Duck, Duck,…Foie Gras!

By the beard of Zeus! It has been a while since I’ve posted. Well, when in Rome…or Ireland…

Actually, this summer has been so entirely wonderful and stressful that blogging has taken the backseat while my awesome life called shotgun.  Here’s a quick summary: I traveled to Milwaukee, Chicago, and Ireland; this cool guy Tony spent the past eight weeks here with me (which included adventures every weekend); I’m applying to grad school so I studied for the GRE every waking moment; and well,…hey. I can see you shaking your head. I realize that condensed version doesn’t seem like much. Ok, fine. I’m behind. Here goes. Let’s review THE LIST. My exciting life list! Yay!

  • white water rafting
  • zip lining
  • paddle boarding
  • be a model for a day
  • take a bubble bath in a clawfoot tub
  • eat caviar
  • eat foie gras
  • write a book
  • write my initials in wet cement
  • ride a gondola in Italy
  • ride in a hot air balloon
  • stand underneath a waterfall
  • slow dance with someone I love

As you see, the “eat foie gras” line item has been crossed through. Sort of like my movie conquest earlier this year, each thing on MY LIST isn’t something I expect to enjoy. It’s just on there for the experience. It’s just there to know I’ve done it. But nine times out of 10 I end up loving it. So, I will describe what eating foie gras was like. By the way, it’s pronounced like this: fwah grah. It makes me feel fancy to just say it.

Imagine butter for a second. If I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter popped into your head, please, just stop. No. Country Crock doesn’t count either. C’mon, get real. BUTTER. Real-preferably pastured-butter is pretty much the most amazing food aside from bacon. If you say you don’t like butter, just stop trying to fake it because everyone knows you’re lying. It is impossible to not like butter.

Butter, softened, has the texture of pure magic. It is smooth, but not loose, and glides onto your tongue like the best kiss of your life. It can be romantic if you let it.

Ok, now that you’re considering going to the fridge and taking a little lick of your butter (butter-haters, I know you have some in there), let’s get back to foie gras. So, there you go; foie gras is just soft, spreadable chicken-flavored butter magic.

If it weren’t for the lucky bastards like Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, and whoever else travels around the world like a total badass, eating all sorts of magical, buttery things, I probably wouldn’t have even thought about foie gras. I’m pretty sure there was an episode once where Anthony ate a hot dog topped with foie gras and his eyes rolled back like he was going to die right there-and die happy.

In all truth, I have a serious crush on Anthony Bourdain, so not to outdo him or anything, but my first time eating foie gras was in a castle in Ireland. That’s right, I stayed in a castle and ate fancy foods like a total traveling badass. Here’s a picture.

photo

There it is, on the top left of the plate. Remember what I said about butter? Now, see the bread? Yep. That happened.

Foie gras. Check.

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11 Random Things Chain Blog/Tag/Post Thingy

While I’m working on my bucket list, I want to post whenever I can.  My awesome sister, Kelly (http://www.trimommylife.com/), tagged me so I thought I’d share the love.  Maybe you would like to know a little more about me, the girl who loves heights and hates bees.

1. Post these rules.
2. Post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them.
6. Tag 11 more people!

11 random things about me.

1. I love to write and think I have a pretty great vocabulary, but I am terrible at Words With Friends. I can come up with delightfully long words, but still lose to someone who has the knack for placing simple words on the board’s hot spots. But Angry Birds? I’m great at killing little green piggies.

2. Since I’ve discovered my undying love for dark chocolate, milk chocolate just doesn’t taste “right.” For some reason, it tastes like sour milk to me now.

3. I have elaborate, detailed dreams nearly every night. I also have recurring dreams. At least once a week, I dream I’m using the bathroom in front of someone or a group of people.

4. I despise baked raisins. Dry raisins? Great. Raisins covered in chocolate? Awesome. Raisins in cookies or bread? Awful.

5. Sometimes, knowing I am understood means more than love (or like) to me. I can deal with someone not liking me for a reason that is true, such as my hating Star Wars; however, if I feel they have misjudged me, it tears me up inside.

6. I do not understand the fascination with American Idol.

7. I love traveling, kind of. I love seeing new places, people, and landscapes, but I really don’t like flying on planes, driving in cars, etc. I’m actually quite a grouch until I get where I’m going. If I have a window seat and some Dramamine, I’m pretty good.

8. I need hugs. Great big bear hugs. I start feeling depressed if I go too long without a good hug.

9. I love color. One of the reasons I love spring is because I enjoy seeing all the grass, trees, and flowers light up with color. It gives me hope that everything will be ok.

10. I think my greatest talent is keeping secrets. It’s not just about not saying something; I know how to artfully skirt around subjects to derail the conversation if asked directly.

