Saturday, December 31, 2011

ps

I heard this on the radio the other day as I was driving around my hometown. It just put a smile on my face and thought it's worth a listen on New Year's Eve. 

Rod Stewart, Forever Young

2011 wrap up

2011 was a hell of a year. I suppose things are supposed to change frequently in your 20s, but I think this year certainly saw a bit more change than usual. 


Here are some of the highlights:


DC
Started 2011 with weekend at a bed and breakfast with past boyfriend
Interviewed at UNC- Chapel Hill for graduate school
Was accepted to 6/7 schools I applied to
Threw a big brunch for some girl friends 
Vacationed for a week in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Hot tubbed on the roof of a friend's apt overlooking the Capitol
Newseum
Two trips to NYC
Decided to attend UNC- Chapel Hill for my MPH. Go Heels! 
Turned 26 
Watched the Royal Wedding 
Dad was in the hospital
Sailed on the Potomac River 
Volunteered at the Arlington Free Clinic
Family vacation to the Jersey Shore 
Heart broken for the first time 
Left my job of 3 years 
Moved away from DC 


NC
Moved into my own apartment in North Carolina
Started graduate school 
Threw my sister's bridal shower and bachelorette party
Sister got married 
Went to first UNC football and basketball games 
Threw my first tailgate
Started volunteering at a clinic in North Carolina
Went to Virginia Tech for a football game with some friends 
Made awesome new friends
Decided to go to the Dominican Republic as a medical interpreter 
Saw 2 plays 
Some dating
Went on a Santa themed pub crawl 
Finished my first semester, had Christmas at home and caught up with friends 


Some things are bigger than others on that list, but overall those were the major events that came to mind. With the way that last year turned out, I don't think I can possibly guess what next year is going to look like, but I have hope. And faith. Hope for the future, for possibility and chances. Faith in myself, in my friends, and the idea that everything will somehow be all right. Actually, even better than all right-- AMAZING.


Happy New Year!!! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

lucky

I talk about friends a lot. By the ripe age of 26, I feel lucky to have met so many amazing people that I am lucky enough to call friends. I've found some of them in the usual places like school, and others I have found on stage, through failed romances, or during summer camp. Tonight I had the pleasure of dinner with some former colleagues. To just call them colleagues would be the understatement of the year. I have gone to visit work friends twice since I have been back in the DC area for my break. Each time I have left feeling really warm inside. Like my heart is smiling. I miss these people. It's also much more enjoyable to spend time when them when the focus isn't deadlines and meetings, but sharing our lives and how they have transformed, and yet felt comfort in the fact that even as things change, sometimes in the most important ways, we do not. 

In the absence of a big love in my life right now, this friend love has been the thing that makes my heart swell. I saw girls this week that I have known for thirteen years. People move and get jobs and married, but a few days a year we forgot the things that push us physically apart and allow the laughter and past to hold us together. It's nice. It's also good to remember that not all love is romantic, and from what I have seen, the non-romantic love has had some serious staying power. 

Big kisses to the universe for sending wonderful people my way. 

PS- Check out this little gem. Oh you know, just Zooey and Joseph hanging out, playing music. (If anyone knows them, tell them to invite me next time. I am accepting new friends!)

independent woman

I am choosing to believe that the fact that on Christmas morning I opened up a power drill from my father, who said, "Your sister got a husband this year, you get a drill!" means that he recognizes that maybe I am on a different track in life and am learning to handle things on my own (from hanging pictures to paying for school) instead of a small hint that a husband in a box will only substitute for the real thing for so long. 


Yes, I will go with the first. 


(I already knew the second.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

There are wrapped presents. There is an tall tree with colorful lights and an angel on top in my parent's living room. There is laughter and a full house now with my sister and her new husband here. I made a family ElfYourself video and there was hearty chuckling from my dad. There are leisurely meals over bottles of wine and discussion of which holiday classics to watch tomorrow, and maybe the next day. There are inside jokes. There is music and singing (mostly by me.) There is warmth. 


Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

christmas dog!

One of the perks of being home is getting to hang out with my parent's dog. She is just so adorable and cuddly that I am cooing over her everyday. Or dressing her up in a ridiculous fashion. What better time (Ok, maybe Halloween) than Christmas to make your dog look silly cute? 



(She does not look very happy about that bow.) 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

this is the new year

I think by now we've established how much I love music. This morning I came across this video by Ian Axel which is just so happy and cheerful you won't be able to help but smile. It seems like perfect timing as the year is drawing to a close. 


Lyrics Preview: 
Say everything you've always wanted
be not afraid of who you really are
cause in the end we have each other
and that's at least one thing worth living for


And I would give the world to you. 




Sunday, December 18, 2011

perfect

Sometimes in life you get days where all the pieces come together. The weather, the company, the spirit. These days are rare, but when they happen everything seems right in the world. Life feels like it is happening just like it should. 

Fireplaces and peppermint icing just add to the magic.

