Oh, hey

May 26, 2011 - Leave a Response

I think my brain is finally ready to start composing sentences again. The last few entries were just too soon. But I was sitting at my job this week helping students with papers via the internet and realized I had missed the feeling of my fingers on the keyboard. I also went into my kitchen the other night and made blueberry muffins (from a mix but listen, I sometimes go Sam’s and buy 3 mixes for muffins because the deal should not be passed up). So that was me stretching my cooking/baking muscles. So what have I been doing?

Little did we know the sunburn that lurked beneath those smiles...

 Jeph and I went to King’s Island amusement park. We listened to Harry Potter Book 7 on the way there and were the only people there above 16 and under 40. It was awesome.  I wish I had bought the picture of me screaming and Jeff holding my hand to try and calm me down while we are being tortured on this horrible contraption they pass off as a roller coaster called the FireHawk. I’m not even exaggerating people. I may have cried.

The ice cream formerly known as Smurf.

 But it’s okay because we ate blueberry ice cream (or, blueberry and vanilla twist dipped in rainbow sprinkles in my case because I go big or don’t use the calories). This was Jeph’s favorite part of the trip.

And this week has been full of work, adult root beer floats, and an amazing quiche that I will post tomorrow because I have yet to stop myself from eating a piece before taking a photo.

work and play

May 18, 2011 - Leave a Response

Today, I. . .

Conquered my closet (while streaming This American Life episodes about party schools and babies being switched at birth)


Eight bags of clothes, art supplies, and shoes for the Goodwill later, and it looks like this:


Hazel got in on the fun, too.


Later, I got some clementines  from Jef’f’s generous mom. I like my citrus best in miniature form:



He and I also strolled around HobbyLobby for a bit, and I decided to replace my duty blah white fake flowers in the bathroom with some new colorful ones for fall:


My mom once told me every room should have a spot of yellow, and I quite agree.

Now, I’m watching Revolutionary Road. I saw it in theaters but read the book last summer and am thoroughly enjoying the film adaptation the second time around. It makes me wonder how anyone avoids succumbing to the “real world”. Kate and Leo’s characters are such dreamers and so in love and then they give in, like we’re all eventually suppose to, right? I think the book and film beautifully capture that complexity. The story reminds me of Ann Beattie’s Falling in Place, which is one of the rare assigned books I thoroughly enjoyed. Both are highly recommended (and not quite as depressing as I make them out to be)!

Staycation Part Deux

May 17, 2011 - Leave a Response

So this week is Staycation Part II, only this time I’m back in my own apartment and have a lengthy to-do list ahead of me. For example, my “office”, which is really a desk and a bookshelf and 1/3 of my living room, is overflowing with books.  So last night, I did what any logical person would do: put on Walk the Line and fought back tears as I forced myself to put my entire Phillipa Gregory collection into a “donate/sell” bag. It was sad on many levels. Need less to say, this week is full of fun little projects like that. I’m grateful for the extra week off work to knock it all out at once!

I also spent the better part of the afternoon doing this:

1305573103561 But I was still being productive because I had a WW Mexican Chicken soup recipe going in the crockpot. As good as the soup was (more on that tomorrow), the food highlight of the day was definitely the frozen bananas I whipped into submission.Some time ago, I came across instructions for blending bananas into “ice cream” (put frozen bananas into a blender and blend – easy enough!) on a raw foods diet site. When a chocolate craving hit me tonight, I knew that with a little added cocoa (1/2 teaspoon), it would hit the spot.


Not only did this not require any added sugar or cream, but it is also much cheaper than buying a gallon of the real deal. I’m already dreaming of throwing some Reese peanut butter cups in and calling it healthy.


May 13, 2011 - Leave a Response

My time at homehome has come to an end. Tomorrow, Harry Potter and I travel back home and thus back to the reality of summer cleaning/summer job. But I’m not complaining because I am not going home to a pile of papers to write.

Anyways, the family and I hit up Always Ron’s in Hagerstown last night for drinks and food. The folks love this place. It’s a blue collar dive with friendly people and food that is so so good. I had the eggplant parm but that’s not the most important part. The bartender, Shawn, whipped me up what is basically childhood-in-a-glass: a “root beer float” with diet root beer and a shot of vanilla liquor (vodka, I believe). It was sweet but still retained that bitter RB taste. I can’t remember the last time I had a root beer float, but I do remember getting one almost every day at the County Fair from the 4-H food stand. It was that or a moose tracks milkshake. And then I’d watch cow shows. Farm girls, represent!

1305151859628 And tonight, I made homemade sangrias for the folks! Jeff and I tried this on Cinco de Mayo, and the outcome was good but could be better, ya know? So Mom picked up a cabernet sauvignon (thank you, GoogleChrome spellcheck) and some citrus.

