Crabby Crabby

I had the opportunity to spend a few days with my family in Maryland last week. They weren’t crabby, and neither was I (I don’t think) but we DID get to spend some time with a half dozen recently deceased Maryland crabs, who I’m pretty sure would have been crabby had they still been alive. Muahahahaha. This post is photographic evidence of man’s dominance over the food chain. Sorry veg-heads… I am a true carnivore. I like meat, and fish, and the creepy crawlies of the sea known to the general public as crab.

I am in no way a crab expert. As a matter of fact, most of my crab experience is in the “cake” or “lump meat” form – and with the exception of a few touristy times in San Francisco eating a (already cut apart) crab at Fisherman’s Wharf, I had never come close to taking apart a crab until my parents moved to Maryland. If you read my old blog you may remember this post, where I mentioned getting stabbed by a crab and the bleeding and cry-fest that followed. This year, I was determined to get this crab thing down and show those Marylanders who’s boss. After a quick how-to-crack-a-crab-open recap by our sever, here is what happened.

We start with a bucket full of crabs, dumped on your table, staring at you slightly eerily like this little guy.

Intimidated at first, I am still determined to get the best of this crab and fill my belly in the process.

Aaaand… success!

Anyone have any awesome crab (or other attack-as-you-eat food) stories?

And sorry for the blurriness of the pics. I decided to still keep them big, for dramatic flair.

Being a Writer is Awesome

Here’s why becoming a “writer” was the best decision ever:

I am sitting at Starbucks, laptop in lap (Get it? Laptop! Lap! Ha!), bundled up in the luxurious cashmere wrap I purchased several years ago when I had a disposable income (those were the days…), sipping on a perfectly warmed latte, listening to Adele, Sara Bareilles and the likes, writing about why my life is awesome.

And I get to share this experience, because YOU’re reading it!

Life is great, and I am grateful. Thank you for reading what I write.

The Story of a First Thanksgiving

Once upon a time there was a very nice husband who had a very fun wife who loved to cook. The wife dreamed and dreamed of cooking a large holiday meal, but did not ever get the opportunity, seeing as other family traditions had already been established by generations who came before the very nice husband and his very fun wife, as family traditions often do.

One day, the very nice husband received a phone call with a short-term, very great work opportunity very far away from any and all family and friends. This work opportunity spanned several months, including the two most important holiday months, November and December. With no traditions or family or friends to rely on, the very nice husband and his very fun wife decided to make Thanksgiving for two.

Seeing as this was, in some ways, the first Thanksgiving the very nice husband and very fun wife would have, they decided to pull out all the stops. The very fun wife (hereafter referred to as SHE – this very stuff is getting exhausting) wanted to make it an all-day event, full of scrumptious treats and potential new traditions. “What better way to start Thanksgiving than with cinnamon rolls?” she asked herself. Arguably, there is none, and so, while her doting spouse spent hours and hours at his place of work, SHE spent hours on end making a sweet dough for Parker House dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls, so Thanksgiving could begin like this:

As her husband watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and made a couple of phone calls to family (who were all at home, upholding family traditions), the very fun wife started on the main event – a 17 pound bird named Hank. Hank soaked in a brine of brown sugar, water, apple cider, and lots of spices overnight, and come morning was ready to be padded down airport-security style with herb-butter-covered fingers.

He (Hank, not the husband) was promptly stuck into the oven, where he was left for several hours, with occasional peeking and basting by the nice/fun couple. Meanwhile, she began her work on the best part of any Thanksgiving meal – the side dishes and dessert – in this order:

1. Sourdough, bacon, and roasted mushroom stuffing
2. Roasted brussel sprouts with pomegranate
3. Parker House rolls
4. Fresh cranberry sauce
5. Sage turkey gravy
6. Pecan Pie with vanilla bean ice cream

When it was time to remove Hank from the oven (a task fit for a man!) he was placed on the stove to rest for a few minutes. Hank’s skin was a little more “charred” than anticipated, but the carcinogens just made the herb-butter taste that much better.

*please note the very nice husband’s manly potholder*

Before they knew it, everything was ready to eat. An elegant 2006 Oregon Pinot Noir (Erath Estate Collection – try it!) was set on the table, Hank was carved, and the side dishes were ready to go. Husband and wife dug in, savoring every bite! Although they missed their family and friends, it was fun for the very nice husband and his very fun wife to have a Thanksgiving just the two of them, and establish new traditions of their very own.

ps. Is it arrogant to call yourself ‘very fun’ ??

