Ameri-cakes & Pie: Minnesota Apple Galette

Did you know that the Minnesota state fruit is the Honeycrisp apple?  Wikipedia says it’s true. This beloved apple variety was apparently developed in Minnesota. Who knew? I most certainly did not.

This was a convenient discovery because I was at a loss for a Minnesota dessert, but I was eager to make this recipe for a delicious apple galette! With the recipe calling for two large apples, I found two huge-normous Honeycrisps at the store and set about making this dessert.

I’ve been having a bit of a debate at work over which is better: cake or pie. I cast my lot in with cake a long time ago, and I was surprised to discover that it is not an even split. More people prefer pie. What?!? (Is it just because pie is hipster, as my friend Jeremy told me?)

I’ve decided to give pie a chance to redeem itself, but I didn’t want to deal with making a pretty fluted crust in a pie dish. Enter the galette: a rustic, free-form pie that you just bake on a baking sheet. Tah-dah!

I’ve only had tasty, flaky pie crust once in my life, and I’ve always heard what a bear it is to make correctly. As such, I was pretty nervous about how my first solo attempt at pie crust would turn out.

First, I watched a lot of online videos and read the recipe several times. The recipe makes an all-butter crust, and I made sure to freeze the cubed butter AND my pastry blender. Even though I generally do things in a ham-fisted manner, I aimed for a light touch when cutting the butter into the dry ingredients. I only swore a few times–mostly when I was accidentally flinging flour of the bowl onto the counter. We even bought a classy French rolling pin–the type without handles–for this project. I’m invested now!

Apple galette

While the dough was chilling in the refrigerator, I attempted to make a whiskey salted-caramel sauce. It was much harder than I anticipated because I started with the “organic,” un-whitened sugar from Trader Joe’s. As such, I couldn’t figure out when it was the right shade of brown, and the finished product was a little too thin. Still tasty though, so mehhhhh.

Salted whiskey caramel sauce

 

I think all my attention to detail really paid off. The pie crust turned out golden, tender, and flaky. I can’t say much about the flavor because I was too busy enjoying the other things on my plate: namely the caramel sauce and the huge, slice-encompassing blob of whipped cream. Don’t judge me; I like my whipped cream with some pie.

galette covered in whipped cream and caramel

The Hus-friend gave his seal of approval to the galette, adding that it’s still not as good as the best cakes I’ve made. I guess that’s why we’re married; we both prefer cake. In any event, I feel really empowered to try more pies now that I know that good crust isn’t impossible. Stay tuned for MicaPie baking some pie….

And thanks, Minnesota, for your state fruit.

A trial run with the San Francisco Road Runners

Despite being in a great city for running, I have to admit that my running has been pretty lackluster for the year+ that I’ve lived in San Francisco. I live close to the Embarcadero, and my weekday running route is just an out-and-back on the flattest stretch of SF imaginable. On the weekend, I rarely struggle up the large hill on the way to Golden Gate Park, but I haven’t improved much at all on my hill endurance or technique. I’m still afraid of hill running; it’s hard.

One thing I miss is having consistent running buddies who always are up for a run no matter how dark or cold or  challenge me to run faster/longer. (Aileen, Jessica, Lena, I miss you three!)

Running shoes

Then I went to my ten-year reunion where Sam and Kevin were training for their first marathons. Oh and also, no big deal, but my friend Esther just won the US Marathon Championships. (You may remember that she invited me out for an easy run once. I almost died.) Their enthusiasm and excitement about running and racing made me feel like I should get back out there and run some more miles. Mo’ Miles!

I finally admitted that I needed help. Though I love this mental image, I’m not going to get back into good running shape via slow-motion montage of solo miles run at the crack of dawn, all put to Eye of the Tiger. Instead, I finally went out to join the San Francisco Road Runners for a trial run with their Saturday group.

Ocean Beach at 7:30am
Ocean Beach at 7:30am

Saturday’s run kicked off at Ocean Beach, which is way-the-F away from our apartment. I joined the 9:30 pace group and ran five miles with them. Fortunately, it was just into Golden Gate Park, so the hills were gradual inclines. [I'm not sure how group running works with true SF hills. I might have died.] The group employs a run-walk strategy for almost all pace groups, but after the halfway point, that kind of fell apart. The change of venue was great–way better than dodging poop piles in my neighborhood. You really can’t beat finishing at the Pacific Ocean!

