Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Biggest Loser

I started watching the Biggest Loser last season when the show had its first-ever female winner. This season most of the men on the show were pretty weak and I was hoping for a female repeat.

When the season first began I was rooting for the husband and wife brown team of Vicky and Brady. I wanted this team to succeed because they kept talking about their 4-year-old daughter who weighed more than 60 lbs and was bigger than her 7-year-old brother. What a sad situation when your eating and exercise habits rub off so dramatically on a 4-year-old child.

The more I watched, however, the more I came to dislike the conniving, vindictive Vicky. In fact, there really wasn’t even a husband and wife team that I liked all that much. Every one of them was in it for the payout while the parent/child teams seemed more about the bonding and sharing the experience together and then with their families when they returned home.
Yellow team Coleen and her dad Jerry along with purple team Shellay and daughter Amy A. soon became my teams to route for.

With all her conniving, Heba was able to walk away with $100,000. Photos from
During the finale those who were eliminated were brought back to weigh in for a chance to win $100,000 for losing the most weight away from the show. While the weigh-ins proceeded, Jerry, Shelly and Amy were all part of the running, but it was Heba, the last person to be eliminated from the house, who came out on top. Here’s the kicker. Heba, along with her husband Ed, was up for elimination during the final weigh in, but it was America who voted on who would compete in the finale. Despite Ed’s pleas to let his wife stay in the competition, a whopping 84% voted to keep Ed rather than Heba. What does this say about this couple? Ed was willing to sacrifice everything he’d work for to let his wife get the credit. In the end, I think America, along with myself, thought that Heba’s actions and behaviors on the ranch didn’t warrant her a chance at the final prize. Way to go America. If only it would have been Heba’s cohort, Vicky, that we could have voted off.
Michelle looked smokin hot at the finale. She deserved the win.
The final three Ed, Vicky and Michelle all weighed in and much to my delight, it was Michelle that came out the victor after losing more than 100 lbs over the course of the show. Congrats to Michelle for the female repeat and congrats to good winning out over evil.
On a final note, I had to include the pictures of Amy C. from the red team because as far as sheer make-overs went, I thought she looked fantastic. She was probably one of the only husband/wife team members that I could stand and I'm happy that she did so well for herself, even after being eliminated from the show.

To me, Amy C. had the most drastic transformation and looked fantastic at the finale show. She was one of my favorites this season.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rain + leaky roof =

So this is what happens to your kitchen when a roof leak that was supposedly fixed last year really wasn't fixed.

And, as if not having space in my kitchen to cook wasn't bad enough, these fans are SO loud that you can't hear the TV at a level that won't disturb the neighbors. What on earth am I supposed to do with my time? Go to the gym?! Ha.
Oh yeah, and this will be going on for another two days. Anybody need a temporary roommate?

Monday Night Meals

Lots of love and lots of lemon went into the making of these Angel Whisper thumprints.

This week’s Monday night meal came in a backward sort of way. I made dessert before the meal. Hey, life’s too short, cook dessert first, right?

Even though I’m not a huge baker, ‘tis the season to do so. There’s something about the holidays and cold weather that gets my baking juices flowing and every cookie recipe I see I want to make. So this year it was tough to narrow down the pot to just a few delicious recipes, but alas, the two I made Monday were
Angel Whisper cookies and Peanut butter-Chocolate fudge. Mmmmmm, my mouth was watering before I even mixed the first ingredients.
The fudge was super easy to make and as someone who doesn’t like a) nuts in her baked goods and b) fudge in general, I wanted to gobble up this entire batch. Alas, I used some restraint and only had two pieces. I didn’t take any pictures of this fudge because the pictures provided on the like above are much prettier. I got 49 pieces out of one batch.

Mmmm, don't those look good enough to eat? I thought so and snuck a few in before making dinner.

Next I made Angel Whispers. The dough was only a few ingredients and while it was chilling for an hour, I was able to make the lemony filling. I really liked this recipe because it required very few ingredients and all the lemon flavoring came from natural lemon, not extract. Because I wanted to get more bang for my buck, instead of making sandwiches like the recipe asked for, I instead made bite-sized thumbprint cookies. The filling had just the right amount of tart and sweet. The recipe made 36 thumbprint cookies.

After baking the afternoon away (I should also add that I cooked the day away while there was a leak in my kitchen ceiling, not fun), it was time for a 30-minute meal to satisfy my belly a little further. In store for the evening was
Cuban Surf and Turf. I came across this recipe last week while flipping through one of my Rachael Ray cookbooks and had to make it this week.

After making a batch each of fudge and cookies, this dinner was a welcome treat.

This recipe will be made again. I loved the lightness and wonderful citrus flavors. The leftover factor will be tried out tonight. I decided not to mix the pineapple and scallions into the rice so that I could re-heat the rice easier then add those ingredients each time as to keep them more fresh and crisp.

