Friday, August 13, 2010

Double Double Toil and Trouble


This week's experiment started when Daley sent me a link to this website wherein a mad genius hacked the infamous Double Double Animal Style and figured out how to make it at home. We decided we'd give it a go. Or more accurately, I would since he was working late that night and I at least had the foresight to realize this was going to be time intensive and I should start well before he gets home. Start to finish, this took three and a half hours. Apologies in advance for my crappy photography, which makes this look not nearly as appetizing as the burgers were in real life.

For those of you non west coasters, a Double Double is a double cheeseburger from renowned fast food chain In-N-Out. If you get the burger animal style, it comes with added pickles, grilled onions, and the meat is mustard grilled. We followed the directions as precisely as possible, but deviated in a few (possibly key) areas. Mainly, we did not do the 60/40 meat and our meat was not fresh, never frozen. We used the 85/15 patties that were sitting in our freezer. We did get the thick sliced American cheese from the deli, but we got white American out of habit, so the look is a little different. Also, I'm warning you right now: there is no good picture of the finished product because I accidentally took it with no flash. Sorry :-/

So I started with my favorite topping: the spread. It seemed that on the original site he only made one burger so I assumed his recipe was enough spread for one. As we were making two burgers, and I like extra for my fries, I tripled it.

That's a lot of spread, friends.

The flavor is dead on. I didn't even add the vinegar or sugar like he recommends, just a tiny extra shot of ketchup. The highlight of this for me was that I now know I have a perfect spread recipe for all my delicious fattening topping and dip needs.

Now it's not Animal Style without a ton of grilled onions. As the Burger Lab genius says, these need to be caramelized and grilled into the creamiest of grilled onions. If at any point the contents of your pan still look like onions, you're not finished. They should look like marmalade. These are seven onions all chopped and ready to go:


And these are those same onions after two and a half hours of careful caramelizing and deglazing:

Yes, I know that looks disgusting. But it's because of the crappy photog skills, remember? It tasted like delicious, sugary, onion-y dessert. Plus I used the leftovers to make really good French onion soup from scratch. So it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Now it was time to assemble the deliciously toasted buns with spread, pickles, tomato, and lettuce:


And grill the meat:


Before reading the hack, I had no idea Double Doubles Animal Style were mustard grilled, but apparently it's a key component of the cooking process. So mustard grilled ours were:


After the meat was grilled, we topped one patty with cheese and onions:


Topped it with the other patty and assembled the burger:


Like I said, I know this sucks. But as soon as I realized the flash was off, the whole thing toppled over. We are not going to get jobs at In-N-Out any time soon.

Daley LOVED them! That made the slaving pretty much worth it. I was not so enamored, for many reasons. Mainly, I never order a Double Double and there's a reason for that: I cannot eat that much food. I couldn't finish it. I could barely eat it, to begin with. My jaw just can't unhinge that way (no jokes, I hear you giggling). So I guess for me, the three hours of work just wasn't worth the outcome, generally. Especially considering just how tired I was and had hoped to go to sleep much earlier.

But to look on the bright side: the onions were heaven and the spread is the stuff of dreams. I just have to really work up the energy to ever do this again. It was a toughie.

But that shouldn't stop you from trying and telling me all about it!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

It was this or go see Inception...




Our plan for today was simple enough: I'd start cleaning the house and do some homework while Daley was at work, then we'd go see Inception, finally, before everyone starts spoiling it for us. The downfall was that while I was cleaning I started opening bills and stuff and having Part VII in what I like to call my "I'm mad at life" crisis. It basically involves my frustration with not being able to travel anywhere any time soon. I don't know what possessed me to think I'd be able to take a cool trip next summer. That's probably not happening. I came across my passport while cleaning and remembered when I had to get extra pages added because I was out of space. That was a proud day of glee. Realizing today that I probably won't actually have reason to use any of those extra pages before my passport expires was a day of significantly less glee. Significantly.

But this post isn't about that. It's about the fact that I was in a bad mood and didn't want to go see a 2.5 hour movie that doesn't even start until 8 on a Sunday. But then I started stressing that I was being dull-and-useless girlfriend instead of fun-and-spontaneous girlfriend. So I suggested we go to Friendly's instead.

Now let's just stop and remember for a moment that Friendly's is a restaurant that has a breakfast item on the menu that entails cutting a cinnamon roll in half and putting three scoops of ice cream between the two halves creating some sort of sugar sandwich. (I just looked it up. The cinnamon roll is in fact halved, battered and cooked like French toast, stuffed with maple syrup ice cream, and then topped with cream cheese, caramel topping, and whipped cream. And death). We'd been talking about going to Friendly's for a while because trying the burger melt is on my list and because the burger melts are currently only $5 with fries. And appetizers are half off after 8pm. So there was no reason not to go.

