Saturday, September 20, 2008

I am Lauren, roundabout enthusiast

Every day on the way to work, I pass through this amazing circular intersection. The first few times I came upon it I thought to myself, "I don't even know what this is but I like it." It's not like this was an entirely new experience for me, I'm sure I've gone through one of these circles at some point in my lifetime, but I've just never encountered them with as much frequency as I have recently in Mt. Pleasant, SC. They seem to be everywhere... well I think I could probably name 3... but 3 in like, a 2 mile radius... that's pretty frequent, no? Soon, once the newness wore off, I began to notice the sign that reads "now entering traffic circle." Aha, traffic circle... that's what this thing is called. Well, not exactly.

Actually, after doing some intense wikipedia research I found that this circle through which I pass daily, is actually called a roundabout. Yes, there is a difference, apparently.
In traffic circles, entering cars have the right of way, while in roundabouts, entering traffic must yield to traffic already in the circulatory roadway. Though I have not noticed a sign with instructions on how to use the said "traffic circle," from my personal experience at this junction, I've found that, according to the distinguishing definition, it is a in fact a roundabout. It's a small circle, but cars fly through it, without much regard for the entering traffic.

Perhaps this is why I like the roundabout so much. It's like an intersection, but without the stopping. If you miss your turn, you can just make another loop. I wonder if people ever just ride around and around... just for fun. I would totally try it, but I get carsick VERY easily; that probably wouldn't be the best idea.

I'm convinced that there should be more roundabouts... everywhere. They're too cool NOT to be at every intersection. I don't know all the science and statistics about these junctions, but I feel that they are much more efficient and much less confusing than typical 4-way stop.

So there... I hope one day that you too will get to experience the joy of the traffic roundabout.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I am Lauren, Q-tip enthusiast

I have a post-shower routine. Every single shower I take is followed by these simple, yet sensational steps.

After drying myself off and securely wrapping the towel around my torso, I reach for my black "wet hair brush" (you know the plastic kind, NOT the hairy bristly kind) and proceed to brush/ detangle my wet hair. Because this is the only time I really ever brush my hair, I take these few moments to enjoy the pleasant sensation of the plastic bristles on my scalp.

Unfortunately, my brush and I are usually interrupted by the tingle of my freshly shaven legs. So I put the hair brush down and quickly grab my Johnson's (you know the guys who make the baby stuff- SO soft) lotion and rub it in to ease the burn. If I were to use shaving cream/gel I probably wouldn't have this problem, but that stuff takes too long and is simply too messy; instead of preventing the burn, I prefer to relieve it with the baby soft lotion.

And now, the moment I've been waiting for... my absolute favorite part of the post-shower routine... Q-tip time! I can't even begin to describe what a crucial part of my day this is. We've all read the warnings "CAUTION: DO NOT insert Q-tip into ear canal- doing so could result in serious damage, such as hearing loss" or something of the sort. But I mean, come on, if I can't put the cotton swab in my ears, what else could it possibly be good for? Though the package will try to lead you to believe something very different, everyone knows that Q-tips are not make-up applicators, or mini cleaning tools, or whatever other uses are suggested. While Americans tend to call these cotton swabs by their commercial name "Q-tips," short for quality tips, they are known by users in other countries as both "ear buds" and "ear diggers." This, I believe, affirms my assertion that Q-tips were designed for, and belong in the ears, end of story.

I personally feel that those foreigners (wherever they may be from) who refer to these cotton swabs as "ear diggers" truly understand their intended use. Daily, I plunge one ear digger into each ear canal, in complete disregard of the warning on the box, and dig. I know this might sound gross. When people think of digging into ears, I'm sure all kinds of images of yucky yellow gunk come to mind, but let me tell you, for a Q-tip enthusiast, this is not the case. Those of us who use Q-tips on a daily basis have extremely clean ears, which means rarely do we come in contact with this icky substance.

The reason that I am so enthusiastic about this post-shower Q-tip time is because it can only take place within the first 5-10 minutes out of the shower, while ears are still wet. This is crucial to remember; jabbing a Q-tip into a dry ear could quite possibly be one of the most unbearable feelings ever. As a result of my Q-tip enthusiam (or obsession, as some might say) I absolutley cannot stand to have wet ears.

