Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Product Wednesday: Gift-giving ideas - Mozzarella Cheesemaking Kit

The holiday season is upon us, so I thought I would change up "New Product Wednesday" into "Potential Gift Ideas Wednesday." 

I was at Sur La Table in Sarasota, FL when I spotted this little cannister - Roaring Brook Dairy's Mozzarella Cheesemaking Kit ($23 USD).  I thought this would be a great little gift for foodie friends.  

This little kit claims that with one gallon of milk and about an hour of your time, you can produce four pounds of mozzarella cheese.  I suggest giving this gift with a print out of The Pioneer Woman's Caprese Salad recipe and a card that says:  "Hint, hint!"  Or for the not-so-subtle, a card that says: "MAKE ME SOME CHEESE!  NOW!" 

Roaring Brook Dairy's website has a handy video to help the novice cheesemakers hone their craft.  It is extremely thorough in detail - so if you're scared of cheesemaking, don't worry the reassuring video will walk you through it.  In the video, as a variation the woman detailing the steps puts dill in the cheese curds.  Dill and Mozzarella?  Interesting!  

The only downside of the video is that everytime the woman says "Moose-zerella" I start laughing hysterically.  But I have the maturity of a 5 year old boy.

So if you are looking for a fun gift idea for foodie friends and family, check out this Mozzarella Cheesemaking Kit.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Adventure with the Man of the Forest: Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre Sandakan, Malaysia

Years ago, when I saw the first season of the TV Show Survivor set on Pulau Tiga, off the coast of Malaysia/Borneo; I would have never dreamed that one day I would live in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.  Which is located across the water from Pulau Tiga in the state of Sabah, in the country of Malaysia on the Island of Borneo.  It is amazing the things that happen on our journey of life.  I am so incredibly fortunate to have had the experiences I have had and I have met some great people along the way. 

I remember the poem that states: "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime."  And I try to remind myself that nothing is permanent.  That sometimes people fall into your life for an instant, no matter how intense and then in the same rush, they are gone.  Never to return. 

Living in Malaysia with 9 other team members was definitely an example of this.  Living 24-7 with people from all around the world for a month definitely made some of us very close.  It is weird to think that I will most likely not see most of them again in my lifetime.  But again... "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime." 

One weekend, my Italian teammate and I decided to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan on the opposite coast of Borneo.  We wanted to go to Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary and sail to Turtle Island to watch baby turtles being born and help them return to the sea.  These are once in a lifetime moments and we were not going to miss out!

Our hotel connected us with a tour guide - a woman we were supposed to call "Madame Rose."  I was a little dubious of who this woman could possibly be.  Were my Italian teammate and I going to be sold into the slave trade with Madame Rose as our lord and master?  (Lady and Mistress?)  But no, all fears were set aside, when a plain-dressed woman with a twinkle in her eye, efficiency on the mind and an upsell mentality on her lips arrived to pick us up.

We spent a day at Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary and Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.  The Proboscis Monkeys have a very oddly shaped nose that frankly makes them look like they have human male genitalia on their faces!  And if that is not reason enough to go check them out, the large number of smaller silver monkeys with their friendly nature and playful antics are definitely a key selling point.

Sepilok carried out its promise - you get up close and personal with Orang Utans (Bahasa Malaysia for "Man of the Forest") without any screens, walls or netting.  I was about two feet away from this Orang Utan when I took this picture ...

We saw several orang utan with babies.  We tried to keep our distance so as not to frighten the mothers, but it was such a delight to see the little orang utan.

If I could do this in Yoga, I'd be a Master!

I enjoyed Sepilok, but by far my favorite was Labuk Bay.  We arrived inbetween feeding times, so the sanctuary was pretty empty of tourists - which is just the way I like it!  The staff gave us some long beans and Madame Rose showed us how to feed the adorable little silver monkeys who came up to us on the beautiful wood viewing platforms.

These monkeys love their long beans.  Watch your fingers!

After spending time feeding the beautiful little silver monkeys, we went off to the 2nd viewing platform to see the real stars of the show - the Proboscis Monkeys.  I had never seen monkeys like these before.  They were large with the most beautiful honey colored fur.  It started to rain, but water was not going to deter us from seeing these beautiful monkeys up close.

Their noses still freak me out, but they are so pretty otherwise!  And their babies were adorable.

It was feeding time, so we were able to watch the Sanctuary workers put out the fresh fruit and bread for the Proboscis Monkeys.  The monkeys were a collective unit and the Sanctuary Workers told us about how a single alpha male dominates the group.  Dominance is won through fighting and we saw the displaced former alpha male looking pretty sad, sitting by himself in a tree.  He later came over and sat next to us.  Apparently after you lose your alpha status, you have nothing to fear from a bunch of tourists.

Being able to spend time with orang utan, silver-haired monkeys and proboscis monkeys in their native habitat was an adventure I will never forget.  If you are near Malaysia, do make it a priority to stop in Sandakan on the island of Borneo to see these exquisite animals.  It will be a trip you will always remember!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pot Heads, Geeks, iCloud, Ravenous Pigs and Silver Linings

It seems like the last several weeks of my life have been all about recognizing the silver lining in any situation.  So I shouldn't be surprised that a cloud saved my bacon ... an iCloud, that is. 

One week ago today, my lemon of a Dell laptop decided to flip me an electronic bird and die.  You can read about the sad, sad demise here.  I hauled off to Best Buy to see the loveable geeks at Geek Squad.  I arrived right after the store opened and yet I was seventh in line!  I had left my iPhone in the car, so I had nothing to do other than stare at the guy in front of me like I was checking him for melanoma!

I have to take a moment to applaud the staff at Geek Squad for keeping their cool and delivering great Customer Service.  The people in the line were ruthlessly mean and equally clueless about their computers.  If I was a Geek Squad rep, I would have told at least one of the people to go download themselves and then make sure to back up HARD. 