1305239431427 I squeezed in the 2 oranges, 1 lemon, and 1 lime. then added chunks of a green apple and a few orange and lemon slices. Let everything get to know each other in the pitcher while chilling in the fridge. Next time I do this, I’ll let it sit overnight for optimal mingling. To serve, add about 1/2 cup of seltzer water and 2 ice cubes to each glass.

1305243032192 Cheers to homes, near and far.

Blue Moooooon

May 11, 2011 - Leave a Response

Oh, Shepherdstown. How I adore your brick sidewalks, quirky storefronts, and hipppiessters. For a nice lunch, my favorite spot is the Blue Moon Cafe. When I worked at Earth, Wind, and Fur downtown (I told you – quirky), I used to order veggies wraps with sprouts and hummus from them. A few years later, my friends and I would duck over there for lunch after one of many high school graduation practices. It has a very quirky laid-back feel. Occasionally, there is questionable art on the walls. A picture from their site:


My Dad and I headed there for lunch today. The menu is a collection of salads and sandwiches that range from vegetarian to beef and brie. They try to serve on local produce and meat and are visibly dedicated to clean eating and sustainable living. We both got portabella based sandwiches. Mine was the Porta Stacker on foccia bread with mushrooms, red peppers, onion, and feta. Plus a cute “cole slaw” salad that was actually a corn/couscous/red pep blend ( I think).


It was delicious and light enough that I’ll be hungry for the early meal we have planned. Next time, I want to get something meaty and have a beer. Tonight, I plan on chowing down on some eggplant parmesan at another favorite local watering hole. Cheers!


May 10, 2011 - Leave a Response

I drove home semi-sporadically yesterday. While going into hour 4 of 6 on the windy WV hills (more like gas guzzling hills, these days), I threw up a big thanks to J.K. Rowling for writing HP7, which I was enjoying through the speakers, and to the SheetzGods for clean bathrooms and coffee. But it was well worth the truck because I had a wine of Riesling and two happy parents waiting for me.

So now I’m having a stay-cation at my homehome (ya know, the place you came from). For instance, I’m currently watching Oprah’s weight loss special and only left my yoga pants to jog and shower. I took a lovely jog/walk around Shepherdstown while listening to Coconut Records and MGMT (highly suggested workout music!!). It was fun exploring on foot. We typically go there for church, food, or shopping, so running down residential sidewalks gave me a new appreciation for the place.

I also soaked up some sun and reading on our deck:

I am in the depths of Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross (Book 5 of Outlander series). Momma is back on the porch, so I’m heading out there to enjoy another glass of Riesling.

May 9, 2011 - Leave a Response

School is OUT!

I am back. 

And determined to have the most fabulous summer yet. 

See you soon, blog land. 

GWTW in the ATL!

March 27, 2011 - Leave a Response

Greetings from the ATL! I’m in the land of Scarlett O’Hara and couldn’t be happier. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m doing research for an independent study on Gone With the Wind and, of course, Georgia is the place to be for such a task!

In fact, yesterday I strolled around 3 Civil War/Atlanta exhibits at a local museum and research center, scribbling away in my little notebook, completely content. I grew up near Antietam and Gettysburg, so we took a lot of school trips to those battlefields; seeing the Civil War from the perspective of the South has been fascinating and a little heartbreaking.

Now if only I could find Tara…

This is a breath-taking model of Scarlett’ plantation housed at the Marietta Scarlett on the Square. Unfortunately, I don’t have my actual camera’s cord so I can only upload the few photos I have on my phone for now.

When we rolled into the big city, I was squealing to see that our hotel was only 1 block from Margaret Mitchell’s home (the author). I walked down there yesterday and took the tour — she was such an inspiring lady! Gone With the Wind is, of course, her shining moment but she was a rebel from girlhood and worked endlessly in the Civil Rights Movement and to secure international copyright laws for authors. Homegirl had a brain. Plus, she was a total Flapper and named her cat Dracula.

I also squealed that our hotel was a block away from a Publix grocery store. When I go to grocery stores in new cities, I consider it an oppurtunity to try products I can’t find at home…like this gelato:

Sicilian Pistachio! And the stats are phenom: all ingredients are pronounceable and could be bought at the store. Yum.

Chobani 2%!! Occasionally, Kroger will have this but usually just the 0%, and I’ve been itchin’ to try the full-fat version.

Since I’m in the land of the peaches, I thought it only appropriate to pick up some Mich Ultra Dragon Fruit Peach beer. 

We’ve already had the BEST Thai food (which was only about 4 blocks from out hotel — can I please live in a big city ASAP!!) and last night, I had a hummus and goat cheese salad that was amazing. The best part? Both meals are providing plenty of leftovers for lunches. Longer posts on that soon…

Warning: lit nerd moment coming up. Yesterday, I got to touch and read actual legit letters of Margaret Mitchell. She was so witty. AH! I want to be her. Okay, I’m done.

