Friday, February 26, 2010

Adventure #014- Applying for THAT job

Have you ever seen a job advert for your dream job, but you felt you weren't 100% qualified for it? Well, I have and as much as I 'love' teaching, I can't get over the feeling that there is something more for me out there, somewhere. So when Doug sent me a job advert, I decided that maybe I should just try for it. Why not, right? The worst they can say is 'no' and then where am I? Exactly where I was when I started, but with a better feeling for rejection. Maybe they will tell me WHY I wasn't the perfect candidate. I always operate on the idea that I can't fix what I don't know is broken (or wrong).

The job description includes lots of traveling and the ability to work in both finance (yikes! need a crash course!) and marketing. They want someone who can work hard and independently, as well as someone with a young spirit, who's creative and can see both the big picture and the small details. They are also willing to train the right person because personality is very important for them. There are many parts of this job that I don't think I am ready for. But how will I know if I don't try it? If I don't put myself out there and see what it is that I CAN do? Maybe all that's lacking is some confidence? The first step is a resume that isn't a resume. I am working on a version that is a traditional format, with my own words and no fancy job descriptions. Here is an excerpt from my resume:

At first glance, you think this is a regular, boring resume from some girl who can't read the requirements. Then you start to read and realize that you are looking at something that looks ordinary but is a bit different. I think that's how most people would describe me. I'm a strong person, competitive (mostly with myself), recently driven to try new things and experiment with what life and the world has to offer.

A note about where I've been and what I've learned:

Bilbao, Spain January 2003-July 2003

I studied in Bilbao for a semester, then moved to San Sebastian for June. This was my first experience away from my family and my first adventure on my own. It inspired me to travel more and see more. I hated the rainy winter, loved being by the ocean for summer and fell in love with Spanish. I speak Spanish very well, and will eventually work in a position where I will use more Spanish.

And another, trying to illustrate my bad points:

I am an emotionally stable person, most of the time. But I am also passive in my anger, a bit lazy, and can need motivation sometimes. I say I am lazy not because I don't work hard but because I tend to let life take me along with it, rather than decide the what, where, when. I am also a procrastinator, but work well under pressure. I can also talk a lot (reading this, you probably get the idea.)

What do you think of my description of myself? Would you agree or disagree? anything else to add? Constructive criticism never hurt anyone so bring it on!! Who knows? Maybe I will get the job, maybe I won't. But at least I can say I tried to get it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Adventure #013 - The Valentine's

I had never celebrated Valentine's Day. I am not a romantic girl. Or better said, I am not attracted by cliché romantic situations.

(Of course, not having a boyfriend on Valentine's doesn't help to celebrate it either)

As I was asking people for their addresses on facebook (writing letters is something I really want and like to do), our neighbour Aaron suggested that we wrote each other Valentine's. Our other neighbour David, and then Angela, were also attracted by the idea.

Adventure #012 - The Flat

You may say that our flat is messy. But it is friendly messy. Full of life and souvenirs. Without this flat, living in Prague would be really different, and it is probably one of the things that have made me stay here for a year and a half.

I like everything in this flat. All the details, left from previous parties, memories of friends now far away from us and good times.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Adventure #011- 3 Musketeers

My mom and cousin know that I love 3 Musketeers bars. They ask if there is anything I would like to have from home, and I almost always ask for some. There is something about the light and fluffy nougat that just speaks to my taste buds.

I received an electronic cookbook from a friend in 2008. I downloaded it, briefly looked at it and then forgot about it. Last week, while cleaning up my files, I saw the cookbook. I opened it and one of the first things I saw was a recipe for 3 Musketeers bars. I was ecstatic because I had finished my last one the week before.

The recipe calls for corn syrup (which I didn't have to make, thanks Annalyn!) sugar, chocolate, egg white, salt, and water. The sugar, corn syrup, and water are boiled until they reach the 'soft crack stage'. This part is actually quite fun. You drop some of the mixture into water and see how firm it gets. The egg whites are fluffed and the two are slowly mixed together. This sounds pretty easy in theory but it got quite messy and I can only imagine what I looked like holding the sauce pan in one hand, slowly adding the mixture into a pot and mixing with the other the whole time trying to keep the pot in place with my elbow. *Note: DON'T use plastic anything! The sugar is super hot and will melt it, as it did with my spatula. After the sugar goo has been mixed in, you add the chocolate, which I accidentally added almost double the amount I was supposed to.

