Wednesday, July 29, 2009

things I've learned on the Boston T

I have been enjoying riding public transportation to work for almost 10 years. When I worked summer jobs at the Mayo Clinic, I always took the city bus to work and often the shuttle between the downtown campus and St. Marys. In college I never owned a car, so I rode the Provo bus to the grocery store and to run errands. In DC I took the metro to work, first when I worked in the downtown area and then in Chevy Chase. I have learned to really enjoy commuting in mass transit. I mean, where else can you take a nap, listen to an ipod, read a book, or people watch all while getting to work?

Riding the metro in DC was so delightful. DC has by far the cleanest subway system in the world (I've ridden the subway in Paris, London, Barcelona, New York, and Boston.) The trains are spacious and air conditioned. The stations tell you when the next train will arrive. It is easy to transfer from one side of the tracks to another. And except for the tourists, people who commute on the metro DO NOT TALK. This is pretty much a hard and fast rule; people like to have it quiet on the trains and I've even seen people ask others with loud headphones to turn it down.

Riding the metro (called the T) in Boston has been a whole different experience. The train lines were built at different periods, so some are nice and modern, while others are extremely old. The biggest difference is the attitude of the riders here in Boston. I'm not sure if it is a factor of the culture (Bostonians are often pretty rude) or what, but each day I learn new things. For example:

1. People like to stand up as the train is moving to get 2 feet closer to the door. Mind you, the trains are pretty bumpy and like to jerk a lot, so this ends up making other loose their footing and hit other people. Apparently waiting for 30 seconds until the train stops has never occur ed to a lot of people.

2. If you bump someone, you might get into a fight. I have already witnessed a few heated words passed between passengers, all for things like bumping them while riding or taking a photo and the flash getting in their eyes. In DC even if someone pokes your eye with their finger or steps on your toes, you don't yell at them (both of these things have happened to me and other friends in DC).

3. Yelling "I love everyone" stops fighting. Actually this is the best way I have seen a fight defused. Unabashed love for everyone kind of makes people stop yelling.

4. It is perfectly okay to crowd near the doors, making it impossible for people to get off the train or for others to get on. I think Bostonians need more training on moving to the center of the car.

5. Don't think anything of a complete stranger yelling across the car to get the attention of another passenger. One day this older woman yelled across the train to talk to another man, who she wanted to know where he grew up and then started to give unsolicited recommendations on what to see in Boston. When the other passenger tried to ignore her, she then got really defensive.

6. Eating is allowed on the T, which might explain all the rats and mice I see. Gross.

All of this makes for a pretty entertaining commute. My only regret is that I don't carry a camera with me to take photos of all the craziness I see each day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

kid aprons

My cousin Tiana visited Boston last week, and while she was here she decided to sew some aprons for her kids, since they are always wanting to help in the kitchen. I pulled out some random fabric I had left over from previous projects, and Tiana threw together some of the cutest aprons I have ever seen. Her son got to use some of my coveted John Deer fabric (what kid doesn't love tractors?). I'm so glad that he already realized that hammers belong in the pockets!Thanks Tiana for a great time touring Boston, eating cannoli, enjoying some of the best pizza Boston has to offer, and most importantly, getting to spend more time with you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

the sun dress

I finally have pictures of the adorable sun dress that I made for Ben's little niece. This was one of the first sun dresses that I attempted, while on my sun dress sewing kick a few months ago. Isn't she adorable?

I made probably over 12 different dresses, and I really need to post pictures of them. If only I wasn't a sugar momma and had more free time on my hands.....


Last night I finally decided to tackle a food that I have long wanted to make from scratch, but usually found a reason to just buy it at the store: tortillas. Since we were out of tortillas and I really wanted to eat enchiladas for dinner, I finally bit the bullet. I looked up a few recipes online to get a feel for the recipe. I was surprised at how easy they were to make (the dough took a matter of minutes to mix together) and how easy they were to roll out. I was expecting the dough to be really sticky and want to stick to the counter, but it was really easy to handle. I've still got some work making the tortillas round, but I will consider this a great success.
3 c flour
1 t salt
2 t baking powder
4 T butter (or shortening)
1 c warm water
Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter. Pour in half of the warm water and mix with a fork, then pour in a small amount at a time (1/4 c, then the other 1/4 c), stirring as you go. You want to add just enough water for the dough to stick and be really soft, but not too much. Feel free to add another few tablespoons of water if you need.
Once the dough is sticking together, kneed on a slightly floured surface for just a few minutes until dough is uniform (I did this for only 2-3 minutes, if that). Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then divide into 10-12 parts. Roll out each bit of dough on a floured surface with a rolling pin and then cook on a medium-hot frying pan (no oil or butter). Shells cook around 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown with a few spots.
A special thank you goes out to my mother for the wonderful tortilla warmer she gave me that kept these tortillas perfectly warm and moist while I rolled out and cooked each one. I just heated up a stone in the microwave for 1 minute, placed it in the container, and then put each tortilla in when it was done cooking. 20 minutes later when we were ready to eat, the tortillas were still perfect.
For you readers out there (which is approximately 3 people) who are skeptical that you can actually make homemade tortillas WHILE making dinner, it was easy. I started the dough while the chicken was cooking in the pan. Then while the dough was resting for a few minutes, I finished the chicken, grated the cheese, and set the table. Then I rolled out one tortilla and while it was cooking, I rolled out the second, all while occasionally cooking the veggies.