Yes, I Will Be Growing Eggplant.

The Passion

Those of you that know me even slightly well know that I have a special relationship with food.  I’m not addicted to eating or anything (though I will admit to a hearty appetite and generally consuming more than the average male), but fresh ingredients and new flavors excite me! Seriously.  Queue the scene from Ratatouille where Remy is tasting cheese and strawberries:

I have a very similar reaction.

The Challenge

In addition to getting overly eager about certain foods, I’ve noticed another element arise in myself.  Almost 10 years ago, when I was starting college (eek! scary thought), I came to this realization: if someone enjoys a type of food that I do not, I MUST be missing out in some way.  Now, I know that people have different tastes and that our taste buds change every seven years or so, but I could not let go of the idea that there were people out there enjoying certain types of food without me.  Enter my 18-yr-old self challenge: I will develop an acquired taste for any and every food I do not like!

Since then, these are the foods I’ve overcome and now thoroughly love (or at least am making progress with):

  • Shrimp
  • Mushrooms
  • Mussels
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Red Wine
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Raw Oysters (still working on this, but showing recent improvement!)
  • Raw Kale

Foods I have yet to conquer:

  • Bleu Cheese (suggestions welcome!)
  • Eggplant (still a hit or miss – sometimes I enjoy it; other times the texture gets the best of me)

Aside from an obviously growing love for seafood, I am more and more intrigued by things that grow from the earth.  I’ll skip entire aisles in the grocery store (packaged and processed foods, etc.) and spend more and more time in the produce section.  I love that I can pick up an avocado and know that the only ingredient in it is… avocado.  That being said, the only thing more gratifying than filling my plate with a colorful array of produce is, well, actually growing that colorful array myself.

The Community Garden

I’ve grown flowers and a simple herb garden in the past, but since moving into my current apartment, I haven’t had any earth of my own to till and my apartment sadly doesn’t get enough sunlight to keep anything alive.  Well, 2014 is presenting me the exciting opportunity to participate in a community garden on our rooftop.  I couldn’t be more delighted!

Right now we’re not much farther than having a plot full of dirt (that in itself was quite the job – try hauling 20+ 30lb bags of top soil up to the rooftop – you will feel the burn!), but I can’t wait to start planting and watching the changes and growth from day to day.

A plot full of dirt. Got to start somewhere!

 

Much more to come.  Thanks to neighbors Ally and Corey for getting the ball rolling!  And yes, I will be growing eggplant in our community garden.

-Andi

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The changing climates as we travel from state to state are a reflection of my personal life.  Ups and downs.  Bittersweet moments.  Homesickness versus adventure.  Without further ado, haiku thoughts for Friday:

—————-

From rays to drizzle,
A sunny disposition
I will try to cleave.

—————-

Why do my haikus always seem to revolve around weather?  Talk about um, small talk.  That’s all!

<3 Andi

 

Thunder over Louisville

After a very long day, we are now en route to Somewhere, Ohio, where we plan to stop for the night before continuing our trek to Louisville, Kentucky, tomorrow. My tour partner is currently in high spirits, as his favorite rap song just came on Pandora. We got some hard core beats blasting from the tin can speakers in our “ice cream truck” and we are fully embracing the term, “keep on truckin’!” Fully.

Oy vey. I’m finding I’m especially homesick so far on this tour and also realizing that a blog isn’t enough to express my true feelings, which quite frankly, don’t need to be shared with the Internet. So it looks like I’ll either be investing in an old school journal or else venting to all my friends and family via the six sets of note cards I bought at Christmas Tree Shops the other day. Yep, six. I had been looking for some unique note cards (and been very unsuccessful) so when I hit the jackpot at CTS…let’s just say I had to limit myself to six ;) So send me a message with your address and you may receive a spontaneous piece of snail mail from Anywhere, USA!

Moving on, what’s good in Louisville?  I have to admit I’m excited to be heading there for two reasons: one, I’ve never been there, and two, for the first time on this tour, we are driving SOUTH!  No more wintry mix for Andi – bring on the Spring.  I’m also excited because we’re going to be working at Thunder Over Louisville, a kickoff event for the Kentucky Derby Festival.  Supposedly there is going to be a pretty stellar fireworks show, which will definitely make me feel like summer’s on the way.

I do have to be wary, however.  Yesterday I was checking in with the management at one of the many retailers we were sampling at and I found out that the manager I was speaking to was actually from Louisville (we were way up in upstate NY, near Niagara Falls).  I asked him what I could expect, and he said to me, “Have you ever seen the movie Deliverance?” and then let out an evil cackle as he walked away, without giving me the water access key that I had originally asked for.  Gulp.

