Saturday, January 29, 2011


There are usually photos that just beg for the full Photoshop treatment. You know what I mean --> instead of inching the contrast knob over a few digits, you yank that thing to the right until it's in the 50's. Or, heaven forbid, higher. In my defense, I was having a terrible time adjusting ISO and shutter speed in the bright sunshine of a Friday afternoon (there's a reason people shoot in the late afternoon/early evening), it was cold and I had worn nothing heavier than a thin sweater (my bad), and my Canon was winking low battery at me (yuck, a photographer's nightmare).

So I Photoshopped away!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Of seventh generations, ghosts, and zzzz's

My brother had the following up as his facebook status (I'm awfully curious to find out whether he got it off the back of HIS cleaning bottle!).

"In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." - from the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

I first noticed this quote on the back of my Seventh Generation bottle of kitchen cleaner (Wild Orange & Cedar Spice, if ya care to know!) and I really like it. It's 11:23PM and I don't intend to ruminate on this quote for too long. The Iroqois' words make me think of the environment - this vast earth and how we treat it. I think about all the lost babies who can't make a mark on this big world of ours. A thought pops into my head about laws being made and laws being broken. There's the intimate weaving in the branches of a family tree. What about the poor countries and their people being crushed under the progress of powerful countries?

I'm home alone with two sleepy kitties (uh oh...Trix just woke up...now there goes Tuppers...), I'm basking in the satisfaction of having finished a really good book (there WERE a few ghosts, one in particular being a most malevolent presence which makes me glance over my shoulder), and it IS almost midnight. The train whistle just blew loudly; a loud blast. Then once, twice, three times. It's time to walk my sleepy brain to bed.

What does the Iroquois quote mean to you?

Monday, January 24, 2011

For the love of snow!

The little gnome that mans the weather tower is busy calling the shots like nobody's business. I'm guessing we've had about eight snow days so far, but who remembers for sure (except for the gnome, of course)? One year, there's no white stuff and the skiing conditions are pathetic. But we've certainly had our fair share of snow these past few months (white Christmas, anyone?!) and the word on the streets is that we're getting more this week.

"It's gonna be just like Christmas," my brother Linas declared last night.

"We're getting twelve inches of snow," a violin student informed me during her lesson.

"Stay tuned..." is what I get from ashevilleweather.com - in a nutshell.

The remnants from the last storm - those oddly shaped mounds of dirty snow - are almost gone, so it seems only right that we get bombarded with another biggie. In honor of more snow, I'm posting pictures of snow.

Christmas on 1.24.2011

"It's beginning to look a lot like Chriiiist-mas!" Wait, no, we already did that. It's January 24th and officially NOT Christmas anymore. But I had pictures that never made it up, so I figured why not?

My strange cat straddles the couch. Honestly, what sort of cat does that?

I found the neatest knitted Christmas stockings on Pottery Barn's website. Of course, they were already all gone by mid-November (darn those early Christmas shoppers!), so Mom made Drew and me these and I think they came out beautifully.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Did I ever tell you that I love the culinary world? There are so many interesting things to make, lots of which I've never made myself. It never ceases to amaze me (call me weird) that I can actually make those things myself. Warm challah bread. Vanilla cheesecake. Tangy pesto. Sweet panna cotta. Crispy pork chops laced with apples. Granted, those things don't always turn out perfectly. But that just makes me want to make it again, this time better.

I'd been wanting to make hummus ever since the pool parties. Thrown by my friends Jake and Julie during those long ago, sun drenched days of summer, these pool parties were casual affairs consisting of lots of meat thrown on the grill, many 6-packs of beer, and of course, Julie's roasted red pepper hummus.

I dug out my food processor today, resolved to finally make that delicious food that had teased me since summer (since I can be a dreadful procrastinator, my mom took the initiative and ordered a blade for me and presented it and her spare food processor to me on Christmas). I'm not a patient person. I eyed at the white Cuisunart contraption, wondering if I could dive into hummus-making without reading the manual (sounds nice, right?). Nada. When playing with sharp objects (I think the blade counts...), it's usually a good idea to read the directions first.