But no, these slightly nerdy and slightly hip gentlemen were so cool and even-tempered, I wanted to administer a urine test to see what drugs they must be taking.  And then I wanted a huge wheelbarrow full of those drugs.  ("Lily with Rage Disorder"!)

The Elderly Woman next to me leaned over and shout-whispered "WHY DO ALL THESE GEEK SQUAD GUYS LOOK LIKE POT HEADS?"  As I was still holding on to hope that the Geek Squad could save my lemon of a laptop, I just smiled nervously and turned away.

Here is a sample of the scintillating conversation I was privileged to overhear in the Geek Squad line:

Geek Squad Guy (who looked like Howard Wallowitz from CBS' The Big Bang Theory):    Hello, what seems to be wrong with your laptop?

Elderly Woman:  The keyboard is all sticky.

Geek Squad Guy:  Did you spill anything on it?

Elderly Woman:  (with buckets of indignation)  Oh noooooo!  I did not spill anything on it!

Geek Squad Guy:  (in a soft, patient tone)  Is it possible that anyone else in your household spilled something on the keyboard?

Elderly Woman:  Well yeah probably.  I have grandchildren.

I wanted to send the Geek Squad Guy to law school right then and there.  Most people would have just stopped when the woman vehemently protested that she did not spill anything on the laptop.  But noooo, the Geek Squad guy knew there was more to the matter at hand.  I wonder if she had said "no" to his 2nd question, would he have asked: "Is it possible that someone broke into your home and spilled something on the keyboard?"  Or: "Is it possible that the ghost of your dead husband somehow returned to human form and spilled something on your keyboard?" 

The crafty Geek Squad Guy then spent about fifteen minutes explaining to the woman in about 8 billion ways, that spilling something on the keyboard is not covered by the warranty.  I am not sure why the woman kept asking "But why?" since she already admitted that the warranty expired 2 years prior.  I really wanted to grab her and shake some sense into her.  However since I don't want to add "elder abuse" to my record, I desperately tried to go to "my happy place" in my head.  In my happy place, elderly women don't bark "BUT WHY?  BUT WHY?" 

Geek Squad guy, I salute you.  Superb customer service, patience and overwhelming, undeserved kindness in the face of stupidity- all given while an elderly woman is declaring the whole lot of you as a bunch of pot heads! 

When it finally was my turn in line (I believe it was 37 years after I first entered the line), I also received extremely good customer service.  I have to thank the Geek Squad Guy who looked at me with kind eyes and said "Ma'am, it's official - Alex checked out your hard drive ... it's dead.  There's nothing more we can do unless you want to pay a lot of money.  And really Ma'am, maybe it's just time to count your losses and move on."  It was just the inspirational speech I needed to stop from throwing myself on the dead laptop screaming "WHY GOD, WHY???"  Geek Squad Guy had somehow teleported me past Denial, Anger, Bargaining and Depression and now here I was straight on the nose at Acceptance.  Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross would have been stunned. 

The Geek Squad guys checked out my laptop for free.  Gave me a sensitive, gentle let down for free.  And gave me the subject of a future blog post ... for free.  Thank you, Geek Squad!

I would like to alert all future boyfriends that when you're ready to dump my sweet ass, please hire a guy from Geek Squad to do it.  I'll feel better and you'll be spared some slashed tires.  (Oh, I kid!  Maybe ...)

Another tidbit from my time with the Geek Squad, the gentleman who checked out my hard drive is absolutely, 100% the future incarnation of a present day certain eight year old Lego-loving boy who lives right here in Tampa Bay.  So evidently, the Geek Squad also took me 12 years into the future ... for free.  Silver linings abound! 

I think the Geek Squad must practice Zen Buddhism or Jedi mind control because after waiting in a tremendously slow line and then being told my laptop's hard drive was fried, I still felt pretty good about the world and my place in it.  I decided to take inventory of what the loss of the hard drive would truly mean to me.

I knew I had lost some pictures for upcoming blog posts (Lily and KRG having an amazing dinner at the American Gastropub Ravenous Pig in Orlando!  Argh!  Goodbye sweet, sweet pictures!).  I also knew I had lost a bunch of iTunes purchases.  You know how in science experiments, hamsters learn how to press a button to get a feed pellet and then press that button like they are morse code operators?  (Yeah kids, pick up your iPad 2s and look up "morse code.")  On iTunes, I am that hamster.  I push that damn "Buy" button like it's dispensing crack instead of new music.  (Not that I'm a crack addict ... ohhhh noooo!) 

Given my ridiculously slow schedule of backing up my laptop, I figured I had lost a couple hundred rockin' iTunes songs.  Which would cost me a couple hundred dollars to replace.  I threw that fact in the denial bucket and instead concentrated on how lucky I was that I actually had the resources (especially before the holidays!) to purchase a new laptop.  (Oh no, I was not going to just buy a new hard drive - that lemon laptop was just waiting to destroy more things for me!  Curses on you, Lemon Dell!) 

Based on my step-father's and my friend DEG's recommendations, I ordered a Mac Airbook.  I was over the moon ecstatic that my new laptop was scheduled to arrive on Friday, November 25th.  I would have the entire weekend to play with my new toy!  Hooray!

Then on Friday, I get an email ... my shipment has been delayed.  (Which I think is funny because when I went to the UPS website, it shows that my shipment was always scheduled for Monday, November 28.  No delay!)  Could Apple be lying to me?  Ohhhhh Apple ... and to think I read that 8000 page biography on Steve Jobs ... even when I thought I could read no further, I managed to PRESS ON! 