I’m so glad I went. It was such an enjoyable run! Everyone I met was nice and welcoming, and the miles flew by. I talked to at least four different people during the run, and I met even more (from the 7:30 pace group) afterwards. I’d forgotten how much I miss running with people and chatting during the run. Apparently, I’m one of those runners who likes to externalize and not think about running. Whatever. Don’t judge me. Plus, when I’m not alone to ponder how much I’d rather still be in bed, I run faster.

A lot of the members were sharing marathon stories–some had just run Chicago–and said that running with the SFRRC (especially the track workouts) had made them faster, stronger runners. That sounds good to me. Though, ugh, speedwork. I hate it so. Self, don’t get ahead of…yourself.

So yeah. I guess I’ll join the club and try to “get back into” running, even though I haven’t stopped. Though I won’t turn into a douchebag. You know, that runner who constantly blurts out, “I’VE DONE A MARATHON TOO!” Instead, I’ll aim to be one of those people who runs more because she enjoys the challenge and experience of logging miles and running races. At least, that’s my goal. I still have a lot of anxiety about races.

In the mean time, I need to figure out how to get over to the SFRRC weekly meeting spots, none of which are remotely close to my apartment.  An hour bus ride doesn’t sound very fun at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings….

Speaking of running, Hus-friend is battling some lingering IT issues after his marathon, so we bought one of those intense foam rollers yesterday. Bodger supervised.

Bodger watching Harrison foam roll

 

Then we hid his favorite toy inside it.

Bodger with foam roller

“What the feck?!?” says Bodger.

Bodger with foam roller

 

(He eventually  figured it out by knocking the whole thing over with his face.)

Bodger with foam roller

Mom’s raspberry snail

When I was “home” (RVA is always home, I guess.) for my ten-year reunion, our Friday night dinner event wasn’t until 9pm,. In an effort to avoid hanger, I had a late afternoon snack: Greek yogurt and berries that Mom had so graciously kept stocked in her fridge. When I opened the carton of raspberries, I found a small snail shell nestled in between two berries. I plucked it out and handed it to Mom, and we all scratched our heads at this unexpected find.

The next morning, while I was getting ready, Mom came upstairs to see me  with a visitor:

a snail

Apparently, Mr. Snail had warmed up from his chilly nap in the raspberries; Mom had found him earlier that morning, sliming his way across the counter. “We’ve been trying to take a picture of him with the cellphone for the last 20 minutes,” she explained.

snail

As we all know, cellphone cameras are not made for nature photography, so I pulled out my old point-and-shoot and got the money shot.

snail, up close

Who knew that little raspberry snails have two sets of antennae? I’m not sure if that’s the right word. Face stalks? Anyway, look! You can even see his little eyespots!

This story perfectly captures what I admire about my mom. Not only did she save the snail shell in the first place (I would have just pitched it, without thinking about it.), but she also took the time to examine Mr. Snail and show him off around the house. Then she released him into her garden, where I hope he’s having finding many new adventures.

 

My ten-year high school reunion

Senior year of high school, I was elected to hold the dubious and almost certainly fake office of Senior Class Historian, a position basically charged with putting together the senior slideshow. I had a solid campaign video: Taking a promotional Harry Potter cut-out of Danielle Radcliffe to the local mall and filming it swooping about in the background while getting random strangers to endorse me.

The production of the slideshow involved scanning all the hard copies of photos we had collected over the years. With my co-historian Nisha, we put together a 54-minute monstrosity (with video! This was cutting edge stuff!). I remember making it and assuming that it would not be awkward at all to watch this in ten years at our reunion because, of course, I was the paragon of maturity, grace, and sophistication at 18.

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(Me and Nisha, Ten years later)

Well, whaddya’ know? Things changes, and watching your senior slideshow is all-at-once a joyous and excruciating experience. But I’m getting ahead of myself: This weekend, we flew back to Richmond for our ten-year high school reunion.

Though I complained bitterly as part of the Class of 2004 planning committee, there was never a doubt in my mind that Hus-friend and I would be attending. (It’s where we met, after all.) The weeks preceding the event were a flurry of emails, effectively begging our classmates to register and several exchanges between me and chair Catherine that involved emoji knives and rage.

 

Oh, balloons. We hate you.
Oh, balloons. We hate you.