While eating dinner, I watched Heroes. My friend over at I Watch Lots of TV has a great hate for this show right now and each time I read one of his blogs about the show, I tend to nod my head in agreement on most of his points. This episode was so-so. I’m happy to see that the “Villains” chapter is over, but I’m not so sure about the next chapter “Fugitives.” I liked Nathan Petrelli and now he is going to be the one leading the hunt to contain everyone with powers. Now I don’t think I’m going to like big brother Petrelli so much. I was also sad to see Benjamin Knox (the human fear detector) killed off leaving no more former players from The Wire on the show. Darn shame. We’ll see what the new year has to offer for Heroes, but I’m not holding my breath.

Jamie Hector, formerly of The Wire, was killed off in this week's episode of Heroes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This way to Zia

A different spin on pizza, but well worth a visit.

I finally made it to a pizza joint that I've been meaning to try for the past 2 years now and boy have I been missing out. But there is a back story that I must cover first.

In college, my roommate Michelle and I shared a passion for wraps at a little place on the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Montezuma Road near San Diego State. The place is Cafe Zia. I don’t know who found it first or how we came to start eating there, but once we started, we couldn’t stop. The owner, Khaled (more about him later), uses fresh ingredients and low-fat proteins in his wraps, which are all topped off with these amazing chutney sauces. Over time, the menu has changed, but I haven’t found a wrap that I’m not fond of. Most recently, after a nice hike up Cowles Mountain one morning, I stopped by Café Zia to quench my wrap craving. This time, the new menu item was breakfast wraps. Even though it was after noon, I still got one and I was very thankful I did. Of all the wraps I’ve had, this was by far my favorite. It had eggs, potatoes, sun dried tomatoes and a turkey-pastrami that was topped off with a sweet chutney. I tried to go back and get it again one morning after the gym, but I got there before they opened (insert sad face here).

Khaled showing off a potato pizza masterpiece.

So, back to the owner. Khaled was the nicest café owner I’ve ever come across (other than Francesco at Mama Mia’s, but that’s another blog right there). Every time we’d visit Café Zia and he was working he always remembered who we were and what our favorite wrap was. He also made a point to suggest new wraps or chutneys that he thought we might like. The atmosphere at Café Zia is very laid back and lent itself to Khaled being able to chat with costumers a lot. He even started a book collection that you could read while eating or borrow for longer. Michelle’s then boyfriend, now husband, Edward, would borrow books on the regular and he and Khaled would talk books each time he went in. Point is, Khaled adds to the overall great dining experience.

After graduating from SDSU I don’t frequent Café Zia as much as I’d like because it’s a little out of the way, but I still try to make it back every other month or so. At the 2007 Adams Avenue Street Fair in Normal Heights I ran into Khaled outside a café with a Zia awning. I hadn’t seen him probably in about two years, but he still recognized me and asked where my little friend was (Michelle) and then started telling me about this great new pizza place he was opening the week after the Fair. I told him I would love to come back to the grand opening, but when I did, it had been moved back. I never returned until this past summer’s Adams Avenue Street Fair when Khaled was on the sidewalk selling his pizza again. I said hello and sorry that I hadn’t been in yet and that I really would come back after reading his pizza menu this time.

Fast forward to this past week. I finally made it to Zia Pizza! I was splitting three slices with someone and we were going to order two slices of Khaled’s favorite eggplant and one slice of the New Yorker pizza (with the turkey-pastrami from the breakfast wrap at Café Zia), he suggested we get three different kinds and convinced us to also try a garlic chicken. I’ve always enjoyed the suggestions Khaled has provided me with, but in this instance, we should have gotten all three slices of the eggplant pizza. That pizza was a little slice of heaven. I can’t recall everything that was on the pizza, but the key components were eggplant, cranberries and a yogurt sauce (instead of tomato sauce). And keeping in the tradition of Café Zia, Khaled does healthy pizza – well as healthy as you can get for pizza. He uses a whole-wheat, thin crust that also seemed to have had oats in it, which wasn’t too filling like a lot of traditional pizza.

Zia Pizza is only open from 5-10pm, so make sure to stop by for a dinner slice. Drink options are limited (bottled cokes and water), but it appeared that you are able to bring in your own bottle of wine. Oh yeah, and you can buy by the slice or whole pizza. Both are pretty reasonably priced.

Monday, December 8, 2008

And the winners are....

It must have been because of the camouflage that Nick and Starr were able to sneak past everyone and win the million dollar grand prize.
Yawn. Another season of the Amazing Race is over with and the winners and the finale kind of left me sleepy... seriously, I dozed off and had to rewind the DVR.
Surprise, surprise. Nick and Starr were the winners. I think they won more than half of the legs during this season, which made it kind of a boring season to watch. I am, however, happy that it wasn't the lame frat boys who won. I was VERY disappointed last week when they made it to the mat before Toni and Dallas (who, actually, never did make it to the mat because Phil eliminated them in the streets of Russia). I will have to say that this season I saw the most mistakes and non-read clues I've ever seen.
Speaking of Toni and Dallas, did anyone else notice that they weren't at the final mat ceremony? I was sad to see that they weren't there. I wonder if they had some difficulties leaving Russia because Dallas left their passports in a cab. I'm sure the show has ways of preventing something like that, right?
The finale was kind of sweet when Ken and Tina did make amends and put their wedding rings back on after having been separated before the race. Other than Toni and Dallas, I was kind of hoping they'd pull out an win in the end (but mostly only because I didn't want Nick and Starr to win).
Better step up your game next season, Amazing Race. Maybe you should let me tag along.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mama got a new TV

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Christmas came early this year! I finally got the Sony Bravia TV that was gifted to me after FedEx apparently stole the first one. What a process this was.