But the silver lining would not be deterred.  I was jumping up and down and doing the "Happy Snoopy Dance" when I found out about Apple's iCloud.  (And yes, that IS a link to Snoopy dancing, CLICK IT!  CLICK IT!)

Thanks to Apple's new "iCloud" - I could re-download all my past purchases on iTunes.  (Now I'll ignore the fact that I think this should have been an option all along and instead cheer that I did not lose all of my recent purchases.  Thank you Apple for instinctively knowing that I am a woman who rarely backs things up - even though you send me a message after every iTune purchase telling me to BACK UP MY PURCHASES.)

Now if my Mac Airbook would just get here, so I could begin restoring my iTunes collection!

Several hundreds of dollars saved.  A trip in a time machine 12 years into the future.  And a new laptop that hopefully will arrive by the end of today.  Silver lining, silver lining, silver lining ...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

You're incredibly sexy, but I am still not eating your octopus!

In my blog, I have written about many things that make me happy:

1)  Sanrio's Hello Kitty
2)  Cats that stick out their tongue at me
3)  Men who offer to save me from baby albino gekkos

Now I am adding another item to the list - sexy men who take me out for sushi.  It's a very good thing!

The Badass Bandit (aka B-Bandit) wanted to take me out to dinner.  He likes sushi.  I like sushi.  He's never been to Samurai Blue in Ybor.  I love Samurai Blue in Ybor.  Do the math, B-Bandit and I headed straight to Ybor for some delicious sushi.

One of the first restaurants I went to when I first moved to the Tampa Bay area is Samurai Blue.  Even if you don't like sushi, you should check this place out just for the interior architecture.  Basically from the outside it looks like an old warehouse - inside it looks like it has been gutted with all the high ceilings and lovely exposed beams showing the character of its formerly livelihood.  It is just a gorgeous place to dine.

I have been to Samurai Blue many times with various friends.  It is slightly on the pricier side but the quality is among the best in Tampa Bay.

(Side Note: if you're looking for a cheaper option but just as wonderful quality, check out my favorite sushi restaurant in Palm Harbor, FL: Koba Sushi.  Chef Kobayashi is beyond masterful at making fantastic sushi.  He used to have a restaurant near my home in South Tampa and I would go there 2-3 times a month.  I was devastated when he moved the restaurant to Palm Harbor!  Koba Sushi is definitely worth the drive, however!  I plan on kidnapping B-Bandit and taking him to Koba Sushi as a thank you for him taking me out to Samurai Blue.  Shhhh, no one tell him!)

B-Bandit and I shared edamame.  I ordered the tuna tataki and the spicy tuna roll.  It was all about tuna for me!  B-Bandit ordered the sushi and sashimi dinner.  I proclaimed that I was not brave enough to order a chef's choice sushi platter.  Lord knows what I would receive.  But I have to admit that B-Bandit's dinner looked pretty darn good ...

That is one awesome-looking sushi and sashimi dinner!  However if you look at the front middle of the picture, you will see my sushi arch-nemesis: OCTOPUS!

I loves me some good deep fried squid, but I have never been a big fan of octopus.  One Valentine's Day a million years ago, my masochistic date made me take a bite of octopus.  Evidently Valentine's Day is all about Fear Factor food dares.  I did NOT like it - it tasted like a fishy chew toy. 

(Side Note:  Can you believe NBC is bringing back Fear Factor?  Welcome back to TV, crazy Joe Rogan!)

So here I am at Samurai Blue with this incredibly sexy man and he leans over and tells me to try his octopus.  Now at first I thought this was a lewd sexual innuendo and trust me with B-Bandit, I am always on board for any sexual innuendo he may throw my way. 

"Sweetie, I'd love to try your octopus but can't we wait until we're back at my place?  Ohhhhh... did you mean your sushi?"

Did I say B-Bandit was a sexy man?  I think I meant "mean octopus pusher!"  I started shaking my head violently like a toddler who was just asked to drink a liver and spinach milkshake.

Not gonna do it! 

I will say that the octopus at Samurai Blue was cut thin and looked more tender than the piece I had tried a million years ago.  If I had never had octopus before, I probably would have tried it.  But I was scarred from a previous bad experience! 

B-Bandit nudged me again to try his octopus.  Ohhh if only he did mean it as sexual innuendo!

Our witty dinner conversation turned into:

"Come on, just try it."

"No, I'm not gonna do it!  You do it!"

"I'll do it, if you do it!"

"NOOOOOO!  You eat it by yourself!"

Clearly I was not going to win any points for adventurousness with food here.  I could see that B-Bandit was slightly less intoxicated by my wonderfulness after this exchange! 

Bless his hot ass, B-Bandit ate the whole piece of octopus sushi and said it was fine.  I think he also may have said "See, ya big baby!"  Or maybe I just imagined that ... hahahahha!

I will definitely have to think of a way to restore myself in B-Bandit's eyes, but until then - check out Samurai Blue or Koba Sushi for some great sushi if you're in the Tampa Bay Area!  It's fresh, delicious and amazing quality!

(P.S. Trivia:  My most favorite sushi restaurant in the world is Masa in New York City.  But you'll need a small fortune to have dinner there.  Plan on winning the lottery before dinner time!  There is also a Masa in Las Vegas at the Aria Resort and Casino.  If you're in the Las Vegas area, go see Cirque du Soleil Viva Elvis that is playing at the Aria and then get some sushi at Bar Masa.  You won't regret it!)
Samurai Blue at Centro Ybor on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mahi Mahi and Marilyn: Duval's New World Cafe (Sarasota, FL) and the movie "My Week with Marilyn"

The top two most read posts on Lily On The Lam are my details about dinners at Duval's Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida.  So when I heard that Duval's had closed their restaurant on Tamiami and opened "Duval's New World Cafe" on Main Street, I felt I owed it to my readers to drive down to Sarasota and check out the new restaurant.

