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Mid-Week ‘Fave Five’ :: Columbia Meals I’ll Miss

It’s 8:30 and I haven’t had dinner yet and I’m getting hungry.  Since my car is currently in the shop I was thinking about ordering a pizza and eating pieces of it for the rest of the week.  Thinking about pizza made me think about Za’s and I realized all at once that I hadn’t done a Mid-Week ‘Fave Five’ yet today.   So, as I’m waiting for my ham, pineapple, and onion pizza to arrive from Papa John’s, I’ll write this post:

1- The Hawaiian Za(Za’s Brick Oven Pizza).  The only Hawaiian pizza I’ve ever had with pineapple, mandarin oranges, honey-baked ham, and a sweet honey glaze.  I can’t say it was love at first “bite” (the honey glaze caught me off guard the first time), but it’s (almost) the only thing I’ve ever ordered since!  (I tried the Chicken Teriyaki Za one time when I was feeling adventurous… it was good, but it wasn’t the Hawaiian).

2- Salty Nut’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich.  (Salty Nut Cafe). Salty Nut is one of those places where you can still thrown your peanut shells on the floor, which is really half the fun of eating them, right?  It’s also one of the best places in Columbia for a burger (right after Rockaway’s, where President Bush dines when he comes to town), but I always order chicken.  I don’t know if the chicken is exceptionally good, but it’s one of the only places I know where you can always get a grilled chicken sandwich with melted cheese and teriyaki sauce.  Mmm, good!

3- Chicken Teriyaki.  (Grilled Teriyaki).  Grilled Teriyaki almost didn’t make the list, but I started to notice a trend involving the word “teriyaki” and I couldn’t leave it off.  Grilled Teriyaki is a hibachi place in Five Points, only a few blocks from my old house.  It’s open until 3 or 4 in the morning, and a great place to go if you just happen to be craving Japanese at 3am.  (Does anyone actually crave Japanese at 3am).  Regardless, it’s good, just trust me.

4- Beef Burrito (White cheese sauce, no red sauce!).  (Monterrey’s… or San Jose… or Casa Linda).  It doesn’t really matter which of the Mexican restaurants you go to, they all have the same menu.  Most everyone swears that one or the other is better than all the rest, but they really aren’t.  (Although, given the choice, I always pick Monterrey’s on Knox Abbot).  Anyway, my old roommate Kary introduced me to ordering burritos con queso, and it became a quick favorite.  (I had one on Sunday from San Jose, actually).  For $3.50 you get a great burrito and all the chips you can eat- amazing!  I hope Seattle has Mexican restaurants as good as the ones in the South!

5- Black Bean Burger Wrap.  (Cool Beans).  My Dad is going to read this and think I’m becoming a vegetarian… don’t worry Dad, I’m not, I still love a good steak!  (And I can get one whenever I want for $3.28 at Longhorn, although they aren’t as good as yours).  Anyway, Cool Beans is my favorite coffeehouse in Columbia.  It’s located in an old house across the street from the Horseshoe at USC.  The walls are painted fun colors and always exhibit the artwork and photography of local artists (and sometimes, school children).  The Black Bean Burger Wrap is black bean burger, shredded romaine lettuce, salsa, and cheese wrapped up in a tomato tortilla and grilled.  (It usually comes with sour cream too, but I don’t get that on mine).  At lunch the special comes with a side of Cool Beans’ fantastic pasta salad (and Michelle swears the fruit option is even better) and your choice of tea or coffee.

*Hard not to mention: The All-Turkey Apollo at Groucho’s, Columbia’s favorite deli.  I couldn’t include it on my list because I can’t rave about the famous Formula 45 Sauce.  Why not?  Frankly, I just don’t like it.  I’ll definitely miss the gyros at Mediterranean Tea Room (best Greek in town) and Ristorante Divino in the Vista definitely has the best Italian food I’ve had this side of the Atlantic.  However, I can’t afford to eat anywhere with a dress code stricter than “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.”  Ristorante Divino actually specifies that pants must be worn, and I, therefore, have only been there once.  Finally, if this was a list of famous meals in Columbia, not meal’s that I’ll personally miss, you would probably find the controversial Maurice’s BBQ listed.  Coming from Eastern NC, I can’t understand why anyone would want to put mustard on their bbq, but Maurice does, so I don’t eat there.  Anyway, I’ve digressed and my pizza is here- bon appetit!

Three Weeks, and Counting.

Three weeks from today I’ll be in an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic headed towards Slovakia. If you know me, you know that Slovakia is one of my favorite places on the face of the earth; however, if you happen to be reading this and don’t know me, I’ll explain briefly.

The college ministry at my church here in Columbia sends a group of students to Slovakia every summer to work alongside a Slovak church and its youth group to hold an English camp for high school students. The camp is always a week long and located somewhere in the beautiful mountains of Slovakia. I have gone on this trip each summer of college, for as short as ten days and as long as ten weeks. This summer marks my fifth trip to Slovakia, fourth time at camp, and I can’t wait to be there!

This year I’m not just going on the trip, but am co-leading it with my friend Robby. (Robby also just graduated and this will be his fifth trip to Slovakia too). Robby just got back from spending about three weeks in Slovakia on a post-graduation trip, so we met this afternoon for him to fill me in on some camp details and to finalize more of our plans. Every time we get together to talk about the trip I get even more excited than I already am!

I think this year’s camp could very possibly be the best year ever. Our team is great, the Slovak team is even more amazing, and everyone involved seems super excited and dedicated. During the summer of 2005 Robby and I spent ten weeks in Slovakia as interns with Josiah Venture, the ministry that we work with each summer who helps to put on the camps. Two other girls from our church (Laura and Heather) were interns that summer too. Laura moved to Slovakia in February and will be one of the camp directors this year. All three of us (Laura, Robby, and I) will be speaking this year during the evening programs.

During the next three weeks we have a lot to do. There are supplies to buy, activities to plan, and details to work out, but I have no doubt that all of this will get done. I just hope everything we have to do will make these weeks fly by! If you think about it, please remember me, Robby, our team, and all of our Slovak friends in your prayers as we prepare- and don’t worry, there are sure to be plenty of pictures and stories posted on here at the end of the summer!

“Blog” is a Very Funny Word.

I have to agree with my friend Neal that the word ‘blog’ sounds pretty nerdy.

It’s true, it does, and maybe we’re nerds for having blogs. However, I enjoy writing in my blog and reading about my friends in theirs, so blogs will remain.

Neal is in NYC for the summer working with the Gallery church. You can read about his summer here.

Neal and I have a friend named Chris who is also out of SC for the summer. Chris is in Africa taking a course in photography and learning about life on another continent. You can follow his adventures here.

Mid-Week ‘Fave Five’ :: Cities

I traveled a lot during college and visited some pretty cool cities, which made choosing my favorite five difficult! Regardless, here they are, but in no particular order:

1- London, England. I spent a week in London with my grandparents and cousins during Christmas break of my freshman year of college. Full of history and the setting for many classic books and modern movies, London is definitely a place I would like to visit more than once. I saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and the rooftops that inspired the chimney sweep scene of Mary Poppins and had my picture taken with (a wax model of) Hugh Grant- amazing!

2- Split, Croatia. Chasity, Michelle, and I traveled to Split last summer after a last minute change of plans. We had set aside a long weekend to go to Greece from Italy, but, the day before we planned on leaving, we decided it was way too expensive. We began looking for other places to go, and found a ferry from Ancona, Italy to Split, Croatia. We thought it was funny that there was a place in Europe named Split (although it doesn’t really seem funny now?), and bought tickets. We ended up having the best time in “Sunny Split,” the vacation location for many Europeans. We spent several days getting tan on the white sand beaches and watched USA play Italy in the World Cup from a beach-side bar. Oh, and of course we had to “split a split in Split before we split Split!”

3- Copenhagen, Denmark. This was one of the cities I visited during my ten-day Northern European tour after high school graduation. Home of the longest pedestrian street in the world, Tivoli Gardens, and The Little Mermaid statue, Copenhagen had a laid-back feel that attracted street musicians, artists, and performers from all over the world.

4- New York, New York. I’ve currently visited more countries than States, but by the end of this year I’ll have picked up at least two more states, New York and Washington. I went to New York City in early January and fell in love- the city is all it’s hyped up to be, and more. I loved riding the subway, riding in taxis, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, strolling through Central Park, shopping on Broadway, browsing the Strand bookstore (18 miles of books from end to end), and eating New York bagels!

5- Vienna, Austria. After four trips through the airport in Vienna and a quick change at the train station, last summer I decided it was time to actually go to Vienna and not just through it. Only 45 minutes from Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia (and another great city), Chasity and I took a day trip there last summer. I was struck by how green, clean, and pretty Vienna is. The city has an interesting blend of old and new architecture, with very modern buildings right across the street from one of its oldest churches.

Easy as… pie?

A couple of weeks ago I went with my friend Carla to see Waitress, a Sundance film starring Keri Russell. Russell plays the role of Jenna, a waitress at a small town “pie diner” who is stuck in a terrible marriage with a controlling husband she no longer loves.

I enjoyed the movie, and I guess I was inspired. When I found out that Shandon’s college Summer Supper Series was at Paula & Margeaux’s house this week and they needed desserts, I decided to try my own hand at making pies.

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Of course, that mostly meant buying the pre-made Philadelphia cheesecake mix and crushing up Oreos to sprinkle on top…

Maybe I still have a thing or two to learn about making pies, but at the end of dinner there was nothing left to bring home, so I guess I did alright!

More for Your Money.

I’ve been trying to learn how to manage my money better. Not only am I trying to spend less, I’m trying to spend smarter. I’m learning about different companies and how their products are made and how my purchases effect others around the world.

Many US clothing manufacturers have taken their factories off of American soil so they are not restricted by factory condition and minimum wage laws. Many food companies exploit workers by not providing ample pay for the labor.

However, there are companies that are making conscious decisions to treat workers fairly and are paying attention to how their business impacts the environment. Others have committed to giving money or products to others for each unit of their product sold.

Wise spending is a topic I hope to explore more and write about in this blog, but for now here are some companies that are giving from what they receive:

*Bossa Nova Acai Juice
The juice from the Brazilian acai berry is amazing for your health. It contains more anti-oxidants than any other fruit, which help prevent premature aging, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even certain cancers. Bossa Nova’s juice is fat-free, low in sugar, tastes good, and for every bottle of juice sold, one rainforest tree is saved.

*Ethos Water
Sold at Starbucks and Whole Foods nationwide, Starbucks will donate 5 cents per bottle sold to Ethos’s mission of raising $10 million for providing children with clean water in parts of Asia, Africa, and Central America. 5 cents may seem like next to nothing, but quickly adds up.

*TOM’s Shoes
Easy to explain, for every pair of shoes you buy from Tom, he sends one pair to children in impoverished areas of South America, Africa, and Asia.

*Trappist Beers
These are hard to come by, but there are several breweries run by monks in Belgium and the Netherlands that make what are considered by many to be some of the best beers around. The proceeds from the beer go to support missions in third world countries… I’ll drink to that!

Seattle, Washington.

When I think about Seattle I think about coffee, hiking, the space needle, and rainy days. (Hopefully not too many)! I found out on Tuesday that I was accepted into the MA TESOL program at Seattle Pacific University; it looks like that’s where I’ll be headed come September!

*Pictures from stock.