At the end of October, my dad won a Sony flat screen TV when he was entered in a drawing at the Step Out to Fight Diabetes walk that we participate in each year. Because he loves me SOOO much, he gifted this prize to me. It was unclear when it would be delivered, but on November 7 I got a door slip from FedEx saying they tried to deliver the TV, but nobody was home to sign for the package so they couldn't leave it. Since I didn't have a tracking number before, I was able to look online using the door-tag number to see where it was. Since it was a Friday, I figured it would be delivered again on Monday. I stayed home ALL day Monday, saw multiple FedEx trucks drive by my house, but nothing was delivered and nothing was updated with the tracking info.

To make a long story short, it never got delivered and after the 2 week period that you have to wait before you can file a claim for a missing package, Sony ordered me a new TV and FedEx claimed responsibility for the TV being stolen.

The TV was finally delivered this week and I almost kissed the FedEx man on the spot when I saw him carrying the box. Figured that would have been a little inappropriate though. Of course I tore the box open and immediately started setting it up, even though the new stand I bought for it at Costco was not assembled yet.

Thursday night came the fun part and when I say fun, I mean horribly daunting and super frustrating. I got home from work and started de-boxing the TV stand. I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. There were 13 individually wrapped bag filled with nuts, bolts, screws, washers, pegs, etc. Then I unrolled another package that had about 20 other packets of nuts, bolts, screws, washers, etc. YIKES! After about 2 hours, I finally assembled the stand and just needed some help mounting the TV on the provided pole.

Friday morning the TV was mounted with some ease. Then came the connecting of the Cox HD-DVR box. First of all, it's not a good sign when it comes packaged with at least 8 different cords. Second, it's not a good sign when the written instructions on how to connect everything doesn't match the picture on how to connect everything -- this just creates confusion. After jamming wires down the pole so they'd be hidden and finally getting all the included cords attached to either the TV, cable box or DVD player, Liz and I turned on the TV with great trepidation and fingers crossed.

Ta-da! Picture, check. Sound, ummm, no sound. Ok, we're smart women, we said to each other, we can figure this out (no thanks to the Cox instructions). And without the help of any man or lame instructions, we did figure out how to get sound (even though it was rather quiet at first, to which I later found was due to a weird setting on the cable box). Who says women and electronics don't go well together? There may have been a high-five in there, there was definitely some sighs of relief. Our new TV had arrived and we had successfully set it all up -- and by ourselves.

The finished product. It is so pretty. Have to move the pictures now though.

Today we explored all that Cox has to offer in the HD department and boy were we impressed with the quality. Travel, Discovery and Food Network have so far been the most exciting to watch in HD, but count on us, we'll find plenty more to keep us occupied.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Monday night meal -- Thanksgiving style (plus cookies)

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for me. I love to get creative with the day-of meal, but even more so love to get creative with left-overs.

This year my dad asked me if I was going to boil the turkey carcass and make soup. The thought hadn't crossed my mind, but I liked the sound of it. In San Diego, it's often times hard to think of wanting a hot bowl of soup when the weather outside is balmy, but with a little crispness in the air and even some rain, this sounded like the perfect left-overs meal to make.

I read through a lot of different recipes on and and ended up taking a little from several recipes. Here's what I came up with.

2 tablespoons olive oil (eye-ball it)
1 1/2 yellow onions, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic salt
White and dark chunks of turkey leftovers (about a pound - 2 pounds)
9 cups broth (I used the broth from boiled turkey carcass)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice
3 carrots, peeled, chopped (quartered or halved depending on size)
4 stocks of celery, sliced in half moons
1 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta) I got some at the bulk bins at Henry's Market for $0.39
2 15-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney beans), drained, rinsed
1 can corn (white or yellow)
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; saute until translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add broth and oregano. Cover and bring to a simmer.

Once simmering, add turkey meat, tomatoes with juices, carrots and celery. Cover and let simmer until vegetable are crisp-tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add orzo and garlic salt; simmer, covered, until pasta is tender, stirring often (about 10 minutes). Mix in cannellini and corn; cook until heated, about 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.

I served the soup with a large chunk of toasted rosemary bread. Variations include: adding fresh, sliced avocado or topping with fresh basil. This recipe made about 10 main course servings.

In addition to the Monday night Thanksgiving left-overs meal, my Nana was in town and we spent the day baking holiday cookies that she and I would make when I was a kid. I thought the recipe was some secret family concoction, but turns out, she got it from the Betty Crocker recipe book ages ago (my bubble burst upon hearing this). Nevertheless, I share the recipe with you.