It took 60 minutes from our door to their door and back to ours. Sixty minutes that will bring us sixty days closer to death (at least). It started innocently enough. We decided to get their "munchie mania" appetizer combo wherein we could pick three appetizers rather than trying to decide on one (I hypothesized about halfway through this meal that most of Friendly's menu was created by some dude high in his dorm room about 2am. Munchie mania? People's Evidence A). So after we said we wanted the Munchie Mania, we realized the buffalo chicken strips Daley wanted weren't an option for the MM. So we said, never mind, we'll just have the mini mozzarella sticks. What we got was this:



That is a mountain of mini mozzarella munchies. We had a whole debate about whether or not our server thought we wanted one each, but she was new and sweet and we'd already weirded her out by trying to alert her to the fact that some of the cakes in the freezer display had things growing on them (They did! It was disgusting! But she seemed really confused and unnerved when we told her. We just wanted to help them sell their surely delicious cakes with better representation). Anyway, so we said nothing about the cheese sticks. Turns out, once we got our receipt, we saw she thought we still wanted the Munchie Mania, but just three servings of mozzarella sticks and nothing else. Oh well. But still, half off! Whoo, cheap heart attacks!

Now onto the main event. We wisely decided to split the burger melt. And I decided that was a good idea because even half is still a whole grilled cheese sandwich. Eating the whole burger means eating a burger plus two grilled cheese sandwiches. That's disgusting. Behold:


You'll first notice that's mayonnaise. On something containing a grilled cheese sandwich. That's gross. In fact, all the toppings are gross. Because lettuce has no place on a grilled cheese sandwich. Neither does ketchup. I tried. It wasn't right. Plain, it was quite tasty. But anything else was totally off-putting. I shared this opinion with Daley. His response: "No. You are wrong." This is what Daley thought of the sammich:


He was so happy, he didn't even care he had food on his face when I took this picture. He wants to go back next week.

But in case that wasn't enough to slowly destroy our insides, we also got dessert. Specifically, we got a warm chocolate cake with peanut butter lava, hunka chunka PB fudge ice cream, peanut butter sauce, chocolate chips, and a Reese's cup. TAKE THAT, ARTERIES!


Alas, we wore jeans and not Thanksgiving pants so we weren't quite able to finish it. Plus Daley thought the ratio of peanut butter to everything else was too high (which is where he is wrong). We got close though:


But wait! I think I have figured out how one can enjoy delicious dinners such as this guilt and artery plaque-free! On the way home, giddy with triumph and success and several high fives over what a fantastic evening this had turned out to be, Daley mentioned a homemade ice cream place he couldn't remember the name of, Treadwell's? Or Treadmill's maybe?

And that is how I got the greatest idea ever: Treadmill's, the ice cream shop where your order is served on a treadmill pre-programmed with the exact combination needed to work off your order. One scoop of cinnamon ice cream with chocolate fudge? Your treadmill is set to one hour at a 5% incline. It's genius! People always stress about getting ice cream and ruining their streak of healthy eating, and they plan to go to the gym to counteract it, but they don't. Now, they don't have to worry! I'll make it so easy for them! Daley thinks this will backfire as people will think I am guilting them into exercising. He won't mock so much once he's living the easy life paid for by Treadmill's money.

However, working off tonight's dinner may take about 6 hours with a 90% incline. Worth it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

0 Down, 101 to Go....


96. Find a toy that Nemo can't start destroying in a week.


In that original post, I mentioned I had just gotten Nemo a tennis ball and rope toy and that he'd already started tearing the fuzz off one of the tennis balls. This is that toy now, after just 2-3 weeks with The Monster (a.k.a Nemo):



That top sphere used to be a tennis ball, if you can believe it. This one might take all 1001 of the days, folks....

Monday, July 26, 2010

"I find hope and it gives me rest/I find hope in a beating chest"



I might as well just get this out there now: I am a Hanson fan.

I know what you're thinking, but if you say one thing about MMMBop without ever having actually read the lyrics, then I don't want to hear it. I've loved Hanson since I was fourteen years old. I can't think of many things I've loved for thirteen years. There are some books and movies, sure, that I read or saw before I was fourteen and I still like. But liking a movie isn't the same as liking a band. You toss the DVD on every now and then, you quote it in applicable situations, you'll chat about it with other fans if it comes up.

But liking a band, especially when that band is Hanson, for thirteen years is a living thing. It requires perseverance and dedication. This is a band that routinely waits several years in between albums (case in point: Underneath came out in 2004, The Walk in 2007, and the latest, Shout it Out came out just this year.... I'm sensing a pattern, actually...). In between albums, it's a lot of hoping for a tour, getting special limited release CDs from their website, hoping for news about when the next album mightmightmight be getting a release date. Then when the tour comes it's hoping you can find another Hanson fan living under some other rock who can go with you so you don't have to go by yourself, deciding who might be willing to come with you if you buy their ticket for them, figuring out who you can bribe with pie to drive you to a concert when you don't have a car (Thanks, Jess!), and creating conspiracy theories about why Taylor Hanson seems to father babies more frequently than he births albums.


But they keep you hanging in there. Why? Because each album is possibly better than the last (except who can rank their favorite albums? They're all so different, those constantly evolving boys). And because few bands are so dedicated to their fans (Constant behind the scenes live streams and Q&As! Generous meet and greets! Contests! Frequent unreleased music off their website! Zac will paint you a personalized picture!).




And you hang in there because they're real. Katy Perry was a blonde Christian singer. Until it didn't work out. Then she was a brunette bombshell with a whipped cream bra because it sold better. And I'm supposed to believe you have any personal connection to your music. Sure, yeah. On the other hand, Hanson put out Middle of Nowhere, of MMMBop fame. Then This Time Around (you might know the second single, If Only). It didn't do particularly well. That was 2000. It would be 3 long years before an acoustic album and another year until a full-length studio album, Underneath. In between, Hanson fought their label. For anyone interested in what the current climate of major music labels is like now, I highly recommend their documentary, Strong Enough to Break, detailing their struggles with their label.



