(g s tr -n m k)

Otherwise spelled gastronomic, it is a word that looks and sounds fancier than it needs to be.   Merriam-Webster says "1. the art or science of good eating. 2. : culinary customs or style."  We Chais travel a fair bit, and whether we travel south 45 miles or to Mexico, a lot of our energy and interest surrounds food and drink.  Maybe it's magnified by the fact that we live in a relatively unimaginative gastronomic region.  I wouldn't even say that we've had the 'best steaks ever' where we live now - and really, shouldn't we have?  Considering the location...well, regardless of that issue, we seek interesting and new food choices.  And we don't particularly discriminate - street tacos can be just as, or more amazing, than a $200 dinner.  So we'll be happy to report on our adventures of the stomach after returning from Las Vegas next week.  Viva!


For your brain and soul

"I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me--that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns." --Anne Lamott
One of the reasons I love my friend Shari - she finds these things and posts them for the world, and I so very much appreciate the clarity.  


My Bucket is going to Fill

It's decided.  I will create and pursue a Bucket List. 

Turns out, not everyone knows what a Bucket List is.  Let's get a shared definition going before we begin.

From UrbanDictionary.com:  "A list of things to do before you die. Comes from the term "kicked the bucket"."

Hmm.  Not sure if I'm a huge fan of this definition.  I might rather think of this list as "A list of things to do while I enjoy a full and interesting life."  It isn't so much that I want to beat death to something, but that I'd like to have some mini-goals that might or might not have age-based limits.

On the radio this week, a woman said something about the fact that she was not implying that the pecan pie her mother made was an easy feat.  I thought, I've never made a pecan pie.  I want to make a pecan pie.  Not because I want to eat it, but because I want to have made something that could be considered difficult by the average amateur cook.  Push outside the comfort zone, so to speak.  And I have recently realized that my comfort zone is...well....teeny tiny.  Like, Rhode Island tiny.  Dust mite, invisible to the naked human eye, tiny.  And I am no longer satisfied with Rhode Island.  I'd like to have New Jersey, at least. And then expand to Vermont, perhaps. 

So here we go.  I haven't yet decided the exact format of the weekly or more frequent entries, but I am excited about this topic and the voyage in general. 


What is to become of the blog?

I'm still stumped as to which topic should be the focus of my blogging.  Food?  Travel?  Certainly not daily life; talk about a boring topic.  A few of my friends seem to make daily blogging really work - but I'm not so sure that I am that interesting.  Or that I can make everyday topics that interesting.  Of late, I love food, and I love travel.  Both topics seem blog-worthy, and both are limited according to the annual financial picture.   So perhaps, we'll do both.  Fill in the blanks depending on the week. 


VIVA 4 days...

and counting!!  The mental preparation for a 6-night AI trip is pretty minimal.  We are psyched that friends will be joining us, and excited to meet any other fun people who are at the resort when we are (that's one of the more fun things about this type of trip - the people!).  Well okay, and being honest, the food and drink are pretty high up there as well, in terms of things that we look forward to as we prepare.  So I thought it would be appropriate to post a few photos of food/drink that other vacationers have posted online...savoring the thought!


EPM: All about the food

Our vacations are primarily about relaxation and food.  Well, ok, mainly food.  The fact that an all-inclusive resort allows you tons of choices in the realm of food makes it very appealing to the Chai household.  I found some awesome photos of EPM resort foods - but this most recent one takes the cake.  I love amazing room service breakfast foods!!  7 days to paradise!


conversion never felt sweeter

Over the course of my life, I have dabbled in Macs and PCs, always quick to choose the most convenient option at the time that I needed a computer.  As I learn more about operating systems and internet junk and system performance, I find that the world of Mac is sexy, sleek, and seductive enough that I'm willing to throw my PC-love (specific to statistical software packages that always are developed more quickly for PCs than Mac) out the window.
And yesterday, all those thoughts came to fruition when my loving husband presented me with a fabulous gift of a MacBook Pro (15'').  It is the most gorgeous machine I've ever owned, and will most certainly receive the love and attention it deserves.  Here are a few photos of my new baby...and believe me, she'll have a name at some point in the near future.  :)  


Sand Flea War

During our wedding trip to Mexico last year, I was the lucky recipient of a number of insect bites that left enormous welts on my back, arms, and legs.  I didn't know exactly what these were, and quite frankly didn't care too much about them until we got back to the mainland and I noticed how very ugly they were.  After some searching, I decided that I must have been bitten by 'sand fleas' (ew!).  According to my research, they only bite certain people in certain settings - totally random - and 'sensitive people' are most likely to be affected.  Great.  