Merry Christmas Cookies:
Mix thoroughly: 1/3 cup soft shortening, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg, 2/3 cup honey, 1 tsp lemon flavoring.
Sift together and add: 2 3/4 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt.
Chill for at least an hour, roll 1/4" thick, cut into shapes (we use various holiday cookie cutters).
Bake at 375 deg for 8-10 minutes or when touched lightly, no imprint remains.
Cool and have fun decorating .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

No, thank you

To start our day, a rainbow appeared in the sky outside. A sign of a good Thanksgiving, indeed.

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. I have so much fun during this holiday. I take joy in searching for new and interesting ways to spice up traditional dishes. For the fourth year, my parents traveled to San Diego to celebrate the holiday. Unlike previous years, I had a partner to help with the cooking this year (which was a BIG help).

There's our bird. All snug as a bug in a rug and ready to be cooked and served.

At the early hour of 10:35, the bird went in the oven.
My roommate Liz and I sorted through the various recipes we’d pulled aside for Thanksgiving about a week before the big day. Then Liz so generously compiled a shopping list that the two of us would share. We shopped for some items at the Hillcrest Farmers Market the Sunday before Thanksgiving, but found that it was getting pretty expensive. Liz did, however, manage to pull together some gorgeous flowers that she arranged as our table centerpiece. The rest of the shopping was done a breakneck speed Tuesday morning before Liz had to work. We hit Henry’s, Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s in 50 minutes crossing off everything on our list.
The 2 cooks hard at work.
Here is what we served:

Bacon-cheddar butterflies – In EveryDay with Rachel Ray there was a featured article with six different apps to make with puff pastry. The fact that it had bacon in it sold me instantly.
Olive variety & Manchego cheese – self explanatory.
Rosemary pecans – Liz was in charge of these and I’m not exactly sure of the recipe, but they were tasty.

Liz put together a gorgeous floral centerpiece. My mom brought the napkins to match.

Gather 'round, dinner is served.

Main menu
Turkey – stuffed with onions, apples, sage, rosemary, garlic and rubbed down with butter, salt and pepper. We decided to cook the turkey in a bag this year.
Stuffing – I found a delicious looking recipe on Food Network from Emeril Lagasse. For the past two years I’ve made a Rachael Ray recipe using pumpkin muffins instead of bread (which has always been a hit), but the spinach, artichoke and brie combination in this stuffing looked too good to pass up. The recipe was for 10-12 people, since we didn’t have close to that many people at our dinner, I tried to halve the recipe, but not quite in half. It turned out a little dry for my liking, but other people thought it was good.
Potatoes – I made this recipe two years ago and it was a success, but using Manchego cheese isn’t always the cheapest way to go. I returned to this recipe even though my Ultimate Potato Gratin from last Thanksgiving was a success. We were going to use prosciutto in the vegetable dish and bacon in an appetizer and while I’m an advocate for all things bacon, that might have been a little overkill, so I kept the potatoes simple.
Vegetable dish – I am very much against the same-old green bean casserole that shows up at every holiday table (for a reason that is far beyond my knowledge). For the past two years I’ve been searching for a good green bean replacement. Last year I made a more upscale green bean casserole. This year I opted for something a lot lighter.
Fruit side – Liz found a fantastic winter fruit salad on a blog we read called smitten kitchen. I think this was my favorite dish on the table this year.

We don't often eat around the table, so it was a little squishy with all the dishes.
Pumpkin-pie Cheesecake – Martha Stewart, and Liz, outdid themselves on this number. Wow. I didn’t have any Thanksgiving night, but I’ve had a slice every day since. And maybe even some for breakfast. Liz went with her own crust on this cheesecake that included pecans, and it was amazing!
Traditional apple pie – Liz claims that this didn’t turn out too well because it was too runny, but I begged to differ. Thought it was delicious, especially when warmed and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

All in all dinner (or late lunch) turned out really well. Nobody left the table with an empty stomach. Liz and I were pretty tired after all was said and done, but the effort was well worth the 30 minutes it took the six of us to polish our plates.

Keep an eye out for my Thanksgiving leftover Monday Night Meal.
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, while the thought did cross my mind because our dining table is fairly small, we did NOT eat this meal in front of the TV. However, lots of Wii was played after and even Kung Fu Panda was seen later in the night.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

No more 'Pushing Daisies'

Lee Pace plays a pie maker who can bring people back to life, if only for a moment, in the wonderful show Pushing Daisies. Photo from

One of the most offbeat and interesting shows on television has been cancelled and I am steamed over it. On yesterday I read that ABC decided to give the boot to Pushing Daisies. If you are not a watcher of this show I suggest you add Season 1 to your Netflix list, because it is worth a watch (even knowing that it won't go any further than Season 2).

This show is unlike any other show out there. It's quirky, has imaginative sets and costumes, well designed characters, fascinating plot lines and of course, the adorable Lee Pace. While I thought Season 2 came back a little off the mark of last season, this past week's episode was right back on track. I laughed so much at the perfectly inserted one-liners and found myself completely enthralled with the story once again.

So thanks a lot ABC for taking this Wednesday night highlight away.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Blah is the sentiment I exude when it comes to describing the finale of America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 11. I have this feeling not because of the winner, but because of the actual final show. It was downright boring.