The wonderful scent wafting out my oven door convinced me that this endeavor was going to be a success. Please imagine half a red pepper and three cloves of garlic happily roasting away...forget the egg salad sandwich I was making myself for dinner. Once the red pepper and garlic had made it to the processor, it was a dash of vinegar here, throw two cans of garbanzo beans in there (garbanzo - isn't that a great word? I think my next set of cats will be named Geronimo & Garbanzo) and presto! I had myself a whole container of roasted red pepper hummus (If you honestly think those are the only ingredients I used, please google a hummus recipe, pronto.)!

I follow a cooking blog called Smitten Kitchen (http://smittenkitchen.com/) where the author creates the most mouth watering appetizers, decadent desserts, and main courses in a tiny kitchen in NYC. I felt like I was working in her kitchen today (maybe I should zap her an email to find out which of us has the smaller kitchen?!). When I finished with my hummus making, the kitchen looked like a culinary bomb had gone off in it. But I'm finally done cleaning up after myself (whew).

This is not hummus (obviously!), but it was our 3-day-meal special. ;) Drew made us burritos for meal #1 - it involved the usual black beans, rice, and corn. I used the leftover to whip up a...well, I don't have a name for it. But meal #2 is what you see in the picture above. I sauteed onions and green pepper, threw in the leftovers, added tomatoes, and covered the entire smorgasbord with cheddar cheese. Yum. For meal #3, Drew added eggs and whala! breakfast is served.

Friday, January 14, 2011

To En or Em?

Did you know that there are two kinds of hyphens? I did. Do you know which one to use when? I did not (you may not care to know, but to us wordy geeks out there, this is a big deal!). You learn something everyday, man...I'm just embarrassed that it took me this long. ;p

So according to the Chicago Manuel of Style:

An em dash (made of two, yes TWO, hyphens) is the bomb when it comes to most situations.
i.e. She had never realized--the thought had never even come to mind--that an em dash was The One to use.

The en dash (made up of only one lone little hyphen) is mucho importanto when dealing with dates, times, or reference numbers.
i.e. 2008-2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ciao, sudieu, farewell!

I'm such a sucker for survey thingies. Usually, you'll find me taking one when I'm in the middle of some big project. It's a fun way to escape "the serious stuff" for a little while (It'll only take me a few minutes...right). I thought this one would be a neat way of tying up 2010; wrapping it in brown paper, looping a bow at the top, and re-hashing the good, the bad, and the miscellaneous.