Well, it is now the following day, and we have about 4.5 hours left until we reach Louisville.  The weather is calling for thunderstorms, so I guess there really will be thunder over Louisville – all weekend long.  More details to come!

As always, a few photos from the road…

I counted over 50 of these creepy alien windmill things during our drive through Upstate New York.  They all spin the same direction at the same speed... it just feels weird.

I counted over 50 of these creepy alien windmill things during our drive through Upstate New York. They all spin the same direction at the same speed… it just feels weird.

We stumbled upon this charming and spacious coffee shop during our stay in Rochester.  Delicious coffee and lunch!

We stumbled upon this charming and spacious coffee shop during our stay in Rochester. Delicious coffee and lunch!

This was my first ever room service experience.  I just felt I deserved it after a long work week.  Cellophane Toast!

This was my first ever room service experience. I just felt I deserved it after a long work week. Cellophane Toast!

Probably my favorite store.  There are tons up in New England & NY.  This is where I bought all the note cards :)

Probably my favorite store. There are tons up in New England & NY. This is where I bought all the note cards :)

We had only a couple minutes for a quick look at the NY side of Niagara... unfortunately the foot bridge to Goat Island (best view) was closed. :(  Better luck next time!

We had only a couple minutes for a quick look at the NY side of Niagara… unfortunately the foot bridge to Goat Island (best view) was closed. :( Better luck next time!

Au revoir!
Andi

Haiku Friday

We’ll see if this idea lasts longer than just this week.

I thought I’d add a weekly mini post that sums up how I’m feeling in my current surroundings. Maybe, depending on how witty I’m feeling, a few of them will be riddles!

Here’s our first haiku for Friday, April 12, 2013:

Upstate capital
Sleet and stomach bugs and frowns!
Generator down.

Hoping Saturday brings smiles,
Andi :)

A Fresh Breath of Bahston

My family used to make trips to Massachusetts just about every year to visit my grandparents. There are certain things that come to mind when I think of Massachusetts – mostly due to these annual voyages. I think of listening to NPR in our 1996 Ford Taurus (we called it the green egg) and my Dad chuckling to Car Talk. I think of playing Car Bingo and kicking my sister in the back seat. Then there’s the many golden domes to be spotted in Hartford, CT, a sign that we had reached the last leg of our trip and would soon be embraced by by Granny and Grampy in the cozy town of Agawam, Massachusetts.

And still more. I associate the smell of cigarette smoke with Massachusetts, and oddly not in a negative way, but in an “I-feel-like-I’m-near-family” kind of way. I think of the Polish home cooking of my grandmother and Great Grandma’s famous cinnamon bread. Electric blankets. Jeopardy. Full bellied clams. Stop & Shop.

I don’t immediately think of the Red Sox or Plymouth Rock or Harvard. My childhood memories continue to surpass what Massachusetts is most famous for.

Well, since my grandparents have passed away, our family trips to MA have dwindled. However, I’ve still managed to visit somewhat frequently due to my work travels.

And now I have a new view of Massachusetts. I’m making fresh memories as an adult that are no longer associated with family, but with Massachusetts itself. Although I must say, having visited about 25 different Stop & Shops in the area, that memory has stuck! But all the same, I have been enjoying this plucky little state! Of all my travels over the past 4 weeks, Massachusetts has topped every other stop on the map. Maybe it’s the bridges. The breathtaking views of the Atlantic and the Cape Cod cottages. The silly sounding accents (I don’t know why, but I have a hard time taking the Bahston accent seriously! haha). I’m even impressed with how friendly people have been – particularly in their cars – they are über polite to pedestrians! I did not expect drivers to kindly slow down and yield to me before I even made the attempt to jaywalk. Hats off to you, MA!

I will be sadly moving on to upstate NY this week, so I must bid ole New England adieu. In the meantime, enjoy a few more snapshots (and videos) from the road!

Sadly, I didn't get any lobster at this place.  But I did get some clam chowda!

Sadly, I didn’t get any lobster at this place. But I did get some clam chowda!

This view never gets old :)

This view never gets old :)

I’m not even a huge fan of corn chips, but the note made me feel special! I mean, it’s the little things :)

View of Fenway from the roofdeck! Perfect day for the opening game.

View of Fenway from the roofdeck! Perfect day for the opening game.

I don't know if this bridge has a name, but I enjoy it every time I come to Boston!

I don’t even know if this bridge has a name, but I enjoy it every time I come to Boston!