OK and I love Duval's food ... so I'm not 100% selfless here!  (To be honest!)

I think the new location on Main Street is a great fit - lots of foot traffic and Duval's upscale cuisine is a nice compliment to the other restaurants on that end of Main Street.

The menu is very similar to Duval's Restaurant and the food items I discussed in my two previous blog posts (Duval's and Return to Duval's) are still on the menu of Duval's New World Cafe.

The first thing I noticed about Duval's New World Cafe is the decor.  The dining room has around 25 four top tables (give or take a table - I was doing a quick scan!)  It is decorated in purples, grays and black with funky light fixtures.  It looks more upscale than the previous three locations of Duval's Restaurant.  Even though the decor is upscale, it still feels welcoming and homey.

The waitstaff seem more professional in their service than at the previous location.  My server Ron was definitely interacting as if I were at a high end steak house.  Very good quality customer service.  He recommended the mahi mahi sandwich special.  As I was determined to try something new, I went with his recommendation but then ordered a small side of the Napa salad - my favorite salad at the former Duval's Restaurant.  I was very happy to see that it was still on the menu of Duval's New World Cafe.

When my sandwich and side salad arrived, my server told me that the Ceci, one of the owners recommends that you press the sandwich like a cuban and cut it in half.  Very good advice.  The mahi mahi was cooked beautifully and seasoned to perfection.  Duval's knows how to do great seafood.  I have never been disappointed with the way they cook seafood here. 

However the overabundance of what I assume was remoulade sauce completely overpowered the fish and combined with the juices of the fish made for a very sloppy, drippy sandwich.  I ended up taking the mahi off the roll, scraping off the remoulade sauce and eating the fish plain with the Napa salad and that was a much better taste combination for me.  However I will say that the crusty roll the mahi mahi was served on was very fresh with just the right amount of crunch.  I'd recommend asking for the remoulade on the side if you order one of Duval's sandwiches.

This is one huge sandwich with a very thick Mahi Mahi steak!  Bring your appetite!

My favorite Napa side salad - Napa Cabbage, Pesto, Tomatoes, Garlic and other loveliness!  Delicious!

The Napa salad is usually perfect at first bite.  However this side salad was definitely lacking salt and did not have as much garlic as I have had in this salad in the past.  Luckily Duval's has salt grinders and pepper grinders on all tables.  A quick grind of sea salt restored the Napa salad to the wonderfulness I am used to devouring!

The dessert menu includes cheesecake, carrot cake, flourless chocolate cake, a seasonal fruit tart (today it was apple cranberry) and Duval's world famous bread pudding made from homemade danishes.  While I had told myself that I was going to try new things on the Duval's menu, I just could not say "no" to their famous and fantastic bread pudding.

Ultra-rich and will guarantee at least a week in the gym!

The restaurant is one open dining area and therefore the acoustics are not the best.  At the far end of the restaurant is a servers' station.  While I enjoyed the cuisine at Duval's and the great quality customer service from my server, the rest of the waitstaff hung out at the open servers' station and were chatting up a storm.  Because of the acoustics of the dining area, the waitstaff's conversation could be heard loudly through the restaurant.  No offense to the waitstaff, but their chit-chat was not the most interesting and was quite disruptive.  The only wrong note in a lovely meal. 

Otherwise, Duval's in their new incarnation as Duval's New World Cafe, continues to be tops for quality seafood.  Check it out the next time you are on Main Street in Sarasota, Florida.  If you're a seafood lover, you will not be disappointed!

After a wonderful meal at Duval's New World Cafe, I headed over to Regal Hollywood 20 movie theater to see "My Week with Marilyn" based on Colin Clark's memoir of working with Marilyn Monroe on the set of the movie "The Prince and the Showgirl." 

I have seen many different actresses portray Marilyn Monroe, but I have to say that actress Michelle Williams probably did the best job I have ever seen of showcasing Marilyn without turning her into an overt caricature.  In today's day and age, I think it is harder to fathom a delicate, vulnerable shell of a woman, constantly collapsing under the weight of her own psyche.  But Michelle Williams pulls it off. 

Michelle Williams' Marilyn is not one dimensional - needy, vulnerable and delicate - yes ... but also calculating.  Like a modern Madame Bathory, Michelle Williams' Marilyn needs the strength and love of men to keep herself going.  Like all of the other characters in "My Week of Marilyn," I was transfixed at Michelle Williams' portrayal of Marilyn Monroe.  The lighting crew and the make-up artists deserve an Oscar, in every scene Michelle Williams' skin had this amazing glow as if she had a spotlight inside her.  She was radiant and luminiscent even in the darkest of scenes.  The perfect portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. currently gives "My Week with Marilyn" 82% out of 100% on their Rotten Tomatoes scale.  I would definitely recommend a viewing.  I now need to find a copy of "The Prince and the Showgirl" to see if Michelle Williams' portrayal matched Marilyn Monroe in that movie.  

Mahi Mahi and Marilyn ... a great way to spend a day! 

Duval's New World Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bad Dates and Other Things That Make Me Nauseous

Happy Day after Thanksgiving!

I, personally, feel like a beached whale.  The post-Thanksgiving diet starts today.  Ugh ... ate waaaaay too much yesterday.  Food regret falling on me like a ton of bricks!

While Thanksgiving tends to be a parade of food gluttony.  The day after Thanksgiving ("Black Friday") tends to be a day of overwhelming commercial gluttony.  Instead of telling tales of shopping, I have decided that today's blog post will be about something that makes me just as nauseous as the day after Thanksgiving food hangover ... BAD DATES.

I will warn you in advance that this blog post is of an adult nature.  Children should shield their eyes and run away screaming.  Proceed at your own risk in reading this blog post.  I am not responsible nor liable for any emotional scarring and/or nightmares you may have after reading this blog post.  I may be responsible for my own emotional scarring though ... feel free to send donations for my therapy fund!

