why, hello!

Oh my.  It’s been a long time since my last update, and, admittedly, I never thought I would return to blogging.  I was consumed with my day-to-day, enjoying the summer and studying all fall.  But I’ve missed having an outlet for photos and stories – I’m terrible at keeping diaries or making scrapbooks, so having a blog allows me to preserve whichever memories I choose.

Since I wrote last (on July 25!), I’ve been busy!  Josh and I got season passes to a local amusement park, threw a series of successful barbecues, and devoured a little too much television.  I just finished the second-to-last semester of my undergraduate career (with a 3.8 GPA for the term!).  I also switched jobs, from garage attendant to student researcher at the Osher Map Library.  I didn’t get to engage in much socializing, cooking, or crafting in the past months because of my schoolwork, but I seem to have set forth a less-hectic schedule for the spring semester (I hope!).

If you’re so inclined to see for yourself what I’ve been up to, click over to page 2 for a massive photo recap!  Hope everyone is having a happy, safe, and productive New Year!

what to do with 5lbs of beet greens?

I recently used an expiring Groupon for MyFreshMaine.com – an online farmer’s market of sorts.  The website seems to have shifted their focus from produce to finished products like jam and bread.  Thus, when it came time to redeem the Groupon, I was left with only two choices for fresh vegetables: carrots or beet greens.  Josh detests carrots, so I opted for the greens.  Beets can often be found in our kitchen – they’re nature’s candy, after all – and they’re truly spectacular roasted and put on pizza.  I figured that I would easily find ways to use up a hearty supply of beet greens – and then they arrived in the mail.

I had no idea what 5lbs of greens would look like.  They arrived in a huge box and necessitated that I clean out the entire bottom drawer of our refrigerator to have a place for them.  I became immediately concerned with whether or not I would be able to use them all, and so I did what any curious 20-something would do: I turned to Pinterest!

(Oh, Pinterest.  How did I function without you?  Where did I find recipes or clothing or photos of tiny animals?)

One of the most intriguing recipes I stumbled upon was this one for beet green pesto.  I recently tried (and failed) to make a similar recipe with wilting kale and it did notturn out very well.  I was wary of trying my hand at another such recipe and potentially wasting ingredients.  Well, yesterday afternoon I was feeling particularly brave in the culinary way, so I gave beet green pesto a try.

It worked!  I didn’t follow the recipe very well at all, and still managed to mix up a quite delicious version of pesto that will be adorning crusty bread and pizza dough in my home very soon.

While the recipe from the Hollywood Farmers Market blog seemed great, I made a few substitutions based on what I had around.  In lieu of walnut oil, I used olive oil – and I added much more than the recipe called for.  I also cut back on the lemon zest and juice based on our flavor preferences.  The result was delicious!

…if you get the nachos stuck together, that’s one nacho.

It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for sophomoric humor.  The day I stop laughing at poop jokes is the day I am officially old.  There seems to be a trend amongst my 20-something peers in which being occasionally immature is frowned upon.  Sure, sure – I pay my bills on time, complete my assignments in school, and eat plenty of veggies.  But giving up toilet humor and amusement parks?  No, thank you!

I must admit, of late it’s been difficult to wrangle anyone into watching the goofy movies I’ve always loved.  One of the fine films I truly adore was likely created with the 12-15-year old male demographic in mind, but I don’t care – because Saving Silverman is hilarious.

Any film with an emphasis on Neil Diamond is so obviously cinematic gold!

Hipster intelligentsia may frown if they so choose, I’m not ashamed of my indulgence in low-brow culture.  Bring on the Adam Sandler, bring on the Jack Black – I’m never growing out of this!

…I think I’ll go jam out to one of the sweet Punk-O-Rama CDs I used to listen to when I was 14 and be glad I’m not too cool to have fun.

bridge sentimentality.

The jerks who plan things like roads and development in Portland decided that tearing down a most lovely, historical, heart-endearing bridge and replacing it with a modern monstrosity was a good idea.

