Tuesday, March 8, 2011

my christmas present from N

There's a cute little cheese shop in Manhattan called Murray's. It supplies all the fancy-shmancy NYC restaurants with their artisanal cheeses. Even though the store is in SoHo, they manage to have a small network of underground cheese caves that you can tour. I went on the tour with my brother a few years ago--you get to see huge wheels of cheese, and each is tagged with the celebrity chef they're awaiting delivery for. Pretty neat.

Anyway, back to the point. And that point is, I LOVE CHEESE. But there's so many kinds, and I never feel like I get a good sampling of what's out there. So N got me a Pair of the Month subscription from Murray's! Each month I get a cheese and something else paired with it (preserves, honey, or something else that goes well with that specific cheese). The first month I got a super stinky cheese and a peach pear preserve, which was fantastic. The second month I finally remembered to take some photos:

This delivery was of Sapore del Piave, which is similar to Parmigiano Reggiano but a little less nutty, and a jar of marcona almonds in rosemary honey. Sounds tasty, right? Well..it definitely IS.

I had to take a couple photos of the awesome looking jar and packaging. Aren't those marcona almonds mouthwatering??

Anyway, I love getting these deliveries. I love being surprised by what I get and being able to try lots of different and weird cheeses. And it's the gift that keeps on giving! For as long as the membership lasts, at least.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

a neeeeeew car!

I think everyone who reads this blog already knows, but...I got a new car! I held off on writing about it so I could spend some time actually owning/driving it and formulating real thoughts about it. That is, real thoughts besides my initial reaction of "O-M-G I have a MINI COOPER! YEAH!!" Also, in case you couldn't tell, I am just really, really behind in my posts.

I wasn't even sure if I could afford a new car at all, and I spent a lot of time agonizing over used vs new, loan rates, how much of a down payment to put down, what kind of monthly payment I could afford, how much my insurance premiums would go up, etc., etc. I also knew nothing about buying cars before this experience, so I had to learn everything from scratch. I applied for a couple of auto loans through UCLA's credit union and Capital One. At first I was all worried because I thought all these credit inquiries on the loan applications might affect my credit score, but there's some kind of rule that all inquiries made within a two-week period do not bring your score down. After all that, though, it turned out MINI was having a a far better deal on loan rates though, so I ended up financing at the dealership. 

A few random observations on the mini cooper:
  • Right after I got the car, I kept feeling like everyone was tailgating me and I kept getting all pissed off about it. Then I realized that my car now ends right at the rear windshield and doesn't have that extra trunk space sticking out beyond it. Who's an idiot? Me.
  • They say that the mini cooper drives like a go-kart, and it seriously does. You feel every tap on the accelerator and the brake. In the wrong hands, this car could be a real car-sickness inducing machine. But it's also what makes driving it FUN.
  • Owning a mini is like being part of a member of a club...those marketing and design folks really know what they're doing. My user manual came on a specially branded MINI USB stick that looked really nice. More forms came in the mail that were held together with a paper clip shaped like a mini cooper. Everything written about it has a light and fun tone.
  • The roof of the mini cooper is really, really flat. I guess that sounds obvious. But I've noticed small and strange things...like when it's dewy outside and I drive the car out in the morning, once I hit the brakes a ton of water comes pouring down the front windshield from the roof. The water really collects up there. And one time on a rainy day, N and I pulled into a Burger King drive thru and when I rolled my window down to pay, water POURED into the car and onto my seat from the roof. I guess that also has to do with how the mini gets wide at the bottom (the "wide bulldog stance" as they call it). Luckily it doesn't rain much here, or else I'd be more annoyed.
  • You can buy mini-branded EVERYTHING. Trench coats, dog collars, cuff links, towels, galoshes, and pillows. I can't say I'm not tempted to get some of it.