Masochists continue reading ...

About a month ago, a gentleman I shall refer to as "Baby Huey" asked me out for cocktails at one of my favorite local bars. 

(Cue the dramatic horror movie music here ...)

I knew within the first five minutes that "Baby Huey" was not the future love of my life.  He was waaaaay too into himself ("But enough about me, what do you think of me?") and kept telling me stories of how great he was in high school.  Did I happen to mention Baby Huey was in his early 40's?  After the umpteenth story of how great he was in high school, I wanted to ask Baby Huey if he had a time machine because maybe I'd have a better date with his high school self than I was having with the middle-aged bumpkin in front of me. 

But I told myself that it wasn't like I was sizing up Baby Huey to be my future life partner, I was just looking to go out and have fun.  I had dumped the pathetic man-child Reymundo the Annoying and was looking to meet new people.  But the little voice inside my head told me that even that simple goal was most likely not going to be achieved tonight.  I ordered another drink ... I should have probably just excused myself and called it a night, but evidently I am a glutton for punishment.

Baby Huey dominated most of the conversation and the combination of alcohol plus boredom must have extracted these memories from my head.  I barely remember what he talked about, even though several hours of "Me, Me, Me" conversation kept spewing from his mouth.  Pretty soon Baby Huey was dominating the alcohol portion of the evening as well - pounding two to three drinks for every one of my low-alcohol cider beers.  Then the conversation went a little more devious.  Baby Huey entered the "We Zone."

Not familiar with the "We Zone"?  It's where a person you barely know starts making all these long-term statements about the two of you.  "We should adopt a puppy together."  "What should we buy your mother for her birthday?"  "Should we get adjacent burial plots or are we going to be cremated?  Oooh, should we get matching urns?"  The purpose of ensaring you into the "We Zone" is usually to meet the short-term goal of getting into your pants.  Once this task has been accomplished, the person will disappear faster than you can say "we??" 

I particularly abhor the "We Zone" game.  No one likes to be conned.  I would have infinitely more respected and appreciated Baby Huey if he had just said "Hey, I think you're hot and I'd like to take you home and plow you like a field until the sun comes up."  But noooooo ...  Every other sentence out of Baby Huey's mouth was suddenly all about how we were going to be as a couple and how great he would be as a long-term exclusive boyfriend to me.  Wow, "long term and exclusive"?  Baby Huey was laying it on EXTRA THICK

(P.S. While I would have respected Baby Huey if he had been honest in his intentions, I would NOT have gone home with him.  Just want to make that clear for the record!  Blech!)

(P.P.S.  If a girl thinks "blech!" in response to the thought of sleeping with you, this is probably not a girl you should pursue.)

Now I don't know if I had "STUPID GIRL" painted on my forehead or if it was just wishful thinking/hoping/praying on Baby Huey's part, but I am not a "We Zone" novice.  I am waaaay familiar with the "We Zone."  I fell for it HARD when I was a first year grad student and because of such a rotten experience, I now can usually smell it a mile away.  Baby Huey's lame attempts to draw me into the "We Zone" were only serving to make me angry and the poor drunk bastard didn't even know it! 

Ladies, here's a tip on how to spot when you've fallen into the "We Zone" - if the guy is drunkenly making proclamations that sound way too good to be true ... it's usually not true love.  It's more likely true lust or just an emotional reaction to the large quantities of booze.  Take everything that is said with a huge grain of salt.  It's all a mirage.  Trust no one!  Don't get sucked in!

To be honest, I didn't need to be Sherlock Holmes to know that Baby Huey was full of bullsh*t and deep in the "We Zone."   He was slurring his words with an overly exuberant amount of saliva and kept trying to subtly look down my shirt, which trust me was not subtle since half the time his nose seemed to be wedged inbetween my cleavage. 

Drunken We Zone ramblings + nose in my cleavage does not equal true love and adoration on my part.  (This is called Lily Math!)

I stared at my half-empty glass of cider beer, which for some reason, now tasted like paint thinner ... is this my cosmic reward for breaking off an unhealthy relationship with Reymundo the Annoying?  Is this what I had to look forward to?  Weekends of drooling, self-obsessed neanderthals who think making some "we" references are the trick to getting to my bedroom?  Sigh ... double sigh ... triple sigh!

Baby Huey must have interpreted my silence as lusty invitation, because he started to get very handsy at the bar.  Dude, this is my neighborhood bar - watch the PDA!  Quadruple sigh ...

Luckily, Baby Huey then excused himself to use the restroom.  I had lost count of how many beers he had pounded, but was grateful for the slight reprieve.  I realized that I had had too many cider beers and was grateful that I was in very short walking distance home from the bar.  I tried to focus on an extraction plan to get me far away from Baby Huey and his "We Zone,"  but my tipsy brain was useless for any rational game plans.  Darn you, intoxicating cider beer!

Suddenly, Baby Huey appeared out of nowhere and was standing in front of my bar stool.  Was he a drunken ninja?  Yep, I definitely had had too many beers at this point. 

Now I knew very early in the evening that Baby Huey was not my future soul mate.  I figured out shortly thereafter that Baby Huey would not even reach the ranks of Mr. Right Now ... but what proceeded to happen next definitely sealed the deal on my not wanting to have anything to do with Baby Huey in the future ...

I was sitting on a bar stool and I had swiveled to the side.  Baby Huey, the drunken ninja, stood in front of me.  He stared at me.  I wondered why he kept standing there looking at me. 

Was he going to sit down? 

Nope, he just kept standing there, facing me. 

I started to get apprehensive about what could possibly happen next.  Why aren't you sitting back down, Baby Huey?  Argh!

