Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Birthday dinner tradition

In the Wharton household, there is a tradition that on your birthday, you have the privilege (and responsibility) of choosing the menu for your birthday dinner. I have a theory that this tradition only improves with age: while we used to have odd combinations of macaroni and cheese, fried ham, and chocolate milk, we are progressing to more tasty (and balanced) meals. So, my sister, Lydia, turned 12 on Monday and she chose her favorites: spaghetti casserole (the child had 4 servings!), bacon (a must-have for any Lydia birthday meal), separate plates of every fruit you could imagine, including mango, and homemade chocolate chip pie. Not too bad. My other sister, Hannah, turns 14 on Friday, and, true to my theory, her menu is even better: steak, twice baked potatoes, my homemade bread, broccoli..and some kind of chocolate dessert. And there is no Wharton birthday that doesn't involve sparkling grape juice. I mean, nothing says "celebrate" like a bottle (or five) of sparkling grape juice. My mouth is watering just writing about it. I have three siblings and a sister-in-law with July birthdays, so July is a pretty delicious month in our family.

The tradition was a bit of a problem in high school when my brother and I, who share a birthday, had to create the menu together, but we figured it out. And some members of my family never grow up; my dad and one of my brothers can think of no meal more satisfying that burgers, watermelon, and baked beans. Fair enough. My birthday isn't until March and I'm already thinking about the menu...sushi? grilled salmon? steak? steak and shrimp? It will definitely involve some homemade chocolate chip cookies.

At any rate, this tradition is one that I cherish and anticipate with every birthday, not just because of the delectable food, but more importantly because of how valued it makes the birthday person feel. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nerd alert!

It's no small secret that I am one of those people who always wants to learn more, so when watching TV (which is rare), I find myself drawn to channels like Discovery and Discovery Health (along with a few other must-see shows like The Office). Since we don't have cable (the philosophy behind that is a blog for another day), I have discovered the joys of online watching and have most notably discovered that PBS's Frontline shows are all archived. Frontline is an hour-long show covering anything from sex-trafficking to the elderly to poverty to medicating kids--basically just plain old stimulating topics that are worth digesting. So, if you're in for a nerdy moment, check out the frontline video archive and choose a topic that interests you. If you don't have a whole hour to spare, each video has 7-10 minute chapters, so you can watch it in small segments. If you watch one that is particularly fascinating, let me know!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Two strokes of genius

Phil and I have been craving sushi for the past month and finally found a night when we were both free to scout out the rice-roll goodness in Chattanooga. While I'm missing the oh-so-affordable and delicious sushi from Maki Fresh in Birmingham, we did find ourselves some tasty rolls at a place called Sushi Nabe. The only problem? The sushi roll was too big for my mouth. And it's not just this place; it's everywhere. If you read this previous blog entry, you might recall that I have an unusually small mouth, so a "bite" of sushi is about two times too large for me. I end up looking vaguely like a chipmunk and have trouble swallowing--quite entertaining to anyone dining with me, I'm sure.

So, I propose sushi sliders, half-pint versions of all the best sushi rolls around at half the price. Who doesn't like little versions of things? They're "cute," and, as we all know, "cute" sells.

While we're on the subject of brilliant ideas (and no one out there better steal this and make millions without giving me a cut of the profits), here's one that I've thought about for a while: mini milk jugs. Call it a "jug-ette," if you will.Everyone longs to drink milk straight from the jug (and if we're honest, we've done it more than a few times), so why not make a small, 1-pint jug of milk that you swig from all morning long? It would be the exact same shape as a regular gallon-sized jug, only about a fourth of the size. Brilliant, I say!

If the sushi sliders and the jug-ettes (sounds like an 80s band name!) ever make their way into the world, I would like to go on record and publicly state that I did actually think of them first.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sign me up...for laughter!

There are some things that I just don't need to experience in my lifetime. Bungee jumping? Not for me. Plastic surgery? I think not. Cannibalism? I'll pass. Eating noodles through my nose? Not if I can help it. Wife carrying contests? Now that's one I hadn't thought of before.

These contests, started in Finland as a joke, have caught on over the years in several Scandinavian countries and even all the way across the pond to Maine, which holds a contest annually. The competition is fairly self-explanatory, but just to clarify any obscurities that might be out there... Male athletes must carry a female in a 253-meter foot race that includes both land and water obstacles. The man who completes the course in the fastest time wins his wife's weight in beer--nice. Actually, in America, you win money, which is even better (according to some). There are also prizes for "most entertaining couple" and "best costume" for those with outstanding personality and creativity but not so outstanding time. There are no fewer than 12 rules to this competition, including the fact the the woman you are carrying may be your wife, another man's wife, or any woman over the age of 17. All I have to say is, if Phil was competing, there would be no one but me in that position on his shoulders!

Just think: for a mere $100 and a plane ticket to Maine, Phil and I could join about 40 other American couples in this contest. Not sure we could beat the world-record under-a-minute time, but we could go for the "most entertaining couple" at least.

There's one person who does think he needs to experience everything before he dies: Dennis Rodman. That's right, America's own controversial athlete participated in the 2005 Finland competition; is there anything that man hasn't done?

If you aren't laughing already, check out this youtube video. Huh-larious.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Freeze tag

When reading exorbitant amounts of literature and research on any given morning, the opportunities for distraction are abundant, and they increase exponentially when sitting outside in a squirrel-friendly area. So, as I was researching Emily Dickinson's deconstruction of Calvinism (yes, it's as confusing as it sounds), I heard a little squeaky rumble on a nearby tree. Looking up, I saw two playful squirrels chasing each other all around the tree. Suddenly, one of them completely froze near the bottom of the tree with its head toward the ground. I thought that it was just trying to convince the other squirrel that he had mysteriously "disappeared" and that he would move in a few seconds, but as I sat there, I began to wonder if he had actually become stuck in that position. As minutes (yes, plural) passed, I realized that I must document this brilliant display of showmanship, so I went inside, found my camera, and took this picture:
Unfortunately, the experiment of how long he would stay there was foiled by my movement toward him in trying to take the picture. We've all known it, but now it's proven: squirrels are smarter than we think.