In short, their label, Mercury, got swallowed up by the merger of Island/Def Jam, a label that, as you might be able to tell by its name, wanted nothing to do with the blond pop rock boys from Oklahoma. But it would be too much to let them go. No, no. IDJ let them write, record, re-write, re-record, change producers, start from scratch, and start again for years. When it became evident that no record would ever come from this partnership, Hanson got a lawyer and began arranging to be let out of their contract. Even their lawyer was baffled by the constant unreturned calls, uncooperative label heads and sheer brick walls he met at every turn. He eventually told Hanson he'd never seen anything like this before, it was like the label just wanted to spite them by keeping them around but never releasing their music. Finally, they got out, went independent, released Underneath just as they wanted it and scored the number 1 album on Billboard's independent chart for their effort. And for 6 years, Hanson fans have kept them going with no major label backing.



Finally, Hanson are more than just their music. In between starting a label, starting (and starting and starting) their own families, the boys spent some time in sub-Saharan Africa. They gave their time to charities there, learning first-hand about what was needed. They wrote and developed their next album, The Walk. And they put their money where their feet were. Since The Walk debuted in 2007, Hanson have invited their fans to walk with them before each concert. For one barefoot mile, over rocks, hills, grass, and fields, Hanson and their fans have walked 36,000 miles. And for each person who joins them on the walk, Hanson donates money to various causes in Africa. Each walker chooses where his or her money will go: do you want Hanson to donate on your behalf to build schools, build a well for clean water, give HIV/AIDS meds to an expectant mother so you can prolong the life of her infant, give vital health meds for a variety of diseases, or donate shoes to those in need. Further, each walker can choose to match the donation or give any amount he or she chooses.



By coincidence (or because this is New England and they're everywhere) our walk wound up in a cemetery in the middle of nowhere, Cohasset. Isaac gave a particularly moving speech about one of the donation options, HIV/AIDS meds for an expectant mother. He told us how most children born to HIV positive mothers in Africa die by the age of four and how those HIV meds make that untimely death just a little less untimely. He told us how it wasn't on purpose that we wound up in a cemetery that Saturday, but that it was an unfortunate reminder of just how short our time on earth is, and how lucky we are that we can expect ours to be just a little bit longer than most. They told us how much it meant to them that their fans had kept them going for thirteen years, six of those independently, and how much it meant that we'd adopted their cause as our own, that even on a 90 degree day, we'd walk barefoot on scalding asphalt littered with stones and pebbles, that most of us didn't even try to talk to them that day, or get autographs, or photos, that it wasn't about meeting the band you love, it was about participating in something bigger.







I really wish I had recorded Isaac's speech, but I didn't think I could upload one super long video and didn't think fast enough to just do two shorter videos, but here's what Taylor had to say at least:


It makes me feel incredibly good to know that a band I've put so much time, effort, and money into supporting is in turn putting their time, effort, and money into something much bigger than all of us. If you want some more info, please click to learn how you can take the walk.

Oh and that concert?


It

video

Rocked


video


Hard.


video



(Video of Taylor's speech by me. A special thank you to Kyle Faticoni, who took all of the concert video and all of the still photos and who is a fantastic friend to see a concert with. And you may have noticed one picture is on there twice. Blame Blogger; it wouldn't let me delete it and I didn't want to throw my laptop against a wall so I just left it. You may also have noticed the concert photos and video are from many different angles. No, we did not mosey around the venue at random. The stage spins! Whooo!)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Being Catholic and a Woman

Warning: This is a long post. And it has absolutely no resolution at the end of it. Proceed with caution.

So today news is hitting all the major feminist blogs that the Catholic church has classified the ordination or attempted ordination of women as a crime as grave as pedophilia. I'm not sure why it's all hitting today; my brother and I were talking about this weeks ago (just think if I'd written about it then, I could have scooped the other blogs! I say as though I have any intention of being a serious blogger and not just someone who is bored sometimes). Anyway, you can read some reactions here and here if you like. Any woman who tries to get ordained would be excommunicated and any priest or bishop who attempts to ordain her would be laicized (or defrocked... or not-a-priest-anymore'd).

First some background information: the church doesn't ordain women because Christ didn't ordain women and it claims the Vatican can't change the design of the church as Jesus laid it out. It can't baptize people in milk, and it can't give you pasta as communion because this is not how Christ did it, and it can't ordain a woman because Christ could have ordained women as priests or named them as apostles and yet He didn't. He encouraged them to be active in ministry but they were never called upon to spread the word. Likewise, the church says it cannot change the substance of a sacrament - if Jesus used bread for communion, bread must be used in our communion otherwise the sacrament literally did not take place. Thus, it concludes an ordination of women would not even result in an ordination - the transfer of duties would not even take place - no communion rite performed by a woman would actually be the body and blood of Christ, etc. because the ordination is not valid.