Slowly, Baby Huey began jerking his hips back and forth rhythmically.  The band had taken a break, so he definitely was not swaying to any music in the bar.

He started gyrating faster.  Hips going in and out in a more furitive motion. 


What the heck was going on here? 

What the heck was Baby Huey doing? 

(drum roll please ...)

Ladies and Gentlemen ... BABY HUEY WAS DRY-HUMPING MY KNEE!

I sat there with this look of shock frozen on my face.  Was he really?  Is this really happening?  Is my knee getting violated right here in the bar?  Maybe he just bumped into me ... repeatedly .. while thrusting ... ugh!

Sweet Jesus, my knee was being subjected to the rhythmic humpings of a drunk neanderthal!

Yep, Baby Huey was rocking, thrusting and grinding his private parts into my right kneecap, right there at the bar.

I have lots of erogenous zones on my body.  When the right guy kisses my ear lobes and neck, I am in brain-melting ecstacy.  But let me tell you an area that is not an erogenous zone for me - my right kneecap!

I stared at Baby Huey, completely flabbergasted!  His eyelids were half-closed.  His head slightly tilted back and of course those hips-- thrust, thrust, thrust!  Evidently, he was quite enjoying ramming himself against my kneecap. 

I guess, I give good knee???

I was beyond grossed out!!  If this is foreplay, call me a freakish prude.  My knee was not wanting any part of this action! 

My drunken brain could only scream out:  "EWWWWW!  HE'S HUMPING MY KNEE!  EWWWWWWW!"

While my brain couldn't get over the "ick factor," my body went into action.  I jerked my knee back, picked up the bar stool and completely swiveled around in one frantic movement.  Baby Huey did one last thrust into my side, but evidently dry-humping my hip is not as tantalizing as my right knee cap.  He looked sad and disappointed and ordered another beer.

Sorry, I guess my hip isn't as humpable as my rock hard right kneecap!

Needless to say, the evening ended shortly thereafter.  Baby Huey did not get to hump anything else on me.  I hope he enjoyed his tryst with my right kneecap, because no other part of my anatomy was signing on for Baby Huey's hump-a-thon!

One of the good points about dates like these is that when my friends ask "So how did the date go?" and I reply: "He drunkenly dry-humped my knee at the bar."  My friends say "OK enough said!" and change the subject.   There is no debating the merits over whether I should go on a 2nd date with Baby Huey.  It's fast and efficient communication!

Perhaps my right kneecap was putting out sexy signals I was not aware of ... perhaps Baby Huey could just not resist the allure of my right kneecap.  Who's to say?  Maybe he was so drunk, he was clueless as to what he was rubbing himself on.  (Ack!)  Lust is not a subtle thing.

I was afraid that my encounter with Baby Huey and his ramming, knee-loving hips would send me running to the nearest convent.  But I knew I couldn't let one violated kneecap, keep me from the dating scene.

My next date after Baby Huey was with a charming man who did not dry-hump any parts of my body but did give me a nice firm hug at the end of the evening.  Charming, chivalrous and sexy as hell with no gratuitious game play like trips to the "We Zone."  My evening was great conversation with a jaw-droppingly intelligent man.  Just lovely!

On my second date with this charming man, I pounced on him like I was a panther and his face was a porkchop.  Poor guy didn't know what hit him!  But at least I didn't thrust myself into his kneecap!  I'm not a complete Baby Huey disciple!  Perhaps this charming man will write a blog post about how he got mauled by a man-hungry panther in faux snakeskin heels.  Although evidently he wasn't too frightened by the attack, since we've been on several dates since then.  ;-) 

It's nice to know that there is life after getting one's knee dry-humped without proper consent.  ;-)

Happy day after Thanksgiving, everyone! 
Update:  After I published this blog, I saw that one of my Google Ads was now featuring an "Asian Dating Service" with pictures of what looks like either drunk Asian women or women trying to make a come hither face ... maybe a drunken come hither face?  Since I am a heterosexual 1/2 Asian female, I find it a bit disconcerting to see an ad pimping out Asian chicks on my webpage ... but alas, I cannot pick what ads go on my Blogger page (although I wish I could, let's get on that GOOGLE!)  So please promise me that if you must equate "LilyOnTheLam.Com" with hot Asian chicks, that the only hot Asian chick you are referring to is me!  And by virtue of publishing this blog post with the words "hot Asian chicks," I am bound to disappoint hundreds of people who are Googling for porn at this very minute.  A million apologies for that one! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Readers!

I am having the most wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you are as well.  My cheeks literally hurt from smiling!  I am extremely grateful for family and friends this holiday season.  I am also grateful for my wonderful readers.  I have received some very nice and unexpected comments and emails about my blog posts.  Thank you very much for reading and writing to me - it is all very much appreciated!

And on a personal note, much thanks to the certain someone who has been causing me to smile ear to ear all day -- I'm going to need a massage for my sore cheeked face!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

And just to make sure I keep the requisite amount of "Lily snarkiness" in my blog posts, here are some things I am NOT thankful for this year ...

1)  Whole Foods Market ... this time of year your deli sells "sinfully scalloped potatoes."  At least there is truth in advertising, because these potatoes are certainly from the DEVIL.  Rich, creamy and I am sure artery-clogging.  I don't even like scalloped potatoes and yet I salivate at the thought of these damn things.  I am going to sprinkle holy water over your entire deli counter!

2)  Whole Foods Market and my friend Jill!  You may remember my friend Jill from my blog post about the restaurant Sea Change in Minneapolis, MN.  A couple weeks ago, I went to her house to steal the life force from her new son ... ahem, I mean snuggle and cuddle her new son.  Jill made this gorgeous, fantastic, beautiful chicken salad (which if my crappy Dell laptop hadn't died, I could have shown you a picture of it.)  Well for dessert, Jill busts out this chocolate pecan pie from Whole Foods.  (Yeah you heard me Whole Foods, you made my list TWICE for things I am NOT thankful for!)  I don't even like chocolate pecan pie and yet this horrid, horrid, horrid Whole Foods pie was mind-blowing.  So much so that it will be eaten today for Thanksgiving dessert.  Grrrr, darn you Jill for introducing another Whole Foods item for me to hate!