Black Friday Deals

I used to wake up at 5:30 every day. Not anymore, friends. If ever there were a time I questioned the move to Arkansas, I should just remind myself that I no longer wake up before dawn, because that was reason enough. ūüôā

Nowadays I sleep until 9 or later. This is new to me. I never used to sleep past 8, even on days off. Glenn says he thinks I’m finally relaxing from the past 6 years of non-stop work and activity. I’m probably actually just getting really lazy, but that’s sweet of him to say. Brownie points for G.

At any rate, Friday morning was the first morning since arriving in Little Rock that I woke up before the sun came out. What brought me out of my warm an cozy bed in this 38 degree weather, you ask? There’s only one thing powerful enough: black friday and the allure of finding that one great sale item.

Boy did I score today! I was put on a (very strict) budget, but I stuck to it and bought myself some great items. Albeit several of these items would be much more appropriate in my home climate (did you read the part where I said it’s THIRTY-EIGHT DEGREES? I forgot how awful the cold can be. Burrrr!) but that just means I have some great things to look forward to for spring and summer.

Here’s how the morning went down:

6:45am – arrive at Park Plaza mall (“the” mall in Little Rock, if you were wondering… and no they do not have a Nordstrom)

6:55am – say hello to operator friends and drop off goodies for them (we mall peeps have to stick together)

7:05am – walk into Gap, where everything is 50% off until 10am

7:25am – walk out of Gap with white tank top and navy blue city flats. Grand total: $13 Chu-ching.

7:30am – walk into Banana Republic, try on a few things, decide nothing is worthy of my money, except for the fabulous oversize cable knit cashmere sweater that is already on my Christmas list so I decided to let someone else get it for me. hint.

7:45am – realize there are, in fact, no other stores at “the” mall that I want to visit. little rock – it’s good for the wallet, it’s good for the soul.

8:00am – drive to DSW where I have never purchased anything. find awesome black gladiator-type sandals. these will be perfect at home with a fresh pedicure! or here with a fresh pedicure… in july! Total: $19

8:30am – head to Glenn’s Chick-fil-A to say hello and offer my assistance. they don’t need me but I DO get an original on wheat – best. breakfast. ever.

9:15am – drive to Anthropologie (brand new! just opened! i die!) and scope out the sale section. as all anthro lovers know, a sale there is not exactly a good deal. I leave empty-handed but walk across the street to the LOFT, another place I’ve never made a purchase.

10am – leave the LOFT with a super cute ($5!) dress AND wannabe coco chanel skirt. Total: $17

10:20am – drive home and promptly watch 3 episodes of (what else) keeping up with the kardashians.

12pm- pass out on the floor of the living room. so tired. must rest.

1pm – wake up well-rested and take all of my awesome new purchases out of their bags, hang them up in my closet, and get really excited for spring!

Anybody else find great Black Friday deals?

How to Make Friends – A Step by Step Guide

For anyone who may find themselves in a new city, job, school, church, cat-sitter circle, this is for you.

Step 1:  Beg husband to take a night off and text newfound acquaintances to see if they want to hang out.

Step 2.: When said newfound acquaintances invite you over to their house for dinner, leap from the couch and jump up and down all around the house with pure joy.

Step 3: Offer to bring dessert. (Friend-making 101 – people like people who bring them things.)

Step 4: Melt excessive (and I mean EXCESSIVE) amounts of semi-sweet chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate with a pound of butter. Yes I said a pound. 4 sticks. That’s right.

Step 5: Stir together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and instant espresso granules in a separate bowl. When the melted chocolate/butter deliciousness looks like this, add it to the egg and sugar mixture.

Step 6: Add even more chocolate, and walnuts if you are so inclined. (Toss them with a little flour before adding to the mixture to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the brownies.)

Step 7: Mix everything together, and spread onto large baking sheet.

Step 8: Bake, then remove from oven to cool.

Step 9: Buy a bottle of yummy wine for wannabe new friends. If all else fails, hopefully they enjoy a good Cabernet Sauvignon.