Chee-uhs,
Andi ;)

Team Pork Chop

Holy moly! It’s been a year since I’ve posted. For shame! Really going to have to find an accountability partner for this thing.

Anyway, nice to re-meet you all. It’s already April of 2013 and here I am, on another mobile marketing tour, blogging on my phone from the state of Rhode Island. So far, my presence has graced the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and now Rhode Island, via a slightly rickety – yet charming – blue food truck! My tour partner, Adam, and I, are driving one of four beautifully branded food trucks around the US, feeding the masses with fresh dinner possibilities.

Each truck is designed slightly different and ours happens to have a large, mouth-watering, mesquite pork chop on the side of it. Ergo, we have adopted the name Team Pork Chop! We even have a mascot – Pork Chop, the Redskins pig (you will spy him below:). So far, it’s already been three weeks and many thoughts have crossed my mind. I’ll share a few odd ones with you:

1. I have never cut up so many chicken breasts in my life and we’re only in month 1 of 3.5!

2. I don’t know if NYC will ever redeem itself. People love the place, but every time I go there is via box truck, and madness ensues. Oh, the restrictions!

3. Not kidding about the madness. In fact, Adam and I are in the midst of a Psycho marathon! Watching the original, the remake, and even the new show, Bates Motel, on A&E. Creepy, yet fun!

4. I can make tasty, tasty artichoke dip in my sleep – such a shame that football season is over! I am more than ready to feed all Redskins fans within a 3 mile radius of my house.

5. Happy belated Easter to all! Christ the Lord is risen today, ha-a-a-a-a-allelujah… :)

Well there’s so much more I could prattle on about, but I’m going to save that for later because now it’s time for pictures!

IMG_3639

Where in the world is Andi San Diego?

IMG_3655

I know my home town peeps have seen this guy before!

Taking an important call from St. Patrick while en route to Philly.

Taking an important call from St. Patrick while en route to Philly.

A very pleasant surprise in CT - scallops by the fireside!  Adam literally gagged at the smell of them.  He's a work in progress. :)

A very pleasant surprise in CT – scallops by the fireside! Adam literally gagged at the smell of them. He’s a work in progress. :)

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I drew a stamp on my hand to remind myself of a very important task. :)

Quality time with Pork Chop :)

Quality time with Pork Chop :)

Sometimes we do our own cooking on the side - fresh roasted brussels, anyone? Count me in!

Sometimes we do our own cooking on the side – fresh roasted brussels, anyone? Count me in!

Until next time!
Andi :)

Definitely the highlight of the tour so far was getting some VIP action with Stella, Rose, and Kitty! Naturally, I brought some Cotton and Italian Mandarin to freshen up that fishy smell :)

Woman Meets Wild!

Goodbye, dear Florida.  I will miss your gentle rays of sunshine and flip flop climate.  However, I will not miss your bad-hair-day-every-day humidity or sunburn inducing rays.  My peeling skin and fried hair are looking forward to the stops ahead.

We departed Florida around noon today and it wasn’t long before we crossed into Alabama, where we will be working for the next three days.  My excitement started to fizzle once we crossed the state line.  This is my first time in Alabama, so it feels good to cross it off the list, but now that I have… I’m kind of ready to leave.  My hopes are that I’ll be pleasantly surprised!  Although I have to admit the continuous bleeps from my phone reminding me that I’m roaming are not exactly inviting me to stick around.  But every state has its charms so I’m going to remain optimistic.  Insert :) here.

As for my weekly update, this past week has been packed with wildlife interaction!  From angry ants to cuddly sea lions, I’m feeling pretty well satisfied.  No pet store stops to boost morale this week!  (Animals are my weapon towards loneliness and homesickness on the road, sad as that may sound.)

Well, enough words, and on to the photo blog so you can vicariously enjoy my furry (and scaly, and slimy) friends!  Proceed with caution, not all the animals in the upcoming photos/videos are easy on the eyes…

This black vulture-turkey looking thing caught me sneaking up on him and cast me a wary glance during a brief stop at a scenic overlook on the road.

We spotted tons of gators during our drive to Tampa. We stopped to snap some photos of this guy, who is thankfully behind an unseen chain link fence :)

Massive ant hill, one of many. Devious Mavs started poking holes in them to see the ants rush out. He woke up with some nasty bug bites the next morning... karma?

Definitely the highlight of the tour so far was getting some VIP action with Stella, Rose, and Kitty! Naturally, I brought some Cotton and Italian Mandarin to freshen up that fishy smell :)

Stella, Rose, and Kitty swarmed Mavs. He wasn't sure about the attention until he saw their sweet dance moves during their show. Stella can moonwalk!