This leads to a question of the logic in even punishing people who attempt to ordain women. If the ordination isn't valid and any ceremonies performed by a female priest aren't valid, then what exactly are you punishing? Either the sacrament doesn't take place and then they are doing nothing more than playing pretend or the sacrament is real and valid and is a crime that requires your attention. By their own doctrine, it's impossible to ordain a woman no matter what you do so even having an ordination ceremony accomplishes nothing. It'd be like me saying "I am a priest now! Come to mass in my living room!" (Side note: I actually did this as a child when my brother was sick, and we couldn't go to mass for a while. I even made white bread communion rounds. That communion was not valid. No one in my house got any body and blood that day. I think we were all aware of this. Should my parents have been excommunicated for letting me play mass? A child and a girl child, no less!). My point is if the ordinations aren't valid and masses performed by women aren't valid etc. etc. then you have nothing to punish, right? Wouldn't the real crime be someone giving priestly powers to a woman even though that's not allowed? That's what you're punishing? Except according to you no such transfer of powers is even possible. You can't have it both ways, Vatican.

Now I find myself at a crossroads. How to reconcile my feminist outrage at an organization that says my gender trying to practice religion in one of the deepest ways possible is tantamount to the horrific abuse of children? How to negotiate the fact that ordination of women results in automatic excommunication and defrocking of the priests involved when most priests accused or convicted of child abuse are never defrocked? I don't think there's enough space on the servers of the interwebs to discuss my outrage and disgust over the Vatican's lack of response to the child abuse running rampant within the church. I think we can all agree that this is an issue that needs to be stamped out but quick. So I'm not going to address that. It can't be defended and I wouldn't even attempt to because I don't think they deserve defending.

I'm just going to talk about the reputation of the church's problems with women. I've read a lot of comments on this issue about the seeming hypocrisy of being a Catholic woman. I've read a lot of comments with a, no pun intended, supremely holier-than-thou tone about how they quit Catholicism after 2 years of Catholic school or how they recognized this hypocrisy when they were 8 and got out then. It basically implies they had the smarts, awareness, and moral fortitude to do what all the other blind, ignorant, brainwashed Catholic women didn't. Good for you, commenters! I wish I were as liberated as you! I just can't seem to find the key to these damn handcuffs attaching me to this here crucifix. If only my Episcopalian father had better elucidated the wonders of the free-wheeling, Pope-less Episcopalians and their enlightened attitudes toward women I might have been saved! A religion that values my lady parts!

Except here's the thing. I believe the Catholic church is the church of the Christ. I believe the popes are carrying on the tradition of St. Peter. I value the example and model of how to live set forth by St. Therese of Lisieux, my confirmation saint. I can't magically turn that off just because I'm angry about many, many things the church has done. The Puritans weren't separatists; they believed in improving the church from within. Muslims don't cease to believe in Islam because major players within their religion want to bomb half the earth.

More commenters have recited repugnant things priests or other Catholic males have told them about women not understanding the complexities of the priesthood or women not being strong enough to lead the church. They recite these as though they are concrete examples of every Catholic's opinion and should urge others to also leave the church. Those isolated people do not speak for all Catholics everywhere because we are millions of individuals with different viewpoints and opinions. You'd think this would be common sense to a group of women strongly opposed to those who would treat women as a gender as an indiscernible mass whose needs and desires are nearly identical. An article that followed this one on the Vatican was upset that a reporter had said only men want to grill and only women want to spend hours shopping for shoes. 'We're all different,' they clamored! 'I love grilling,' said another! But all Catholic men think women suck. Interesting. I went to an all girls Catholic school that gave me the words and tools to value and vaunt my femininity and laid the groundwork for my feminism before I even would have called it that. My high school made me a feminist. And not as a reaction to Catholicism and its weaknesses, but because my teachers and the nuns that worked there and my classmates made me feel like being a girl was awesome.

So where are we now? The Vatican says I can't do what I want with my own body, that contraception is bad even in the face of an AIDS epidemic in Africa, that women being priests is as bad as priests who molest children, and has been grossly incompetent in dealing with said abuse. But I still believe they're the church of Christ which makes them the church for me. It makes me sad. I think it would make Jesus sad too. Catholic women aren't the only ones in this boat. Religious gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, and transsexuals are here too, internalizing for quite some time what they've been told is a complete contradiction between their identity and their God. And I'm sure no one has an easy answer for how you live that way. I'm not willing to just walk away and then pat myself on the back for being better than those who didn't. But I'm also not willing to accept or defend things I can't stand.

It's a conundrum.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

101 in 1001

Hello, world!

So one of my friends has been on my case to start a blog. I went back and forth on the idea, but one day I stumbled across the personal blog of Heather from Go Fug Yourself. She had a list of 101 Things to Do in 1001 Days. I don't think the idea was hers originally, but I'm giving her credit for inspiring this first entry. As I finish items on the list, I'll update you on how it's going and anything else that crosses my mind in the meantime.

So first to explain the name of the blog: "Il faut profiter" is a French expression that has pretty much the same meaning as carpe diem. But it stuck with me because I often heard it used for little things as well. Like, oh it's sunny for the first time in days - il faut profiter, we should go to the park, etc. It's something I try to say to myself often to get me out of a lazy rut. I've been fighting a pretty big bout of laziness lately, which is another point of the list: to make me go out and do things instead of just sitting around.