Step 10: Bring brownies, favorite ice cream, fudge sauce, and wine to potential friend’s home. Win them over with your wit, charm, and the niceness of your husband… which is probably the reason you got invited over in the first place.

Little Rock – The First Week

Before we left for Arkansas, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE teased us about going to a “redneck” area. They said the people here would be living in trailers, speaking with such a twang we would have a hard time understanding them, that education would be nonexistent, people would be marrying their cousins, roadkill would be everywhere, and the only vegetables we’d see would be fried.

Here’s the deal. Of all of the people who teased us about this move and made jokes about Arkansas — I came to find out that not one of them had actually been here. So I did a little research of my own and found that there was potential. There are Universities right here in town. There are several Starbucks coffee shops (you hear that, Dentt?), I have yet to meet anyone who has married their sister or brother, and I’ve only seen one dead possum on the side of the road. ¬†The two things I AM having a hard time finding (ok, make that three things and add friends to the list… HELLO? People?? Does anyone want to hang out with me???) are a gym and vegetables that are not fried.

For Kimberly’s birthday we found a little Italian restaurant downtown with good reviews. ¬†I ordered the veal scallopine which came with a side of “fresh seasonal vegetables.”

At first I thought maybe the vegetables were coming on a separate plate. Then I realized, no.  No, no, no.

What all those naysayers at home were telling me was true… I have entered into a land where “fresh seasonal vegetables” will very likely mean DEEP FRIED ZUCCHINI.

Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, it’s just making my search for a gym that much more necessary.

Questions, Questions

Warning: this is pretty much blog spam. Or like a recipe forward online. Is there actually anyone who gets great recipes from recipe forwards? I mean really, we’re in the year 2010, you can look up how to make ANYTHING online.

Now that I’ve personally offended anyone who’s ever sent out a forward…it’s time for me to participate! A couple of my super-de-duper cool friends have blogged the answers to various “questions” lately, and a few days ago I was tagged in one of them… meaning, you got it, it’s my turn to answer. ¬†So here we go. I will not be tagging others, but feel free to copy or create your own questions because, come on, it’s kind of fun.

1) What is your idea of a perfect vacation?

There are two things that come to mind immediately: 1. a week in a suite at the hyatt on kaua’i followed by a week at manele bay, daily breakfast buffet at both, with my handsome husband, an unlimited American Express gift card, and the inability to get sunburnt. ¬†2. Going to Europe (any part of it) with said handsome husband.
2) If you could give all of your time and money to any cause, what would it be?

The adoption of unwanted children into Christ-centered homes.

3) How does your personality today compare to your personality when you were a kid?

I am a little more outgoing. Believe it or not, I used to be shy when I first met people. ¬†Other than that, I’m the same nutty classic oldest child/control freak I’ve always been!

4) Describe the best meal you have ever eaten.

The best meal I have ever eaten was either the night I got engaged or my first time at Lupa. The first was a multi-course fabulous evening at The Napa Rose followed by fireworks and thousands of dollars worth of diamonds, the latter a simple bottle of Italian wine and the best spaghetti carbonara one could ever have.

5) Do you have a secret celebrity crush?

It’s not ok, but I have a slight Zefron obsession, and have also been swooning for Chris Pine ever since he swept Anne Hathaway off her feet in The Princess Diaries 2. Yep, I went there.

The Road Trip — or How #3 and I Got From Point A to Point B

Let’s face it. There’s a lot I haven’t shared yet… but let’s also face this… reading posts about things that happened 2 months ago when you’ve probably already seen pictures on facebook or watched E! News and heard the exact same thing is simply not fun. ¬†So I’m skipping over the amazing and life-changing things I could write pages about like my last week at USD and the super fun parties I was thrown by my fabulous co-workers there, like the Nike Women’s Marathon (followed by Napa Valley!) which Erin so eloquently wrote about here and here, like crying over dinner with RaRa and Julip as we said our goodbyes, like Bread and Cie almost every day because I knew I would miss it SO much, like The Last Supper at Cucina Urbana and Extraordinary Desserts with my favorite frenemy where the man at the table next to us was bored with his dinner companions and so he let our stories entertain him all night, and like ACTUALLY GETTING THE HOUSE TOTALLY PACKED AND CLEANED thanks to fabulous friends and family. ¬†All of those things will be skipped, and we will start the journey of Kristin in the South right here — with the road trip.