This is the first time I’ve watched the finale with other people and I was excited for the chance to talk about whom our favorite was and laugh at the bad commercials and runway walks. While we did all of this, I still felt like even our most sarcastic of comments still didn’t make the show exciting. In fact, I think the most entertaining aspects of the finale were the outfits and hairstyles of Tyra, Mr. J and the rest of the panel – and none of them are supposed to be the stars of the show (ok, well maybe Tyra, but none of the others). Her final panel outfit (including her hair) looked like she was auditioning for Coneheads 2: Connie Conehead makes America’s Next Top Model. But I guess the whole alien thing ties back to the first episode.

I do think that my biggest highlight on the episode was the fact that Mr. J designed a runway that looked more like you were walking 18 holes at the mini-golf funland. There were hills and stairs and barriers. The only thing missing was the windmill (and they were in Amsterdam, so it would have been appropriate). But as for the runway show itself, it was so rushed and choppy on the cuts that we really didn’t get a chance to see just how horrible Sam and McKey walked (and from what we did see, we knew both were pretty bad).

I was also saddened by the fact that Analeigh didn’t even make it to the final cut. My Sactown gal got the axe after her Cover Girl commercial fell flat, oh so very flat. The girl choked after having arguably the best Cover Girl commercial in ANTM’s history earlier in the season. I thought McKey’s face in her Cover Girl still was pretty, but her hair looked like she was wearing a helmet. Ick. Plus, that girl has some obnoxiously large ears that I cannot move past. During panels she tends to look a bit like a monkey to me. But as Tyra says, “pretty-pretty isn’t necessarily model-pretty.”

But I guess it goes without saying, congrats to McKey. We look forward to your horrible Cover Girl commercials when we tune into Cycle 12. And one last note, I am a slightly disappointed that someone who wears chain-mail vests was able to win ANTM.

Oh, and this just in, check out the FugGirls over at NY Mag. They were just as disappointed as I was.

According to the NYT, I should be unhappy

November 20, 2008
What Happy People Don’t Do
Happy people spend a lot of time socializing, going to church and reading newspapers — but they don’t spend a lot of time watching television, a new study finds.

That’s what unhappy people do.

Although people who describe themselves as happy enjoy watching television, it turns out to be the single activity they engage in less often than unhappy people, said John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the author of the study, which appeared in the journal Social Indicators Research.

While most large studies on happiness have focused on the demographic characteristics of happy people — factors like age and marital status — Dr. Robinson and his colleagues tried to identify what activities happy people engage in. The study relied primarily on the responses of 45,000 Americans collected over 35 years by the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, and on published “time diary” studies recording the daily activities of participants.

“We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy,” Dr. Robinson said. “TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less.”

But the researchers could not tell whether unhappy people watch more television or whether being glued to the set is what makes people unhappy. “I don’t know that turning off the TV will make you more happy,” Dr. Robinson said.

Still, he said, the data show that people who spend the most time watching television are least happy in the long run.

Since the major predictor of how much time is spent watching television is whether someone works or not, Dr. Robinson added, it’s possible that rising unemployment will lead to more TV time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ellen's Game Week, Take 2

After winning $2,000 worth of electronics from Ellen, my friend Michelle was invited back to the show to participate for a grand prize package of an 8-day private African safari. Since I was already going to be up in L.A., Michelle invited me to be her guest on the show. I don't know who was more excited -- Michelle playing for the safari or me getting to go to Ellen, finally! Here's how the afternoon went.

Michelle and I arrived at the show and were VIP guests. We're ballers.

During Ellen's monologue she called down four contestants to play "Grab My Banana," which would narrow the playing field down to two for the final game.

Each of the girls was given a puzzle to put together, the first two to put it together properly and grab a banana from the podium were in the final.

Michelle's puzzle was a baboon, and while she had a little trouble putting it together, she managed to finish (even though the poor baboon was sideways) and grabbed the second banana.

After "Grab My Banana" Ellen did her usual dance through the crowd. I got caught dancing my tall white girl moves. Eeek. They sat me next to the shortest people in the whole audience!

After Ellen danced around the crowd Michelle and I (plus our neighbor in front of us) got close-ups. My 1.5 seconds of fame. I wonder what kind of Hollywood role I can land with this clip.

For the rest of the show, Cole Hamels (World Series MVP) came and dunked a producer to earn money for Sara Lee's "Feeding America;" Marcia Cross (who is SUPER skinny BTW) was embarrassed by an old clip Ellen dug up for naughty November; Kym Douglas brought beauty tricks for cheap (although putting your feet in Jell-O to take away the stink doesn't seem very cheap or practical); and the sexy John Legend serenaded the audience (and gave everyone in the audience his new CD).

But most importantly, Michelle got to play the grand-prize game, "Safari So Goodie." Want to know if she won? Check out this link to see my girl in action. It gets crazy!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Moving beyond The Wire

I have come to notice in all the TV watching that I do that characters from HBO’s The Wire are popping up in various network shows a lot this season. I’m happy that people realize the actors on that show were incredible. Here’s a rundown of stars that have moved beyond The Wire.