I set some small guidelines for myself and tried to stick to them as much as possible. Primarily, this isn't a bucket list. It's not a list of everything I want to do in life. 1001 days is just over two and a half years. Specifically, it means I have until April 7, 2013 to complete these things. While I don't think it's certain that I can do all of these things in that time, I at least wanted to make it possible. I'm going to be in grad school until May 2012, and working full time too. So once I had about three or four trips on there, that had to be it. I can't then decide I also want to go to Australia and back to Paris and everything else under the sun I'd like to do in life that would never be financially feasible at this point. I also tried to make the entries quantifiable. These aren't New Year's resolutions. If I write something like "be more patient," how do I know when to check that one off the list? It wouldn't work. I also decided it doesn't count if it's something I absolutely have to do anyway. Pass all of my MTEL exams? Yeah, they won't let me be a teacher in the state of Massachusetts without having done that so that's definitely happening; it's no fun to put that on the list. I also gave time limits to some of them, some I only have to do once, some I have to maintain for a month. I thought it was unreasonable to try to do each of these for the entire 1001 days.

Finally, you'll notice a lot of these follow trends. Once I thought of one trip, I thought of three more, same with food I want to cook, etc. So you'll notice a lot of clusters of like entries.

Enough chattering, here's the list:

1. Start a blog.

Ha, done!

2. Buy natural peanut butter.

I'm trying to be more healthy, and this is one of the things I want to do once I finish my current jar of peanut butter. I'm a die hard Jif fan all the way, and the last time I had natural peanut butter (when I was about 14), it was the worst PB&J I've ever had, and I've refused to buy it ever since. So we'll see.

3. Perfect the new margarita.

Another nod to healthy eating. My current margarita recipe includes a bunch of things that are terrible for you. The new margarita will be all alcohol all the time, no sugar and corn syrup-filled mixes.

4. Go to South America.

This is an idea floating around in my head right now. It's going to depend on a lot of things, namely how much money I have come next summer and whether I think taking two weeks off of work is something I can do. It has to be summer so I don't miss school and it has to be early summer before work gets busy. But I'm coming up on a year in Massachusetts now, which for my life means I should be moving soon. But I can't (see: grad school), so I feel like the only way I won't go nuts is if I take a pretty kickass trip sometime soon. South America works nicely because I've always wanted to go there, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get there, the exchange rate should take me far, I can backpack, and there's a great variety of places to see and things to do. Plus I have friends traveling there now so they can help give me tips to plan my trip well.

5. See a Broadway musical.

Daniel Radcliffe's supposedly doing How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying next year, so I'm sure that'll take care of this one.

6. See a Broadway play.

Might as well while I'm there.

7. Buy a digital SLR.

I was going to do this around my birthday this past March, but I was supposed to research it more, my dad was going to talk to his camera people, and it never really came together for me to pick one out.

8. See a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

I've been to Chicago twice, and the Cubs have been away both times. Sad.

9. See a post-season game at Fenway Park.

This one's not entirely contingent on me. It's also contingent on the Sox getting a playoff berth sometime in the next 1001 days and me getting a place in the ticket lottery to purchase them. I was supposed to go see an ALCS game last season (Sox/Yankees even!). Had the tickets, had my sister-in-law flying in to go with me.... had the team that lost to Tampa Bay in the ALDS and blew the whole thing. Jerks.

10. Buy a copy of Mastering the Art of French cooking and make boeuf bourguignon.

Okay I realize this is the clichéd thing to make from that book. But it's a stew comprised mostly of beef, bacon, and red wine. I want it.

11. See a Sox game from the Monster seats.

2012 is the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. I graduate in 2012. Graduation present, anyone??

12. See New York at Christmas.

I've always wanted to do this and every ridiculous touristy thing that goes with it. We were supposed to do it last Christmas, but a big snowstorm hit and I was too chicken to go on the crazy Chinatown bus in a blizzard so it didn't happen.

13. Get my second tattoo.

I know exactly what I want, but I really would like to get it in all white ink and that can either take really nicely on your skin, or really poorly. I need an artist who's willing to really work with me, give me advice, maybe do a small part in white, see how it takes, and if it sucks, can incorporate it into the finished tattoo without losing the overall quality. It's just a lot of effort I haven't been able to work up yet.

14. Find a French class or actively work with Rosetta Stone or the Foreign Service Officer program.

Because I studied it for years and even studied and lived in France for a year. I opened a bank account, rented an apartment, dealt with lost metro passes and missed trains, and now I have to think forever to form the simplest sentence, I can't remember genders or conjugations as well as I used to, etc. I live in fear of my French students finding out I speak French and cornering me and trying to talk to me and then laughing at me behind my back. This can't happen.

15. Do a marathon of all three Lord of the Rings movies.

One of those things I keep saying would be fun to do and then make no effort to actually do it.

16. Go with Daley to Austin and New Orleans.

We're supposedly going to Houston for Christmas, with a detour to New Orleans and hopefully a day in Austin. Daley's been to none of these places. I just really want to find a way to make both New Orleans and Austin happen, but who knows how much time we'll really have.

17. See if I can get credit for all my Korea Air flights.

I flew a lot of airlines while I lived in Asia that it turns out are partners with Continental Airlines, and I could have gotten frequent flier miles for all of them. This really annoyed me because I want free plane tickets, so I wrote them and they said to just send in ticket stubs to get credit. But that was forever ago, most of my stuff was e-tickets through the Korean travel agent, or stuffed in a "scrapbook this" box so I've made absolutely no headway on it, and now it might be too late. But I really should at least try. I kind of hate Continental now, but I've been accumulating these miles since I was 5, so I would really like to get a great free trip somewhere. And I'll take free even on a crummy airline.