3)  I am NOT thankful for the hours and hours in the gym that it will take to burn off items #1 and #2.

Oh wait, it's Thanksgiving - I'm supposed to be saying what I am thankful for?  Sheesh, why didn't anyone tell me?
1)  I am thankful for the Angel of Motorcycles who will hopefully keep my step-dad safe on his new motorcycle.

2)  I am thankful for my gorgeous mother, who probably started cooking the turkey at 2 a.m. Thanksgiving morning - as our family Thanksgivings get earlier and earlier each year.

3)  I am grateful that in less than a month, I will be on an adventure with one of the coolest chicks I know - my  baby sister.

4)  I am extremely grateful that in a world where ridiculously smart 8 year olds can determine the contents of a Hello Kitty giftwrapped box with one shake (New Game Show Idea Alert: "Name that gift-wrapped present!"), that the gift inside the box was very well-received. 

5) I am grateful that I have a plethora of lotions and exfoliants to deal with stubble burn (read my blog post here, if you don't know what I am talking about!) because I absolutely refuse to refrain from hours-long kissing sessions with a certain Bad-ass Bandit!

6)  I am grateful that I have met someone who is a world class sweetheart who doesn't mind taking a pomegranate for a walk in Ybor on a Monday night.  (This is NOT a euphemism, but feel free to send your ideas for what it would mean if it were a euphemism to!)

7)  Overall, happy for friends, family, health and the new laptop that will be arriving soon!

Happy Turkey Day to you all!  Do not get trampled at Black Friday sales!  I'll be shopping via computer!

One last thought ... I follow @TinyBuddha on Twitter - because honestly, shouldn't we all follow a Tiny Buddha?  TB's quote for today was:

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ~G.K. Chesterton
I like that quote a lot.  (No wonder I follow you, @TinyBuddha!)  Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.  I am so grateful, words can't even describe!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Product Wednesday: Sanrio Hello Kitty 2 GB Flash Drive

In March of this year, I had the honor and privilege to spend a month in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia working with local businesses as a business volunteer through my company's service corps program.  I had never been to Malaysia and the prospect of living in another country for a month was sending my little brain into a giddy, whirly-gig pandemonium.  I basically could have powered the Space Shuttle with my excitement and also trepeditation of what life in Malaysia would be like.

I channeled my anxious excitement through one of my familiar defense mechanisms: SHOPPING.  I felt that if I could get together everything I needed for a month in Malaysia, this act of checking items off a list and being fully prepared could perhaps translate and make me feel reassuredly prepared emotionally as well.  As Malaysia is a Muslim country, I purchased clothes that were more demure but yet breathable for the hot climate.  I purchased large travel sized items of toiletries and prayed that it would somehow all magically be under the very restrictive 20 kilogram luggage weight limit.  I kept my fingers crossed that I could jam as much stuff into my carry-on and maybe they wouldn't weigh that.

As this was a business volunteer trip, I wanted to make sure I had some rudimentary office supplies with my laptop.  I decided to buy a new flash drive to take along with me.  I was on eBay one evening, probably procrastinating from more important chores and I saw a Hello Kitty flash drive.  It was freaking adorable.  For those of you not acquainted with Hello Kitty, check out for this delightfully whimsical cartoon cat.  I lived in Tai-Tung, Taiwan for a short period when I was a child.  That experience has forever imprinted on me a love for Hello Kitty products and bread rolls shaped as animals.  (The latter is a story for another time.)

I looked at the Hello Kitty flash drive eBay seller's profile.  A vendor in China with many positive reviews.  I ordered the flash drive and promptly forgot about it.  Weeks later, an air mail package arrived.  By then I was in full "Oh my God, I'm leaving for a month in Malaysia" freak-out mode.  I threw the package in my suitcase and again, promptly forgot it.

When I arrived in Malaysia, my business volunteer team and I got straight to work.  We had project plans to write and deliverables to produce.  One month was not enough for all the work we wanted to do for our not-for-profit clients.  I grabbed my flash drive.  It was so cute.  An adorable Hello Kitty, just waiting to help me with my business needs.  I took the cap off and it fell apart in my hands.  I had been duped.  It was not a flash drive at all - some counterfeit designed to separate me from my money.  My co-workers stared at the mess of metal parts in my hands and "tsk, tsk"-ed.  I was embarassed that I had this piece of garbage in front of my work colleagues.  Since I was meeting my team for the first time, I felt like this was the absolute wrong first impression.  "Hello, I work for a tech company and can't tell a fake flash drive from a real one.  Pleasse disregard me for the remainder of the month, because obviously I'm an idiot."   

I ended up buying a new flash drive at the local mall.  It was black with silver stripes.  It was not cute but it actually worked.  I threw away the counterfeit Hello Kitty flash drive.  I couldn't bear to look at the cute cat's face because it reminded me that I had been "SWINDLED."

I don't like being duped.  I pride myself on my intuition and my ability to spot a con.  The little voice inside my head has saved me thousands of times.  I grew up very poor with a widowed mother who made sure to instill an almost paranoid fear that the world could not be trusted.  It was not that my mother was mentally ill, but she was so scared that when you have almost nothing - to have that little bit taken away from you would mean the end of your entire world.  She had to toughen herself and her daughter up to make sure we were always on our guard, ever vigilent and ever protective of the little we had.  When you live in a shady apartment project that only requires month-to-month leases, there was always someone around ready to go to any extreme to make ends meet.  Anything not nailed down would be stolen.  I learned not to walk through the common areas at night.  There was always someone desperate to pay the rent, buy drugs or alcohol and I wasn't signing up to become a victim.