Veterans Bridge connects Portland’s West End and my neighboring hometown, South Portland.  I frequent the route daily, and have always delighted in traversing the Fore River on the aging structure.

To be certain, the bridge was unsafe.  Our past few winters have seen chunks of asphalt falling from the roadway into the river, resulting in gaping holes and temporary repairs.  The green metal side rails have been rusting for years, and many people consider the entire design unsightly.

Yet, I am not a member of the plethora of Portlanders who welcome this change to our city.  I don’t throw things away because they are old and broken, I fix them.  Objects, like people, gain character with time – even bridges.  Every old item is rife with history, and it breaks my sentimental heart every time a beautiful old thing is thrown out in favor of something new.

However, in the interests of full disclosure, I should tell y’all why it is I feel so strongly about this damned bridge…

As a kid, whenever I was sick at school, it was my grandfather who came to scoop me up.  In his brown Cavalier, we listened to AM talk radio programs and made our way to his big red house in Portland.  I would shut my little brown eyes, rest my head on the window, and soak up the sounds of the ride.  Veterans Bridge was built with huge seams every few meters, and driving over them made a loud “K-CHUNK” sound.  My grandparents didn’t live far from the Portland side of the bridge, so when we drove onto Veterans and I heard, “K-CHUNK….K-CHUNK….K-CHUNK,” I knew we were almost home, where I would cozy up on the couch and be taken care of.

When my grandfather passed, Veterans Bridge, like so many things I shared with him, became a pleasant reminder of the rides we took on my many sick days.

The closing of the old bridge means I won’t be afforded the opportunity to hear those reassuring “K-CHUNK” sounds.  What if I can’t remember exactly how they sound?  What if I lose the memory altogether?

When people die, one of the hardest things for me to accept is that the world continues developing.  I find myself wanting everything to stay just as it was when they were alive, because if things change, it confirms that these people I love are actually dead.  The Veterans Bridge I rode over with Grandpa is gone, and I’m left with nothing more than a fading memory.  I’ll never again hear the bridge crying reassurances that we’re almost home, just like I’ll never again smell my grandfather’s cigar smoke or kiss his rough cheek.

Obviously, I’m a sentimentalist.  But part of the character – part of the history – that Veterans Bridge had accrued was mine.  Just like everything old, it gained meaning over time.  It meant that I was headed to a safe, happy home, where I would be taken care of by a man who wouldn’t be with me for much longer.

The old bridge is now closed off, but still standing.  I have plans to snap some photos of it in the next few days, and will share those when I have them.  I applaud Maine for working to ensure safety on our roadways.  (Sorry I called you jerks up above, city planners!)  I acknowledge the merits of the new structure and know there are many folks elated to be rid of the older one.

A relative remarked on my severe sentimentality once and told me, “Annie, you’ve gotta learn to let go.”  I think I’d rather hold on, continue being a sap, and attaching myself a bit too much to the people and things I love.  It may mean that from time to time I shed a tear for a closing bridge, but it’s part of what makes me a one-of-a-kind Andrea.

The way life should be.

Welcome to Maine, Vacationland Zombieland.

(click photo for source)

While perusing my Facebook wall this morning, I noticed this intriguing article from RT News, “Drills of the dead: Maine prepares for zombie attack”.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve encountered a major media outlet sharing a story about zombies – but the last time I read something like this, it turned out to be a hoax.  Naturally, I assumed this article, which informed me that my state had held a zombie apocalypse preparedness drill, was a fake as well, and thus I began searching for some supplemental information.

BUT IT’S NOT A HOAX!

MPBN’s article, “‘Zombie Apocalypse’ Drill Prepares Emergency Workers in Bangor,” confirmed it: Last Thursday, June 21st in the town of Bangor, Maine, emergency response personnel acted out a zombie apocalypse scenario.  Moulage experts were on hand to transform actors into zombies of varying stages.  Participants considered how to respond to mass casualties, distribute vaccinations, and evacuate residents.  Those involved in the event noted that they don’t expect any zombies to actually crop up in our fair state, but rather that the training provides practical skills for dealing with any pandemic virus.

