Sunday, January 16, 2011

Giveaway: Food Memories!

Giveaway 1: Food Memories

**Each giveaway will be preceded by a story of some sort, so if you want to get straight to the giveaway prizes and rules, scroll to the bottom!**

I’ve been cooking and baking a lot, and I just started reading Julie and Julia, so I wanted to do a food related post!

If you walk into my house, you may be met with a stack of Belgian waffles covered in fruit and syrup or a plate of warm cinnamon cookies with soft apples and buttercream frosting.

This was not the case two years ago. Even a year and a half ago.

George and I used to live what I call the ‘car business’ lifestyle. There are two important things to know about being a car salesman or living with one, and neither of them has anything to do with cars.

The first thing is that the schedules are shit. Yeah, yeah. The schedule might say 8am to 3pm, but what it really means is that you’re going to stay until you’ve met your goal, or you ain’t gonna eat that month.

Or you aren’t going to have a job.

There are also delightful ‘bell’ schedules, which means you wake up, get there with the early birds, and leave with the night owls. You could be there from 8am to… oh, I don’t know, 2am?

This means that planning a dinner doesn’t happen.

The second thing to know about this car business lifestyle is that you eat whenever you see the opportunity, and you have to eat fast. Ya gonna sit there and enjoy a leisurely lunch of creamy pasta with a light salad and breadsticks with dipping sauce while another guy is taking your up*?

Nope. You’re gonna run and grab a fistful of burger and shove it into your mouth while you’re running to grab that lady eyeing the tricked out Escalade.

I worked in the car business, and my father spent his entire life working in it, so I was used to him not coming home on time for dinner, and George’s schedule—though annoying—wasn’t really strange to me.

If you’re adding this all up, go ahead and throw in the part where I didn’t know how to cook. Yeah, I couldn’t boil water.

Okay, everyone, if you’ve solved the equation, the answer should be: For years, George and Juli lived on a diet of fast food and frozen food. Usually McDonalds, it was closest, and those great frozen bagged pastas that you can dump in a skillet frozen and cook for ten minutes to be proud that something came out of the pan and not the microwave.

The last year has been amazing in a way that is really small. I’ve had the time and resource and reason to learn how to cook. To cook well. And bake. And bake. And bake. And stop to smell the delights. And sigh with content. And bake.
I’m always touched by how personal food can be, how much joy it can bring, how it can bring people together.

The ‘car business’ lifestyle meant George and I didn’t get to cook together, eat together really. It was scarfing down premade foods and regretting it afterwards.
Not knowing how to cook or bake meant that I couldn’t bring delicious homemade cookies to my mom’s house to share with her. To show her that I do remember how much time and love she spent with every dish she made.

When I was young, very young, I came home from school, and my mom was home early from work. She made a plate of cookies and sat them on the table for me when I walked through the door.

I said, “Mommy, I wish you could be home all the time so you can bake me cookies.”
My mom quit her job the next day, and she continued to stay home and bake and cook meals that would bring our family close together—food and meals we still laugh about.

I am so grateful I have the time to learn and people to share my creations with. It is such a simple way to connect with others, and it is a very gratifying thing to stand in the kitchen and watch the chicken sizzle in a pan with vegetables and balsamic vinegar or smell the lemon from lemon and raspberry bars and know that you put just enough lemon zest and lemon juice.

It’s just a good way to end the day. Everyday.

Giveaway Rules

- Reply to this journal with a comment answering the prompt/question.
- You can enter once here, and enter once on my dA Journal for a total of two chances to win. There is a BONUS entry chance for deviantART users as well.
- Winner will be drawn out of a hat by someone who isn’t me. Maybe my cats will pick the winner. An honorary smaller prize will be given to someone who really hits me with their reply.

Prizes for the FOOD MEMORIES giveway

I wanted to allow for a lot of options, so there are three different prize packs you can chose from if you win.

Prize Pack A: A copy of Julie & Julia (the book), a set of measuring cups and spoons, and an additional kitchen/cooking/baking related surprise.

Prize Pack B: A copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 –or- a copy of the Pillsbury Cookbook (a cookbook that my mom swore by!), a set of measuring cups and spoons, and an additional kitchen/cooking/baking related surprise.

(for deviantART members!) Prize Pack C: 1600 deviantART Points!

The Giveaway Prompt

Comment here with the food that you cannot live without. Tell us about your first experience with it, your most recent experience, what it means to you, why it is your favorite!

There are no restrictions, no word limits. Just share. It is a random drawing, but I will be picking out a food story to feature on my blog from someone and giving them a small prize also, so if you want to post something lengthy or emotional, go for it!

Remember, you can enter twice, once here, and also in my dA Journal

Deadline: January 31, 2011, 11:55pm PST

Winners will be announced on February 12, 2011

Good luck!
<3 Juli

PS. If you want to share links to this giveaway in your journals, blogs, twitter feeds, I wouldn’t mind at all ;D

*’Ups’ are people walking up onto the dealership car lot, and if there isn’t a rotation list of who gets to go next, it’s who can get to them fastest.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Where I really mix things up.

My new project, currently just called Dreamers, is a challenge. A huge challenge. A challenge like I've never encountered. (Okay, well. Finishing my first book was a huge challenge...)

It is so different from my first novel, I don't even really know what the hell I'm doing. When I think I know what the hell I'm doing, nope, I screw it up and realize I still don't know. It is so frustrating.

And it's fantastic. Absolutely, undeniably fantastic.

I've changed the perspective and the tense to something I've never really worked with before. Taking a risk, even when it is so frightening, makes me feel alive.

I'm pretty thrilled with this book. I want to believe it's fresh and exciting, but I won't kid myself. I know, though, it's a good story, and I'll just start with that.

The rest will come later.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Old Year, The New Year

I wanted to write a reflection of 2010, but I don't know if a full recollection is possible. I am overwhelmed just thinking about it--in a very good way.

2010 was the year that I was able to stand up on two feet and finally look over the mountains that 2008 and 2009 built up before me. Somehow, I was able to grow taller and taller until I was able to walk over them and see I was, indeed, going in the right direction.

It was a year of learning, a year of undoing bad habits, and a year of being happy for what I had.

And I am still happy and grateful for all that I have.

I keep telling people, "I'm so excited for the new year, but really, I'm just hoping it's a continuation of 2010." And that's how I feel. I want to continue to grow and learn and love in the same direction as I have for the past year.

Notable events:

-January 7, 2010 - I began working for deviantART

-July 7, 2010 - George and I moved into our apartment in Hollywood. The first place we had ever moved into on our own. The last place we had paid for by ourselves was a wonderful little place called the 'Coral Motel.' Otherwise known as 'harsh reality.'

-November 1, 2010 - Started writing what is now called Curio or Curios.

-December 12, 2010 - Finished writing Curio. I have written so much over the years, but I've never, ever completed a novel before. Monumental.

2010 brought a year of recovery for George for his health issues, and while it was the most difficult thing to deal with for the entire year, the end of the year showed us that the time and effort would pay off. He's getting better now, and I can only imagine how much better it will be in 2011.

2010 was a year of discovering new friendships and building better and stronger relationships with my family.

2010 was a year of learning how to make pancakes, use a George Foreman grill, and boast that I never, ever had to resort to cooking a frozen food. (We lived on frozen burritos and meals for a few years.)

I know that I can't fully sum up 2010 with all of the feeling and emotion I have for it, but at least a small glimpse will show how lucky I was and how lucky I still am.

So what now, 2011? Are you ready? I sure am.

2011, ya got big shoes to fill.