Not a tan line. Just filth. 36 hours at the Strawberry Festival turned us into walking garbage piles!

On our day off we got to visit Mavs’ uncle’s house for some sunshine and fishin’ :)

This catfish looks like he's smiling, but if he only knew his poor fate (see YouTube video below) he would be meowing for mercy! :'(

Caution – this is not a warm fuzzy video.  Mavs is heartless when it comes to fish bait!

"Ichabod Jr." is our big bird friend who always swoops in when anyone is on the dock, hoping for freebies!

Florida Sunset :) If only I could enjoy such beauty on every day off!

Goodbye Florida, Hello Alabama! Should I be excited or sad?

Holler at you guys next week!
Comments welcome :)
Andi

Three Heel Clicks to Miami

Ahh, on the road again.  My, it’s been a while, and it feels good!  On February 22nd, I flew into St. Louis to start the Glade Happiair Tour, and I’ve been spreading fresh smelling air and cheer ever since!

My travels thus far:

St. Louis – Flew in for vehicle training and pickup – we’re scooting about town in an electric, golf cart-esque box truck!

Chicago – drove from St. Louis to Chicago for full training and product pickup.  I was sans my tour partner, John (we all call him Mavs), as he was already on the road executing our first event in Nashville.  I hung out with the other two teams and even got to enjoy the 2012 Academy Awards with some Chicago friends.  However, it was FREEZING.  I cannot handle wind.  All I could think about the entire time was my next stop, Miami.
Miami, Miami, MIAMI!

Fort Lauderdale – flew into Fort Lauderdale to meet up with Mavs, and we’ve been in sunny Florida ever since.  Granted, it hasn’t always been sunny (some rain and chilly wind here too), but it’s a dream compared to Chicago.  Tomorrow we head to Tampa after one more event this evening.  I know I’m going to miss my days spent here, as we continue to head north for the rest of the tour!

Here are a few pictures/videos of our adventures thus far!

What a view!

Chicago at night: what a view!

Just chillen in the parking lot with our big rig :)

Miami Traffic... I spy someone who needs a seatbelt!

Watching planes land in Fort Lauderdale - Mavs' favorite thing to do.

Sunset in Fort Lauderdale. Don't mind the barbed wire ;)

We visited Boots who lives at Red Carpet Inn. It's a tradition now, even though we never stay there!

Doin' what we do. Here's our little electric box truck, the "Aardy."

 

That’s all for now – stay tuned!
<3 Andi

Shiver Me Chi-town

Greetings from the road!  I’m officially semi on tour… if that makes sense.  We arrived in St. Louis a couple nights ago and are now en route to Chicago, which will apparently have some friendly snow waiting for us (naturally I’m wearing my non-snow-friendly Toms).  We’re still technically in training but I have to say it feels good to have the trailers packed up and ready to go!

And BonkVoyagers, you will hear much less complaining from me this time around because we have cozy, yet spacious tow vehicles as opposed to bouncy, rickety box trucks on this tour.  Holla for my dually!  Although, I must admit, I can only hope to have another YouTube video that tops 6,000 views like The Dream Truck did ;)

Anyway, the Glade Happiair Tour actually has three separate tours going out – East, Midwest, and West.  It’s been great getting to know (and reuniting!) with the other teams during training.  It’s always fun to exchange stories of horrific and fantastic events, and of course visit the “Tour Graveyard” at Craftsmen Industries where all the old tour vehicles go to rest.  I’d like to say “dust to dust” since the vehicles are built there too but hunks of metal don’t exactly turn back into dust.  Oh well.  Perhaps it just serves as a trip down memory lane… at least for the lifers who have spent years and years on the road.  That’ll be me someday!

I also have to say it feels good to finally “fit in”… as much as I love DC, I am an oddly colored bird there.  Now I’m finally with the other ugly ducklings and we’re having a blast!  Haha, or maybe just me.  I have to say I’m quite chipper to get back out on the road, so even the 6:30am reveilles haven’t been bothering me!  Mmmm truck stop coffee.

Well I guess I better wrap up before my phone dies from supplying my wireless for the time being (I got the short end of the stick and all the charge ports are currently full!). But one last note of accomplishment – it turns out that my annual Oscars party IS INDEED happening this year!  The Windy City is going to be embracing my red carpet panache this Sunday… more details to come, and hopefully photos too!

Hugs to you all!
Andi