Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Party Season

Given that it’s the holiday season, it’s time for holiday parties. So far, there haven’t been any ugly sweater parties. If you’ve never hosted an ugly sweater party, you totally should. Here’s a photo of my Baton Rouge crew (a mix of physicists, bartenders, a mechanic, and a Marine) doing ugly sweater and Secret Santa in 2007.


One of the neuroscience post-docs had an international cuisine potluck on Friday night. I brought this vegan baked mac and cheese as my American dish. I used bread crumbs, instead of making my own. It was completely devoured. I was happy to see that no one complained about its nutritional yeast taste. I tasted it when I finished making the sauce, but the lemon was a bit overpowering. I added another tablespoon of nutritional yeast, since it’s somewhere in the salty/savory spectrum. (Look at that alliteration! S – S – S.) I had some great group shots that I was excited to show Cristin and some photos of the spread, but I lost my camera.

Last night, my workplace had its holiday party. There were absolutely no vegetarian entrees. The catered portion of the meal was ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, salad, and rolls. Luckily, people signed up to bring other dishes so I made these amazing red velvet cupcakes. [Again, I modified the recipe to be 1/3 cup oil and 1/3 cup apple sauce, as well as using original almond milk instead of soy milk.] I had two cupcakes and salad. Not a meal, in my opinion. I left the party a little early to eat some addictive spicy hummus and baked pita crackers before hitting up my next party stop. I had a decent time talking to some of my work friends that I don’t see often, but they were all heading to good ol’ Jumby afterwards.

Cristin and I headed down to Clematis in West Palm Beach. We have a friend who has a nice apartment in that area. He was hosting their social circle’s yearly holiday party. One of the things I love about that social circle is that most of guys work in engineering. It’s nice to talk to SMART people outside of the workplace. I know people complain there aren’t a lot of smart young professionals in this area, but there really are if you look in the right places. An undergrad degree in engineering is demanding and is scheduled to take 5 years at many universities. Anyways, one of the guys mentioned that he was interested in going to law school soon because he is “too young to settle for $100K a year.” He said he’s not making that much yet, but he will be in a couple years, but he thinks that he can do better than a yearly 2-5% raise and sitting at a desk all day. That type of ambition and drive is sexy. He’s a cute guy, but I was really impressed to hear him say that. The best part is that by the end of the night at Cucina on Palm Beach Island, he had untied his tie and was dancing. I love that untied tie look - it allows for some very seductive, flirtatious gestures. We danced a little, but I ended up laughing some when he started to get a little provocative.

One part of the night that I feel the need to rant about is when my friend Jeff told me to gain some weight. (That's us in the photo below. Yes, I have two cups. One is Cristin's. Don't judge.) Normally, when I see these guys, I’m in kickball clothes or jeans and a t-shirt. Real simple look. Because I was going to end up on Palm Beach Island, a super ritzy area, I wanted to wear something classier. I absolutely love the classic 50’s high-waisted skirts – they’re great if you’ve got a nice shape to show off. As Cristin told me recently, I should show off my assets every once and a while.


Recalling Cristin’s advice, I decided to wear the high-waisted pencil skirt that I have. It’s much more form-fitting than anything he’s ever seen me wear and he said, “What’s going on? Looking thin. Gain some weight.” This my NATURAL weight! When I was telling my roomie this morning that it bothered me, she replied with the comment everyone does, “Well, you’re vegan, of course you’d be thin.” I was THINNER than this when I was an omnivore. As a teen, I drank a ton of regular soda (usually a liter bottle by 10 AM), ate more than my fair share of fried foods and pizza, and didn’t do anything resembling exercise (other than walking the half mile to and from my bus stop before I could drive). When I was sick earlier this year and was down to 115 lbs, people were telling me how ill I looked. I was that size when I graduated from high school. My frame is just not built to carry a lot of weight. When I was bigger during my time in Louisiana (about 15 lbs heavier than I am now), it was all gut fat. You could tell that I really liked drinking and eating late night snacks. I had gut fat, the least attractive type of fat; there was no sexy increase in my boobs or butt (I already had 36” hips at that time, so my trademark booty didn’t need to get any bigger). I dropped the 15 lbs in a few months by not drinking as much and not eating cheese (just dietary changes, no exercising), returning to what I consider my normal weight. After dropping down to high school size this March, I’ve managed to gain back most of the mass, although I don’t think I’ll ever get the 2” lost off my hips back. I know people always talk about how we shouldn’t judge fat people for being fat, but a lot of people have negative feelings about being overweight. I feel that there are also negative feelings against people that are very thin. On an average day, I would estimate that I eat 2,000 to 2,500 calories, so I'm definitely not starving. It’s like you just can’t win! If you’re on either end (too thin or too fat), people are judging you (either you have an eating disorder or no self control). Combination of genetics and a healthy lifestyle go a long way. Too bad people don’t think about that before they speak.

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