18. For one month, get all homework done on weekends so on my breaks between work and class I can go outside and do something.

On days where I have class I work until 1 and then have class at 3:30 or 4. I usually have a million reasons why I do nothing during that break: I have homework to do, my backpack's too heavy to lug around somewhere, it's too hot out, I want to watch Criminal Minds, it's too cold out, etc. No more! For a month at least!

19. Find good Moroccan, Greek, Indian, French, and tapas places in Boston.

Boston has Restaurant Week twice a year so there's really no excuse not to get this one done.

20. Go to Ray's fish restaurant.

Another one that's contingent on people other than me. Namely, Ray needs to open this freaking seafood restaurant to go with his amazing steak place and burger place in D.C. I also like any excuse to go visit my brother and sister-in-law.

21. Take another nap in the Common/Public Garden.

When Daley was still living in L.A. he went to Rhode Island for a weekend to visit a friend, but he flew into Boston. He was exhausted from flying, I was exhausted from life, and so we took a nap in the middle of the Common on a sunny September day. Best nap ever.

22. Go back to Newport for a day.

My friend was married in Newport last September and I had hoped to spend the day just wandering around before the ceremony, but rain put the kibosh on that plan. Still, it was a lovely city and I'd really like to see it on a nice day.

23. See a Patriots game.

I've seen the Sox and the Bruins, but I should make it out to Gillette sometime I feel.

24. See a Celtics game.

Same. Why not? There are cheap Groupons for this sometimes.

25. Go to an 'SC football game.

Not living in L.A. means no easy access to Trojan games, and I miss them. Preferably I'd go to a bowl game, but that one would have to happen waaaay at the end of the 1001 days since we're banned for two years. Womp womp.

26. Go to the Harry Potter park .

How did I already get to 26 without this one?! I want to go yesterday!

27. Go back to Disney World.

I haven't been since I was 14, and I can drink at Epcot now!

28. Go on a cruise.

Daley and his family have been on a ton of cruises so he is a 'frequent cruiser,' which means he and, by extension, I get cheaper cruises. He loves them and I like food that feels free and tropical destinations. Win win!

29. Go to Sox spring training.

These last four could really be summed up a "go to Florida for a really long time." But spring training hits just near both of our birthdays and my spring break, so it would be fairly easy to work out and a good time to treat ourselves.

30. Wear my hair down every day for a week.

Only a week because this is going to suck enough as it is. I don't have time for this.

31. Re-read all of the Ender and Bean books.

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and all of the following books that follow Ender and Bean are fantastic, and I really want to read them again. Might as well now.

32. Get a massage and facial all in one day.

I've gotten these before, multiple times, but never together. I think it would feel ultimately decadent to do it. Much like Shelby in Steel Magnolias, I would like a full day of beauty.

33. Send Christmas cards one Christmas.

I always mean to and never do, but I LOVE getting them. I should do my part to spread the love.

34. Volunteer for a political campaign.

I would especially like to do this during the 2012 campaign. Daley and I considered doing it during 2008, but the nearest state to us that would have been right for the kind of campaigning we wanted to do was Arizona, and well, McCain's from Arizona so there really wasn't much point in trying to convince them to vote Obama. Come 2012 we'll be in a blue state surrounded by blue states, so I'm not really sure what we can do, but we'll find a way. I suck at cold calling so I'd like to do more of the 'volunteering at rallies' kind of volunteering.

35. Send care packages to Heather and Zach.

This sort of breaks the rule in terms of not being specific or quantifiable. But I don't know how much it costs yet to send packages to Russia or how often I'll be able to do it. But I'll check it off once I feel like I've hit a good number. Then I'm going to send more because getting mail is fun. And because maybe if they're good ones then Heather will find the Russian equivalent of Artbox and send me awesome stationery.

36. Put effort into one Halloween.

I live in Salem for crying out loud. I need to think of better costumes.

37. Go to happy hour at least once a week for a month.

I've tried many times to establish a happy hour routine and stuff always gets in the way. Not this time!

38. Have champagne brunch every Sunday for a month.

Same here!

39. Finish scrapbooks.

This one's going to be a doozy. These scrapbooks go back to studying abroad in Paris in 2004 (my god, six years!). I saved everything, and I hardly know what any of it is anymore, which is the danger in waiting forever to do a scrapbook. I also need to finish the St-Malo photo albums (October 2005 - April 2006) and putting something together for Korea (June 2007 - July 2008). Plus the Paris and St-Malo stuff at least is all in boxes in my parents' house in Houston. So this one's gonna be tough.

40. Exercise 3 times a week for one month.

This might sound pretty de riguer for most of you and probably clues you in to just how lazy I am. Really it's not so much that I won't exercise, but that I pretty much don't do anything with any measurable regularity. I just do it when I remember or think of it or have the energy. Which usually doesn't work out to any regular schedule. So for one month at least, I'm going to try to have a schedule.

