Monday, December 26, 2011

The Family You Make

This Christmas Season I am especially thankful for my family. It has been three years since I have been able to spen a Chrismas with them. After traveling a total of 25 hours in a car I reached my brother's house for Christmas. Lots of things have changed since I was last here. My brother now lives with his girlfriend, who I had never met before. It was nice to finally meet her face to face. Also, this Christmas we opened presents at my brother's house, instead of my parents. So far it has been a great visit, but it also has me thinking, and missing my orphan's christmas back in DC. I know this must seem ridiculous, but it's true. A part of me wished that I could have spent the day cooking and drinking with friends. I started to wonder why I felt that way. I think it's because with the lack of biological family, I created a family I love.

We vacation together and take silly pictures at the beach.

Another vacation picture with my sisters, of the sorority variety.

Taking millions of posed pictures together. We could wallpaper a wall with the number of pics we have together.

These ladies always have my back.

I'm living with one of them in NOLA, till I find my own place, at least.

I have an entire group of people who would do anything for me, and who I would do anything for in turn. These people have nursed me in my sick times, and held me when I'm sad. They have invited me into their homes for holidays, and listened to me rant when I was upset. This is the family I have made. I'm extremely lucky, not everyone is as fortunate as I am. Now that I have moved to NOLA, I still have people in my life that have my back, but it's going to be hard to be away from my Virginia family. I know it won't be long till I see them again, but I miss them all the same. This holiday season I want all my friends to know that you all mean so much to me, without you all I wouldn't have made it in Virginia, or in NOLA. I can't wait to see you all again.

Love and happy holidays,

Tina Marie

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Oyster Shucking Lesson

This story starts a few weeks ago when I set about to find the erfect jambalaya recipe. I took my request to facebook. I had a lot of people respond with ideas of where I could find a good recipe, but one in particular stood out. My friend Dave's dad (who lives in NOLA) sent me his recipe. I had his cooking before, so I knew it was sure to be a winner. I made it for my friends a few weeks later, and it was a HUGE hit. Not a single grain of rice was left by the night's end. I didn't manage to take any pictures, of course, which I'm very upset about, but that's besides the point. The point is that I realized that while the recipe called for fresh oysters, I had no idea how to shuck an oyster. When Dave and Dave's dad (John) found this out they promised me my first oyster shucking lesson when I moved to New Orleans. Today was my first full day in the city, so obviously it was a perfect day for my oyster shucking lesson, it also helped that it was 75 degrees today. Dave took some great pictures of the entire process for me to share anf blog about. Enjoy!

Me hard at work. The glove protectz my hand from the pointy parts.

Shucking oyster is hard work, so everyone helps out.

Dave made sure to get a pic of me with oyster in hand... and make note of my glitter manicure.

I'll cut you.

Avant garde oyster.

Oh we also had fresh red fish. Yum.

And after all the hard work these are oysters are cooked my favorite way: grilled, topped with butter, parmesean cheese, and bread crumbs. SO yummy!

Love, Tina Marie

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deboning a Chicken: 30B430

I did it! I deboned the heck out of that chicken. It was awesome.

No bones... and it still looks like a chicken!

I have always wanted to debone a chicken. I especially wanted to try it after watching Julie and Julia (Seriously LOVED that movie). Part of my desire stems from wanting to learn more and more about cooking and skills in general. Because I'm not a trained chef I feel like I need to constantly strive to learn more and more about cooking. I've recently become enamoured with a few kitchen gadgets, and a new set of professional series knives, that I would have never known about had I not taken the time to talk to other foodie minded people. I know there is so much more to learn so this was just one step on that journey. I decided to use Jacques Pepin as my guide. He has a great youtube vide up. I watched it about 10 times before I made my first cut, and "rewinded" it about 5 times during the process. I made a few mistakes, but overall I would call it a success. I stuffed my chicken with spinach, monzerella, artichokes, and parmesean cheese. I baked it at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. It was so yummy, and got rave reviews all around. I really want to try it again soon and see if I can eliminate all the mistakes I made along the way. In the mean time, enjoy the Pepin video:


Tina Marie

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Virginia Wine Tasting

One of the best things about living in Virginia is that the great outdoors is just a short car ride away. I've been apple picking, and wine tasting a few times. There are lots of great orchards and vineyards nearby. This weekend Jena, Steve, and I decided to go wine tasting.

We got a late start (after a yummy Chick Fil A lunch) and decided that 2 wineries would be enough. The first one we hit was a recommendation from another friend. Linden makes a great wine. I've had their stuff before, but had never been out to the vineyards. I am awesome and forgot my camera, which sucks cause Linden totally had snow! The snow was a quaint touch to beautiful scenery. Steve took this picture of me and Jena:

We had a great time, but I was sort of disappointed with the tasting. None of the wines were as fabulous as what I had had from them before. It was a great time, but I left without buying a bottle.