The Road Trip started, where else, at Bread and Cie. ¬†The people responsible for keeping me sane (and packing the car!) while Glenn was away were there to eat eclairs and croissants at 10am, and pray for us (and said packed car!) as we started our journey. ¬†First post-bread-coma stop? Somewhere I have certainly never been, and don’t plan on returning to, the Golden Acorn Casino. ¬†I don’t know if I would call this place a casino per se, it’s more like a glorified gas station with a smoking/slot machine room. ¬†I would have taken photos inside but I’m pretty sure I would have been murdered, so this is as good as you’re gonna get.

Our mission on Day 1 was to get to Scottsdale to stay with family there. It took FOREVER. What should have been a 6 hour drive turned into an 8 1/2 hour drive because of a) my bladder b) massive stress c) never-ending hunger and the realization that Arizona was our last chance for In-N-Out for who knows how long.

Day 2… we wake up and drive. And drive. And drive. We drive north. And then we go more north. ¬†We are so far north that we hit up Flagstaff for lunch, where, by the way, it’s freezing cold. ¬†It’s also severely overpriced, and apparently the servers don’t listen when you order “soft pretzels with cheese dip” and instead bring you a massive plate of fondue that is 3x the price. ¬†Hmm. Oh well, it’s road-trip funds which are unlimited, right? Arizona, we have had enough of you! Here we are after lunch, very excited to be close to New Mexico and also very excited to be inside a heated car!

Our goal for Day 2 was to make it all the way to Santa Fe. Before getting to Santa Fe, however, we absolutely had to eat the the Standard Diner in downtown Albuquerque and ordered at least 1/2 the menu, as recommended by the friends who had eaten here on their cross-country trips! ¬†S’mores milkshake – fabulous.

Baked cinnamon brie with apple-pear chutney spread on toast — I thought we were going overboard doing a milkshake, appetizer, and two entrees, but the server told us it would be just fine and boy was he right. This was a highlight of the meal for me. Actually, might have been a highlight of the road trip.

For dinner (this was all pre-dinner, remember?) I had chicken-fried ahi – which was really yummy and actually fairly light – in traditional terms it was more of a tempura ahi tuna steak and it was fresh and excellent. ¬†Kimberly ordered the macaroni and cheese – fabulous. ¬†It’s made me want to make macaroni and cheese at home every night this week which is a problem because we told ourselves we would be eating fresh and healthy once the road trip was over. ¬†I have said no to the temptations so far… we’ll see how the rest of the week goes.

Santa Fe itself was a blast. ¬†Great Mexican food – totally different than anything in Southern California but still excellent. ¬†My favorite spot was The Shed which I wrote a little about on twitter. If you are ever in Santa Fe I highly recommend eating lunch here. ¬†I might even convince Glenn we need to go BACK to Santa Fe just so he can try this place and their yummy chips, salsa, guacamole, tacos, chile, margaritas…the list goes on.

We did all the touristy things while in Santa Fe, which included the Georgia O’Keefe museum, walking around the Plaza and buying Navajo turquoise, and taking a self-guided tour of the beautiful Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi.

After a relaxing day in Santa Fe, it was our LONG day of travel… day 3. ¬†When I figure out how to upload videos and imbed them into the blog (I am sure it’s not that difficult, I just haven’t really tried yet…) I will need to add a video from our long driving day. It’s too entertaining not to. We left at 3:45am and arrived in Dallas at 6pm. ¬†We stopped at 7 different McDonald’s locations and probably at least 5 gas stations. ¬†McDonald’s and Shell became our “clean bathroom” staples.

With ¬†all of the horror stories I had heard about driving through Texas and how it was never-ending and ugly and boring, I was surprised with how much I enjoyed our Texas drive. ¬†It was beautiful, clean, and the people were friendly. ¬†They have almost everything we have in Southern California, just bigger. I can see why they want to be their own country, and if I’m being honest, I don’t know if I would mind turning into a Texan if they went the “we’re on our own” route. ¬†I like Texas! There, I said it.

These Texas-friendly snacks got us through half the state.