This nougat gets put into the fridge for 1-2 hours and then you can coat them in chocolate to be cooled until solid. I used a mixture of milk chocolate and dark chocolate because I love the dark stuff!

While cutting the nougat, I discovered that it was really sticky and that my knife wasn't really doing much, just pulling it around. I decided to try the cheesecake trick of warming the knife up and it worked beautifully. The coating part was pretty easy, after the first couple, I learned to scrape a bit of the excess chocolate off before placing it on the wax paper.

The end result was almost perfect. They didn't quite look the same as the real thing, but they tasted fantastic! They were a little too sweet and the nougat wasn't as fluffy (probably both were a result of the extra chocolate I added). The dark chocolate on the outside was a little bit of heaven!

I served them at our Valentines Day brunch and everyone was amazed, not only that I made them, but also that it was possible to do so. I have been generous with my supply (I can afford to be now that I can make them) and handed them out to students and friends. Everyone is always a little awed that I made it. I don't know if that is a question of my skill or if it is admiration (I'll pretend it's admiration, either way.)

The verdict: Perfection in the shape of a candy bar! I am no longer dependent on my suppliers! And I can personalize the guilty pleasure, using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate and all sorts of great things. I wonder how some vanilla would be? I'll find out next time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Adventure #010 - The Hummus

Yes, food again. I've warned you!

After eating hummus in the Bratislava bunker tea place, I decided to try to make some. I've looked on internet for a recipe and was quite surprised to find out that hummus is a really easy thing to make. I don't know why, but I was sure that it would be difficult and complicated.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Aventure #008 - The French Coffee

I know what you're thinking. Half of the new things we are trying are about eating / drinking or cooking.

I have to admit it. We like food. And we love cooking.

So get used to food-related topics.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Adventure #007 - The Bunker

A lot of people would picture a tea room as a snobish place for old women.

It is not the case in the Czech Republic though. Quiet music, maybe a fire, cosy atmosphere, candles, ... you would more be likey to see hippies drinking in small cups and sitting on the floor.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Adventure #006- The Bratislava Adventure

This weekend, we went to Bratislava to celebrate our friend Sean's birthday and to turn in my visa paperwork at the Czech Embassy (looooong story!). I have been to Bratislava twice before and there isn't that much to see.

So, thanks to a suggestion from my cousin, I decided to take pictures from a different viewpoint to see if anything new would turn up...

I took pictures from knee level, most while walking. I didn't want to stop and take pictures of the things I had taken pictures of before...I wanted to take pictures of the streets and shops and if I got peoples legs, that was fine too. Most of the pictures are unfocused, although I did discover the 'sports' option on my camera which allows me to take action shots (so there is less blur.)

Follow this link to see my pictures: Bratislava

I didn't see much new about Bratislava. Perhaps if I had taken more photos as we walked, it would have been more enlightening. But it still helped make the city more entertaining because each evening I looked forward to looking at the pictures I had taken that day. People looking through my camera this week didn't recognize the city either, although I think people who lived there might.

Next time you go to a city you've been to a hundred times, a thousand times, take your camera and try this! If nothing else, you get to look forward to some pretty interesting angles and colors (the yellow picture- it was a bridge that was illuminated blue underneath!).

Adventure #005 - The Museum of Communism

I had been in Prague for a few days when I noticed the posters adverstising for the Museum of Communism for the first time. A matriochka with an angry face and long teeth. I immediately liked it and decided to go visit this Museum as soon as I could. Learning more about Czechoslovakia and Prague under Communism was something I really wanted to do.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Adventure #004- The Recipe (Recept)

Dýňové a Špenatove Lazáně was the name of the recipe on the desk in front of me. The picture looked great, but the recipe was all in Czech. Could my limited Czech help me enough to cook from a Czech recipe? Why not try it?! After my Czech lesson, I felt brave enough to attempt it. I knew I could manage the list of ingredients (I like to eat so food is a necessary vocabulary section!), the real challenge would be the directions, but it's lasagna so how much could I mess it up?

Chloe had a pumpkin (dyně/dýňové) from her 'Orange Diet' so I bought some spinach (špenat/špenatove), garlic, pasta, and, on a whim, mushrooms (I am not great at following a recipe even in English, I consistently like to make changes.) I had her start the pumpkin so we wouldn't be eating around 11pm, not realizing (or paying attention) that the recipe called for sliced pumpkin (platky) and not pureed pumpkin (Improvisation #1).

