Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mary and I attended our first FSU Football Game!

And what fun we had!  It was FSU vs. Wake Forrest, and it was a home game in Doak Campbell Stadium on Bobby Bowden Field.  Just as they say, it was like entering a whole different world.  A world that is louder than the normal world and full, full, of die hard FSU football fans.  It was awesome.  Even though FSU lost and the offense honestly played horribly with 3 fumbles, one of which they recovered, and 5 interceptions.  Ouch.  The first offensive play FSU had was an interception.  But neither Mary nor I, nor the large crowd gave up on the Seminoles.  We all kept "Doak" "Rockin" until the last minute when it became all too apparent that we were not going to be able to pull off a win.  The defense prevented any touchdowns but could only prevent 2 or 3 of the many field goals from sailing through the bars.  In the end they scored 3 more field goals than we did.  It was still a great experience.  Here are some pictures.

First it starts out like this with the World Famous Marching Chiefs!

Next, this guy comes out on the field and tries to spear the Sousaphone players.

If these guys get caught it's curtains for them!

Then I ate a pretzel.

And then... FOOTBALL!  

I am not clear on how the pre-game works so you may want to consult a manual or something.  There are lots of chants that you do during the game which are totally fun.
Oh and when your team scores you have to yell : GOooooooooooooooooooooal!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A lawyer walks into a Bar...

I did it! I passed the Florida Bar Exam!

I'm SO relieved. I was terrified that I'd have to take it over again. I can't even explain how much studying and stress and paranoia goes into taking a bar exam. It's awful. And you know how with most tests you take, if you've studied, by the day of the exam you're feeling pretty confident? Then you take the test and even if you aren't sure that you aced it, you walk out of the exam thinking, "I did alright. I definitely passed." Not so with the Florida Bar Exam. After studying between 10-12 hours a day for almost 2 months, I seriously walked out of both the first and second days of the test thinking, "Well... at least I know what to expect the next time I have to take the Bar Exam."

I was so scared to look at my results, which I knew would be posted on-line today. Then when I saw that I passed, I had to check, double-check, and check again that I was looking at the correct i.d. number. I must have checked 10 times, just to be sure. I even called Elliot to my office to check for me, to make sure I wasn't accidentally reading someone else's exam results. But Elliot confirmed the results for me-- I passed both sections!

Happy me! Happy day!

This is what I looked like every day while I was studying for the exam (here, I'm tracing the trail of an invisible tear down my cheek):

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tum'tumo from Eritrea

On Thursday I made Tum'tumo from Eritrea. It is a lentil and tomato dish. Very simple. We ate it with bread and a salad. It is definitely something we would eat again.

(Note: click on the name of the dish, above, for a link to the recipe.)

Senegalese Stew with Millet

Elliot made Senegalese Stew with Millet this past Tuesday and it is SOOOOOOOOO good. You actually put peanut butter in the stew!

One of the great things about making all of these recipes for our World Peas project is that we've had a lot of personal cooking "firsts." This recipe was the first time we've cooked rutabega.

Our stew and the millet:

(See the pretty flowers Elliot got me for our 6 year Date-iversary?)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fried Plantains and Arroz con Maiz from the Dominican Republic

Earlier this week I prepared a meal of fried plantains and Arroz con Maiz. I love fried plantains! I've eaten them before, but this was my first time cooking them at home. They're so sweet. And you can't tell from the picture below, but before they're cooked plantains are actually pale orange in color. I didn't know that because I've only ever seen them after they've been fried.

Cooking the plantains:

Rice with corn and pineapple:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Apple Berry Crisp from Greenland

Greenland was our first real challenge for the World Peas project. We had hoped to find a vegetarian main course from every country in the world. However, all of the recipes that I could find from Greenland required either whale blubber, seal meat, or caribou. I'm being totally serious. Even if I weren't a vegetarian, it would be hard to come by those ingredients.

I found ONE recipe that Elliot and I were able to modify. A dessert recipe, similar to many desserts I've had before. But beggars can't be choosers, and it turned out very tasty, anyway.

The original Apple Berry Crisp recipe called for crowberries. Crowberries actually grow in Greenland, whereas nearly every other kind of fruit and vegetable is unable to survive the cold. (They have to ship almost all of their produce into the country.) This makes the name "Greenland" sort of ironic. And it also makes Greenland sort of the opposite of Florida, meaning that I was unable to get my hands on a basket of crowberries. So Elliot and I decided to cut out the crowberries and double the blueberries. Other than that, the recipe is the same.

Elliot did a fabulous job of preparing our Greenlandic dessert.

Pictures taken on our Date-iversary

Sunday, September 14, 2008

6 Year Date-iversary

Today we're celebrating 6 years together as a couple! We had a nice brunch this morning, later we're going to get massages, and then we're going to an art show this evening.

I have the best life. :)

Hair Cut #2

I had to get my hair cut again. When I washed my hair after the first cut and it was no longer styled like they did it at the place where I went, it became obvious that it was all uneven and weird-looking. I was already upset that they didn't give me the cut that I'd asked for, but to have it so uneven was just that much more upsetting. So I went to another place yesterday to have it fixed. Well, yet AGAIN, I didn't get the cut I'd asked for. But at least it's even this time. Since my hair is now about as short as it can get, I can only hope that it's even, anyway.

The last time I cut my long hair off was about 5 years ago. That time I had to get 3 hair cuts before it looked normal. The first one was uneven. The second one was even but hideous. And the third one was finally okay. So this is just par for the course, really. I think that the next time I cut off my long hair, I'll just go ahead and schedule 2 hair cut appointments about a day apart and at two different salons. Save myself some time and trouble. (*sigh*)

Monday, September 08, 2008

I cut my hair!

