Going (Semi) Incognito

October 23, 2010 1 comment

When we created this blog about three months ago, we started it as a way to share news with our family and friends… but, given the open nature of the internet, sometimes I also wonder who else we’re sharing our news with. Although we’ve blocked the blog from search engines like Google, we don’t want to accidentally be found somehow by, say, our students. Or employers. (Privacy and discretion on a blog… funny, I know!)

So, in an effort to go semi-incognito while still sharing a little bit about our lives here in Mississippi, we’re making a few small changes…

  • The name of the blog. Too bad we’re not the Smiths or the Jones, I suppose.
  • Names of employers. We don’t talk about work very often, but better safe than sorry.

We’re still keeping our first names on the blog, and of course we’ll continue to share lots of pictures, because that’s what the blog was created for in the first place.

Unfortunately, since I didn’t really think ahead when I was in the middle of packing up our life in Kentucky, I can’t change this site’s URL that shows in the address bar. Instead we’ll be blogging from a more generic address. So… the new site is… drumroll… here: Five Keys Later. So named because in the space of six short years, we’ve moved five times, and that’s a LOT. It makes me crazy and gray haired just thinking about it.

So: sorry about the name confusion, and welcome to the new home.

Categories: Posts by Lina Tags: ,

The Big Easy Weekend

September 20, 2010 1 comment

It feels like years since we took our little three day vacation to New Orleans, but I realized I hadn’t posted any pictures on here!

We started our trip with breakfast at a place called Surrey’s, a place that Joe ended up liking so much that we ended up going there twice!

surrey's

Then we headed to the Pharmacy Museum, about a block away from Jackson Square, which was originally the shop (and home) of the very first licensed pharmacist in the US. The museum has not only apothecary supplies and soda fountains, but also voodoo potions, absinthe, opium and plenty of devices for “questionable medical practices.”

pharmacy
trephination drill

pharmacy museum

Of course, we also visited lots of other cool things downtown around the French Quarter: the Cabildo History Museum, the St. Louis Cathedral, and – a new favorite – a totally addictive frozen yogurt place called Pinkberry! (We’ve since learned that is also has a nickname: Crackberry.)

st. louis cathedral
cabildo
pinkberry

I think the favorite part of our trip, though, was on our way out of the city, when we stopped in Slidell to do a swamp tour at Honey Island Swamp. Apparently, gators are big fans of marshmallows and beenies and weenies:

swamp tour
CHOMP

Categories: Posts by Lina Tags:

On A Serious Note…

August 29, 2010 Leave a comment

My mom is going in for hip surgery tomorrow morning. I know she’ll be well taken care of, but please keep her in your thoughts and prayers this week as she starts the road of recovery and physical therapy!

UPDATE: Mom’s officially out of surgery and resting up. She had enough energy to call my sister and tell her that she is now “officially bionic,” so I’m taking that as a good sign!

tybee island

Categories: Posts by Lina Tags: ,

Tea Submarine

August 28, 2010 1 comment

My mother-in-law gave me some super cute mugs and plates for my birthday (pictures forthcoming), so this morning we put them to work! Breakfast was an oversized cupcake and coffee – truly, I don’t think it gets any better.

However, we’re also big tea drinkers, and this made me smile today:

A tea submarine! Isn’t that clever? (Joseph also likes that it’s yellow.)

Categories: Posts by Lina Tags: ,

Surprises

August 26, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been feeling pretty blue about the job hunt, but I had two surprises this week that cheered me up considerably. The first surprise: “gazelle horn” cookies all the way from Morocco!

gazelle_cookie

The cookies take their name from the crescent shape, and they’re made up of almond paste wrapped in pastry dough. They are divine with coffee and tea, which means they have been disappearing FAST around our house! I found a step by step guide on how to make them here. (A side note: has anyone else been seeing those commercials for the dessert show on Bravo? I think it will be too dangerous for me to watch.)

The second surprise came from my friend Emily, who sent me this fantastic NPR station locator map! There’s our own station right there on the map, and below, our old station in Lexington.

npr_map1

npr_map2

Clearly, as a NPR addict, I’m living in the wrong part of the country. New England has the only distinction of being so densely populated with NPR affiliates that they require an inset map:

npr_map3

I can’t wait to take this with me on our next road trip!

Categories: Posts by Lina Tags: ,

Frozen Due to Budget Constraints

August 20, 2010 2 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the different changes in our lives with our move from Kentucky to Mississippi, especially what kind of path my career will take here. Starkville is much smaller than Lexington, so I knew I would have to be flexible about looking for a job, but it’s been a difficult transition all the same.

Most of the job postings at Mississippi State are only open to internal applicants, and I’ve noticed that virtually all of the postings that are open externally are “contingent on available funding,” which means I’ve gotten many messages like this one:

I know almost all publicly funded universities are in the same position, but it’s frustrating to see positions listed when they’re not technically available. I discovered today that the same is true of another large employer in the area, the Columbus Air Force Base, which has a couple of civilian positions listed but isn’t hiring right now.

All of this makes me feel simultaneously grateful and conflicted about a teaching position that has come my way. It’s not exactly mine yet – I meet with the principal Tuesday morning – but she’s already asked me when I’m available to start, so I take that as good sign. The job is being a teacher’s aide for a class of 10 four year olds, in a small Catholic school setting. On the positive side, I think it would be a total pleasure to work in a small private school setting like that, and a fun challenge to be working with small children. The down side? Well, for starters, the salary would be a 68% pay cut from my last job. Yikes. The school is also about 25 miles from our house, which is not a bad commute (I can already hear my California family laughing), but just a little more complicated when Joseph and I share a car.

I am still hedging my bets a little bit; I’m completing my substitute training for the local school district on Monday, and on Tuesday afternoon I have an appointment to meet with the HR woman at MSU who’s in charge of spousal employment. I still need to talk to the principal at the Catholic school about some details (chief among them: whether the job will include benefits), but in this economy, and in a town of this size, I guess this is my proverbial “bird in the hand.”

Thoughts? Advice?

Categories: Posts by Lina Tags: ,

Restaurant Roundup, Volume 1

August 18, 2010 1 comment

First of all, we would like to extend the Official Trullinger Seal of Endorsement ™ to the very first place we went out to eat in the fine state of Mississippi: Bop’s Frozen Custard! I was so excited when I saw the sign (did we mention the heat?) that I made Joe do a u-turn on the highway, and they did not disappoint. I am partial to the “Cobbler A La Mode,” but pretty much anything they serve is perfection in a Styrofoam cup.

Unfortunately, we cannot extend our same patented Seal of Endorsement to our second fine dining adventure. We decided to celebrate Joseph’s first day of classes with Chinese food, and with one recommendation from Urban Spoon, and one promise of a buffet later… we made our way to Taste of China. I would hereby like to disavow Urban Spoon. Witness:

How best to describe our dining experience? I think I knew we were in deep trouble when the all the mussels were smothered in… mayonnaise and cheddar cheese. MAYONNAISE. I cannot even make this stuff up, people. I defy you to come up with a good reason to put Miracle Whip on anything served in a Chinese restaurant. This same concoction was also applied to their stuffed mushrooms, and anything that missed the special application of Miracle Whip was thoughtfully coated in a fine layer of grease or oil.

The vegetarian offerings were slim, to say the least. The best vegetarian dish was the greasy potatahs–and “potatahs” is the right word, since there was nothing Chinese about the way they were prepared. I was glad to see that they had sweet & sour soup, which is always a favorite of mine. On the first few mouthfuls it was pretty good; a lot less sour than you’d hope, but still! Until I got to the pieces of chicken at the bottom that look very much like egg. Argh. The vegetarian spring rolls were greasy (we’re talking Long John Silvers levels of grease), almost every dish with veggies came with bits o’ bacon or bits o’ beef.  You don’t even want me to describe what the egg foo young looked like. It seemed stained with the color of cigarette ashes, and runny at the edges. It didn’t so much sit on the plate as seep there…okay, I promised I wouldn’t describe. We’ll leave it there, for everybody’s sake.

They even screwed up the rice, which was dry and sticky (but not in a good way); I make better rice with my cheapo microwaveable plastic rice cooker at home. There was fried tofu with veggies, but it fell so far short of the kung pao tofu back in Lexington that I couldn’t enjoy it. This tofu shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as the tofu at our beloved Panda Cuisine in Lexington.

Granted, of course this is Starkville and that was Lexington. Granted, Panda Cuisine was the kind of place that has frog legs on the menu (but also every other Chinese dish popular with Americans). It’s absurd and, in the words of my advisor (who’s from Texas) “yankified,” to expect that Starkville has a big enough Asian population to make such a restaurant viable. They have to cater to the tastes of people who live here. Of course. That makes sense. But still, come on now. There’s plenty of Americanized Chinese food places that are able to satisfy American palates without dunking everything in cheese and mayonnaise. It’s as if the owners of this place watched one of those panicky exposes about American obesity and decided to hitch their wagon to that MSG-star. Actually, boosting business by preying upon the epidemic would be a plan so cunning you wonder if there isn’t a copy of The Prince stashed away in the kitchen. This is all to say that this food not only failed to be Chinese food, it failed to be any kind of food.

Whose taste is this catering to? I ask you. It’s all the more baffling because the people running the joint are Chinese; surely they would not want to eat this stuff or hold it up to what they know as real Chinese food. You’d hope that they would make the happy accident of screwing up the MSG-way of cooking Chinese food and sneak in the methods they were raised on.

I know this might sound like a bunch of yankified whining, but trust us. It was BAD.

Oh, well. There’s always Bop’s!

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