11. I think 11 things is six too many, so I am changing the rules to Five Random Things. I made it this far. Consider me the Head Gamemaker now.

 

These questions are from my sister, who tagged me.

1. What is the thing in your life you are most proud of?  I guess I would say my kindness to other people. I genuinely try to treat others with respect. I am not especially outgoing, but I try to be friendly when people approach me.

2. What is your biggest regret?  It’s hard to really call it a regret, but often I wish I had followed my heart when it came to college and gone to a different school than the one I ended up at.

3. If you had to eat just one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Hands down, sweet potato. No question.

4. Do you give up things for Lent? If so, what are you giving up this year and why? I don’t usually. I always celebrate Fat Tuesday, though. Duh.

5. What is your perfect evening? My perfect evening would be walking along the beach at sunset, after a long day in the sun; jamming my toes in the cool sand and splashing in the warm water; sitting on a chair feeling the soft breeze while hearing the waves crashing.

6. Do you have siblings? If so, do you buy into the whole birth order thing? Yes, one sister and one brother, and absolutely. I’m the baby and I love it!

7. What is your favorite thing to cook? I love cooking and trying new things, but if you look at #3, I bet you can guess it has to do with sweet potatoes. I love making sweet potato casserole. It’s one of the few recipes I know by heart.

8. In what kind of social situation do you feel most comfortable? I feel very comfortable eating lunch with my coworkers every day. They make always make me laugh.

9. In what kind of social situation do you feel most awkward? I’m a terrible “mingler.” Bring me to a party with a bunch of people I don’t know, and I’ll want to get out of there as fast as I can.

10. If you could go back to college, would you? Yes. I’m still working on that one. I would be a student forever if I could afford it.

11. What quality do you possess that makes you a good friend? I am trustworthy and reliable.

 

Below are my five questions for the people I’ve tagged, or YOU if you desire. 🙂

1. If you live to be 100+, what will you say it’s because of?

2. Has there ever been a moment where you thought you might die? If so, what was it?

3. What is something that makes you happy every day?

4. Tell me about the last book you read.

5. Out of all of your birthdays, which one stands out as the most memorable, and why?

 

These are the people I’ve decided to tag:

1. Nathan

2. Drew – drewplaysdrums

3. Wendy

4. Pedro – The [Ghost] Psalms and

5. Mike – it’s Mike Burns.

[Non] Sequitur

As far as reality TV goes, there are a few shows that still manage to get my attention.  I absolutely adore So You Think You Can Dance.  Each season, I am enthralled with the talent of the dancers and the choreographers.  The judges have a way of driving me crazy, but if I DVR it, I can just skip to the dancing.

Another one of my reality TV obsessions is The Bachelor.  I can’t help it.

You already know by the title that this is non sequitur, but by now you’re probably really thinking, Why is she going on and on about reality TV on her bucket list blog?

I’ve never actually applied to The Bachelor, but I imagine as part of the application process the producers want to know, “What is your greatest fear?”  Year after year, some girl inevitably goes on a date where she has to conquer what she’s deathly afraid of.  I’m certain 99% of them must answer “heights.”

Emily and Ben on the Bay Bridge

Alas, I have outsmarted them.  If I were to ever apply, don’t expect me to write my greatest fear—which is bees, by the way.  I am sure if I answered “bees” they would send me on a date to a bee farm to get honey for the girls to eat breakfast the next day.  The description on my date card would be something like “Let’s see what all the buzz is about” or “Will you be my honey?” or some other crap like that.  Yep, it would definitely be a date with millions of bees, smoke, and those weird hats with veils.

Just looking at this photo makes me cringe.

Instead, I would choose an item from my bucket list.

Aha, now I understand how this post fits.

Since heights is actually something I love, I would say something like ziplining through a rainforest, or parasailing. On one of the seasons, they rappelled down a waterfall in Costa Rica. That would seriously be awesome.

Yes, please!

So, if by any chance I actually apply to The Bachelor, and I make it to an exotic location, and I get a one-on-one date, you can be assured that the date will be something risky and daring, and have absolutely nothing to do with bees.

Meet the/a President

An item that’s wavered on my list for a while has been “Meet the/a President.”  It’s not officially on the list, but still always in the back of my mind.  In ways, I feel like I’ve met the goal already.

In May of 2010 I took a trip with a couple friends to South Dakota.  My good friend grew up there, so it was somewhat of a reunion for her and a completely new experience for me.  We planned activities we’re seldom able to do in Florida, if at all: hiking, horseback riding through a mountain, camping, roasting marshmallows, driving down windy roads, oohing and aahhing at Mount Rushmore, gambling, and petting buffalo.  Ok, we didn’t really pet buffalo.  But we had a few buffalo burgers.  I’ve gotta say, I’m not a fan.