I arrived home, turned the computer on to a translation site, and took out my dictionary (Czech has special letters that I can't type and therefore the site can't translate properly). So, after much poring over the dictionary and attempting to find the correct translations on-line, I got the gist of the instructions, at least enough to start. My Czech friend Marcel helped with the rest. I sauteed the garlic and spinach (adding the mushrooms for texture, Improvisation #2) and cooked the pasta. The pumpkin was pureed, and the directions told me to 'salt to taste,' which I did, but decided that just salt in the pumpkin wasn't enough, so I added pepper and basil (Improvisation #3.) As I layered the pumpkin then pasta then spinach then pasta, the flour and milk was cooking into a Bechamel sauce (as Chloe calls it) for the top (I also added basil to this, Improvisation #4). I don't have a very good casserole dish, so I made it in a smaller pan, which left me with enough stuff to make a second one (where I added more veggies- leeks, zucchini). I baked it for 40 minutes and voilá!, I had a Dýňové a Špenatove Lazáně!

I made something from a recipe in Czech! Wooohooo! That gave me a bit more confidence in my ability to actually learn this language. Here's the teacher portion of the blog: I could identify verbs and nouns and find the root 70% of the time! In a language where the words can have different endings based on 7 different cases, I was pretty happy!

The lasagna was pretty tasty, the pumpkin puree on the bottom was a little heavy, but altogether good. I ate it for lunch the following day, cold, and it worked. The mushrooms added a really nice (and needed) texture to the mix. The second version with leeks and zucchini was also good, but not much different. When I make this again, I will add either a tomato pesto or some cream (or both) to the pumpkin. It was just a bit too intense and threw off the balance of flavors. Chloe said, "It was good, but it could have been better."

If you want to try the recipe yourself, send me an email (English version only, I promise!). Doubrou Chut'! (Bon appetite!)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Adventure #003 - The Orange Diet

My friend Sophie suggested that I eat food of the same colour for a couple of days. I first thought about green but then decided to do orange. I thought it would be easy. There are not that many things that are orange but enough for two days, no?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Adventure #002- The Pomelo

Pomelo, also known as Chinese Grapefruit, defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as "a tropical southeast Asian tree (Citrus maxima) closely related to the grapefruit and having very large round fruit with thick rinds and coarse-grained pulp."

Let me explain. This 'pomelo' has been calling my name since I arrived in the Czech Republic. I had never seen one before, and wasn't about to buy such a huge fruit when I didn't know what it was. When they reappeared this winter, I decided that I needed to try one.

The experience was different. I told a friend I was going to eat one, and she said that she loved them, but to be careful of eating the rind because it was very bitter. I decided that I would eat the rind, as though I hadn't spoken to her, and regretted it! It was bitter with a strange texture, almost like eating a marshmallow that had too much air and powder. The fruit itself was a bit dry and eating it reminded me slightly of eating a pomegranate (the individual pieces inside each pocket). I may not have chosen the ripest fruit either because it seemed bland. I was unsure of how it should look or feel or anything, so I just grabbed one. But according to, I should have looked for one that was heavier (juicier), with a smooth peel and a faintly sweet smell (mine was wrapped in plastic). Now I know for next time! This fruit also has a long shelf life, so even though it is too big to eat at one time (unless you have a pomelo party) it will keep in your fridge for quite awhile.

This was an example of why you SHOULD try that random fruit in the grocery store. You never know what you will find, until you try it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Adventure #001- The Hockey Game

Last winter, when I first decided to stay in Prague, a friend asked Lisa and I if we wanted to go to a hockey game. I hadn't seen a hockey game before and wanted to go, but couldn't afford the ticket (reported to cost 400kc-$25) so I stayed home.

This last weekend, I was invited to another hockey game. The cost was only 150kc ($8)! So last night I went to the Slavia-Brno hockey game with Tomas, Heather and Jo. It was a close game, with Slavia winning in the 3rd minute of overtime. But it wasn't the result of the game that made the experience enjoyable, it was the entire experience, the energy of the fans, the violence of the sport.

