Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break in New Orleans!

This year I'm spending spring break in New Orleans on a trip to literally rebuild homes, tutor middle school kids, and explore an entirely new culture! I'm very excited to be in one of the most exciting cities in America, and I really hope that I can appreciate the wonderful food, sights, and music of the Big Easy.

One of the reasons I'm on this trip is because although Hurricane Katrina was over five years ago, major parts of New Orleans have not recovered yet, and I want to do my part to help rebuild this amazing place. At the same time, I want to forget about the tragic elements of New Orleans and really enjoy all the city has to offer, because it has such a rich history that I want to experience.

Here's to helping to rebuild, eating beignets at Cafe du Monde, and listening to jazz!

French Quarter

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cake vs. Pie Contest.

As a major dessert connoisseur, I love to be adventurous and try new things. At the same time, it's usually something simple and chocolatey that hits the spot. One of my favorite blogs, Jezebel, is currently having a contest between two tasty desserts: cake and pie. Although my favorite desserts are chocolate covered strawberries and ice cream brownie sundaes, I still love cake and pie, so I realize how the cake vs. pie tournament certainly creates a dilemma for anyone with a sweet tooth. On the one hand, a decadent piece of chocolate cake with the perfect amount of gooey frosting is the clear winner. On the other hand, in the summertime I always enjoy a delicious slice of strawberry pie with fresh whipped cream. Click here to participate in the pie vs. cake showdown!



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Media Fasts.

Yes, I have an iPhone. And a laptop. And an iPod. And a TV. But that's not so different from most college students these days, and most adults as well. One professor from the University of Minnesota thinks my generation's dependency on electronics has spiraled out of control, and her solution is to assign college students media fasts.

Media fasts are when people are told not to use "media or gadgets that didn't exist before 1984," which pretty much includes all tech devices we're accustomed to using every day. I think this idea is completely ridiculous. Yes, studies have shown that the abundance of technological gadgets has lead to decreased attention spans. Yes, although I don't take my laptop to class, I do notice that everyone else around me is on Facebook instead of frantically taking notes on the lecture. Yes, just last week a man was killed in a freak accident because he was listening to his iPod and didn't hear an emergency plane landing.

These are all reasons for us to take a step back to limit our use of technology, but closing ourselves off completely is a rash and unnecessary measure. It's far more important to continue to use these products while also attempting to educate ourselves about their impact in our lives. So instead of a weeklong media fast in which people would not be able to use cell phones or computers, how about having one night per week in which a group of housemates did not have to give up these modern necessities, but chose to hang out together doing something that did not involve Guitar Hero marathons or Nintendo Wii? It's certainly still possible to be tech savvy, enjoy our modern marvels, and still appreciate the moments in life in which we aren't constantly reaching for our iPhones to see if we got a text.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Champagne & Cupcakes.

Yesterday I had a small get together to celebrate my 20th birthday. It was a champagne and cupcakes themed late afternoon cocktail hour with hors d'oeuvres, dessert, and some bubbly. Thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes. I had a great birthday weekend!

Birthday Girl

Champagne & Cupcakes

Friday, March 12, 2010

Obsession: Secret Diary of a Call Girl

I have to confess that I am absolutely obsessed with the Secret Diary of a Call Girl, a show based on the anonymous blog and books chronicling the life of a high end escort as she gallivants through London. Originally shown in England but picked up by Showtime picked in 2007, I have been obsessed ever since the series premiere. When I was home last weekend I watched almost all of the third season in one sitting (hey, each episode is only about 20 minutes), and I watched the amazing season finale last night.

Why am I obsessed with a show about a hooker? First of all, it's written in such a captivating way that allows the audience to understand how secrecy and money could prompt a young woman to live such a scandalous life. The main character leads two double lives: the first as Hannah Baxter, who works as a nighttime legal secretary, at least according to her family and friends. The second is Belle du Jour, a sophisticated and high class call girl who satisfies every client's deviant whim. What makes the show so interesting is how she balances being both Hannah and Belle even when her secret life often clashes with her personal life.

It's also fascinating how Hannah, an educated girl with a college degree, decides she cannot fathom working in a stifling cubicle from 9 to 5, so she would rather experience a luxurious yet explicit lifestyle of pampering herself and engaging in her favorite hobby for her job. Hannah is a warm and compassionate person, but instead of utilizing those skills by becoming a teacher or doctor, she chooses to become a sex worker. But she must keep this secret from everyone she cares about most, except her incredibly supportive best friend Ben, a nice Jewish boy who also happens to be in love with her.

Similar to Sex and the City, the show includes frequent introspective voiceovers and frenzied writing montages, and of course features fabulous hair, makeup, clothes, and shoes. It also has fantastic music by indie artists such as Feist and Regina Spektor.

The craziest thing about Secret Diary of a Call Girl is that the real life call girl the show is based on revealed her identity a few months ago. Brooke Magnanti is a scientist who now specializes in cancer research. She paid her way while getting her PhD by working as a call girl in London. So when she did finally settle down to a 9 to 5 job, she choose a very worthwhile career.

If I haven't convinced you by now, I highly recommend watching this show! Enjoy.

Secret Diary of a Call Girl

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Back to Berkeley.

I'm adjusting to being back in Berkeley after a wonderful whirlwind weekend in Los Angeles. I had an amazing time visiting my family, enjoying an early birthday celebration, and just getting the opportunity to relax at home. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and it always makes me realize how spoiled I was to grow up in LA with almost 365 days of sunshine per year. I think the Los Angeles skyline is the most breathtaking sight, even if others think it's just a bunch of tall buildings, seeing and appreciating it is an essential part about going home.

Los Angeles

When I was home in LA, I especially enjoyed watching old movies with my dad, including Casablanca. It's such a classic film, yet most of my friends have never seen it. I really recommend it – I'll watch it over and over again! It was a fun distraction from the films I'm watching for my film class this semester that focuses on race in American film during the 20th century. We're watching incredibly depressing and intense films, so I'm looking forward to later in the semester when we'll watch The Godfather, another of my absolute favorites.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

College Cooking Class: Chicken Parmesan

Tonight's recipe is chicken parmesan with spaghetti. Chicken parmesan is one of my favorite meals, but I have never actually tasted a version made with parmesan, it's always with mozzarella. I have continued that nonsensical tradition, but mixed things up by using boneless skinless chicken breast, which is much healthier than the typical breaded and fried recipes.

- 1/4 of a package of spaghetti (or any other noodle)
- 2 small, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/3 jar of marinara sauce
- 1 oz. mozarella cheese, preferably a string cheese
- 1 cup green beans
- olive oil

1) Turn on the stove and set up water to boil for spaghetti; defrost chicken in a bowl of warm water.

2) Rinse green beans and set aside in a bowl with some water. Cut up the mozarella cheese into small pieces.

3) Let spaghetti cook on the stove. When spaghetti is done, drain in a colander. Place it back in the pot it was cooked in, and add marinara sauce.

4) Cook the chicken in some olive oil for a few minutes on each side. When chicken is almost done, add some marinara sauce into the pan. Once marinara sauce has coated the chicken completely, add cut up chunks of mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce-covered chicken.

7) Heat green beans in the microwave to serve on the side.

8) Put spaghetti on a plate and place the chicken on top. Sprinkle on some parmesan cheese. Serve green beans on the side.

Chicken Parmesan