Apparently, the news has already reached a variety of popular media sources, including The Huffington Post and Perez Hilton.  The nation is abuzz with how bold, awesome, and strange the state of Maine is!

I know that Maine is unlike other places in the nation.  I feel like we’re the crazy uncle of states – y’know, the one who’s been slipping you booze at family functions since you were 13, has a bandana-wearing dog named Scotch, and lives in his camper.  No one knows quite what to make of us, but we’re strangely amusing and always up for a good time.

I think I’ll go drink some Moxie, watch an Angus King speech, and feel good about living in Maine.

friends & donuts.

Today has been so much fun, and it’s not over yet!

This morning, last minute plans were made to show a new CouchSurfing.org friend around town a bit.  We went for a walk behind Evergreen Cemetery and talked about our respective homes.  Surprising parallels were drawn between Maine and Idaho.  We saw about a dozen frogs on our adventure, many of which Teddy attempted to eat.

After our walk, we decided to venture to local donut shop, The Holy Donut, and introduce our friend to their uniquely delicious confections.

This was my (although not Josh’s) first experience meeting up with someone from CouchSurfing, and I had a thoroughly delightful time.  Spending time with travelers makes me so impatient for my own adventures.  However, showing folks around Portland keeps me aware of how lovely my hometown is.

Tonight we’re heading to the Portland Museum of Art to see Poupoupidou.  It looks amazing and I’m really excited, because we’ve somehow managed to avoid ever going to see a film in the Movies at the Museum series.  It’s shaping up to be an excellent Friday evening.

Until next time!

hometown adventure.

In stark contrast to today’s high of 90°, yesterday was pleasantly overcast and cool.  We adventured around the city, had lunch on the ocean, and experienced a locally renown dive bar, Sangillo’s.

From there we became engrossed in the Euro Cup.  For me, this is remarkably strange because I’ve always hated soccer (baseball is my sport of choice).  But for whatever reason, we followed yesterday’s England v. Ukraine match, and now I’m hooked.  We’re preemptively scoping out places to watch the Czech Republic play Portugal tomorrow afternoon.

For now, I’m thankful to be at work where there is a occasionally-helpful air conditioner.  If this heat wave keeps up, I’m going to need to find myself a Slip n’ Slide of some sort…

green things 101.

Plants have overtaken our home – both inside and out.  I’ve been planting fruits and vegetables, taking cuttings and waiting for them to sprout roots, transplanting raspberry bushes in our backyard.  I’ve never been very skilled at keeping plants alive, but I’m really trying this time!  Hopefully we’ll have some tomatoes, cucumbers, and berries to enjoy by summer’s end, and I will have enough houseplants to keep myself busy with during the fall and winter.

a happy day for fathers!

I hope y’all have a lovely Sunday celebrating the important fellas in your lives!

Here’s a snapshot of my dad and I from sometime around 1991:

We look so sweet, so innocent – but ohhh no!  I’m sure we were plotting something devious right as this photo was taken.  It’s most likely that we were devising a clever plan to acquire lots of snacks.  My dad and I were cut from the same cloth, that’s for certain.  I’ve always gravitated toward whatever he was doing – I would lace up my pink Barbie roller skates each day after school and skate in circles around the driveway waiting for him to get home.  He loves telling a story of how one weekend, when he was performing one handyman feat or another, I put on some overalls, affixed a duck-tape moustache above my lip, and marched up to him stating, “I’m your helper, Bob.”

I have my dad to thank for my appreciation of classic rock, lasagna, and The Three Stooges.  We both have big laughs, big noses, and occasionally big attitudes.  We nap in the afternoon, wake up early in the morning, and drink absurd amounts of coffee.  I owe my genetics a “thank you”, because I’ll always have a person to empathize with my hunger-induced mood swings and strange love of mayonnaise on italian bread.

So, to my father and all the others: I hope you enjoy your day!

PS: Happy Father’s Day to Josh, because being a dog dad is something to celebrate, too!