Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dude looks like a lady...

As many of you know, my friend Hilary and I have been frequenting the gym 5-7 nights a week. It has become an obsession to go more than a desire to get into shape. I find that going to the gym puts me in a better mood, makes me feel good physically, and acts as an ideal social arena. Days that I don't go to the gym, I tend to feel sluggish and I am just complete. That's right. The gym completes me.
Anyway, Wednesdays are always a struggle for me. Wednesdays are the busiest day at work and I just don't feel like running for 30 minutes after running all day. Hilary and I came up with a brilliant solution: Sauna Wednesdays.
My apartment complex comes equipped with a sauna. Fantastic! However, it is always a question when it will be open versus when it is not. As there is no schedule posted anywhere, it's really just a guessing game.

Last night Hilary and decided that we needed a trip to the sauna to burn off the calories in another capacity. We grabbed our towels and made our way toward the clubhouse independently praying that it would be open. I walked up the icy steps...Curses. The door was locked. After deliberating about our next move, we remembered that the hot tub is open year round therefore the bathrooms next to the hot tub were unlocked and the men's bathroom next to the hot tub has a sauna.

We looked at each other mischievously and walked around to the gated area housing the pool. Unlocked. We walked past an empty hot tub into the empty men's bathroom and found an empty sauna. Ever present of the urinal in the corner, we disrobed and deeply hoped that no man walked in to use the toilet.
We baked in bliss for 30 minutes or so and exited the men's restroom hidden by the blanket of night. We congratulated each other on our cleverness and decided that Sauna Wednesdays need to be a regular event Men's bathroom or no.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Are you there God? It's me, Candace.

I hate the winter. My problem with winter: I have developed a less than ecstatic opinion of snow as well as a downright hatred of the cold. I have a problem with going into convulsions due to sub-zero temperatures while properly insulated. I grimace when I think of my fingers aching while in the "comfort" of large fuzzy mittens. I don't relish the fact that my lungs develop icicles simply by breathing in.
All of these reasons (and several more) hit me like a 50 lbs mallet when I brave the 3 degree weather to wait for trax. There are usually ten of us who wait for the 7:34 AM train at the South Campus trax station. The sky is still dark and therefore the temperature hasn't changed much since 2 AM. There we stand bundled together, jumping up and down in vain for some slight hope that it is possible to generate heat. We walk in circles, bend down pulling our various parkas to our ankles, or just lay down and cry, unable to fight the forces of nature.

Time check: 7:35 AM.

The groan is unison. The train is late, again. At 7:33 AM there was such expectation that we only had to suffer for one more minute. Now, there is no telling how long we will have to endure the steely knives, chapped face, and numbing thighs. I begin to writhe in pain. "God!" I scream. "Why are you punishing us? Deliver us!" This plea for mercy becomes the watch cry of our little, broken clan. We all turn our frostbitten faces skyward and pray to be spared.

Suddenly God shines his light on his faithful, patient children. The light of God, if you are curious, came to us as the headlight of trax. The train screeches to a halt and opens its wide, inviting doors. A burst of heat emerges from the doors beckoning us to be warm and safe. We pile onto the train, singing praises and trying to imagine the feeling of defrosting that is undoubtedly soon to come. We cozy into our found seats and the train takes off.

One day down. Four to go. Thirteen weeks until May. Ugh.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jesus and Guns

Whenever I visit my parents in Arkansas we always frequent Branson, MO. Whether for a show or the immeasurable joy that is the SDC (Silver Dollar City), Branson offers the very best in wholesome family fun. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Branson, allow me to educate you.

Branson is a Las Vegas for the Baptists. It promises cheesy entertainment, a plethora of buffets consisting of fine stick-to-your-ribs cooking, and sermons around every corner. Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed all of the time spent in Branson, but I am always amazed when I can hear the Christmas story thrice at an amusement park or stand and sing "God Bless America" at the end of EVERY show
(sometimes because the entertainer has donned an American Flag shirt). What amazes me even more is that no one (my family excluded) seems to notice. Nothing is out of the ordinary for them.