Not only do they keep my ears clean and give me great relief from uncomfortably wet ears, but Q-tips feel gooooooood. This is the most amazing part; it's like a massage inside of my head. There is something unexplainably pleasurable about digging around in a wet ear canal with a cotton swab... try it sometime and you'll understand.

My post-shower routine continues, but after Q-tip time nothing else seems to matter. Nothing quite measures up.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I am Lauren, restaurant enthusiast

It all began at

For those of you not familiar with OpenTable, while I pity you, I will glady explain how this incredible tool works, so that you might possibly share in my excitement. OpenTable is a free, instant, online restaurant reservation service servicing 8,500 noteworthy restaurants worldwide, and their 75 million+ restaurant goers. Diners receive points for every reservation made through the site and upon earning a substantial amount of points receive gift cards, which can be redeemed at any OpenTable-registered restaurant. Typically, diners receive 100 points for each reservation, but every now and then you'll come across a few restaurants offering 1000.

I'm never sure what to think of these 1000-pointers. I always kind of assumed that those were the restaurants that nobody went to. Like, instead of turning people away because they're so booked, they have to bribe people with dining points just to get them to come. Is that the kind of restaurant I really want to go to?

In quest of a quick and fabulous last-minute vacation dinner find, I found myself hesitatingly drawn to the 1000 point restaurants. Overwhelmed by the 700+ San Francisco restaurants on OpenTable, this was simply a measure taken to narrow down the never-ending list of mouth-watering options. I mean, 1000 points is pretty nice- just think, it would take 10 normal reservations to get that many points! But is it worth the risk? Well, if all the 1000 pointers are anything like Citizen Cake... yes, yes, YES, it is worth the risk, by all means!

For those of you who don't know me, I'll let you know that I tend to be quite the critic, especially when it comes to restaurants. Wrinkled table cloths, empty water glasses, thoughtless decor.... just a few things that automatically earn my disapproval. It's not that I look for the bad in everything, I actually try to make a point to do the very opposite, but I guess you could just say I have relatively high expectations. So, when a restaurant (or anything really, for that matter) exceeds my expectations, I am rendered beyond enthusiastic.

I was so enthusiastic about my experiences at Citizen Cake, my 1000-point risk restaurant of choice, SO enthusiastic that I reasoned it highly necessary to start a blog, a blog about such things that arouse me so. The entire meal, from the savory virgin vanilla mint mojito, to the clever tomato water shot, to the most sensational earl grey ice cream, was a true experience. There was nothing thoughtless or unintentional about this place.

Perhaps my most exciting moment of the evening, besides the exquisite cuisine, was my recognition of Executive Chef Elizabeth Faulkner. As I sat at the bar, sipping my mojito and awaiting the clearing of my OpenTable-reserved table, I glimpsed into the kitchen and got a sudden sensation that I was looking through the camera of some great cooking show, like a Top Chef or Iron Chef, you get the idea. I knew that lady with the short spikey blonde hair, I knew her from somewhere. Despite my enthusiasm for food and all that surrounds it, I'm not much for TV, and subsequently am not familiar with the characters/contestants of many FoodNetwork shows (now, Bravo, on the other hand, is a completely different story, but nevermind that). All I could think was I know that lady, I know that lady, I KNOW I know that lady, until finally it hit me.... the only FoodNetwork show I've ever seen, the FoodNetwork Cereal Challenge... Chef Faulkner was a contestant, my personal favorite (though not the winner), in a challenge to build a city skyline entirely out of cereal. THAT'S who that familiar lady in the kitchen was. Come to find out, she's also competed on Iron Chef several times. This lady is something special, and all it took was a 1000-point bribe for me to discover this.

In case you haven't gathered, I love love love coincidences like this (more on this topic, surely to come). What began with a frantic last-minute OpenTable restaurant search and 1000-point restaurant risk taken, ended with a delightfully filled appetite and recognition of an apparent food celebrity. And not to mention my rising accumulation of dining points... Oh the power and wonder of the free, instant, online restaurant reservation service, (Chef Faulkner's new restaurant, which I visited the following evening- every bit as fantastic as Citizen Cake)