It all came together really, surprisingly, and exceedingly well though! It was a fantastic weekend. On Friday, we kicked off the weekend at the school’s annual Fall Festival at the school, which was going strong despite the weather.

Fall Festival @ GSGIS
Fall Festival @ GSGIS

The rest of the weekend was a blur of socializing and catching up with so many of our classmates, many of whom I hadn’t seen since we graduated. (And a lot of whom I still see now.) No big deal, one of them just won the US Marathon Championship and another founded an incredibly successful African television show for children in Tanzania. Geez, what? Who are these magical people?

Mica & Kevin, who spent a year in Thailand teaching math
With Kevin, who spent a year in Thailand teaching math

This all being said, there was (to my knowledge) no trace of competition or one-up-man-ship going on. I was genuinely excited to catch up with everyone. Questions like, “What are you doing these days?” and “How do you like living in ___?” yielded such interesting answers. I caught up with so many people, some I’d lost touch with over the years, and others had traveled in different social circles in high school. Everyone was so gracious, polite, and well-spoken, and it was really a joy to have so many good conversations. I found myself wishing the reunions weekend was longer because I didn’t get to catch up with everyone!

It was amazing to see how we are all, somehow…impossibly…adults now.

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Like, whoa. Adults with a baby!

I loved meeting my friends’ new partners and husbands. One of the things that has made me feel like an adult has been the realization that people I like and respect might not select a partner than I would choose. However, being an adult is being happy for your friends and celebrating their joy. (Obviously, to a point. Don’t go falsely endorsing abusive relationships!) And on the other side, it is really fantastic to find that your friends have found equally cool, wonderful people to spend their lives with. It just makes me so excited to keep these friendships going!

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To decorate our various venues (Bottom’s Up Pizza, Uptown Alley for Bowling, FW Sullivan’s at Haxall Point), we strung up photo bunting, which was such a trip down memory lane. And we played the slideshow on loop last night, which made all the hours I put into it so many years ago TOTALLY worth it.

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Can you spot the Hus-friend? And Me?

These two—I’ve known them since first grade!  Evan is working as a security engineer like me and just got engaged. And Thomas is living his childhood dream of being a Richmond police officer and just married the love of his life last week. Gah, growing up is so great!

Mica with Evan and Thomas
Mica with Evan and Thomas

I’ve read that aging is the cruelest process for humans to go through, and there are days that I feel sad that I have definitely left my carefree childhood behind. (I mean, the other day, Hus-friend and I walked to Wal-Greens so he could get corn remover for his feet. Yes. Adulthood.) However, going to our reunion reminded me that just because we’re getting older and taking on more responsibilities doesn’t make us any less cool than we were before. Our school was a really special experience, and I’m incredibly proud to be following up with these amazing people who keep getting better with age. I can’t wait for what the next reunion will bring.

Class of 2004, Ten Year Reunion
Class of 2004, Ten Year Reunion

 

Thank you so, so much to everyone who helped made this reunion happen! It was such a joy for me to attend, and everyone else had a great time too. See you at the next one, right? RIGHT?!?

Yes, right. Catherine and I will be calling you in the spring. There is nowhere to hide.

Catherine & Mica, balloon wranglers
Catherine & Mica, balloon wranglers

Also cool: I deployed my first web-app! It displays all the Instagram photos from the weekend with our #gsgisreunions hashtag. You can see it here: www.gsgisreunions.com

 

P.S. Hi all you people who told me you read MicaPie over the weekend! Natalie! Bobby! Jeremy! (CAKE IS BETTER THAN PIE.)

I have things to say at Girl Geek Dinners!

Somehow, it has been a year since I started Hackbright! In fact, my Fall 2013 cohort started on September 23rd, so it has been over a year already! Time flies, especially when you are in California and there are no seasons to act as temporal markers. And here I am, a full-time software engineer and apparently, people want to hear what I have to say about coding.

i-Z9hdSqP-M

Last week, I had the opportunity to give a lightning talk as part of a panel at this month’s Girl Geek Dinner, part of an on-going series of dinners  hosted by different tech companies. These are chances for women to meet each other, learn from engineers, and get involved in the tech scene. (They are held all over the world, not just in the Bay Area, so I encourage you to check them out if you’re in an area with a GGD group.) This was a huge honor and such a cool experience–representing women in tech, chyeahhh!

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The idea of the lightning talks was to introduce the attendees to some of the women on the engineering team and the cool stuff we are doing. I decided to share a project I’ve been working on, which is awesomely named the velocity engine. Because the audience had a mix of people in technical and non-technical roles, I prepared my talk as if I were explaining the velocity engine to an interested family member over Thanksgiving dinner. Because really, it’s the ideas of the project that were most important to convey in a five-minute talk, not the nitty-gritty details of implementation. (To be honest, I forget the nitty-gritty details all the time and have to ask my teammate Jay to rehash them with me on a regular basis. He must love working with me.)

In short, the velocity engine is a way that we track the rates of various actions of interest on the site. We take advantage of Redis’ [an in-memory, key-value data store] hash-table feature to store the counts of the actions, which are incremented based on “hooks” of code put into the front end. It is a more advanced version of rate tracking because we can query rates down to the minute and expose this information to our business fraud logic. Whew!

Here is a supremely unflattering photo of me saying cool words excitedly. (I was cold and insisted on wearing my grandma cardigan at the talk. Whoops.)

Panel @ Eventbrite Girl Geek Dinner

All of the talks were great, and I think we did a fantastic job making the engineering team look like a bunch of [nice, approachable] badasses. I was so proud to be part of a panel of smart, cool women, defying the idea that you have to be a math-nerd with a Y chromosome to be a software engineer. I still have so much to learn (forever!), but it’s really awesome to be able to stand up and say, “Hey! I’ve committed this code and here’s how it works!” I mean, a year ago, I hadn’t even opened the Terminal on my computer. This is awesome.

Afterwards, we mingled (and I took a million photo booth photos) with attendees and basically networked our faces off. There were a lot of current Hackbright students in attendance (Hi, Julie!), and I was just so happy for them, starting this exciting journey to become software engineers. One woman even thanked me for blogging my time at HB, which was really neat to hear (Hi, Sara!).
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Super fun night! Deciding to become a software engineer continues to be one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made.

Photobooth photos from SayYaPhotoBooth.com and hosted on SmugMug.
 

Finished: A pencil skirt

Wow, so here it is! My very first homemade skirt and second-ever garment: a pencil skirt!

Finished pencil skirt on hanger

(You’ll remember that I made the Colette Sorbetto top awhile ago. I tried to make a second one and accidentally excised the fabric that is needed for the darts, which would have resulted in some awkward side boob. Project fail)

Like my pillow, this skirt was a project from the Sewing Studio class I purchased on Craftsy awhile ago.  (The pattern comes with the accompanying book, Sew Everything Workshop.) Initially, it seemed like a too ambitious project to take on with my less-than-stellar sewing track record. I mean, an invisible zipper and full lining? Those things sound hard.

Then again, when sufficiently jazzed about something, I don’t shy away from intimidating projects, so I gave it a try anyway. Plus, I had that polka dotted fabric lying around after deeming it too heavy to be made into another Sorbetto top.

The first step was making a toile, which is apparently the fancy French word for “rough draft.” I didn’t take any pictures of that process, but it involved a lot of obsessively watching Craftsy videos and replaying 30-second sequences to figure out what was going on. I’m glad I did it though because when it came to make the “fancy” skirt, I had a much better idea of how things fit together.

The toile (Ha, almost wrote “toilet”) took me most of a Sunday. I didn’t have the energy to set up my sewing machine at my desk during the week, so I didn’t get around to the real skirt until the next weekend. And even then, I had to commit to sewing every night after work the following week. Garment sewing is definitely an intense hobby and not one you can just rush through or do while watching TV (like knitting). It’s nice to sit down and commit a chunk of time to intense mental concentration though. I feel satisfied finishing a project and knowing that I did my very best.

The skirt itself came together pretty easily because I had already practiced darts and inserting the invisible zipper on the toile. I didn’t make any adjustments for sizing either; I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I had a struggle face when I realized that making a lined skirt involves essentially sewing two separate skirts before sewing them together, but I persevered! Look at that lining–ain’t nobody going to see my granny underwear!

Finished pencil skirt - Lining

 

I think I’m most satisfied by the invisible zipper, on which I did a bang-up job if I do say so myself. Next time, I think I’ll insert an invisible zipper with a different color than my fabric and then be exceptionally pleased at that cute little color detail.

Finished pencil skirt - invisible zipper

 

There’s a bias tape waistband, which again, I’d probably do in another color since you can’t see it from the outside. There was the option of hand-sewing the waistband with an invisible slipstitch, but OHMYGOD, that is NOT going to happen. I’d rather gouge my eye out with a needle.

Finished pencil skirt - Waistband

 

Even though I lost several inches in hemming, I still needed a slit extension to avoid walking awkwardly with small steps.  The instructions for making a slit extension in the online class deviated from those in the book, so I’ll be interested to see what technique is more common as I continue sewing.

Finished pencil skirt - Back slit

 

Despite making a toile that seemed to fit a bit tight in the hips, the finished product is fine in the hips and too big in the waist. My waist measured slightly smaller than the pattern sizing, but I figured that adding a lining would make up for the extra wiggle room. I was wrong: the fancy skirt is a little too big in the waist and perfect in the hips. Oh well.

As soon as I finished the skirt, I wore it to work the following day! I was going to be out for my self-imposed “Fancy Friday,” and I was so excited about this skirt that I didn’t want to wait until the next Fancy Friday. That being said, I was terrified that the seams would disintegrate in the office, leaving me bottom-less at work. Fortunately, they held together and saved me what would have been a hideously embarrassing situation for all involved in the engineering corner of the office.

Most people didn’t say anything about my skirt, which I suppose was good. It’s probably better that people just assume I bought a very normal-looking skirt, rather than constantly hearing, Uh…Did you make that? Kat, a fellow engineer and Hackbright grad, however, complimented me and was shocked to hear that I had made the skirt myself. “I’d BUY that skirt,” she said, incredulously while I beamed (BEAMED!!!!) with pride.

Oh, what’s that? You want to see me wearing the skirt I made? That’s so flattering! Well, ask and you shall receive!

Finished pencil skirt

Oh, wait. There is basically no way to take flattering photos of myself that make homemade clothing look nearly as cool as I think it is. It was actually quite hot in the apartment when I was taking these photos, so I was sweating all over my sweater, which is probably the wrong top to wear with this anyway.

Suggestions for what to pair with this skirt are greatly appreciated, by the way!

More vain photos!

Finished pencil skirt

Finished pencil skirt

(Hus-friend said he’d be my photographer for my future sewing projects since he doesn’t anticipate me finishing them more than once every few weeks. Ha…I’ll be lucky if I can keep up that pace!)

Eh voilà, c’est fini! I finished my first piece of clothing that I will wear outside of the apartment. It’s definitely not perfect, but I learned a lot and am so pleased with the final result. Hooray, sewing!

Details

Pattern: “Naughty Secretary Skirt” from Sew Everything Workshop book. [Oh Gawwwd, that name. I cannot.]

Size: Small with no alterations except hemming

Materials: 100% cotton for outside skirt, 7″ invisible zipper, stretch poplin for lining, extra-wide double-fold bias tape for waistband

Alterations: None, but in the future, would take in the waist an inch.

Ameri-cakes & Pies: Michigan Bumpy Cake

While Jessica was visiting, it seemed only fitting to complete the Michigan entry in the Ameri-cakes & Pies project: Detroit Bumpy Cake. I had never heard of this confection prior to starting the project; my professor from college, a Detroit native, suggested it when I put a call out on Facebook for state desserts. Jessica hadn’t heard of it until she moved to Michigan, but she claims to have seen it around.

I did some research on bumpy cake, and it apparently originated in Detroit from the Sanders Candy Company. It’s a moist chocolate cake, and the bumps are made from piped buttercream enrobed in a sticky, caramel-like chocolate frosting.

Basically, it’s supposed to look like this:

Sanders Bumpy Cake
Image source: http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2013/04/26/sanders-bumpy-cake-celebrates-100th-birthday-with-free-slices/

Notice there that I said “supposed to look like” because what Jessica and I made emphatically did not look like the above photo.

I mean, it started out like always.  Jessica manning the mixer and me snapping photos.

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For one, the buttercream frosting was much stiffer than anticipated. And lacking a piping bag, we used a sandwich baggie which, uh, split open from the force of the attempted piping. I’ll just go ahead and put this out there: IT LOOKS LIKE A LITTLE CHODE.

