Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gen Y and Phone Etiquette.

Still unsure if I am Y. A while ago, I did write a post on texting. It is the thing to do. But I must say, there are certainly other rules that come with Gen Y that are so clear to me.

As I suppose I am on the cusp of Gen Y, I know for sure that my little cousins are Gen Yers. And I know their routines. I do not take it personally when I call them and leave them a message and I never hear back from them. Ever. And I also don't care if they tell me they never listened to my message. Because I stopped leaving messages.

Once I started hanging out with massive amounts of people who are my age and younger (this happened when I moved here), I saw the real deal. For those parents who are still upset when the little niece doesn't call you back, let me jot down their protocol:

-They don't like talking on the phone - they prefer a text.
-They will not listen to your message. They see you called and they will call you back.
-They expect you to do the same.

How many times have I called someone back and said "I never listened to your message. What what was it?" Then I listen to it three weeks later when my phone alerts me that they will delete the message and it is some random message from a family member, telling me about some long boring thing that I don't care about. Notice that I haven't mentioned anything about my friends. Because they don't leave me messages. And in one a year, my boyfriend has left me his first voicemail two weeks ago. To notify me that he saw my dog was on the news. (She was not arrested for shop lifting at the pet store. I actually pay for everything she eats as she devours everything she passes).

I must admit that I am quite the hypocrite. Because I used to have this strict rule that if you called me and you didn't leave me a message, I refused to call you back. This stemmed from dialing a wrong number where the recipient called me back. I called about a car for sale. I dialed the wrong number. I realized it immediately, so I did not leave a message. The guy calls me back. He wants to know why I called him. The conversation went like this:

Wrong Number Guy: "Someone from this number just called me."

Me: "Did they leave you a message?"

Wrong Number Guy: "No, but I am calling back."

Me: "Well, I realized I dialed the wrong number after it was ringing, so I didn't leave a message. Don't you think if the person wanted you to call them back, they would have left a message?"

Wrong Number Guy: "Yeah, probably."

Me: "Ok. Bye."

And I am thinking to myself - this guy is a moron. But he was probably just being curious, right? This has happened about three times to me. So I used to say if you didn't leave me a message, I would not call you back. Now, if I see you have called me, that is the message enough. What is the message going to be, anyway? "Call me back?" The missed call says it all. If you want to notify me of anything more than that, text me.

The rules are simple and I changed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Favorite Recipe

In the spirit of my favorite season, I love to make my famous "Soup in a Pumpkin." We are coming into my absolute favorite time of year. As soon as I see the pumpkins are out, I make my soup. It is a lot of work, but really fun for everyone. I only make it twice in the fall. And since I already made it once, you will have to fight for your chance to taste it in 2009....

A farmer on Saturday was selling all of his pumpkins for $1.00! Well, being that it was not even mid September when I saw that bargain, I told him I would take a few. I told him:

"I make a soup in the pumpkin,"
The farmer said, "I have heard of people doing it."
I said, "It's a lot of work."
The Farmer said "I heard that, too!"

Then I took a photo of his truck as he was loading it up.

Here is the recipe:

(I buy small individual ones, depending on how many people I am making it for) 6 pounds Pumpkin
1 1/2 cups Bread crumbs, fresh dried- I usually take fresh bread and break into pieces, bake at 350 for 15 mins. Then you have homemade bread crumbs!
2 cups Onions; chopped
1/2 cup Butter
1 1/2 cup Cheese,
mozzarella or Swiss, grated
2 quarts Vegetable stock
Salt & pepper1/2 teaspoon Sage (or more)
1 cup Cream, heavy OR1 cup Half and Half - (I leave this out a lot!)

Crush bread crumbs. Saute onions in butter until soft but not browned. Stir crumbs into the hot onion mixture and cook slowly for 3 minutes. Cut a top off pumpkin, scoop out seeds, rub inside with soft butter. Turn the crumb mix into the pumpkin. Stir in grated mozzarella or Swiss cheese and fill to within 2 inches of top with hot vegetable stock (about 2 qt). Season with salt, pepper and sage. Bake on a pizza pan in preheated 400 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until pumpkin flesh can be flaked off with large cooking fork. Do not overcook as pumpkin will collapse. Keep warm until ready to serve. Just before serving, gently stir in hot cream or half and half, and a handful of chopped fresh parsley (optional). Serve everyone their individual pumpkin. Scrape the flesh into your soup and enjoy!

Great with red wine and a salad. This is all you need. It is VERY filling! This is a wonderful fall meal.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Top Five Summer Madison Activties

For such a small city, (Madison has under 225,000 residents), I was completely overwhelmed this summer with activities, festivals, concerts and other venues that were offered on a daily basis in Madison, Wisconsin. This is by no means a complaint, yet reassures me that I have made a good decision in choosing this place.

After work, with energy still looming, I would have to decide whether I should do the laundry and household work that needed to be tended to or skip it all together for a trip to a hiking trail or a weekday farmer's market or a seat at the Union, overlooking Lake Mendota. And the list goes on. I am practically thankful that the sun is setting earlier because it is an excuse to sit on the couch and read.

I cannot even allow myself to sit on the couch when the sun is out. I have to enjoy nature. And with the infinite options around town, I have made every excuse (art show - friend wants to meet for a drink outside - dog needs to exercise on park trail - the swimming pool is open) to avoid doing anything that is taxing, like finishing my taxes, for example.