I donated about 12 inches of hair to Locks of Love today. Locks of Love is an organization that makes wigs for children who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss. My hair is so thick that it actually had to be put into two ponytails instead of just one-- so hopefully two kids will get some new red hair. :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mary and I have been approved for adoption!

Our adoption home study has been officially approved, and Mary and I are now eligible to adopt a child through the state of Florida’s Department of Children and Families.  Almost exactly one year ago we began the adoption process.  

First we had to take parenting classes.  The classes taught us what to expect of our adopted children and how to mitigate any issues that might arise because of their past experiences.  

Once we graduated from the class we were assigned a caseworker and our home study began.  There are many different pieces that come together to make a complete home study.  The caseworker visited our house several times to make sure that it was suitable for children.  We had to have space for a child to sleep and play, for example.  During the visits our caseworker interviewed us about our past, our family and our marriage.   We had to fill out a bunch of paperwork and we asked several friends to fill out reference forms for us.  We also had to get fingerprinted and have background checks run on everyone who lives in the house.  

Because Sara lives with us, she had to get fingerprinted and have a background check, as well.  About two months after we had all submitted our fingerprints, Sara’s came back unreadable.  Her fingerprints are very difficult to record; she spent over an hour at the fingerprinting location just trying to get a good enough print to send off.  Even still, she had to go back and do it all again.  Because of her work and school schedule Sara couldn’t go back right away.  By the time Sara had her fingerprints retaken Mary was in her last semester of law school and we had to delay our final home study interview.  

Because of these delays, it took us a year to get approved for adoption.   Now that we are approved, we have begun the next stage of the adoption process, which is waiting to get matched with a child (or two).

We can’t even express how happy we are right now. Our caseworker told us that it normally takes about a year for a family to find the right child. Even though it might take a long time to get matched, we know the wait is worth it. 

Monday, September 01, 2008

No surpise: My favorite part of the USS Alabama trip was the guns.

Confession time. I like guns, always have. Controlling explosions to run complicated machinery and physically affect something very far away has always been something that seems really interesting to me. Now, please don't misunderstand, I abhor violence and I believe it is always deplorable, even when necessary. I truly wish there was never a need for violence. But even though these beliefs are at the core of who I am, I have also always thought guns were neat. It's messed up, but nobody's perfect. It should come as no surprise then, that the main reason why the USS Alabama is so cool to me is all the guns. When I first got to the ship I found out that the USS Alabama has three gigantic turrets that have three 16 inch (bore diameter) 60 foot long cannons on them. They look like this:

They shoot bullets that weight as much as an old Volkswagon Beetle for about 22 miles or something like that. The bullets look like this:

Can you imagine all the technology that went into that? Pretty amazing. Later, as I was walking around, I spotted this:

There appear to be lenses inside that box attached to the side of the turret. This made me think that they must have mounted video cameras or something to the side of the turrets so that they could aim them. Then I realized that the video camera idea didn't really make sense because of how old the ship is. Maybe the military had advanced video camera technology back in the 50's and 60's. Seems unlikely, but I am not privy to that sort of probably classified information, so whatever. But then, as I walked farther along, I saw what appeared to be a hole and some stairs that would let a person enter into the actual gun turret. It was in a weird place so I wasn't sure that I was allowed to go in there, but I did anyway and lo and behold, this was the area from which people must have aimed the big guns or done something similar. It was cramped and dimly lit, but it was pretty exciting anyway. I went and looked at one of the breeches:

Pretty ridiculously large. I found a bunch of dials and stuff that clearly had much to do with the calculating of the correct angle at which the guns should be pointed:

Then, on my way out, I noticed some little holes in a tube that spanned the entire width of the turret. There was light coming out from them:

Then I saw a seat and realized what was going on here: mirrors to the outside! It was that stuff that looked like a video camera from the outside! There was one for each side and there was a spot where a person could sit view images from them both at once, I think:

I don't know for sure because the starboard side didn't work but the port side did sort of work and after much messing around with dials and knobs, I eventually got a recognizable picture to sort of blur through:


Pretty awesome huh!?! The same view as the dudes who once sighted/aimed this gigantic gun! For some reason that just blew me away. I had another similar experience later with the USS Drum, the submarine that was also available for touring. In fact, the entire experience was very similar. No special markings that anything cool would happen over in this area, just a sort of hidden ladder that went up to the periscope area.

The periscope works very well :

Super cool! I loved it. There was a lot to see at this place but if I ever go again, I will be sure to look at those two places again. I had a blast!

Bakwan Tahu from Indonesia

Bakwan Tahu are tofu and bean sprout fritters. Elliot and I both enjoyed this recipe.

Today when Elliot prepared the dish, we realized that there is a bit of a learning curve when frying fritters for the first time. We weren't letting them cook long enough on one side before turning them and the little fritters kept crumbling to pieces in our pan. Eventually, though, we got the hang of it.

Here's what they looked like cooking:

And cooked:

Heart of Palm Salad and Gallo Pinto from Costa Rica

This past Wednesday I prepared two Costa Rican recipes for dinner, a rice dish and a salad. For starters, I made a heart of palm salad and then we had the beans and rice, called Gallo Pinto.

An important part of the recipe project that Elliot and I have undertaken is an effort to try new foods. This was the first time that either of us have eaten heart of palm. It was... okay. Not bad but not especially good either. The salad tasted fine, in my opinion. Elliot wasn't much of a fan of the flavor, saying he didn't like the lime juice and the pepper together.

I absolutely LOVED the Gallo Pinto. Again, Elliot wasn't too fond of the flavor combination. To me it tasted like comfort food. I definitely want to make it again.

Here's what it looked like: