Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Quest for World Domination

The Thublin family is probably the most competitive group of people you will ever meet.  Whether it’s basketball between brothers or a rousing game of Risk, there’s a constant need to one-up each other whenever family gatherings occur.  “Dream Teams” have been established for Pictionary, and my dad has officially been labeled master of Beatles Trivial Pursuit.

It goes without saying that trips to the board game cabinet have brought about many sleepless nights.  And, losing gracefully is no one’s strong suit.  As each games concludes, rematches are always insisted.  
Risk-The Favored Fame of the
Thublin Clan 
However as the 19 vociferous competitors gather around the table, laughter quickly overpowers a bad roll of the dice.   For in between rounds of Pictionary, my aunts and uncle are quick to divulge stories about my dad’s childhood.  For instance, he used to flush his sister’s Barbie doll head’s down the toilet, and when he was a toddler he went behind the paperboy and claimed the neighborhood newspapers as his captives....that was until my grandmother discovered them and a massive spanking ensued.
At the conclusion of each trip, I always look back at our game-board banter with affection. I guess you could say the quest for world domination is what brings our family closer together.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Suffering from Christmas Coma?

It's December 26, 2010, so you're probably suffering from Christmas Coma.  Sticky, half-eaten candy canes little the kitchen table as wrapping paper shreds and bits of bows cover the floor.  Pesky pine needles remain unswept as youngsters play with their new toys from Santa.  The fridge is filled with scrumptious leftovers and countertops are covered with cookies.  Probably the last thing you're searching for is another holiday recipe, but I couldn't resist!  Today is our annual family party, and my favorite dessert has made its way onto the menu...Chocolate Chip Dip.

-8 oz. cream cheese
-1/2 cup real butter (as opposed to that I Can't Believe It's Not Butter crap)
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-3/4 cups of sugar
2 tbsp of packaged brown sugar
3/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.  Mix well; it should be very very creamy.  Gradually add in the two types of sugar.  Again, mix until it's very very creamy.  Stir in the delicious chocolate chips.  Try to refrain from eating too many.  I know they're very tasty, but the dip will definitely give you your fair share of chocolate fix.  Refrigerate until you're ready to serve them with Honey Maid Chocolate Sticks-they're like graham crackers but chocolate.

Yum! Hope you enjoy this quick holiday treat.  Of course, this recipe shouldn't just be reserved for Christmas.  It's good enough to be eaten the whole year through. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

NYC's Best Holiday Offerings

Free of finals (just for today), I mindlessly wandered around New York City this morning.  Sure, I should have been studying for my Stats final-just 18 more hours until I'm free of math forever- but I knew if I didn't escape from my apartment and z-score table for at least a few hours, my brain was going to explode.  So, I put on my boots, a red coat, and monkey mittens and left for a few hours of NYC holiday bliss.  So here it is, a list of my 20 favorite Christmas suprises this city has to offer:

20) The Large Abundance of Decorated upside down Christmas Trees-Yes, I’m quite aware this sounds rather strange, but really I’ve probably seen about 10.  I’m not really sure if they're just super in this year or if its just a Village thing, but I’ve seen a lot of ‘em.   
The Famous Drink And Yes, in the
Background that is a Letter to Santa
19) The Potential for there to be a White Christmas-Although I’ll be in GA for Christmas, I still can’t get over the fact that in New York it snows.  Sure, I’ve lived here for over a year, but snow is still such a novelty.
18)Peppermint Mochas from Starbucks-Yes, I'm quite aware there are Starbucks in other parts of the 
country, but no where else can you find one on every street corner.  In fact, there's one directly across the street from my dorm on the corner of 23rd and 3rd.
17) The Strand Bookstore-So, I went there today to buy a few books for my plane ride home, and I can’t get over the size of that place.  Plus, everything’s super cheap, and the staff are super friendly and willing to answer any question you may have! 
16) The tree underneath the Washington Square Arch-I go to NYU, so I’m kinda required to say this.  
15) Christmas Lights on Apartment Balconies-Whenever I’m walking home and it’s dark outside (so basically anytime after 4pm) there are all sorts of twinkling Christmas lights dangling from balconies.  It’s so pretty and feels so homey.
14) The Insane Amount of Santa Hats-For a city that’s known for its superb fashion, I can’t quite figure out why so many of its residents are donning the red fury numbers, but hey I’m not complaining. 
Precious Pooch
13) Decorated Subway Stations-So I just noticed on my way back from Brooklyn that most subway station workers have decorated offices.  Nothing too fancy, just a string of lights and a little garland, but it sure did get me in the holiday mood.  