41. Go bungee jumping.

I'll be honest, I have no insatiable need to bungee jump. But I also don't hate the idea. I won't be sad if this doesn't get done, but if the opportunity arises, I'll jump at it. Heh. I would prefer it to be somewhere scenic though. I went skydiving in nowhere, Texas, paragliding in the Swiss Alps, and parasailing in the Philippines. Guess which one wasn't pretty to look at? It didn't take away from the experience by any means, but it certainly would have added to it.

42. See a Billy Joel concert.

This one is just a tease. Again, it's contingent on Billy to tour anywhere near me in the next 1001 days. And seeing as how he went to Vegas when I was in Korea and Korea when I was in Los Angeles, I don't think he wants me to see him. But I want to see him. So. Badly.

43. Send prompt thank you notes for all Christmas and birthday presents in one calendar year.

Because I should stop reflecting poorly on my mama.

44. For one month, buy nothing but nice wine.

I come from a wine drinking family. I drink wine everyday (enjoying a nice Malbec as we speak). But because I drink it everyday and because (it's a common refrain, sing if you know the words) I work and go to grad school, I have no money. I buy what I can, try to keep it above two buck chuck levels, but it's certainly not nice, though I'm leaving the definition of nice a bit up to interpretation. It doesn't have to be $30 a bottle. I'd like to do some research, ensure it has flavors I tend to enjoy, a recommendation from friends, maybe find some bottles I used to love when I worked at a wine bar and would treat myself. I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this month.

45. Compile a liquor cabinet.

I have a bottle of wine and half a bottle of tequila in our house right now; that's it. I'd like to institute a cocktail hour in the vein of my sister-in-law and her family, but I need a better selection. This is also something I'm surprised I haven't done earlier. Laying out the money for this yields big dividends for me because it takes me forever to finish. I had a bottle of sweet tea vodka for five months once.

46. Go on a double date.

This has nothing to do with preferring to hang out with couples, but more to do with us getting to the age where a lot of our friends have serious significant others/spouses that we don't know very well and I'd like to get to know them better.

47. Learn how to cook a perfect medium to medium-rare steak.

Really I should just buy a meat thermometer because then I don't have to cut into it or learn the hand test. I've tried to learn the hand test. My hand doesn't feel like meat.

48. Back up both computers.

I live in constant fear of my computers crashing and taking all of my photos and music with them.

49. Visit Canada.

Because I have friends there, I wanted to go when I was driving out from L.A. to Boston, and because it's right there! There's no excuse.

50. Go sledding.

I built my first snowman last winter, but I still haven't checked this one off.

51. Go to Nantucket.

I've been to the Cape and Martha's Vineyard multiple times, but never Nantucket.

52. Learn how to make one vegan soup.

I've had some great vegan soups with broths so rich you'd swear they were chicken. I just need to learn how to make one.

53. Make my own infused vodka.

This will probably be blackberry or a limoncello of some sort. I also want cute infusion jars.

54. Make my own vanilla extract.

This goes hand-in-hand with 53 actually because you have to soak vanilla beans in vodka. But the fun part is you seal it up tight and store it in a basement or attic for two months and shake it periodically. For some reason, I'm obsessed with the idea of ferreting a bottle away in the attic and then furtively tending to it in the dark like it's a secret and I am its Gollum.

55. Plant an herb garden.

Inspired by my list before I even published it, I bought a basil plant today! He smells delicious and will hopefully not die in the Boston heat.

56. Get bread pudding at Commander's Palace.

I love bread pudding. I love nice restaurants in New Orleans. I love spending money on bread pudding and nice restaurants in New Orleans.

57. Do the Freedom Trail.

I am a nerd for Revolutionary War history, and I've done certain spots on the Freedom Trail already, but I've never formally followed the trail, gone on the tour, etc., and I'd like to.

58. Attend a Boston Massacre reenactment.

They do this every year on the anniversary of the Massacre, and I'd love to see it.

59. Rewatch Battlestar Galactica.

Because it's awesome and now that I know the end I'd like to watch it all over again with the endgame in mind.

60. Learn how to whistle.

I swear it can't be done.

61. Try a KFC Double Down.

Trying to be healthier only works if you get to cheat sometimes.

62. Try a Friendly's burger melt thing.

Or two times.

63. Make S'mores with Reese's cups instead of Hershey's chocolate.

Or three times. Come on, how good does this sound?! My friend did it once and I see it in my dreams.

64. Make a cheese soufflé.

I love cheese soufflés and I want to learn how to make my own so I can eat them whenever I want.

65. Make a mince pie. Or better, many mini mince pies.

Mince pies and mulled wine are my favorite Christmas treats, but i usually just buy a box of Walker's and am done with it. I want my own. Definitely minis because much like I like any food that comes in pockets (pasties!), I also like mini versions of things I can carry around.

66. Go to Maine.

Eh why not? It's there.

67. Watch all the classic DVDs I bought in Korea.

So many bootlegs of AFI 100 movies, so little time.

68. Subscribe to a magazine and read each issue in a timely manner.

At my old office in L.A., we used to get Newsweek delivered though no one knew why, and I had fun reading it so I decided to subscribe. Once they started coming to my house, I never read a single one. I like getting magazines, I just need to figure out which one will have the highest likelihood of me keeping up with it.