My intuition has been sharpened so much so that my ego has gotten wrapped up in it.  On the thankfully rare occasion when I am hoodwinked, screwed or cheated, I become tremendously angry.  I feel like I should have known better and I question the intuitive skills of which I am normally so proud.  No one likes to feel like a sucker, especially me.  Throwing the counterfeit Hello Kitty flash drive out was my attempt to erase the evidence of my suckerhood.

A couple weeks ago, I met an amazing, handsome man - with the odd duality of being as sweet and kind as he is freakishly intelligent.  Given my inability to trust strangers openly (re-read the part on Mother-instilled issues above if you've forgotten why), I tend to start new relationships - whether romantic or otherwise- off on an overly cautious footing.  "Please submit in triplicate the details of where, when and how you are going to hurt/disappoint/shatter me emotionally.  Thank you!"  I'd like to say that I condemn my suspicious nature, but I cannot.  Being wary of new people in my life has saved me emotionally and financially on numerous occasions.  I find it difficult to want to be less suspicious because it feels like I would be beckoning malfeasance.  (Which by the way, "beckoning malfeasance" would be a great name for a depressed indie rock band.)  So I set myself asail with cautious emotional baggage and only with time and experience with someone, do I start throwing the streamer trunks overboard along the journey. 

Last week, the new person in my life (a.k.a. "The Bad-Ass Bandit" or "B-Bandit") came over to take me to a movie.  A pretty normal activity - nothing Earth-shattering - just a typical Friday night to most.  However, he brought me a gift in a pink bag.  I was surprised at his thoughtfulness.  Not my birthday, not a gift-giving holiday.  A "just because" gift.  Which to me, is one of the best gifts one can give.  I opened the bag cautiously and there was a Sanrio Hello Kitty 2GB USB flash drive staring back at me.  B-Bandit did not know about my Hello Kitty flash drive experience in Malaysia.  Nor did I tell him about it.  He only knew that I love Hello Kitty items.  I was shocked staring at the flash drive.  On what cosmic level, did fate play a hand in guiding B-Bandit to a Hello Kitty flash drive?  I didn't know what to say to him because it was such an amazing coincidence.  I stared at the gift for awhile and then just threw myself on him for a hug that was probably too tight of a death-grip squeeze to be a socially acceptable response to a gift.

I feel like many of my past relationships have been like the counterfeit Hello Kitty flash drive - cute on the outside and a pile of crap parts masquerading as love on the inside.  To someone who strongly prides herself on being able to outfox those who would dupe her, this cold hard fact of my past is something that burns hotter than I ever care to admit.   

I'm not naive enough to think that I'll ever reach a point where I can completely let my guard down in 100% of all situations.  Life will continue.  Sometimes I will see the trap before I fall in.  And other times, I will stumble into a tiger trap of sharp spears and be angry that I didn't see it coming.  But for one evening, it was absolutely fantastic to receive a gift from someone who had no idea how truly special the gift was for me.  With no knowledge of the back story, B-Bandit righted the previous sour experience and endeared himself to me in a way he could never imagine.  If only all bad experiences could be so easily course-corrected. 

On this eve before Thanksgiving, I am very grateful for the little acts that mean the world to me.  And if they come in cute packages too- well, win-win!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Lemon's Obituary

My Dell laptop died Sunday.  It melted down in a raging hot fury.  It's been acting up for quite sometime.  It was never perfect, even when brand new.  There was always something going wrong and out of whack.  A lemon from the start.  The worst Dell laptop I have purchased out of the past four that I have owned.   

I am 40 pages to the end of Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson.  (The beginning was really interesting, the middle was really boring and painful and the end is picking back up to be interesting again.)  I haven't had an Apple computer since I was in grad school, but perhaps I will go back.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for some good Black Friday deals as situations like these always come about when least financially prepared for it.  My excess money is going toward my next international vacation in December.  Not a great time to have to shell out some extra cash.  I am hoping the Geek Squad can wave a magic wand and resurrect the Dell until I have more time to research laptops.  Luckily, I have my work laptop to fill in the gap in the meantime.

Unfortunately, I am bemoaning the loss of pictures I took in anticipation of future blog posts.  It appears that the slate has been wiped clean, whether I wanted it to be that way or not.  Like the somewhat wise/somewhat silly book on change: "Who Moved My Cheese?", perhaps I should view the death of my laptop and the loss of my data/pictures as a fresh start and embrace it rather than mourn it.  (It's been awhile since my last back-up and I only have myself to blame!)

Fresh start ... new beginning ... 2011 is wrapping up ... 2012 is just around the corner.  Who do I want to be in 2012 and what do I want my life to look like?

Right now, my worldview vision is so myopic that all I can think is "I want to be a person with a functioning laptop." 

But perhaps, it's time to think beyond the narrow scope and really consider what I want out of the rest of 2011 and into 2012.  Fate may be telling me to stop looking one step ahead of me and start thinking of my long-term plans.  Or maybe fate is telling me not to buy any more Dell laptops!

Henry Miller wrote:  "All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditaed act without benefit of experience."  So perhaps my only plan need be to leap into the dark and reap the joys, sorrows and growth that comes from it.

As John Burroughs wrote: "Leap, and the net will appear."  Sometimes you just have to take risks to keep your life moving forward.  My friend NG told me once: "I never have to worry about you.  You always land on your feet."  I took that as a very strong compliment.

It's a wide crazy world out there ... time to embrace it and see what the next chapter of my life will be.

However, no matter which direction I set sail, I hope to be better at backing up my data on a more regular basis in the future!