12) Everyone on the Street Singing Christmas songs-Literally, everyone is singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” 
11)Dogs in Christmas Sweaters-It’s sad when puppies are wearing sweaters that are more expensive then my entire outfit; however, it’ certainly the case.  Of course I can’t be too upset.  They’re just so darn cute.  
10)Ridiculous Amount of Holiday-Themed shows on Broadway-Now, I’ve only see the classic Christmas Spectacular (FABULOUS) but each year the number keeps on rising.  The kids I babysit saw The Nutcracker and said it was beautiful.  
9) Santaland at Macy's-You get to see Santa...done!
8) NYU Movie Channel-This is random, yes I know.  But for the month of December the NYU Movie Channel had 6 Christmas flicks. 
7)The Tree in Rockefeller Center-It may be a tourist hotspot, but nothing can compare to this beautiful tree.  Skating at Rockefeller Center is nice too, but be prepared to drop a chunk of change if you plan to indulge in this winter activity.  Now if your just in the mode to take a spin on the ice and seeing the tree isn’t a priority, my suggestion would be to just go to Central Park or Bryant Park-they're less crowded and way cheaper. 
6)Christmas trees being sold on the Sidewalk (And it's only slightly sketch)-Instead of visiting a Farmer’s Market of Christmas Tree Farm, New Yorkers simply buy their trees off the streets.  
5)Rolf's German Restaurant-Located on 281 Third Avenue, it has some of the prettiest Christmas decoration I’ve seen in the City.  Now, I’ve never eaten there so I can’t really tell you about the food, but it sure does bring a smile to my face every morning when I’m walking to campus. 
4)Department Store Window Displays-Everyone always ohs and ahs over Lord and Taylor or Macy’s display.  And while yes I agree they’re cute, my personal favorite is always Bergdorf Goodman.  Chic and Classic-two words that always perfectly describe them.  
Hundreds of Ornaments Dangle from
the Ceiling of Gramercy Park
Flower Shop
Beautiful Window Display
of Gramercy Park Flower Shop 
3)Holiday Fair at Union Square-It’s the best place to find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts for your loved ones.  I frequently meander throw this market, browsing through the 100+ booths, each filled with crafty treasures.  
2) Gramercy Park Flower Shop-Absolutely Beautiful.  For all you Maconites out there, you’re probably wondering if it’s as nice as Lawrence Mayer. Well, it’s better-look at these pictures and tell me you don’t agree. 
1) Selling books back from this Semester- It means you’re officially done and you make a few bucks in the process.  Sure, NYU’s buyback rate isn’t great, but it’s enough to pay for a taxi to Laguardia and check a bag with Delta Airlines.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Crescent Roll Cookies

So, I'm lactose intolerant and a vegetarian.  Basically, I'm always the picky eater at holiday parties, the one the host has to accommodate .  So, when I found this recipe, I knew I'd have to try it out.  Overall, it was super easy to make and very tasty.  Think of an Arby's cherry turnover.  Well, the base of the cookies is about that consistency; then it has icing and candy so it's even better. I brought them to a Christmas party, and everything seemed to like them.  
Crescent Triangles Baking in the Oven

-Crescent Rolls
-Cream Cheese Icing
-Holiday Sprinkles
-Food Coloring
-Pack of M&M's

First of all, just heat the oven to 375.  Spray Pam on your cookie sheet and unroll the dough.  Now, here's where it gets super easy...just place the separated triangles on the pan.  Yep, that's it.   Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown, and you have the
 base for your vegan treats.

The Finished Treats-Too Cute! 
Decorate the delicious triangles to your hearts desire.  Now, I made 16 crescent roll cookies and only used 1 tube of Betty Crocker icing, but if you really like your icing, feel free to buy another.  Now, I choose to make a few Santa Claus face,  Christmas trees, snowmen, and candy cane inspired designs. 

Also, feel free to substitute the candy for fruit to create a healthier option.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Will This Semester Never End...

It's December 18 and I still have 5 more days until I get to go home.  Yes, I'm taking the last final NYU offers for the Fall 2010 semester-lucky me!  For two weeks now, I've been enviously reading as friends post status updates telling of their Macon outings.  Sure NYU doesn't go back until January 24, but right now all I want to do is come home.  Forget about z-tables and random WWII facts,I want to watch classic claymation flics, like Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and bake cookies with my grandmother and baby sister.   

On Thursday night, I made a midnight run to Duane Reade to restock on the essentials:  Pop-Tarts, coffee, and candy.  In the past week, I've literally used over 400 index cards, and all my highlighters are running out.  A good-night's sleep has become a foreign concept, and before this morning, I hadn't showered since Wednesday.  My laundry is seriously out of control.  I actually went to the bookstore and bought a sweatshirt because I couldn't fathom washing my clothes-that would require me to leave the library.