I arrived about 30 minutes late because I came straight from teaching. My student had been flustered at our lesson and it had rubbed off on me. I purchased my ticket and got ready to go through the airport style security into the stadium. After a slight detour to find the cervena caravan (red trailer) where I had to leave my notebooky (laptop), I went through a rigorous security check. I was wanded and questioned about the places where it beeped. I found my friends and proceeded to grill Tomas about the rules of the game. The first period ended without anything interesting happening and the 18 minute break gave me more time to catch up on the details.

The second period brought a few more interesting highlights. Brno scored! The fans went wild and, as I looked around the stadium, I realized that more than half the fans were for Brno. I was a little disappointed in the Slavia turnout, as I have been told that Slavia fans are proud supporters of their teams. But the battle for the loudest side was not an uneven match. The Slavia fans were quite vociferous with drums and horns to add to their mayhem. They were also well organized, rolling out an enormous Slavia flag that covered a majority of the fan section behind the goal, as well as other banners and streamers, belittling the Kometa and boosting Slavia pride.

Soon after Brno scored, Slavia followed suit. The woman behind us let her deep voice boom out over the stadium, shouting encouragement and degradation at the players as they raced back and forth after the puck. I am not sure what she was saying but Tomas kept grinning every time she spoke, whether it was the unusually deep voice or what she said, I don't know.

The game itself seemed a bit like soccer (football for the rest of the world, minus New Zealand), but much faster and more violent. The players would slam each other into the walls and use the closest part of their body to change the direction of the puck. It was amazing. It seemed so dedicated to throw your body into the game with so much passion, knowing that you wouldn't be able to move the next day.

After the game, we and the other 9,800+ people made our way to various modes of transportation. As we went, the fans chanted. It was like a cheer-off. One side went, then the other and sometimes they would try to drown each other out. It reached it's crescendo on the metro platform as Slavia and Kometa fans alike stuffed themselves into the metro and as they chanted, they jumped, and the cars moved with them. We waited until the second train amid more chanting, with the presence of the riot police who stood in vigilant groups watching everything and moving people back from the sides. We crushed ourselves into the car with a group of Brno fans and rolled our eyes as we tried to not to fall when the train started to move. At our station, we had to elbow our way out of the car, shouting prominte (excuse me) as we went. After the excitement of the Yellow line, the few stops to Muzeum seemed tame and the walk home was quiet.

It wasn't the game that made the biggest impression, but rather the fans. They were so passionate about their team, it was infectious. The flustered feeling I'd had as I entered the building was replaced with positive energy and curiosity sometime in the 2nd period. It was at once relaxing and energizing. I would do it again and I highly recommend it!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Start of a NEW Adventure

In October 2007, I decided that I needed to leave my hometown of Reno, NV and explore, be anonymous and learn to live in my own skin. My friends Tiff and I decided that we were going to move to New York City in May 2008. One thing led to another and New York didn't happen, but Prague did, in September 2008.

I got my TEFL certificate and figured it would open the world for me. I could go anywhere and teach English. There was a world to explore and I was just getting my toes wet.

I have made plans to leave Prague many times, so many that Chloe (
my roommate and partner in crime) jokes that I will never leave. But this year, having again decided to stay in Prague for yet another undefined period of time, I realized that I like where I am, that I am happy here, but that I need to do something to shake my world up again.

So, taking inspiration from a couple of movies seen on the flights to and from the US, I have decided to try NEW things for 1 year. Chloe and I will do 365 NEW things over the course of 1 year. This is a combined effort so that the goal becomes more realistic and achievable.

I want to stop saying 'I would like to' or 'I should' because (here's our English lesson of the day) WOULD and SHOULD imply hypothetical situations that will never happen.

The purpose of writing about it is to motivate myself and get inspiration from those around me. It's easy for me to think of NEW things to do, but where is the challenge to face a fear or the novelty of discovering something I have never heard about? This project is supposed to get me to expand my horizons, think outside the box and all those other kitschy cliches that say DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!!

This is my tribute to the cliches. Let's get it on! (Thanks Mills Lane)

The "I Will" Adventure

What is this blog about?

Maybe it is about watching time flying away and still say "I should" too often. Maybe it is about starting to say "I will" instead. Maybe it is about ending routine and boredom. Maybe it is about finding out more about myself. Maybe it is about challenge. Maybe it is simply about curiosity.

The Rules of the Adventure

Starting 1st Feb 2010 through 31st Jan 2011, Angela and Chloé will try 365 new things.