The next place we hit up was Unicorn winery. Jena picked this one. I'm convinced that the name is what made her decision. There were 10 wines in this tasting, which was kinda awesome (Linden only had 5). Jena and I opted to only try two of the white wines. I'm not a white wine drinker, so I usually end up dumping out the whites. Their whites were decent, but their reds were amazing. I like every single thing we tried. The most notable part of the tasting was the final wine, which wasn't wine at all... it was wine slushee. They take a bottle of wine, and add it to this mix that they sell, and it makes wine slushee. It was amazing. Seriously. I bought a glass to enjoy out on the deck. Here is a picture overlooking the pond from their deck:

I would totally revisit this place.

I'm excited that I got to do this one last time before moving next week!

Tina Marie

Friday, December 2, 2011

Reverse Bucket List

After writing down my Thirty Before Thirty bucket list this week I started thinking about all the amazing things I have done in my life. I've led a pretty phenomenal life thusfar. It was actually kind of difficult to get thirty things to do in one list that would be financially achievable in a 16 month time span. I ended up looking at a lot of other people's lists to see what was on them. There were a few popular things that stood out, that I'm proud to say I have already accomplished. So, here is the Reverse Bucket List, a list of things I've already accomplished:

Tina's Reverse Bucket List

1. Go on vacation with only your girlfriends. - I actually do this one yearly, it's just another benefit of being in a sorority.

2. Sew something and wear it- I think I accomplished this when I was 12. I have always loved to sew, and while I'm not a seamstress by any means, I've definitely made a few skirts in my day.

3. Jump off a cliff - ummm- you just have to read this story to see that not only did I do that, I did it in spectacular fashion

4. Visit another country - while I still haven't been to Europe, I have been to Mexico, twice, on vacation. It was grand.

5. See the Mayan ruins - I went to Chichen Itza lat year. It was completely amazing.

6. Throw a dinner party - It amazes me that people haven't cooked dinner for their friends.

7. Have a conversation in another language. - Everyone knows that my Spanish speaking skills are atrocious, but I still do it. It came in very handy while in Mexico.

8. Go to Mardi Gras - Yep, lived it for 4 years.

9. Go to Spring Break in a Spring Break location - South Padre Island 2005!

10. Take an art class - Art was nearly my minor in college, this is a total check.

11. Go on a road trip - I drove from New Orleans to South Bend Indiana when I was in college. Also Annie and I went to South Carolina on a whim one weekend when we lived together.

12. Go to Las Vegas - Thanks to my friend Becky for having her bachelorette party there this past August. I seriously LOVE Vegas and can't wait to go back.

13. Buy a homeless person a meal - My dad used to do this all the time when I was little, so I started doing it too. Of course, now I live in Arlington, and there aren't homeless people.

14. See a Broadway show - I saw Promises, Promises on Broadway last year with Theo and Tamsin. It was awesome...Plus, Kristin Chenowith is a Gamma Phi Beta.

15. See the Cherry Blossoms Bloom in DC - I was actually surprised that this was on so many people's lists. It honestly wouldn't have even crossed my mind. My favorite birthday ever was spent walking among the cherry blossoms though.

16. Read the Bible - I did this when I was much younger, I could probably stand to do it again now that I'm a bit older and wiser, but still, it counts.

17. Shoot a gun - I'm pretty sure I first shot a gun when I was like 10 years old.

18. Go vegetarian for a month- I did this when I was 16. I did it for lent. Yeah, I like meat, I have no desire to relive that experience.

19. Get a Tattoo- I have 2. I guess I can never be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

20. Attend a music festival - I lived in both Austin and New Orleans, so I have been to Jazzfest and SXSW.

21. Grow my fingernails out - Okay, this really wasn't on a lot of other people's lists, but I have finally accomplished this. I had been a nail biter for 27 years, and this past year I kicked the habit. Yay me!

22. Go on a cruise - Again thanks to my fabulous Gamma Phi Beta sisters, I accomplished this 2 years ago.

23. Karaoke - I've done it, and I've hated it. I can't sing. At. All.

24. Go speed dating- I have a friend who is a host fro speed dating events. He asked me to come to one where they needed more girls. I went, but it was a total bust. I'm glad I did it, cause I was curious, but had I paid for it, I would have been upset.

25. Learn CPR- I was certified by the Red Cross when I was like 12. Did no one else have to take that class? Bueller?

26. Be financially dependent on only myself - I feel like this is a goal an 19 year old would set, not a 29 year old. Still, it was on a lot of bucket lists.

27. Start my own business - I did this! I can't believe I haven't held a 9-5 job in over a year!

28. Watch the sun rise - Ever spend a Mardi Gras in New Orleans? I promise you will see the sun rise.

29. Purchase my own car - I didn't spend a million dollars on it, but my car is paid for my all my own money.

30. Go to dinner/a movie alone - I didn't even know this was a thing. Am I the only one who does this on a regular basis?

So those are just some of the awesome things I have accomplished in my 28+ years on this planet. I'm super proud of myself, but I also can't wait to get started on the things I haven't done.

Go me!


Tina Marie