Since all my museums/libraries are closed today, we’re going to do a little work at a coffee shop and then find Rhett Butler explore the city a bit. I think we’re heading to a nearby college tomorrow with lots of more old letters and papers that I can dig through. Swoon.

Happy Excuse to Drink a Margarita Day!

March 17, 2011 - Leave a Response

In high school, two of my very best friends — Jon and John — were deeply passionate about their Irish roots. St. Patrick’s Day was right up there with Christmas for those boys. I imagine Jon is in a bar somewhere drinking too much guiness and singing Irish diddies while John is probably cooking a huge feast, which is exactly what we did one St. Pat’s day way back when. We had it all — Irish soda bread, corned beef, sourkraut, potatoes…if it was remotely Irish, we had it on our tables. I remember doing a lot of eating but not too much cooking. Maybe next year I’ll coordinate my own little shindig!

Anyways, that’s probably my fondest memory of this holiday. I do love green beer margaritas and green cookies those giant sugar cookies from Wal-Mart that are smothered in green sugary frosting, but I’ve never been a huge fan of partying on a school/work night (wah wah wahhhh). So I thought instead of focusing on food, I’d introduce you to a few of my favorite Irish authors:

Meet Bram. Bram Stoker. Or, the author of Dracula. The orginial Dracula. He’s Irish! Now, I don’t do scary things (which is an understatement and a whole other post), but I had to read Dracula for a 19th Century British novel course last Spring and loved it. Not only does it explain a lot about the modern-day vampire spin-offs, but the story is complex and gripping. Basically, a band of five men (all different nationalities; the American is, of course, a cowboy) are hunting Dracula to protect their women, who have already been bitten. But here’s the thing: you think Buffy first made vampires sexy? Oh no no, Bram was way ahead of them all. His story is full of angst and lust and fear. It’s also written in the form of diaries/letters, which keeps the story moving.

Next, meet Samuel Beckett, the playwright. He wrote Waiting for Godot, which as much as I hate to admit this, impresses me. It’s a crazy play that seems simple but shakes your foundations. You can thank him for the modern theater. Also, he said “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” And that makes him awesome.  


And finally, I leave you with a shoutout to Flogging Molly, a band that shaped my high school years and I always make me want to dance. You can’t get much more Irish than them.

And I’m off to find a margarita.

Cat Cooks: Eggplant Parm-asgna

March 16, 2011 - Leave a Response

Whenever I visit home, my parents and I go to a restaurant/bar called Always Ron’s. I imagine it’s somewhere Roseanne and Dan Connor would hang out. And I love it. Good food, lots of beer on tap, friendly owners, and loud jazz music certain nights.

But let’s focus on the food. They actually have a decent vegetarian menu — bountiful salads, veggie burgers, a quesadilla with red peppers and onions, or eggplant parmesan.

Oh, eggplant parmesan. Thick slices of eggplant smothered in marina sauce and melted provolone on top of a huge bowl of spaghetti noodles. Honestly, I’m thinking about making the 6-hour drive right now for it.

But since that’s not possible (thanks, grad school!), I’ll settle for making a twist on this dish in my own kitchen that is a tad simpler to assemble and cook than the traditional parm.

You Need:

  • 1 large smooth eggplant
  • 1 8 oz. tub of ricotta cheese (I used low-fat)
  • 1 8 oz. tub cottage cheese (I used full-fat)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheese
  • lasagna noodles
  • garlic, oregano, and basil tomato sauce (Newman’s Own is best!)

Make It Work:

  • Pre-heat oven to *350
  • Slice eggplant in to thinnest possible strips and heat for about 10 minutes over medium heat, until slightly brown.

  • While those are heating, combine riccotta and cottage cheese until it’s one happy mixture.
  • Start assembling your lasagna. Now, I used one 9×9 pan and one smaller 4×7 pan (freezer, what’s up!?). You could totally do this in one big pan or 8 smaller ones. Adjust ingredients and cooking time accordingly.
  • Place noodles on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of cheese, than a layer of eggplant slices, then a layer of sauce. Repeat as many times as you can fit in your pan, ending with a sauce layer. Sprinkle mozzarella on top.
  • Pop in the oven for about 30 minutes (9×9 pan), or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
  • EAT.

 It has just the right amount of cheese and sauce but not too many noodles (re: carbs) to give you that I-should-have-stopped-at-1-piece feeling. We’ll see how long the other lasts in the freezer.

And if I end up throwing a piece on to a pile of spaghetti, don’t judge me.

Finally, I can’t take all the credit for this. My fuzzy little helper was monitoring my layer-assembly the entire way:


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