Anyway, we stayed a few nights in the small town of Rapid City before making our way to Mount Rushmore.  The city features statues of all the Presidents past, so we had great fun posing with each and every one.

When we finally saw Mount Rushmore, I was impressed.  It’s truly breathtaking and worth a visit.  I couldn’t believe the wave of patriotism that washed over me as I stood directly in front of the masterpiece.  The museum they have there does an excellent job describing the difficulty of so precisely blasting the side of a mountain piece by piece.  The spectacle wasn’t created with a computer or lasers; this thing was made by packs of dynamite, dedicated workers hanging by threads, and sheer bravery.

If visiting Mount Rushmore (or meeting a President) is on your list, I encourage you to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota.  It’s a great vacation for outdoorsy types.  Definitely go starting in June when the weather is nice and there is a decent amount of tourists.  Those little towns in that area thrive solely on tourism, so most things are shut down any time before early summer.

Kayak

I was a little nervous the first time I went kayaking.  The only thing I could compare it to at that time was canoeing, and the one and only time I’ve ever done that was a train wreck, to put it nicely.

When I sat down in the kayak and pushed off, I felt so…buoyant.  Never once have I felt like I would flip out or capsize.  The arm workout is great, but you get to sit back in a better position than a canoe.  On a hot day, the water dripping down off the paddle feels really nice.

Once I rented a triple kayak and although my friend in the middle couldn’t help paddle, she manned the camera and got some really cool shots.

Check out my guns.

Triple kayak fun

Beautiful scenery

One of my favorite places to kayak is Wekiwa Springs in the Orlando area.  I haven’t yet taken the plunge and kayaked in the ocean.  Maybe I should work out my arms a little more before I try that.

****************************************************************************************************************************

I went canoeing with my mom, dad, and brother when I was probably 10 or so.  I was a scrawny little thing, weighing in around 65 pounds.  My parents decided to stick me in a canoe with my larger-than-life brother: 6’4”, 200 pounds, and seven years my senior.

Needless to say, he rocked and squirmed and I held on to my lifejacket with the fear of capsizing.  My parents laughed at my horrified face the whole time, so on the way back my mom partnered with my brother, and I relaxed as my dad rowed us along.  I think I got sun burnt, but it was better than the alternative.

My mom gained an appreciation for my initial endeavor after she flipped out the second time and lost her shoes.  I’ll never forget her holding up the lifejacket that had these words: “PLEASE HELP.”

Today, when I pass canoers, I remember that day and simultaneously feel grateful to have discovered kayaking.

Skydive

Legs back, arms crossed,…wait! What else do I do?

Sitting on the edge of a tin-can plane, hearing only wind and the sound of my heartbeat, I awaited the most amazing–and maybe the last–experience of my life.

My best friend and I prayed nervously before we made our jumps.

“God, please let us make it to the ground safely. And if not, please forgive us for being stupid.”

I was the first one to jump. I was determined to do everything I was supposed to. The video I watched just minutes before explained explicitly I could die.  My only job was to cross my arms in an X across my chest, and throw my knees behind me through the tandem diver’s legs. We rocked on the edge of the plane: one, two, three…

Exhilaration. The wind was so loud I couldn’t hear my thoughts. It didn’t matter since I wasn’t thinking anything at all, except maybe single words like wow, sky, wind, oh, sun, and wow.

That's me on the left, putting the suit on.

This was our plane. It was so small, there were no seats. Instead, we were packed in like sardines.

Flying high in the sky

Skydiving is so risky and crazy that it’s the most cliche item on anyone’s bucket list. Alas, it was on mine. Cliche as it is, I’m proud to say I crossed it off about 5 years ago when I was still a brace-faced baby. To this day, when I face a challenging experience, I recall that I jumped out of a plane at 13,000 feet, and suddenly whatever it is seems doable.

A few years ago, a movie came out called The Bucket List in which a couple guys set out to accomplish some dreams before they kicked the bucket. Even before that movie, I always had a mental list of risks to take, places to travel, people to meet, foods to taste, and so on. When the movie gained popularity, I thought it would be a nice idea to actually write my dreams down somewhere. Writing them down makes me feel committed to my dreams, and since then I’ve crossed several items off the list. When I accomplish one, I feel the need to add at least one more. When I experience something wonderful about this world and the people in it, I usually discover there is more for me to try.

My current list is below.

  • white water rafting
  • zip lining
  • run a 5K
  • be a model for a day
  • take a bubble bath in a clawfoot tub
  • eat caviar
  • eat foie gras
  • write a book
  • write my initials in wet cement
  • ride a gondola in Italy
  • ride in a hot air balloon
  • stand underneath a waterfall
  • slow dance with someone I love

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