Swan Apples

Apple swans?

Either way, Gossip Girl (henceforth known as Gigi) decided to teach me how to carve a swan out of an apple. Apparently, it’s possible to carve many different kinds of animals into a wide variety of fruits, but we stuck to one species tonight.

She learned this in 7th grade, which I feel was a little too early considering how many fingers we almost lost. But here’s how it happened:

Step 1: Assemble the ingredients. (Step 1a: Discover that the apples you bought 11 months ago when you moved into your apartment have finally gone mushy. Step 1b: Panic. Step 1c: Drive to Safeway at 9 p.m. and buy nothing but three Braeburns. Contemplate getting some paper towels but decide against it.)

Step 2: Wash the apples. Don’t forget to remove the sticker! You don’t want your swan to have a tattoo.

Step 3: Get a knife. The sharpness of the knife depends on how much you trust your fine motor skills.

Step 4: Make a base for your apple. This will help with the not-cutting-your-fingers-off part of the project.

(A good blogger would have photo documentation of all of these steps. I, however, was lazy.)

Step 5: Carve the head. Make a notch-y thing in your apple, opposite the base. Remove the apple piece now filling said notch-y thing. Cut it into a sort of neck shape with a beak-type thing attached to the top.

Step 6: Carve the wings. This involves all sorts of voodoo magic and near-amputations.

Step 7: MARVEL AT THE WONDER YOU HAVE CREATED. Gigi’s apple is on the right, and the student apples are on the left. (Mine is the far left one. He doesn’t have a face, but I don’t even care. SO CUTE.) 

Apple Swans

Step 8: Appreciate still having all your fingers.

Step 9: Eat your apple swan.

Guess I know what I’m doing for my next dinner party: fancy napkins and fruit animals! This blog is really upping the expectations for classy shindigs.


I Have Awesome Friends

It was my birthday this week, which means I’m cheating on today’s blog post. (As someone who had cake for breakfast on three separate occasions over the past seven days, I feel like a little bit of cheating is totally allowed.


I just turned 25—the big quarter-century—and this week I learned that I have some truly amazing people in my life. Not that I didn’t know that already, but there’s nothing like a birthday to make you appreciate the really important stuff:

People who understand the meme potential in this picture of an ocean sunfish.


People who bear with me as I gawk at the weird jellyfish lights that will one day grace the halls of my imaginary mansion.


People who convince me that, maybe, after 24 years of reacting to the thought with utter disdain, eating seafood might not actually be that bad. Especially when enjoying it in front of a view like this one. (The fries were still my favorite part. Let’s be honest here.)


People who realize that, even as an adult, nothing beats a pirate-themed birthday party.


People who make me dinner and buy me cookie cutters and notice that my kitchen might be lacking in spoon rests. People who wake up before dawn to trudge to yoga with me. People who are always there when I need them and who trust me to be there for them too. People who make me feel loved and important.

This week I learned that I have awesome friends, and I hope they all know how very much they mean to me.


Today’s post is a little different because, instead of learning something from someone I know, I decided to learn something with someone I know.

One of my friends has been talking up this yoga studio near my house for ages, and when we discovered a Groupon for it, we decided it was a call to action.

(From this point on, my cohort will be known as Raphael, even though she is a girl. The conversation went a little something like this:

Me: What should I call you in the blog?
Her: Um…I dunno. Something Ninja Turtle-related.
Me: Well, which one do you want to be?
Her: Raphael. Obviously.


So before signing up for our Groupon deal, we peruse the studio’s website to check out when their beginner classes are. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:15 a.m.

Oh, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I read that correctly. Was that seven fifteen IN THE MORNING? That means waking up before dawn, people! Anyone who knows me knows that me rolling out of bed before 9 a.m. is a feat. 10 a.m. is preferred. Actually, you know what? Maybe just leave me be until noonish.

Still, it was for science. And blogging. And, you know, general health and wellness, I guess.

We had our first class on Tuesday. I was up before the sun (appropriately horrifying), it was freezing, and we both showed up looking like death, I’m sure. We were introduced to the instructor, I told him I was new, and he assured me we would have a lot of fun. Fun, he calls it!

Actually, I forgot a part. When we were still deciding whether to actually sign up for the Groupon, Raph mentioned that it was a heated studio. I think her exact words were “I think they heat it a bit during the class.” And we quickly discovered that by “a bit,” they actually meant “to over 90 degrees.” Sooo…yeah. Surprise hot yoga!

Will (our instructor) took us through a number of asanas and vinyasas and all sorts of other words I would probably spell and/or use incorrectly, but overall he was right, and it was really fun! We’ve been back twice more since and have inspired additional people to (begrudgingly) accompany us. And, even though I couldn’t move my limbs or my torso the day after my first class, I am proud to say that I am almost completely functional again after my third.

Also, as I have not yet mastered the pose that lets you take selfies while performing your vinyasa, the only photo I have is of my mat (and towel…which is so much more necessary than I ever thought it would be).


The end! Yogi out.

Inflating a Bike Tire

Okay, so it’s kind of a boring topic today, but the skill that I had planned for this weekend ended up falling through due to cold-like symptoms, and I had to come up with something else.

I just bought my very first road bike! Yay!

Bike 1And I just found out that said road bike had a flat tire! Well, a flattish tire. Boo.

So I pulled out my bike pump and was confronted with this:

Bike 2

I’ve owned the same mountain bike since I was 11, so this freakish valve was all new to me. To the interwebs! (The interwebs are my favorite.)

After much Googling, I discovered that I was trying to use a Schrader pump on a Presta valve. Silly me!