And the worst thing is, I know I'm not the only person who's feeling the strain as the semester closes.  Usually, all my classmates look so fashionable in their designer clothes.  Oh no, not this week.  I actually saw people wearing pajamas to class...it's like we go to a real college.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Billy Cosby Can’t Trump My Holiday Sweater

This past Saturday, I was invited to an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.  Gallons of eggnog and a rousing game of Settlers of Catan were promised...of course I had to attend.  Unfortunately, my closet completely lacks whimsical pieces like those frequently worn by my dad in the 1980s.  He’s bound and determined his wool pullovers will make a comeback, so his closet still houses quite a few.  However, a thousand miles separates me form his “rare treasures.” 
With Christmas quickly approaching, my limited college budget is even tighter than normal.  (I’m just so grateful Ramen Noodles are so darn cheap.)  So, the thought of spending $40+ for an outfit on a holiday-themed party just doesn’t seem reasonable.  
The Most Epic Holiday Sweater Ever
Thankfully, I live in New York City where amazing thrift stores are on every corner.  I made a trip to Housing Works Thrift Shop at 157 East 23rd Street and found the most epic sweater ever.  For only $15, I was able to own this ski-lodge inspired creation.  
Although the temperature maybe below freezing, its thick wool yarn and playful pattern keep me super warm in this frigid weather.  Originally, I just bought the sweater for the party; however, I’ve already caught myself wanting to wear it again and again.  
I’m sure my classmates are thinking “What in the world is that crazy Southerner wearing? Doesn’t she understand her sweater is hideous?” But its finals time, so please forgive me.  Plus, I actually think my big, comfy sweater is cute.  People of all ages are embracing the “make-it-yourself”attitude of the recession, and self-creativity is definitely on the rise. If you ask me, nothing beats a beautiful hand-knit scarf or sweater.  Would, it really be the biggest tragedy if I end up resembling Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show

Monday, December 13, 2010

IHOP's got Nothing on Me

It's 9:30 on a Saturday morning.  As I sit in my kitchen trying to complete a last minute extra credit assignment while simultaneously making notecards for my ever-looming History of World War II final, my stomach begins to gurgle.  Immediately I head for the Pop-Tart box but sadly realize that I polished off the last delicious pasty the morning before on my way to a Stats recitation.  
A 1/2 empty box of pancake mix stares back at me.  When my parents came for a visit, I was spoiled with the fluffy goodness every morning.  However, I always just assumed making my favorite breakfast treat would pose to much of a challenge.  Nonetheless, my starving stomach decided the challenge had to be accepted.  
-1 cup Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
-Generous helping of Aunt Jemima Syrup
-3/4 cups of Water
-Pam Spray
-Green or Red Food Coloring (just for some holiday fun)
First, off the back of the Aunt Jemima mix says to use 2 cups of mix and 11/2 cups of water.  I was only making pancakes for one person, so I cut everything in half, only using 1 cup mix and 3/4 cups water.  
4 drops of Green Food Coloring 
 Add about 4 drops of green food coloring for some holiday spirit and stir for about a minute.  
As you let the batter stand, spray Pam in the skillet. 
Each pancake is about two spoonfuls of pancake mix.  Now, I have a gas stove so each side only takes about a minute before it begins to bubble,  indicating it's ready to be flipped.  So just judge accordingly on the timing-the bottoms should be golden brown.  
Carry out these directions 3 more times to finish off the batter, and voila.  You’ve made a delicious breakfast.  Make sure you place them on a super cute plate, and for extra holiday cheer fun feel free to add chocolate chips or Christmas sprinkles.  
Literally, things can’t be  simpler.  And, I’m very excited to say the fire alarm only went off once while making my pancakes.  After my roommate and I opened the window, the smoke cleared in no time.  What can I say? I never claimed to be Betty Crocker.    

The Finished Product 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

AUGC's Christmas Concert-The Real Reason for the Season

Last night, NYU’s All University Gospel Choir had their annual Christmas Concert.  Not only was the singing spectacular, but the message behind it was wonderful as well.  The lyrics behind “The Real Meaning of Christmas” sum up the night perfectly:  
Tell me what Christmas means to you,
how many gifts will you go through;
well it really doesn't matter 
if the gift is great or small,
without Christ, there's no Christmas at all.
The real meaning of Christmas ain't about mistletoe.
The real meaning of Christmas ain't about dashing through the snow.
The real meaning of Chirstmas ain't found in a toy.
The real meaning of Christmas is Mary's baby boy, 
is Mary's baby boy.