Summary of '10

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

I actually made - and kept - a year-long boycott of all Chinese products. I’d wanted to for years, but never had the will power for it. I also met my pen pal, Laura, face-to-face for the very first time in March (I’d never done THAT before!).
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolution and will you make more for next year?
I did and I will (or I have!).
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Christina did (greetings, baby Alexander Henry!). Laura and her hubby welcomed a foster baby. My sister-in-law, Kristin, became pregnant and her due date is only three months past 2010! Otherwise, I don’t think so, but I’m open to corrections.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thank goodness.
5. What places did you visit?
Nowhere I haven’t been before, but I’m hoping for a wildly exciting trip this year…*keeping my fingers crossed*…otherwise we went to Charleston, SC / Gatlinburg, NC / Lake Lure, NC / Rochester, NY
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
A wrought-iron bed frame & a new address, because that means Drew got into P.A. school. ;)
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
Nothing stands out in particular…
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Drew and I ran a 5K! Talk about an awesome high right there. I’ve also taken up cooking/baking as a new hobby and I learned how to take pretty decent photos on an SLR camera.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not enjoying the moments
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yep. :( I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk and made a nice, big hole right below my kneecap. I’ve still got a purple bruise where it’s healing. Thank goodness it happened at the end of summer.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
My wedding album (only two years late!). And anything that I purchased at a smashing sale price!
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband’s; what I lack, he more than makes up for. I can always look to him for help in getting all that stuff I struggle with right. ;) Also, my mom's; my grandma moved in with them and she's been perfectly amazing. I hope I could be as strong and patient as she's being.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Probably politicians…there are so many things wrong with the world and it seems that they spend their time nit-picking each other’s problems instead concentrating on the issues.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and college tuition
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Getting a Canon Rebel for my 25th birthday; finishing a 5K without stopping once; my friend Gaby coming up to visit me back in August; giving Drew his Christmas presents (I got him a Panthers jersey and an xBox game!)…
16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
It’s gonna have to be “La Cucaracha” which I heard performed by Sirius B. on New Year’s Eve. What a crazy, fun song. Laura and I stood in the crowded in the back room of LAB and danced to this crazy number. I did NOT know, however, that “cucaracha” is a cockroach (that’s what I get, apparently, for never taking Spanish…). Yuck!
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder?
I'm trying to be more content. I’ve struggled a lot in the past year with identity and trying to figure out my place in this world.
b) Thinner or fatter?
About the same, except now I have more muscle!
c) Richer or poorer?
Neither! I loudly complain about our lack of money sometimes, but then I realize that we really are very wealthy in the stuff that counts: family, friends, and experiences. Plus, our apartment IS very cool, even though nails keep popping up through the floorboards and the floors slope.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Lived in the moment more, instead of looking ahead.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Thought less. Whether it’s worrying or thinking ahead to the future, I think so much I’m surprised smoke doesn’t come out of my ears.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
Waking up at 6:30AM to spend Christmas morning at my in-laws, than driving through the snow only to get snowed in at my parents!
21. Did you fall in love in 2010?
Over and over again with my hubby! The girl who filled this out before me said she didn’t think falling in love is a one-time thing and I agree. The longer I know Drew, the more I love him.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
It would probably have to be The Office - even though the new episodes are lame, I’ve re-watched the old seasons and still think it’s a brilliant show.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. But that’s because I don’t hate anyone.
24. What was the best book you read?
Best book? I don’t have a best book - I have LOTS of best books! Can I come back to this one?
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Mmm, maybe Ingrid Michaelson? I also really like Roland Albertson’s “Hold My Hand.”
26. What did you want and get?
A Canon Rebel camera!
27. What did you want and not get?
A weekend away for our 2nd anniversary
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
That would mean I need to remember everything that’s come out since January - and I don’t! I thought the first installment of HP VII was surprisingly good. Ooo, I’m also really glad I watched “Food, Inc.” Made a difference in how I view the meat industry. Hello, locally raised & organic meat and eggs!
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 25 and I celebrated for four nights - no joke! My sister threw me a semi-surprise party w/all the girls, I celebrated at my parents, my brother- and sister-in-law took me out for dinner, and on my actual birthday, Drew and I walked to the Nine Mile for Caribbean fare. It was awesome. ;)
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If I knew that Drew had gotten into P.A. school. I want him to be happy so badly.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
A work in progress. ;) I lean towards the comfortable: jeans, solid tops, simple earrings, etc. My goal for ’11 is to stay away from the solid and comfortable and made zanier purchases: colorful shoes, printed materials, more accessories, things that go pop.
32. What kept you sane?
God. Then Drew and my prayer partner. ;) The problem was that I’d get so wrapped up in thinking and analyzing that I sometimes tend to leave God out. I have a very hard time letting go of something if it hasn’t been scrutinized from every single possible direction. I assumed that all that scrutiny would “figure it out” so the thing could be neatly tucked away. I’m learning forget about all that stuff and live.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
None in particular…there’s a bunch of doozies on the agenda: immigration, abortion, health care, gay & lesbian rights, etc. etc. etc.
35. Who did you miss?
I miss the simplicity of childhood. Teenagers do not realize that being an adult is so much more than facebook, make-up, cars, and guys/girls.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
I don’t feel like I’ve met all that many new people recently…my “newest” friend is probably Chensee. She’s fun; has a very Northern, blunt attitude (even though she’s NOT Northern!); and I’ll miss her when she marries Randy and moves to TX! But we’re coming to visit… 
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
Your life is what you make it. If I make my life an exciting journey full of laughter and fun, it will be. 
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Don't you worry there my honey
We might not have any money
But we've got our love to pay the bills

Maybe I think you're cute and funny
Maybe I wanna do what bunnies do with you if you know what I mean

Oh let’s get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France
Let’s get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance
Let’s get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants
From way up there, you and I, you and I

Well you might be a bit confused
And you might be a little bit bruised
But baby how we spoon like no one else
So I will help you read those books
If you will soothe my worried looks
And we will put the lonesome on the shelf
“You and I” by Ingrid Michaelson

"Snow cripples WNC"...or so they say

We definitely got a lot of snow. I mean, six inches really is no joke (right?). But for some reason (call me weird), I'm not impressed. I was expecting a heck of a lot more. I want a foot, maybe two! Maybe it's because the main road right in front of my house gets cleared by snow plows a.s.a.p., so I see black way earlier than anyone. Maybe it's because I heard metal striking asphalt this morning as my neighbor dug his 15-passenger van out of the snow and drove away.

