Five Unusual Food Experiences

We’re preparing for our annual restaurant issue at work, so I started thinking about my foodie adventures. Everyone has a favorite and/or least favorite meal and restaurant, but what about in between those ends of the spectrum? What have we tried that has expanded our palate and made us wonder what other delectable dishes are out there? Here are a handful of times I surprised myself (and my tongue) with some unusual food experiences.

Poi

Poi

My family and I spent two weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii in the summer of 2008, specifically on the coast of Kailua-Kona. Of course, we had to spend at least one night at a traditional luau, complete with roasted pig dug straight out of the ground, served with local side dishes and Hawaiian food staples like poi. I put a little on my plate to taste and was less than thrilled to discover that it is a gray paste completely devoid of any flavor and the consistency of cement pudding (gritty and mushy). Pictured above? My “why do people eat this?” face. Continue reading

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Top Tearjerkers

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I don’t mind a good cry every once in a while. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, if I’m not out with my girlfriends at a club, I’m in bed with a movie that makes me feel like my heart may burst out of my chest (see my prior PSAs). But you know, there are a lot of excellent emotional films that don’t revolve entirely around love. So I threw together a few of my top tearjerkers, because I like to torture myself by watching gut-wrenching YouTube clips during the day. My list is pretty short, so add your own in the comments!

Toy Story 3 | 2010

SOB

Disney/Pixar comes into your childhood adulthood like a wrecking ball (minus the naked Miley Cyrus on top AKA Disney gone wrong). It’s bad enough Andy’s going off to college (are we really that old already?) but then the toys get accidentally dropped at a daycare made of nightmares and boogers, their lives are turned upside-down by a homicidal teddy bear, and they wind up in an incinerator and they’re trying to get out and they realize it’s useless and they all commit to the fact that they’re about to die and they hold hands to face it together andWHAT THE HELL, DISNEY. Pretend you don’t already have tears in your eyes over toy deaths (can they even feel pain?), because they get rescued (whew), but you don’t realize the conclusion of this film is a one-two-punch until Andy brings his pals over to Bonnie’s house and finds Woody at the bottom of the box. He never meant to give away his best bud, but he gives a heart-wrenching speech about what makes Woody special: “He’ll never give up on you, ever. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.” Kids will take the speech at face value, but adultsespecially those who graduated college a month before this film’s release and have been thrust into the real world and are quickly realizing that it’s time to leave childhood behindwill take it for the lovely metaphor it is and may or may not find themselves ugly crying in a room full of strangers. So long, partner. ❤  Continue reading

Five Favorite Authors

whos-your-fave-author

US

This is insane. Why did I do this to myself? Asking a book lover to pick a favorite book is like Sophie’s Choice, but with way more children. Although I must admit, Queen Jo made that choice a bit easier over the course of the years. Same scenario exists with authors. While picking five (or 15) just a few years ago would’ve been a piece of cake, today it feels difficult. A cursory glance at my bookcase at home reveals how varied my tastes have become over the years: The magic of Harry Potter is nestled beside the garbage of Fifty Shades of Grey (which I bought based purely on buzz and couldn’t bring myself to read beyond the line “…and my very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba.”) Dan Brown’s mind-bending literary labyrinths join the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Frodo and Bella Swan share a shelf, for crying out loud. I suppose that’s how I was as a kid too. I could read Sweet Valley fluff one day and turn to the creep-tastic Goosebumps books the next. I’ll admit my tastes aren’t high culture, nor do they have very deep roots in classic fiction. I read Pride & Prejudice in college because, well, I felt like I should at least once and I wanted to cry every time I started a new chapter. I would throw my mass market paperback across the room and complain loudly to my roommates, “You can’t tell me people ever really talked like this! I need a dictionary just to get through a paragraph!” I felt like an uncultured swine—but I did finish it. I would watch Rory Gilmore tear through novel after novel and think, hmm, I’ve never read that. Or that. Nope. No again. Damn. I had to drop out of a Faulkner class because The Sound and the Fury made me want to rip my eyes straight from their sockets so I wouldn’t have to finish it. Anyway … Continue reading

FACE-OFF: YA Books VS. Movies

Screen shot 2014-04-22 at 11.20.58 AMAs an avid book lover, it’s quite hard for me to admit that sometimes—sometimes—movies can be better than their literary counterparts. Especially since I grew up insisting the opposite was true. While I do believe that books can bring more depth, detail, and development, there’s just something magical about sitting in a movie theater with ants in your pants, anticipation nearly killing you, as you wait to see a world that has thus far only lived inside your head come to life in loud and vivid color. When done correctly, it intensifies your adoration for those worlds, even the ones that will only ever exist in fantasy. When done badly, you’re forced to defend the essence of the story, because despite sitting through a cringe-inducing train wreck of a film, it’s still one of your favorites. It was incredibly hard to choose only five (which is why my honorable mentions are a mile long), but here are the page-to-screen transitions that I loved, hated, loved to hate, and hated to love. Continue reading

5 Books That Influenced Me To Become A Writer

I loved books before I even know how to read them. My mother tirelessly read to me when I was little and instilled in me such a love of made-up stories that I was already excited to learn when I reached first grade. Naturally, writing followed. My teachers told me I had a gift and I enjoyed it so much, I just assumed they were right. I was eight when I wrote my first poem … nine when I attempted a short story … and ten when I decided that I wanted to see my name on a Barnes & Noble shelf someday. I had every intention of majoring in English when I got to college to pursue my dream of writing and publishing a novel. A high school intro to journalism class totally threw my life plans off-track, but in a good way. I hope my ten-year-old self wouldn’t be too mad at me. I’m still sharing stories, just differently, and I love it more than I could have hoped to when it came time to decide “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” Then again, I ain’t dead yet and publishing a book, either for kids, teens, or adults is still a dream. Here are five books (out of countless others) that inspired my love of the written word from childhood to adulthood. Continue reading