Lance Reddick (Lieutenant Daniels): Last season he had a few cameo spots in “Lost” as an undefined creepy character that appeared in a scene with Locke telling him to take a walk-about trip (Episode: Cabin Fever), he played a part in gathering the “scientific” crew that was sent to the island (Episode: Confirmed Dead) and finally visited Hurley in the mental institute asking if “they” were still alive (Episode: Beginning of the End). This season Reddick has a lead role as Agent Phillip Broyles in the new series “Fringe.” Looks like Reddick might be JJ Abrams new go-to guy. Too bad “Fringe” isn’t worthy of Reddick’s talent. I hope this won’t be the end of his TV roles.

Amy Ryan (Officer Beadie Russell): While I don’t watch much of “The Office” (and have gotten grief from many because of it), it looks like Ryan has picked up a recurring role on this hit NBC show. Maybe I’ll have to tune in and check Ryan out in action as she changes over from HBO drama to primetime comedy. Also of note, Ryan had big role in the 2007 movie Gone Baby Gone. If you haven’t seen this movie I highly recommend it (a shining example that Ben Affleck fares better behind the camera while baby brother Casey excels in the spotlight).

Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield): From drug dealer to “Heroes” villain. Hector is the newest in evil playing Benjamin “Knox” Washington – a man that can feed off people’s fears and turn them into his strength. As if that weren’t enough, Hector also has a role in the new Mark Wahlberg movie, Max Payne.

Andre Royo (Bubbles): Speaking of “Heroes,” Royo vortexed himself in – and right back out – of “Heroes” as another escaped villain.

Idris Elba (Stinger Bell): When Stringer was killed in Season 3 I was pretty sad. Elba was a dynamic character on “The Wire” and even though he was a bad gangster, you still felt yourself routing for him to come out on top. Since leaving “The Wire” in 2005 I haven’t seen much of Elba, but it looks like he’s got a number of projects in the works including a new HBO series called “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” I’m intrigued. Elba also played a role in the film 28 Weeks Later, which a colleague leant me and I watched with some friends Halloween weekend. Kudos for Elba landing a role in his native Brittan, but this movie was a bit much for me.

Wendell Pierce (Det. “Bunk” Moreland): The loveable detective that liked to drink with Det. McNulty now has a semi-reoccurring role on the CBS show “Numb3rs” as an FBI psychologist. Imangine that.

Tristan Wilds (Michael): Poor Wilds went from one of the most interesting characters on “The Wire” to watch develop over the seasons to a member of the new “90210.” While I have not watched this show, the reviews I have read say it all – horrible. Wilds had such depth on “The Wire” as a loving brother, someone who stood up for his friends and the one who turned into a soldier in order to protect his family. It’s a shame that talent is being wasted on the teenybopper “90210.”

Deirdre Lovejoy (Atty. Rhonda Pearlman): Lovejoy took on another role as a lawyer in the new ABC show “Eli Stone.” Even while filming “The Wire,” Lovejoy had parts in quite a few shows ranging from “The Closer,” “The West Wing,” and “Nip/Tuck.” In 2006 she was cast in the move Step Up, not as a lawyer, but as one of the main character’s mother.

Dominick Lombardozzi (Det. “Herc”): Lombardozzi landed a spot on another HBO series “Entourage” as Vincent Chase’s old hometown buddy, Dom.

Clarke Peters (Det. Lester Freamon): Peters was cast in the new show “Life on Mars” as a police captain.

Michael K. Williams (Omar): While Omar hasn’t been seen in primetime, it is worth mentioning that he is has roles in 7 movies that are in post production and 2 movies that have 2008 release dates, including The Incredible Hulk that recently came out.

Pablo Schreiber (Nick Sabotka): Even though Schreiber was only in one season of “The Wire,” he has had parts here and there on shows like “Dirt,” “Army Wives,” and “Life on Mars.” Most recently though, he had a main part in the season premier of “Law & Order” as the brother of a man who was killed during a street fight.

I could go on and on with these characters and the great roles they have been cast in since appearing on “The Wire,” but that would be quite a long list and I don’t want to just regurgitate I did find it quite interesting though that the majority of these people have been on at least one of the “Law & Order” series shows at some point in their careers. Which begs the question of whether this blog should have been named: “Law & Order” the career starter.

This was my first research blog and I enjoyed learning about where the characters from “The Wire” went after the show. If you have any ideas for another research blog, please let me know. I’d also love to get some feedback, so leave me a comment if you get a chance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday morning movie

Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins is reunited with her supposed missing son by Capt. J.J. Jones played by Jeffery Donovan.

It has become somewhat of a loose tradition for my friend Liz and I to go to Tuesday morning movies. For only $5.50 at the Hazard Center UltraStar who can pass up such a deal. This week we went and saw Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie. We walked into the theater just as the previews were starting and even though it was dark in the theater, Liz and I were still able to tell that we were the youngest people in attendance, probably by about 40 years. But we are not shamed by this fact. Only proud by our penny pinching abilities.

At 2 hours and 20 minutes a movie of that length really has to work hard to keep me at attention and Changeling was able to do just that. The plot was saddening and remembering that it was based on a true story made it maddening.