The evening began with a praise and worship piece.  From the very start, audience members knew this performance would be like nothing they’d ever seen before.  The 22 members that make up AUGC had only one purpose for the evening-To Spread the Good News of God’s Love Through Song.  My friend, Michelle,  and I originally went to the concert because our friend Tracy had a solo.  She of course was fabulous, and  really, I can’t think of a better way I could have spent my Friday night.  Plus, they had a scrumptious spread of food for intermission, and the purple robes they garnered were looking snazzy.  Overall, new friends were made and eyes were opened about the real reason of the season. If you ask me, the evening was definitely a success! 

AUGC’s next concert will be on April 1st...let the countdown begin!  

Friday, December 10, 2010

D.I.Y.-Christmas Wreath

 After eating our Thanksgiving dinner,it’s become a tradition to drive to the Middle Georgia Farmer’s Market and select two huge Christmas trees.  The Carpenters Christmas Collection blares on the stereo as our family of 5 cram into a Ford Explorer.  From this moment on, the Christmas Spirit has officially been embraced.  Truly, there’s no stopping my mom when it comes to decorating.  It looks as though Christmas threw up everywhere-snowmen, nativity scenes, nutcrackers and Santa Claus’s litter every inch of our house.  Think Macy’s Santaland, multiply it by 100, add a pinch of Paula Deen, and a generous helping of Walt Disney.  There you go, that’s my house at Christmas time.  So, as you can expect, when I found out my mom and step-dad had decided to spend Thanksgiving with me in the City, it was definitely a bitter-sweet moment.  I was so grateful that an airport run would be missed, but a tad disappointed I’d miss out on all the Yuletide embellishments.  
So, to help ease the blow of missing out on all the Southern Christmas decorating, my mom and I decided the only reasonable thing to do would be to create a Winter Wonderland for my roommates and I to enjoy.
I saw this amazing wreath at the Anthropologie in Rockefeller center.  Sure, it’s pretty but with its $300 price tag, there’s no way my college budget could afford it. 
I think our rendition is an excellent substitute.  Plus, it fits my personality-super colorful and very glittery! 
Materials (bought at the K-Mart on Astor Place)
-hot glue gun:  $12.99
*I like to think of this purchase as an investment.  It sits in my craft drawer (yes, I know I’m a dork).  Everytime I open it I
          just think how long I had to work to earn enough money to buy it, so I better put it to good use. 
-25 additional glue sticks:  $3.99
-pack of 100 sheets of construction paper: $1.99
Funnel Example
-piece of cardboard:  $2.50
-set of 12 glitter balls-$5.99
Basically, all you have to do it make funnels. This is where the construction paper comes in handy.  I also used an old book from my History of World War II course (think of it as a cathartic release if you will).  It helped to create some additional embellishment, but really its all up to you.  Newspaper might also be a good substitute too.  Realize, there’s no perfect size or shape when it comes to making the funnels;  the more variety the better!  Just make sure the folds are securely fashioned with a dap of hot glue.  
Cut a reasonably sized circle into the cardboard piece to create the wreath opening.  Mine’s about a foot in diameter, but judge accordingly, depending on the size of your desired wreath.
Arrange and hot glue your finished funnels on the cardboard piece to create the wreath.  Don’t worry the cardboard won’t be visible, its just there for additional support.  Add glitter balls (or your own favorite Christmas ornaments) and voila.  
Now, beware fingers might be burned in the process.  And, it’s a rather time consuming endeavor.  But set your Christmas Playlist to shuffle, and just think you’re making a one-of-a-kind Christmas wreath!   

Thursday, December 9, 2010

G.R.I.T.S-Girl Raised in the South

For eighteen years I lived in Macon, Georgia where the sweet tea flows like water, grits are a breakfast staple, churches are on every street corner, double names are popular, and “yes mam” or “yes sir” is the correct answer to each and every question.  And, I’m here to tell you, all these aspects of Southern life are a foreign concept to New York Natives.  Nonetheless, I never wanted anything more than to become a New York University Fighting Violet, so when my acceptance letter arrived two years ago, I of course accepted.    Overall, these past 3 semesters have been filled with quite a bit of learning experiences.  When I first arrived, I tried to camouflage my Southern upbringing.  However my love of Vera Bradley and constant use of "y'all" quickly proved to much to hide.  There's no denying it, I'm a Southern Belle who's been relocated to most urban city in the world.  Through this blog, I hope to show what it really means to be a real Southerner in the City.  Post updates will range form crafts on a college budget, meals made with microwaves, and other funny tidbits of my life here in NYC.  I think my Southern roots are something to be celebrated, so I hope you enjoy.