Piped frosting fail

So yeah, that was kind of a mess. I abandoned ship (The HMS Piped Frosting) and just starting rolling the buttercream in my palms, as you do with Play-Doh. We weren’t able to make long, continuous strips, so instead, we just kind of mushed it together with our fingers.

Piped frosting fail

 

Here’s how that all turned out:

Bumpy Cake fail

 

And then, ohhhhh, the chocolate fudge on top. After melting the chocolate together, you’re supposed to mix the melted butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa together until smooth, then mix all of that into room temperature milk until one uniform consistency is reached. Except we were in a hurry or maybe impatient, so we dumped it into not-yet-room-temperature milk.

Basically, the chocolate mixture said, “Oh, helllll no!” and immediately seized up into effectively, a giant tootsie roll. Trying to get a smooth, velvety fudge frosting was nigh impossible, but I refused to give up. I kept microwaving the bowl and stirring vigorously. Eventually, it came together…ish, or at least, it wasn’t an unyielding chunk anymore. It never got thick enough though. I don’t know. Chemistry.

Are you ready for the end result?

…I mean, are you ready?

No, you’re not ready. You can never be ready for the monstrosity that Jessica and I created, but here it is anyway:

Bumpy Cake fail

The fudge frosting never came together enough (Note: little brown chunks), so we tried spooning it over the lumpy buttercream. “Maybe it’ll thicken up and cover the buttercream when we freeze it,” I said hopefully.

“Uh no, frosting doesn’t work that way,” said Jessica.

Okay, so yeah, our Detroit Bumpy Cake didn’t turn out perfectly, but what matters most is that it tasted good, though, admittedly, neither of us will probably make it again. The buttercream is too sweet. Wait, what actually matters most is that Jessica and I got a lot of good laughs out of producing this atrocious-looking cake. I think I even laughed ’til I cried. (Stella laughed ’til she cried when I showed her pictures today.)

Mica & Jess with failed bumpy cake

 

And the Hus-friend? What did he think of our bumpy cake?

“It looks like a skeleton that has been shat upon.”

(Detroit Bumpy Cake recipe here.)

Jessica visits, and we walk a lot.

Somehow, I let more than a year pass without seeing Jessica, and that is NOT okay! However, she was nice enough to fly all the way to the West Coast to stay with us for a long weekend of running, baking, and walking around San Francisco. Oh, the walking…so much walking!

The weekend was just like what we always do/did together: running in the morning, baking and cooking tasty things, watching movies, and having long conversations punctuated with profanity. It was just like “old times,” except now we have slightly swankier living arrangements and maybe I will drink wine. (Thanks, Jessica, for helping me select the perfect $3.99 bottle.) Also, Jessica plucked my eyebrows for me because actually, I’m still kind of an inexperienced adult lady.

On Friday, after we walked around the Mission and Noe Valley, we set about baking the Michigan entry in the Ameri-cakes & Pies project. Post to come because AHAHAHA, this cake. You all! You will just not believe what we managed to make/screw up…

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Hus-friend and I decided well in advance of Jessica’s visit that when she came, we would have to walk the crap out of San Francisco with her. I just knew that we’d undertake some ridiculous walking challenge, and you know what? We did. On Saturday, in addition to walking to the Farmer’s Market, we trekked the seven miles from our apartment in SoMa through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach AND BACK.

That’s right. Jessica was with me when I achieved the monumental: walking (not even running!) over 50,000 steps in one day.

Fit Bit on 50,000+ step day
Fit Bit on 50,000+ step day

 

This, of course, meant an evening of lying semi-comatose on the couch and eating a lot of pizza and cake while watching “Pacific Rim.”

I also discovered at Ocean Beach that sand doesn’t stick to my feet like it apparently does to everyone else’s:

Sandy and not sandy feet
Sandy and not sandy feet

On Sunday, we rested our sore feet and protesting hip flexors, staying in for a leisurely breakfast of eggs, waffles, yogurt and jam, bacon, and the fresh fruit that we’d picked up from the Farmer’s Market. Hus-friend really has it tough when Jessica is around, right? He has to eat so many delicious things….

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Oh and no big deal, after breakfast, we also walked through the Folsom Street Fair where we got cropped by a random passerby and saw in excess of 13 John Thomases. After all, Jessica had to get the true SF experience, right?