69. Go to four different Boston/Salem museums that aren’t for class.

I've been meaning to go to several Boston museums for a while now, but I tend to use living in Salem as an excuse for not having done a lot of things in the city I want to do, even though it's a weak excuse. There's no real reason not to have already done this.

70. Go camping.

I used to do this a ton with my family as a kid and I loved every second of it. I went once in L.A., to Joshua Tree, and had a blast again. This needs to happen soon.

71. See a meteor shower.

California deserts were great. I will find a place where this can happen in New England.

72. Go to a vineyard and do a wine tasting.

As I said I love wine. I've done this before, but it was a looong time ago, and I'd like to find some cute little New England wineries (there are some!) and see what they have to offer.

73. Fly a kite.

Something else I loved as a kid and haven't done.

74. Have a picnic.

Danielle gave me a cute little picnic set and I still haven't gotten to use it!

75. Find really good salted butter.

When my friend and I lived in northern France we used to buy the best butter with big chunks of sea salt in it. Now every block of salted butter I buy here has no visible/tastable salt. It's full of lies, and I do not accept it.

76. Eat more vegetables that aren’t covered in cheese or mixed into a dish that is mostly cheese.

Sigh, yeah, I'm that person.

77. Go to a BC game of some sort.

This one's kind of a cheat. Daley's whole family went to BC, he grew up going to games, and he really wants to take me, so I kind of know this is going to happen. However, since he wore BC stuff to the 'SC game I took him to, I'm totally doing the same to him. Fight on!

78. Take a spontaneous, last minute trip somewhere.

Damn straight.

79. See the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Again, Revolutionary War nerd.

80. Eat pulled pork and fried clams in Newburyport (not together).

I have friends who live there, and I really want to see it. Plus I love fried clams and the pulled pork sandwich at my friend's restaurant is supposed to be the best I'll ever have so it's for science.

81. Have Crumbs cupcakes again. They will be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine.

I'm either going to have to get these shipped or go to CT or NY.

82. Go to Hell Night at East Coast Grill.

I want to see if I can make my tongue bleed.

83. Go to a PostSecret Event.

I'm afraid karma's punishing me on this one because there was an event at 'SC while I was still living in L.A., but no one wanted to go with me and I didn't want to drive into downtown and go see the show all by myself so I skipped it. Since then, there hasn't been one anywhere near me.

84. Eat lunch at the café at the Boston Public Library.

Every time I walk by, it smells so good and the courtyard is so beautiful.

85. Have a crawfish boil. If I get effed over on this one, it’s BP’s fault.

Yep.

86. Take my phone to the Verizon store.

This is a boring housekeeping one, but since I've needed to do this for a while and haven't gotten around to it, let's see if I can manage it in the next 1001 days.

87. Figure out how to remove PDFs from phone.

There seems to be no delete button and one of these PDFs is a massive, 150 page Batman thing my brother sent me and others are menus for L.A. restaurants that I don't need anymore. Gotta clean up.

88. Read the rest of the Hitchhiker books.

I've only read the first one and would like to finish.

89. Read at least two of the biographies sitting on my bookshelf that I’ve never read.

I have several great biographies sitting around and books of letters written by famous couples to each other and other things I'm excited to dig into, but haven't.

90. Paint a wall somewhere.

This requires me to either move somewhere where I can paint or for one of my friends to move somewhere they can paint and invite me to help. So let's work together on that one, shall we?

91. Find slam poetry in Boston.

I went to this from time to time way back when I was in college and I always loved it so much. I want to find a good group here to go see regularly.

92. Make my own sorbet.

This started when I was watching the Magic Bullet infomercial the other day and they made sorbet using just frozen fruit, ice, and juice. I really want to do it now because I love sorbet, have tried buying a few different brands, and they're all full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup and taste gross. I want mine tart and to taste like fruit, damn it.

93. Perfect Italian gnocchi.

I tried to make this once and the proportions were so off. It was supposed to be pesto gnocchi, but as soon as it was in the bowl, the dumplings fell apart and it was basically garlic-basil mashed potatoes. Bless my friend for eating it anyway. I have a feeling this might involve me buying a ricer, which I don't really want to do, but we'll see.

94. Go paintballing.

Because there aren't enough welts on my body?

95. Find a good farmers market.

Yep.

96. Find a toy that Nemo can’t start destroying in a week.

No matter what it is, he chews it up or disembowels it. I just put him a tough little toy. It has a tennis ball head, a tennis ball body, and very stiff rope appendages. He's had it for a week, and the fuzz on the tennis ball body has already been ripped to shreds.

97. Try escargot.

This is one of the few foods that Daley has tried that I haven't, which needs to be fixed just on principle. Also, he loved it which is shocking because he doesn't like a lot of things. I have nothing against escargot, I was just told it's crucial to go to a place that has a reputation for making great, fresh escargot. Well, when I lived in France, I had no one to turn to for such a recommendation and I was also a broke student with no money so it just didn't happen.

98. Watch every James Bond movie with themed cocktails to match.

I saw my first James Bond movie the other day, Casino Royale, and to go with it my brother made the vesper cocktails Bond creates in the movie. I think this should become a thing.

99. Build or refinish a piece of furniture.

Way more fun then buying everything already done and not perfectly in my tastes. I like projects.

100. Go in the Atlantic Ocean.

I've been to the beach just never in the water. It looks cold.

101. Go to a fair or carnival.

I want fair food!