Where to start? Of all of the things you can do, I will rate my top five memories of "All things offered in Madison....."

1) The Farmer's Market

Well, it is quite obvious that I love the farmer's market. I never buy a whole lot, but I am only one person. Besides the main market which is the biggest "producer only" market in the entire country, there are smaller sized markets all week in outlying neighborhoods. For example, Central Park, aka the "Eastside Market," takes place on Tuesday afternoons. I can tell you that since I went to the Saturday market, almost every dinner has come from something purchased there.

2. Venetian Night

An inaugural event in town. After the annual "Taste of Madison," (I went. Only because it is literally my back yard. One loop around the square and it was not that impressive), the first ever boat parade on Lake Mendota. Boats were illuminated with fun lights and paraded from one end of the lake in Maple Bluff, ending by the UW Union. There were so many incredible places to take a seat and wait for this event to start. There were a number of parks along the lake. (Whoever plotted the area surrounding the lakes did a fantastic job). It was a gorgeous night and the event was a success.

3) Restaurant Week

A bi-annual occurrence. Many local restaurants participate in this. Two for $50 enables you to a three course meal. This summer, I chose Fresco, on top of the Overture Center. With a lovely view of State Street and the city, it's fun to dine on the roof. Our meals were tasty and consisted of mostly local ingredients. (Surprise!!)

4) Orton Park Festival

On the near east side of town, there are several festivals throughout the summer. Orton Park features Cycropia Aerial Dance Troupe. The festival is in a square of grass in a neighborhood that I often run through in the mornings. The Cycropia dancers are a troupe of "circque du soleil" artists, who performed by hanging on the branches of this one tree. It was very cool. A lot of the pieces involved swinging on what appeared to be large scarves and dainty swings. And I kept on thinking to myself, "I run by this tree in the mornings. I wonder if God intended for this tree to be utilized this way....?" Awesome show!

5) Marquette Waterfront Festival

Also a near east side festival, what I enjoyed about this one was the melting pot. I went there in the afternoon to hear a reggae type of band. They were very talented and as I danced up by the stage, little kids were dancing. So were old hippies who probably went to UW with my parents. And hippies younger than me. Gays. Straights. Biracial families. Old. Young. Mentally handicapped. You name it. We were all blending together, dancing to that reggae in the June summer sun. All in the name of Saturday afternoon.

I also loved Maxwell Street Days - State Street's sidewalk sale, Jazz off the square, Concerts on the Square, the Art Fair on the Square, and many many more.... There is just so much.

What I have learned this summer in Madison is that I would never take a vacation from it. I would miss way too much.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Put Yourself Out There

This week, I have been asked by three or four different people how I met my current boyfriend. Have you ever noticed that people get very giddy telling that story? Ask someone today. They will have this big smile on their face as they relive the tale. I can tell you a ton of people I know still smile cheek-to-cheek when asked to retell the moment they met their significant other. (Unless they have been married for 25 years. In which case, there is no grinning at all).

And I realized that I have always had a good story to share when asked this question. It was never a dull, "We met at a bar" or.... "we met on" Not that there is anything wrong with these things. Because there isn't. I have a knack for putting myself out there and I think it has something to do with my ability to talk to absolutely anyone.

Take my first long relationship after I graduated college. We met at the dog park. We continued to run into each other there on the weekends and finally exchanged information. I wasn't going to the dog park to find a man. But I was putting myself out there, regardless. As I would wherever I went (including the grocery or running path - no joke). I just always kept my eyes open.

My current situation is similar. Sort of. After meeting on King Street, we ran into each other two more times that week. After exchanging numbers, we got together a few days later. Was I putting myself out there on King Street? No, actually. But I wasn't acting like I was unavailable, either. Or that I was committed to someone else. Or that I was not interested in men. I don't know what vibe I gave off. Because truthfully, he told me that we danced and I got "real low on the dance floor" with him and he tried to talk to me and I was "a mute." I have absolutely no recollection of either a) dancing with him OR b) him trying to talk with me. He is the "mute" and I never stop flapping my gums. I remember that the night was wild and I was newly single and free - not interested in anyone, really. Just letting whoever came my way know that I was, in fact, single.

So - this vibe of being "available" comes off. And he said he wasn't interested in me. And I wasn't interested in him. But somehow, I was letting him know I was putting myself out there. This is easy.

None of this came easy to me before. I have progressed a lot in this category. And a year ago, I started writing this book on how to date an ass hole. And then I stopped taking my own advice and ended up in this relationship after swearing off committed relationships.

I have even taken friends out, saying, "let me get you a man..." or, "I'll take care of your dry spell for you."

I have never had to get fixed up because I am always fixing myself up. Or, I am fixing up everyone around me. I love to match make. So, put yourself out there and let people know you are on the "hunt." Wherever you go, seek out a person. Find out their history. Are they single? If so, why? (This is very, very important. I have recently had to do my own personal investigation because my boyfriend was being too private for my liking. He is not very happy that my "new" friend, who lives with his ex girlfriend, invited me to his birthday dinner last week.........) On another note, always look and feel good about yourself. You can't feel good if you feel like you don't look good. Even when I go across the street for a bottle of wine, I try to dress nicely so I can carry myself with dignity.

After all, you never know where that special someone is. Whether they are in the line at the movies or a hiking trail, your future relationship may be right in front of you tomorrow. Always be prepared and let them know you are available. And don't give up. They are out there.