Such a fun weekend! I feel lucky to live in a place that is fun to show off, but more importantly, to have a friend who wants to come visit me. I should not take these friendships for granted and will do my best to maintain them over the years. So basically, I HOPE YOU’RE ALL READY TO BE MY FRIENDS FOR LIFE.  K, thanks.

Oh, Jess-i-ca, I miss you already! I’ll have to come visit you soon in your fancy grown-up house in Michigan.

Jess & Mica at Ocean Beach
Jess & Mica at Ocean Beach!

What is your spirit animal?

[Warning: Mostly non-serious post here discussing a subject to which I devoted a lot of mental capacity last week.]

Last week, I decided to put some “serious” thought into what my spirit animal should be. This was a surprisingly difficult question to answer, specifically because I’ve put some weird constraints on this animal that embodies my soul.

First, I’d like my spirit animal to be a “higher-level” animal, so a bird, a reptile, or a mammal. This rules out the planaria as well as the honey bee, the latter being a pretty good embodiment of my personality: works well in a structured society, knows its place, follows the rules, hardworking and industrious, stings people when angry….

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_bee
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_bee

My second (arbitrary) constraint is that I’d prefer not to have a spirit animal that I am likely to eat. Spirit cannibalism just seems wrong, right? This rules out ducks, though honestly, I’m not a big fan of duck and also, not really like a duck at all.

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallard
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallard

[Aside: I learned that 'mallard' in French is canard colvert, and that bleu canard ('duck blue') is a teal-ish color, like the blue found in the wing of a mallard. Facts!]

Also, I don’t want a spirit animal that everyyyyyone else has, right? I mean, I’M A UNIQUE AND SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE!

Eventually, I was just picking interesting animals and looking them up on Wikipedia, and they were mostly from Australia. This has the downside that I might never see my own spirit animal because who knows when I’m going to Australia???

Contenders for Mica’s Spirit Animal were:

  • The dugong — Too gentle
  • The wallaby — Too cute
  • The sea or box turtle — Too slow and respectable.
  • The fox — I’m not actually that clever. Sigh.

The platypus is a strong contender, and I do love me some monotremes. I mean, I’m kind of a mix of things, right? And they seem like frantic swimmers, much like I am a fast walker and do-er of things! Bonus points to the platypus because it has a poisonous spur. They’re such weird-looking badasses.

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus

 

While examining Australian fauna, the Hus-friend suggested that my spirit animal be THE TASMANIAN DEVIL, which Wikipedia describes thusly:

“It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding.”

You guys, except for my lack of body odor, that basically describes me. ME! I am ferocious when feeding, and we all know that hanger is a real and present force in my life.

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_devil#Ecology_and_behaviour
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_devil#Ecology_and_behaviour

Like, cool, I’m down with having a strange spirit-connection to a ferocious little Australian marsupial except for this…this:

“They are known to eat animal cadavers by first ripping out the digestive system, which is the softest part of the anatomy, and they often reside in the resulting cavity while they are eating.”

GROSS.

After that, I’ve given up for awhile. I think I need to stop making my spirit animal try to happen. It will come to me, right?

Alright, serious and important question, blog readers: Do you have a spirit animal?? 

(And do you have a spirit animal suggestion for me?)

Speaking French again

In preparation for our trip to Paris, and also because I feel bad that I’m letting it slip away, I’ve been working on my French a bit recently. This is mostly passive: listening to French podcasts when I walk to work and adding some French blogs to my blog reader. To practice my speaking, I’ve had to make a bit of an effort, so I’ve started meeting with a French conversation partner.

Man, I’ve lost a lot than I thought! Recently, I was trying to tell my conversation partner Bastien that when it’s hot, I open the windows in my apartment, but mosquitoes come in and bite (‘stick’) me. Except instead of les moustiques (‘mosquitoes’), I definitely said, les mousquetaires  (‘musketeers’). So yes, when it’s hot, jauntily-dressed men with muskets enter through the window and stick me. Whoops.

In all honesty though, it’s nice to practice French again after farting around in Korean for a few years. I’m also sad that I’ve lost what progress I made there, but let’s be honest, I never got very far with Korean. At least with French, I am well-past what I like to call the “aggressive toddler” stage of learning a foreign language. In other words, I have more at my linguistic disposal than pointing at things and saying things loudly (“Refrigerator! Juice! Thank you!”). It’s a relief to have many, many years of language study to fall back on, even if I make silly mistakes.