I ventured to the local cyclery to acquire an adapter, and I did manage to find one—along with a new Nalgene, a set of bike lights, and some fancy velcro reflector bands. (This bike is turning into a money pit, but I am going to be the fanciest broke cyclist in all the land!)

Took about half an hour to actually get my tires inflated to the proper pressure, but I finally did it! Plus, bonus skill, I figured out how to actually use my bike pump gauge. So much learning!

And I know this post was lacking in excitement, so in honor of the Super Bowl, have a superb owl:

Aloo Gobi

Last week, I asked all of my friends (aka, the people I’m roping into helping me) what they’d like to be called in the blog. They all decided to go by self-chosen nicknames, and I have promised that I will use said nicknames for the duration of this experiment.

With that note, today’s professor was Mrs. Gregory Peck (henceforth shortened to MGP), and the item on the docket was aloo gobi. She would like me to note that Gregory Peck, winner of World’s Most Expressive Eyebrows 1944 to 2003, is her soulmate now and forever.

MGP would also like me to note, for future reference, that she is white and does not claim to know the first thing about making legit Indian food—but she can mix up some tasty potatoes and cauliflower.

Exhibit A:

Aloo Gobi

(Yes, that is totally my dining room table! I feel like such an adult.)

So, I really like Indian food. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I would cut off my right arm if it meant being able to replicate the chicken makhani and naan from the Indian place near my office. And then I remember that I really like my right arm, so it’s back to the drawing board.

I’ve never attempted to make my own Indian food because the ingredient lists are always so daunting. However, MGP assured me that this was something I could totally do. She sort of winged it on the recipe front, but here’s how I remember it:

  1. Chop up a buttload (technical term) of potatoes. 
  2. Do the same with some cauliflower.
  3. Put them in a pan.
  4. Add some other ingredients and various spices until the potato/cauliflower mixture turns a pretty color.
  5. Sprinkle in some garam masala (correct amount = however much is left over after the bag rips and seasons the floor, the chef, and the sink).
  6. Let it cook for however long it takes to Facebook stalk three mutual friends.
  7. Mash it until you can’t find the cauliflower anymore.
  8. Cut up some peppers and add to pan.
  9. Watch it cook until your stomach starts eating itself.
  10. Add fresh cilantro.
  11. Enjoy!

Moral of the story: Never use a recipe EVER because the aloo gobi was amazing.

Spinning a Basketball

There’s nothing cooler than being able to spin a basketball on your finger. Okay, there are probably tons of things cooler. Like motorcycles. And Wayfarers. And baby hedgehogs. Coolest thing in the universe? Clearly a baby hedgehog wearing Wayfarers while riding a motorcycle.

[Photo unavailable.]

But spinning a basketball on your finger is probably fourth on the list of the world’s coolest things, and that’s why I jumped at the chance to learn how to perform such an amazing feat.

Today’s professor was Midge (obviously not her real name because this is not 1963). She provided the basketball and allowed me the use of her apartment in which to practice. Yes, we were violating every rule my parents ever told me about playing with a basketball inside; however, nothing was broken! There were some near misses, though:

  1. The lamp
  2. The lamp switch (managed to turn it off with an errant ball but couldn’t turn it on again)
  3. The TV remote
  4. My cell phone
  5. The yoga ball
  6. The couch (multiple occasions)
  7. The sliding glass doors (multiple occasions)
  8. Two Lack tables
  9. The entertainment center
  10. Multiple framed pictures

Here’s the before:

Basketball Fail

And the after:

Basketball Win

(I was even with it enough to throw up the shaka.)

(Just kidding. I only have two fingers on my left hand.)

(Just kidding again. I’m clearly too lightning fast for the camera to handle.)

I managed to get about a 3-second spin by the end of it. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but trust me…there were 47 pictures, and we only recorded about a third of the attempts, so we’re counting it as a success.

And to Midge’s downstairs neighbors, I am so so sorry.

Backward Crossovers

When this skill was first suggested, I was a bit skeptical. Once I give you a little background info, you’ll see why:

I’ve always wanted to learn to play ice hockey, and when I graduated from college and got my first real job, I decided to spend my first grown-up paycheck on gear and lessons.

I started class and then proceeded to tear both my MCLs. I recovered, re-joined the class for the next season, and cracked a rib. I recovered again and decided the class was not doing wonders for my health, so I figured I would just join a team and start playing. And then I dislocated my shoulder. So, as you can see, as much as I love hockey, mine is a painful, unrequited love.

As you can imagine, I missed out on learning a few key skating maneuvers thanks to my many injuries. Backward crossovers was one of them.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with skating lingo, a backward crossover is a way to gain speed while you’re skating backwards.

It comes in really handy for figure skating and ice dancing. A little bit less handy for hockey. Waaaay less handy for the kind of hockey I was playing (also known as “throwing yourself at the puck and hoping the guy is too weirded out by your flailing to continue skating”). But I had someone who swore she could teach me, so off we went! Outdoor rink, ho!

My friends put forth a valiant effort. However, as hard as they tried, yelling “SWIZZLE! SWIZZLE! SWIZZLE!” at me was not as productive as you might think. BUT, toward the end of the session, there I was…almost killing a little kid in an orange jacket. (There is video of me almost killing the kid in the orange jacket, but sadly it will not be posted here. Instead, enjoy a picture of me not doing backward crossovers! It was sent to me with the caption “Badass!” so I feel it must be included.)

Backward crossovers

I actually did end up doing what some near-sighted people might consider one solitary backward crossover. I never managed to get a good round going, but I could pick up speed while going backwards in a circle—which was something I definitely couldn’t do before. So while it may not be a true “backward crossover” in the legitimate technical sense, I learned a new skill! It doesn’t have a name yet. Maybe I’ll call it an “Allie-oop” or something equally horrifying.

See you next time!