We were told, by a sweet old man in overalls, that these snacks showed that we were “good Americans on a road trip!” Another Texas highlight? A middle-aged man stepping out of his car to tell Kimberly that “there’s nothing sexier than a woman putting oil in a car!” as she was doing just that. She was creeped out, I laughed. ¬†I’m pretty sure he meant it as a compliment and wasn’t planning on inviting us into his van to sample some candy.

From Texas, Day 4 of the trip, we only had a 5 hour jaunt up to Little Rock. Starbucks (another road-trip staple) and only 2 bathroom stops later… we arrived! It was a gloomy day, and most of Arkansas was horrifying to drive through (big bad semi’s!) but once we got to Little Rock… we loved it!

Now come visit me!

Stress Eating

In the “origin and terminology” section of the word on Wikipedia (so I ¬†know it’s true!), the following are listed as signs of stress. In trying to figure out just how stressed I am, I thought it would be useful to show how I am, or am not, living out the ¬†tenants of stress. ¬†Insert photo of my living room.

poor judgement – oh you mean like going out of town for 10 of my last 30 days in California, even though a disastrous packing tornado just blew through my house? I’m free spirited! That can’t count against me as poor judgement!

a general negative outlook – does walking 6 feet from my front door to my car door with a fistful of keys – one sticking out from each finger so as to bring true pain to my attacker – convinced I am going to 1. get attacked and 2. die immediately upon attack seem negative? I thought it was self preservation.

excessive worrying – DSM – IV Code 300.02 (aka the official diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder)

irritability – A scene from Sunday afternoon: Kristin – “UGH it is SO hot! I mean it’s disgusting! I’m really going to be so grumpy today if it’s this hot! I hate the heat! I hate this day!” This went on for about 3 minutes until Kimberly said “Kristin, it’s really not that hot.” Jerk. She doesn’t understand. It’s hot. Now I’m annoyed with the heat AND her. Blah.

agitation – See above.

inability to relax – Let me show you my to-do list and maybe you’ll see why I can’t relax. OK?????????

feeling lonely, isolated, or depressed – My husband is on the other side of the country. This list is making me agitated. How do you like that, hu blog?

aches and pains – I thought those were just from CrossFit. No? Hmm.

diarrhea or constipation – Can I claim both?

nausea, dizziness, or chest pain – Does calling Glenn at 2am his time, in hysterics, asking why I feel so sick to my stomach and if I will throw up count as nausea? Good, I didn’t think so either.

eating too much or not enough – I know nothing of the latter. But the former. Oh, the former. ¬†Here’s what I ate today. TODAY. The day’s not even over! An omelette, cheetos, sweet potato fries, chocolate cake, raspberry tart, tuna sandwich. ¬†Did I mention the CHEETOS?

… the list goes on but I’ll stop there. I think that’s enough.

In all seriousness, the stress goes down a little bit with each box that is packed… and for that I am grateful. ¬†I am also finding it very helpful to remind myself that where there is mess, there is progress. ¬†At least that’s what the chocolate cake told me. And when in doubt, really, you should always believe the chocolate cake.

The Natural State

As *most* of you know by now, a little over 2 weeks ago Glenn and I got quite a surprise Рthe opportunity to move to Arkansas for a temporary assignment with Chick-fil-A! Glenn left San Diego for Little Rock last week, and #3 and I will head out at the end of the month to join our husband/brother/sensei/soon-to-be-boss.  Seeing as Glenn had only 1 week to process and say his goodbyes to the life we have known for the past, well, LooooNG time, he brought on the sentimental. Big time.

Sentimentality comes out in many forms. One of them is photographs, like the following by Mr. Murdock himself.  A photograph of the front of our home, the only place we have lived since the creation of this clan of Murdocks in 2007.

Or this one, of me with my car.

How about part of our room and closet? With a teddy bear creepily arranged on the bed? Why not.

My cookie jar? Why of course! This has been one of my favorite things in my kitchen for the past 3 1/2  years after all. And sometimes it surprises you by actually having cookies in it!

As sentimental as we were that last week together in San Diego, ¬†we also had the chance to celebrate with a few of our sweet, sweet friends… at Disneyland! And then with a big group of our most amazing friends ever at a party that I don’t have any pictures of… sadly.

More goodbye San Diego posts to come. But for now, I leave you with a favorite moment with my beloved – dancing like lunatics in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle.