A Broken Family Tradition

I remember sitting on a stool in my family’s restaurant watching the chefs scurrying around an iron kitchen and cooking delectable plates of food for the hundreds of people who chose to spend their special evening with us. In order to not mess up the assembly line of pasta being scooped on plates, vegetables being steamed and sauce being stirred, my job was to sprinkle parsley on the outgoing plates. Seems easy, right? You betcha.

As I got older, I realized that these family genes – the ones that made my “Big Noni” (aka: great-grandma) a legend who is still talked about to this day, and the ones that have been passed down to EVERY. SINGLE. HUMAN in our family – must have decided to skip-a-doodle-do right on over me. Probably due to the fact that I will settle for Raisin Bran Crunch and not shed a single tear over soggy asparagus.

This is where I precisely gained a hatred for the TV Network because if people can watch “30 Minute Meals” with Rachael Ray and learn how to make pot roast, then why did I not absorb the hours and hours of free lessons while sitting on that green stool at the end of the kitchen. WHY, I MUST ASK WHY?

I digress.

In case you are wondering where this panic is striking from, I’m starting to develop this irrational fear that I will soon be asked to a dinner party and will have nothing to show thanks with in return. Right now, the best I could do is arrange some bagel bites on a plate and call it a day. Oh, my Big Noni would be rolling over in her grave and calling me every name under the sun. Scustumad. Stunad. I can hear it now.

Recipes, prayers and a scotch tape cross.
A look into Noni’s cabinet: Recipes, prayers and a scotch tape cross.

I have asked my Noni (aka: grandma) to write down her recipes, which are etched into her kitchen cabinets, and she has refused. Actually, it goes something like this:

Me: “Noni, I would really like to have the family meatball recipe. You think we can make this happen?”

Noni: * Laughs * “Babe, I don’t think there is hope for you.”

People, this is a problem. I don’t know if my family has put two and two together, but I am the only one. No more Sears children in this family line. Zero. Zip. Zilch. I feel as though it is my civic duty to pasta lovers across the world to learn how to make this sauce that has been passed down from Noni to Noni and son to son. Heck, even Stanley knows the recipe and he’s not even Italian!

So, with Thanksgiving upon us, you know what this means? I get to spend 5 – you read that correctly – days badgering my family until they have no other choice than to teach me their ways. Pictures will follow, assuming no one dies.

The Tell-Tale Walls of an Apartment

Moving to a rather large city can be frustrating. On top of the emotion from leaving one place and moving to another, we are also forced to deal with getting a job, meeting new people, conquering the DMV, and then of course, finding an apartment.

When I moved to D.C., I hadn’t the slightest clue at a price range, neighborhood or what was acceptable to live in, so I turned to Craigslist. I soon realized that 1) I couldn’t afford anything, 2) descriptions of apartments were completely inaccurate and 3) I still couldn’t afford anything.

Thus, I settled on a tiny apartment located a block from the Library of Congress. In theory, this was going to be a “happily-ever-after” story, but what’s an epic tale without a dramatic plot?

Hot water tank, enter stage right.

During the first month, I took ice-cold showers. I complained to my roommate, I complained to my parents, I complained to everyone who would listen to me. “Wake up earlier,” they said. “You have a small hot water tank.”

Normal people would just open their utility closet and check to see if the pilot light was out, or even check to see the size of their hot water tank. But, here’s the kicker: the closet had a lock on it and someone threw away the key.

If I had been looking for a sign, here it was. And, if you’re wondering the outcome of my hot water situation, the hot water tank was on vacation mode, because apparently life is a beach.   

Moving on.

My kitchen was decorated in the sweet shades of metal and cork board, just incase you wanted to hang your latest art work. Counter space was nonexistent, so we usually dried our dishes on top of the washer. Our dryer actually hung from the ceiling and had a timer – that’s it. It usually took three 40-minute cycles to dry three towels. And, in my belief, the microwave was on loan from the “That 70s Show” set.  It only had a timer and it loudly “ding-ed” when your food was ready. Normal.

The crime scene
The crime scene

Note: If I die of cancer, please blame the microwave.

But, as they say, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Or, in my case, “When you radiate your food, you will probably turn into a robot.”

So, that is enough of a picture for you to get the hint that my first time apartment hunting was quite eventful and rather unsuccessful. However, I survived and on the bright side I am now prepared to be a contestant on “Fear Factor.”

Great news, though, folks! There are companies out there that serve as a matchmaking service for you and your apartment. So you can check out neighborhoods and see their pros and cons before you even have to relocate. Genius, right? I think so.  And, if you’re thinking about moving to D.C., Urban Compass  – an apartment-to-human matchmaking service – will soon be offering their services to the district. So, definitely check them out and let them assist you with your apartment hunting.

Be sure to share your hilarious apartment mishaps with me – I need to know that I wasn’t alone in this struggle.

A Little Butter Never Hurt Anybody…

Sometimes, I like to think that I am creative.

Examples: decorating my apartment, this blog, attempting Pinterest recipes… should I go on?

Last night, I decided that I was going to bake a sweet (no pun intended) recipe for my intern to celebrate the fact that it was Friday and we hadn’t lost our minds…yet. So, where does one go when she needs to find a quick recipe that will prevail the biggest of dessert critics (or just needy interns)? Pinterest, duh.

Now, here’s the thing about working with people. You really learn their quirks. For example, about a month after working with each other, I soon learned that Cat (our all-star intern turned junior associate) really had a thing for peanut butter. Which is dandy because I do too. So instead of taking coffee runs, you can often find us in the kitchen bonding over the one of two jars of Jif that I keep in the fridge. No shame.

The inspiration.
The inspiration.

Naturally, I decided to make homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter bars. I printed off the recipe, dashed to the store and figured that there was no possible way I would screw this up because all you do is mix and freeze. Boy, was I wrong.

I put in the one-cup of graham cracker crumbs, the three-and-a-half CUPS of powdered sugar, the one-and-a-half cups of peanut butter and a tablespoon of butter. One of these things is not like the other.

You mean, this isn't what homemade peanut butter cups are supposed to look like?
You mean, this isn’t what homemade peanut butter cups are supposed to look like?

Needless to say, my recipe was actually a recipe for disaster. It looked like straight sand. My world crumbled in my hands. Literally.

Maybe blame the bottle of wine, but I realized that I had to have missed something. And by something, I mean 2STICKSOFBUTTER. Paula Deen would be so ashamed of me. So ashamed.

All I remembered was my fourth grade teacher saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” So that is what I did. I dumped my mixture of failure into the bowl and added two sticks of butter.

And, whatdoyaknow, it turned out perfectly. If I can redeem myself, then so can the Democrats.

Happy intern, happy office.
Happy intern, happy office.

The Diary of a Perpetually Cold Person

Me and my Dad on the "Eve  the Heat Stopped Working." Notice the smiles.
Me and my Dad on the “Eve the Heat Stopped Working.” Notice the smiles.

Y’all, it is cold.

I woke up this morning, shimmied on my tights, slipped on a silk dress, grabbed a pea coat, walked out the door and then realized that I forgot a winter staple:

SOCKS.

The combination of 40-degree weather, rain and the fact that I walk to work about pushed me over the edge. Now, I know that 40-degrees isn’t equivalent to the weather happening in Colorado, but I basically feel like I’m living in the Tundra.

Those of you who know me know that my current state of hypothermia comes as no surprise. My parents realized that I may or may not have a circulation issue when I wore a sleeveless, wool turtleneck and a pair of jeans when I was around 11-years-old… to a Labor Day party. After many a questions making sure that I felt all right and that I did realize it was approximately 102-degrees outside, my parents just accepted that fact that I am always freezing.

And let’s not forget last year when my heater broke in my first apartment, which was actually the most expected thing that happened during that long, cold year. When I woke up to wood floors that were so icy I peed my long johns a little bit, I called my landlord. He suggested, and I kid you not, that my roommate and I huddle together to stay warm.

Excuse me, Houston, we have a problem.

Needless to say, Poppa Sears got on the phone and left Mr. Landlord a very lovely message that said something along the lines of, “I am calling you, sir, simply to warn you: Hell hath no fury like a cold woman.”

Wham-bam-thank you, ma’am. The icicles slowly melted from my nose and all was warm in my heart and soul.

So, back to this morning. My sweet roommate knows that for the sake of everyone whom I come in contact with, it is best to warn me of extreme (read: anything other than sunshine) weather. As I was blow-drying my feet to prepare them for the day ahead of them, Sally forewarned me, “It’s Devin Cold outside today, so wear some socks.” Which actually means, “Normal people can endure this weather, but you, my friend, may want to wear a parka.”

Moral of this ramble: If I were a contestant on “Survivor”, I’d be the first one voted off the island.

Life Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to Take Sake Bombs

largeIt all started with sake bombs. Every Thursday, my best gals and I get together to eat dinner, bitch about our week, praise our accomplishments, talk about our love lives (or lack thereof) and give advice and new perspectives to every situation that comes each other’s way.

It’s kind of like our version of “Sex and the City,” except we can’t afford expensive brunches or clothing, our apartments (read: our closets) are not comparable to any in the show, and we actually have no idea what we are doing and where we are going in this game called life.

Approximately two months ago, I made a pact to myself that I was not going to let anyone else be a part of my life that wasn’t genuine. I was really tired of having acquaintances that didn’t actually care about me and only compared their lives to mine via social media. I finally realized that in a world that only socializes over happy hours and only cares about who you work for, it’s better to have quality versus quantity.

After eliminating the toxic people in my life, I can say that I am the happiest that I have been in a long time. I’m just kind of taking things in. Letting them come to me as they happen. It’s a wonderful feeling – you should try it.

It took me two years of breakups, new romances, horrible ovens and shag carpet to realize that life isn’t perfect. There are just some things that are simply out of our control. Bad things are going to happen and great things will follow, and we just have to take them in.

In a world that is challenging us to constantly want more, we need to realize that what we need, whether that be an answer or a genuine friend, is usually right in front of us.

So, back to the sake. As I sat at a table with a group of friends who didn’t know one another before moving to this city, it dawned on me that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. When you look around your life and realize that you a have a few quality friends who are there for you when you get a new job or when you are going through a heartbreak, you realize that life is better than good.