Angelina did a great job in the role of Christine Collins, which I was happy about since the movie trailer where she screams, "I want MY son back," left me wondering if the whole movie would be just as melodramatic. I also enjoyed Jeffrey Donovan from Burn Notice who played the character of Capt. J.J. Jones -- the man you wanted to smack.

The real winner of this movie, however, was the costuming. Just as critics are enthralled with the costuming in the TMC show Mad Men, I was equally excited about the garments in Changeling. Minus the whole prohibition thing, it made me want to transport back to that era.

Ellen's game week

I have been a fan of the Ellen DeGeneres show for quite some time now. I record it religiously and although I haven't had much time to watch it this season, I still find that it always has the power to make me smile. For the past 2 seasons my friend Liz and I have been trying to get tickets to the show, but have had no luck. So when my friend Michelle told me that she went to the show I was super jealous. Then when she told me that she got picked to participate in Ellen's game week, I was even more jealous. But to top it ALL off, Michelle informed me that she WON the game and received an electronics package worth $2,000 and included an Xbox, a cell phone and camera, etc., I nearly lost it in the middle of the grocery store.

Due to some incorrect information on the cable guide, I missed the episode that Michelle was on. Lucikly, while it's not the entire segment, the game was posted online so I got to see Michelle (pictured at left at the top of this blog) kill her competition. Here is the video link, enjoy my spastic friend.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Karma's a bitch

They can be sneaky and dramatic at times, but Nick and Starr pulled out another first place this week. Photos from

This week teams traveled from Aukland to Cambodia, Thailand. On the way to the airport Terrence got pulled over for going 17km above the speed limit. Karma's a bitch Terrence. But that little set back doesn't mean the pair missed the first flight. They sneak on with Ken and Tina.

Back at the airport, the divorcees are stirring up more drama with Dallas and his mom whispering together and saying that Dallas' hair looks like Teenwolf. On a kinder note, I think, Ty says he wouldn't trade Aja in, not even for a Porsche. I can feel the love.

When the teams get to Cambodia their first challenge to to use a hand crank to pump gas into a truck. Dallas and Toni manage to finish 2nd even though their driver took them to the wrong place. The always genius frat boys can't figure out how to fill their pump -- even from home I could tell that they didn't have the proper valve closed. Silly frat boys.

In the bad karma world Terrence and Sarah are struck down again when their boat breaks down on the way to the detour and Terrence gets out a stick to try and get them to their destination. He throws a few hissy fits on the way.

On the way to this week's pit stop, teams stopped at the beautiful Angkor Wat to complete a road block that gets poor Tina very lost.

Poor long distance couple Aja and Ty just couldn't pull it out this week.

It is the dramatic Nick and Starr that find their way to the front of the pack this week and Aja and Ty just can't make up for last week's lost time and are eliminated. As a final karmic intervention Terrence and Sarah were hit with a 30 minute time penalty next week as a result of Terrence's speeding. Maybe these two should learn to play nice with each other and they won't have such bad things happen to them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thanksgiving dessert?

Eli (not sure of his last name) is quite possibly my new favorite person and it's all because of this blog post: Proving once again that bacon really does make everything better

Anyone want to join me for Thanksgiving dessert?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chuck In Real Life

Poor Chuck still resides in his father's shadow. Photo

Here goes Gossip Girl using movie titles as the episode title. Can we get a little more creative people?

Bart is back in town and he's bearing gifts and household guidelines and the 'children' aren't happy about it. I mean 1am curfew on a weeknight?! Horrors!
Since Dan no longer has Serena he's decided to try out for the soccer team -- how very sporty of him.

Vanessa needs Blair's help to get signatures and hand out fliers to save a historic Brooklyn Inn that is going to be torn down. She threatens to blackmail Blair if she doesn't get a thousand signatures in 6 hours. Is this really something that you want to be pulling the blackmail card for? I think that card should be used in extreme situations only.

Blair brings Chuck in to help her take Vanessa down and in turn get back at Dan for becoming friends with Nate. The sexual tension between Blair and Chuck is reaching epic proportions. And while those two are busy conspiring, Serena is out to prove that nobody gives her rules to follow.

After Little J calls out Dan for only having girl friends, he calls up Nate to go play soccer at the park. When he shows up at Nate's he sees that the house has been seized and that Nate has been living inside on a sleeping bag. Dan invites Nate back to dinner at the Humphrey's to try to help him out, but Nate brushes him off.

At the Bass housewarming event Serena calls out her mom in front of a national magazine about how she was never around when she and Eric were kids. Quite the little pisser Serena has become lately.

At the urging of his dad, Dan does not back down from trying to help Nate and in the end, Nate falls for the Humphrey charm and succumbs to the offer of Scattegories. I mean who could resist Sacttegories?!

In the world of Chuck and Blair, they did manage to squash Vanessa and Chuck takes Blair up on her offer of getting to sleep with her, but before he'll do the deed he asks her for the three little words that she had previously wanted to hear from him, but she won't say them. Now Chuck tells Blair that it's her turn to chase after him. Teenagers these days. Oh and can I mention that I am going to have to go shopping for some lingerie tomorrow because of the fact that a 17 year old has WAY hotter lingerie than I do. TMI?