This Christmas my family and I made the yearly trek up to the SDC for some family entertainment. Aside from freezing our butts off we listened to some caroling, sat through an abhorringly bad Christmas show, and went on the bible train. The train really isn't called the bible train. That is what I call it.

You get on this train and toot around the beautiful back woods of Southern Missouri while screaming out Christmas carols at the top of your lungs. On your journey you travel past really random cardboard cut-outs (some of the cut-outs are in the shape of a fox, a know, Christmasy things)that are jubilantly lit with the spirit of Christmas. Finally you pull up to what everyone is waiting for: Grandpa.
Grandpa is sitting in a rocking chair waiting to tell you the Christmas story accompanied by the sweet sounds of the Mannheim Steamroller. I have a video to post however, it is not wanting to load at the moment. The Grandpa video will be posted soon.

After the bible train, we headed straight for the musical live Nativity show. It was pretty sweet. It had everything a musical live Nativity show should have: recorded singers, a donkey, and a token black man (who possessed the only talent in the show). Long story short, the wise men from the east found the baby in a manger and there was much rejoicing. In case anyone was wondering the musical live nativity show shared the building with a shooting gallery. Man. I love the South.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

Place: Heart of Tornado Ally, Arkansas
Year: 2008

Butch and Miss Kitty were spending the day as usual: Butch lifting various objects and researching the latest to-dos, Miss Kitty primping and using inspired artistic license where she saw fit. In the humble dwelling of such an extraordinary couple, the air was calm...too calm for January. It was warm, too. A brisk January day should be cooler than 70 degrees. Miss Kitty thought of this as she adjusted the thermostat.

Without warning, the loud neighborhood sirens began to sound with their deafening scream. That scream could only mean one thing: Tornado.
With great agility Butch went in search of Miss Kitty, threw her over his shoulder and ran to their safe house: the closet (a large walk-in closet capable of hosting a queen-sized bed).
Miss Kitty looked around listening to the siren, trying to make out anything that would suggest oncoming danger. Butch stood up, straightened his belt buckle and said, "I think I better put on my steel-toed boots." Decidedly, he grabbed his trusty steel-toed boots, adjusted his henly and began to meticulously lace up the twin monsters made solely to rival Chuck Norris. Miss Kitty watched in awe at Butch's care and dexterity. When the laces were adequately laced to perfection, Butch stood up, posed, and asked Miss Kitty, "How do I look?"
Miss Kitty nodded in admiration but soon realized that she too had to prepare for the disasterous tornado. Butch had donned his boots, she will choose...a change of clothing. Miss Kitty rifled through her wardrobe and chose the perfect outfit: a long sleeve shirt and sweatshirt. This outfit would surely protect her from the 100 mph winds and various debris. Boldly, she changed out of her Sunday dress and platform shoes into a more practical outfit.
Hand in hand they waited for the storm that never came.
Moral of the story: It's good to be prepared.
Disclaimer: Events depicted in this story are based on real events. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Things I have learned on my journey to becoming a chef...

1. Turning the heat up does not necessarily mean that it will cook faster. It just means that it will burn.
2. Read directions before making sauces. Realize that you shouldn't mix the sour cream and water when making stroganoff.
3. Sometimes measuring can be beneficial. Just make sure you know the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon.
4. Just because you can instruct someone on how to cook does not make you a cook yourself.
5. Remember to remove ALL foil before putting something in the microwave.
6. Keep an eye on broiling bread in the oven.
7. When stir-frying veggies on the stove, don't forget about them and walk away. This causes fire.
8. Stay away from baking if your attention span is roughly the same as a cocker spaniel's.
9. Freezer burn is not 'added moisture.'
10. Cream cheese does not substitute for sour cream.
11. 'More' is not always a good thing.
12. Remove from wrapping unless otherwise instructed.
13. No matter what anyone else says, pizza and pickles do not go with chili.
14. Paprika is not the nectar of the gods.
15. Leave the cooking to Andy.