If you're in the mood for prevention, and are heading to a beach vacation this fall, keep these things in mind:

  1. Step 1
    Try to avoid the beach after it has rained. These moist, cooler conditions seem to put the fleas at their friskiest state. Give the area a chance to dry and warm up a little before venturing out.
  2. Step 2
    Wait until mid-morning to early afternoon to go the beach, as the cooler early morning hours are a favorite time of these little mites.
  3. Step 3
    Give your body a good coating of insect repellent before heading out. Check the label to make sure that the repellent works on fleas and not just mosquitoes.
  4. Step 4
    Put something between yourself and the sand before sitting down, be it a beach towel or lawn chair. The reason sand flea bites are commonly located on the backs of the thighs is because this is the most exposed and accessible area when sitting directly on the sand.
  5. Step 5
    Wear longer shorts if there will be direct contact with the sand. Board shorts work fairly well. Be mindful of the calves and ankles, however, as they are fair game as well.
  6. Step 6
    Reapply the insect repellent if the beach party continues after sunset. Biting insects tend to get a second wind when the evening sets in.
Read more: How to Prevent Sand Flea Bites | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2083810_prevent-sand-flea-bites.html#ixzz0vff1pCbC

Found: CUTE suit

 Barreling toward Mexico...T-minus 12 days and counting...and of course, that last-minute freak-out hits.  "I'm going to be there for 7 days and I have...2 swimming suits?  Ack!!"  This always leads to a harried internet search for reasonably-priced and reasonably-styled, modern swim gear.  Not too easy when you can't try it on.  And this year, I was determined to get a swim suit skirt.  Tricky business, that is, with my other requirements in place (the cute, non-grandma look is somewhat hard to find with a skirt bottom).  But triumph emerges from the land of JCrew!  (and at 30% off, who can say no? not me...)  I got both pieces in 'bright eucalyptus.'  Does anyone else have recommendations on sweet suits?


The man who shaves in his truck

I have sucked at contributing to the blogosphere lately.  I have also become increasingly disturbed by this man in a red Chevy truck who passes me every morning on my way to work.  And every morning that I see this man, he is shaving his face.  In his truck.  While driving.  "Sir, do you know why we pulled you over today?"  "No office, because I wasn't speeding...but hold on a second, I missed a section of my neck, can you move away from the mirror for a second"  This is completely ridiculous to me.  Not only is it a hazard, similar to putting makeup on in the car, or texting while driving, but it is also downright GROSS.  My whole creepy-crawly-skin feeling about this can be summed in one question: Where does the hair go?  

In other news, we depart for our Mexico anniversary vacation in only 17 days, 19 hours, 36 minutes...yessssssssssss.


EPM Photo of the Day

Can you believe it?  Two in one week??  Shock!  Awe!! 

I want to be there NOW please.


EPM Photo of the Day

And now that the world is settling a bit again...I can get back to being ridiculously excited about the Mexico trip 2010.  EPM here we come!

Procrastination, made eas(ier)

I absolutely love to procrastinate.  At the same time, I hate the physical and mental consequences of procrastination. 

For example, right now I'm just sitting here grading student responses.  Obviously NOT because I am writing this post, but I am SUPPOSED to be grading student responses.  It isn't that those responses are boring, or difficult to read/grade; it isn't that there is absolutely nothing rewarding about grading; and it isn't that I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes open (I exercised tonight so I still do have some energy, amazingly).  The art of inattention to the task at hand is just MORE rewarding than doing what I should be doing.  I can't even completely say why.  It just is.  I'd rather admire the nice background I finally found for this blog; or read about random peoples' crap on Facebook; or listen to this very cool version of Over the Rainbow that my Genius found inside my iTunes (which is now combined with my husbands, so the library has 11,867 items as of right now).  It's beautiful and I'd rather dream about being over the rainbow, where there is no grading to be had.  Sigh. 


EPM Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day: The X-Lounge

EPM has an on-beach nighttime lounge where you can bask in the beauty of the beach as the sun sets and falls into the ocean.  It is uber-modern with white couches and tables, bar service for as long as people are around, and ambient lighting once the sun has departed. 


So...you think you want to change your name.

Well, I agreed with the husband long ago that I would indeed change my name.  My previous college-aged women-libber self would not have gone along so easily (I dragged her kicking and screaming) but it was pretty important to my husband, and the more I thought about it, it would make life a little easier, especially when/if children join our family.  So, I thought, cool, I'm going to change my name.  A few months after the wedding I stopped by the Social Security office, ready to change my name.  Either I was completely dazed or they messed up - but I came out with the name (first) Mindy (middle) Joy (last) Dahl Chai.  I then ventured to the dreaded DMV, where I again received an identification card with (first) Mindy (middle) Joy (last) Dahl Chai written on it.  I didn't really recognize any issues, that is until my husband opened the letter containing my license from the mail and exclaimed 'Dahl Chai? I thought your middle name was going to be Joy Dahl!'.  Wow.  I honestly - truly - had not even recognized this until he said that.  I felt like a complete idiot.  Am I that mentally busy (is my cognitive load really that high) that I didn't see this? 

Then, topping it off, we visited Sports Authority to get me an annual fishing license.  Using my driver's license, the dude behind the counter only entered my 'first' last name - Dahl.  The husband gave me that look 'see, I told you people would get confused' - when all along, I agreed with him and never wanted 2 last names.  Wow, what a ride.

Today, I re-visited the SSN office, and the DMV, all in about 40 minutes.  Thank goodness for small towns on a Thursday mid-morning.  And the biggest issue?  They made me re-take my license picture, which had finally been a good one.  Meh.