanks, Marie. I'm getting old. The knowledge of this fact may be why last fall, as part of my decision to grab life by the horns and start kicking butt, I decided it was about time for me to go back to school - or at least that it was probably now or never. Sure, people can go back to school for teaching certificates or psychology degrees when they're older, but people don't study violin performance in their 50's. They just don't. So back in February I auditioned at two conservatories in the Boston area. Both auditions ranged from mediocre to abysmal, but both schools miraculously accepted me and offered my varying amounts of scholarship money. So I'm probably (meaning I've already paid the deposit) starting a master's degree this fall.

Hot dang, I think I am going to kick butt! Or at least to become a decent violinist, a good friend to all the fascinating new people I'll meet, and a more knowledgeable person, not to mention funny, clever, and passably chic.

And maybe this summer will be when I finally make the dreams long lingering on my blog sidebar come true. Spontaneously or not, life seems rather good, and when everything looks so bright, I can't help wondering if skinniness, wealth, and the perfect pair of jeans are in my future.

Dear twenty-seven,
Bring it on.
Yours very sincerely,