I just shoveled part of the driveway so Juliet can take me to Leicester tomorrow (yep, my car's name is Juliet, to match her sister car - Giedre's Corolla - named Ophelia ;), so when my arms are aching tomorrow, I'll change my tune and say yes, we got a TON of snow!

Doesn't this little house next to the GIANT apartment complex look like the one from "Up?" Can you imagine looking out your l.r. window and seeing nothing but a gray wall? Ugh.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A.w.e.s.o.m.e. grilled cheese

I don’t know if I’ll ever eat grilled cheese sandwiches in the old way again.

The old way involved slathering butter before popping it into the George. I had this vague memory of my mom’s friend putting mayonnaise on her bread, telling me that it worked better than butter. That’s when the light bulb went off.

Drew and I received a box of spices as a wedding present. The box was entitled, appropriately enough, “Spicy Wedding.” It was the perfect present for two people setting up an apartment. Nestled inside were six glass jars, one filled with creamy peppercorn. The description says, “Robust, creamy salad dressing and sandwich spread.” Are you getting my train of thought here? I mixed this robust combination of herbs with mayonnaise and sour cream and slathered it on the bread (not inside the sandwich - it went on the outside bread pieces, providing the fat that makes the bread a toasty brown). These were the best grilled cheese sandwiches I think I’ve ever had. The finished product tasted a little like pizza crust - weird, I know - couldn't remember from what company, though. Perfection!

Cheddar makes for some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches around.

You can't forget a glass of pinot grigio!

The finished product. I love the spices sprinkled on top of the sandwich.


1 Tbsp. creamy peppercorn
2 Tbsp. water
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise

Mix peppercorn into sour cream and mayonnaise.

This recipe makes LOTS of dressing. I used about half of this for two grilled cheese sandwiches and still had some left over. But hey, it's flavored mayonnaise, basically. You can always find a good use for it. ;)

**Creamy peppercorn consists of Tellicherry black pepper (although I'm sure plain old black pepper would suffice), coarse salt, sugar, minced garlic, thyme, & minced parsley.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Of collards and dancing lessons in two thousand and one-one

At last, I've figured it out. My sister and I are both list junkies (if you're reading her blog or mine, you'll have that fact figured out in three seconds flat. We're ALWAYS talking about making lists, sticking to our lists, creating new lists... ;) and my 2011 New Year's resolution is, of course, a list.

Are you surprised?

So here it goes, in no particular order of importance. I plan to:

1. Run another 5k
2. Take dancing lessons
3. Bake 3 different kinds of breads
4. Snap photographs like crazy (or like a crazy person? Hmmm...), particularly portraiture
5. Document our first 2 years of marriage
6. Take a writing class
7. Make zanier clothing purchases
8. Stop eating when I’m full v. eating ‘til I’m stuffed
9. Write a short story in the style of Madeleine L’Engle
10. Prepare dishes w/collards, eggplant, & shitake mushrooms (each food item, of course, get its own dish)
11. FMEA (For My Ears Only), until it's ready TBA (To Be Announced)
12. Sew an adorably cute dress

This is how it works. I'll choose something from my list every month and do it. Some of these things will obviously take longer than a month. But they're things I genuinely WANT to do (I cheated and stole a few from my "Things I want to do" list!); some are highly intelligent, others sensible, and a few downright silly (a month of NOT stuffing myself? What dummy came up with THAT resolution?). This stuff makes me happy and excited to commence. I'm hoping it will stretch me in interesting ways, educate, even scare me a tad.

I'm changing the old blog around for '11 as well. Let me know if ya like the changes!

Props to 2011. May it be even better than '10!