You know you love me. XOXO

Monday, October 20, 2008

Amazing Race

Tina, even though your overplucked eybrows total bug, I am growing to love you and Ken. Plus, isn't this win number 3 for you? Photos from

Contestants were to travel from La Paz, Bolivia (which I learned is the world's highest capitol) to Auckland, New Zealand. Lucky. During the Bolivia pit stop, divorcees Kelly and Christy confronted Nick and Star telling them that they knew about their attempt to U-Turn them. These two teams are turning out to be high drama, and it's kind of fun to watch.

On the way to the airport this was Marisa and Brooke's conversation:
"I wonder if they like blondes in New Zealand."
"I wonder if they have blondes, so we're not like rare."
Oh dear, girls.

On the way from the airport to their first task in New Zealand, Aja and Ty get a flat tire and are both clueless on how to change it.

Tina and Ken were the first to untie their crazy knot followed closely by the frat boys and both raced to be the first to the fast forward. Ken and Tina beat out the frat boys and had to climb the tallest building in the southern hemisphere in order to advance straight to the pit stop.

Meanwhile, my favorite challenge thus far: teams had to search among a group of tribal Maori who were doing the ritual Haka dance (which is also performed by the All Blacks rugby team from New Zealand. I would be intimidated!) and match a picture of a tattoo to a tattoo on one of the men's faces. I love it.

Moving on, teams either had to go to a kiwi farm and smash kiwis like Ethel & Lucy stomped grapes in I Love Lucy or put together a wind kite kart and ride it around a track. Several teams found the kiwi smashing too difficult and changed tasks midway through.

Due to successfully climbing the building, Ken and Tina made it to the pit stop first and it was the southern Belles Marisa & Brooke that came in last. Guess they don't like blondes in New Zealand after all.

Poor pink southern belles Marisa and Brooke couldn't get through the kiwi smash fast enough and were sent home this week.

Belated Monday Night Meal

Bootleggers got decked out in American Diabetes Association colors.
A few weekends ago I went home for a friend’s wedding. While I was there my family hosted a fundraiser dinner at a local restaurant called Bootleggers. The owner of the restaurant, Ty Rowe, knows my mom because she had his kids in her kindergarten class and he opened the restaurant especially for this event and catered the entire meal.

The reason behind this fundraiser is to raise awareness and funds for the American Diabetes Association. I have been participating in this walk for the past 4 years (although last year’s walk was cancelled because of the San Diego wildfires) and my parents have traveled down to walk with me. As a family, we have raised close to $12,000 in those four years.

Why do we walk? In June 1999, the summer before my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I was rushed to the hospital when my blood sugar was found to be 560 mg/dl (normal range between 70-140 mg/dl) and was thrown into a life of blood sugar testing, insulin shots and carb counting. Over the past nine years I have learned a lot about this disease and the millions of people it affects. I have also learned a great deal about myself and my ability to overcome this disease. At the same time, however, I still worry about the long-term affects this disease could have on my body and fear the possible side effects, such as kidney failure, amputation, blindness and heart disease. So I now take it upon myself to be proactive and educate when I can and help raise funds that will go toward searching for a cure. To learn more about the walk or to make a donation of your own visit or to learn more about diabetes and whether you’re at risk for the disease, visit
My family (from left) my mom Barbara, my grandma Elinor and my dad Steve.

To be excused to get dinner, tables had to answer diabetes trivia questions provided by me.

With that said, let’s get to the Monday Night Meal aspect of this blog. Ty made a fantastic meal. Appetizers included stuffed olives and mozzarella balls, which were paired with a wine tasting put on by a local wine shop. Dinner was Caesar salad; a vegetarian pasta option with pesto, pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes; a meat pasta option with Italian sausage, meatballs and a tomato sauce; and garlic bread. The evening was topped off by a new twist on tiramisu, which was served in individual cups as a pudding-type mixture with lady fingers on the side. Everything was fantastic.

The Italian buffet provided by Bootleggers owner Ty Rowe included Caesar salad, two pasta options and garlic bread.

By the end of the night, with the meal costs, raffle money and a silent auction, we raised about $3,500! My parents worked extremely hard on this event and pounded the pavement to collect great prizes for the raffle and silent auction. The community of Auburn really stepped up to help support our family and we are very thankful for that. With this fundraiser, this year we are on target to meet our team goal of $5,000 for the first time since I started walking in this event. We are set to Step Out for Diabetes on Saturday, October 25.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So long, farewell

What's that Ana Torv? Your acting is horrible? Yes, it really is. Photo from

The time has come to say good-bye to Fringe. I really had high hopes for this show and the premise seemed like it make for a really different, but entertaining show. With the amount of TV I already watch, I don't need to clog my life waiting for a show to get better (heck, I already waiting 4 or 5 weeks).

So, farewell to Pacey (who actually turned out to be the best acted character on the show, much to my surprise). Ana Torv you will not be missed and I hope to not see you on any other show. I will miss Cedric Daniels (have you noticed how many people from The Wire are on new shows this year. That might need to get its own blog).

Orevoir Fringe.