Friday, December 16, 2011

not yet

I finished finals on Tuesday (hooray!) but them came down with a horrible cold. I have just been a sniffly sneezy mess! I planned to stay in Chapel Hill for a few days after exams to hang out and have fun, but mostly I've been napping, running last minute errands, and laying low. Today is starting to look up though! I'm not quite as miserable feeling, which is great because I have a dinner to go to tonight, followed by a Lizzy Ross Band show at Local 506. She's a Chapel Hill local who I've seen a few times and is friends of a friend. Just adore her. (Listen to "Not Yet")  


The song is somewhat pertinent in my life right now:

All in good time,
that’s what they tell me.
You only learn if you keep going.
But the deeper we “go,” the deeper I fall,
even though I’ve got no way of knowing…
no way to know where this is going…
not yet.


I'll leave you with that ;) Happy Friday! What are your plans tonight?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

to be humans or gods

Today I was talking with a gentleman. Somehow the topic landed on politicians and infidelity and what the reasons are behind so many scandals of men in power. This lead to a discussion of marriage. I tend to be a bit of a marriage cynic. I have no reason to be. My parents have a wonderful relationship, my friends that have gotten married have chosen great partners. I just look at the bigger picture and see everything from the Kardashian divorce to Anthony Weiner creeping on women when his wife is pregnant and it just scares me. The risk of failure is great and the stakes are so high. Eeek. 

But as we were talking he noted that people look at divorce and infidelity scandals and think we should just drop the bar. Just let these famous people get on with their professional lives and ignore the personal. And then he said something that stopped me in my tracks: Just because humans continue to fall short of the ideal, it doesn't mean we should abandon the ideal. We are human afterall, but shouldn't we have something to aim for? 

Wow. That's been rolling around my head today. And for the first time in a while, it made me feel like maybe my hope of marriage and partnership wasn't lost. I like goals. I like having something to shoot for.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

sit back down where you belong, in the corner of my bar with your high heels on

I have mentioned the Crunkleton before. It is my most favorite bar in Chapel Hill, but with cocktails running around $12 a piece, I have to go sparingly. Last night was another end of semester celebration with some friends in my program, so bottoms up, of course had to be somewhere most fabulous. 

I was dressed in black fishnets, a black 3/4 sleeve dress with a big wide belt around the middle, high heels, big dangly earrings, and my hair up in a loose updo. It was a night for dress up. A night to feel like an adult instead of a student. 

The bar was relatively empty, so we were chatting it up with the bar tender who put something new to drink in front of me every time I turned around. There is just something about holding a cocktail that makes me feel like a lady. 

Around midnight, the bartender comes over and says, "Hey, those guys at the end of the bar want to buy you a drink. They are UNC's male soccer coaches and just won the national soccer championship."

I politely declined the drink, because, of course I was "leaving at any minute!" but as the night went on our two groups combined, and I found myself, sitting at the corner of the bar with my high heels on chatting it up with some UNC celebrities. (It's a funny thing when you realize you are closer in age to coaches now than players.) They were completely nice gentleman and around 2am we all parted ways. I may never see them again, but it was a fun evening had by all. I love this town.

Monday, December 12, 2011

jigsaw puzzle

I used to write about relationships. That came easy to me. I was recently talking to someone who said to me, "One of the things that impresses me is how thoughtful you are. Not in the way where you are running around baking cookies for people all the time, but you look at situations from every angle. You weigh pros and cons. You may not always be perfect, but even in times when you mess up, you seriously consider what you could do to be better next time." 


I was pretty profoundly touched when I heard that. I often feel like all these thoughts I have running around in my head are just there to drive me crazy. But I want to believe that they are like the pieces of a puzzle scattered on a table and I am constantly working to put it together to make a picture that makes sense. 


I know how to be a girlfriend. I can meet parents, cook nice meals, be reliable, and plan romantic events with the best of them. I know how to be single. My life revolves around friends and family. I push myself to go hiking, or running, or throw dinner parties and drink cocktails. I am good at that too. It's the middle ground I am not so good at. Dating makes me feel like the scattered pieces of the puzzle. What are the rules to the game? Do they change as you get older? How do you maintain that cool and confident air about yourself when you just crave someone holding you at night as you fall asleep? Are those things really at odds? Isn't it a human need to be touched and appreciated? 


When I feel unsettled about something my thinking is on overdrive. Against my original plans for this blog, I may start writing more about that thought process. Whether or not I am seriously dating someone, I have always considered the relationships in my life, be it friends, family, or classmates, (and occasionally romantic interest) to be tops. They are the things that occupy the real estate in my brain. Maybe it's just best to accept that. Because who are we without the ones we love? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

gonna wish i had a storm warning

This song is getting me through all the craziness of exams. 




Be the force of nature. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

she dances

She dances to the moonlight as the constellations watch her movements.
They shine their golden dust on her, as her body sings the melody of love.
She’s hungry to feel, to give, to be the supernatural man-made star.
The illuminated wonders of a girl that doesn’t know...



From here

Sunday, December 4, 2011

girl talk

Girlfriend #1: I love my bed. It is sooo comfortable. 


Me: I'm neutral on mine. It does have flannel sheets on it right now, so it's pretty cozy at least. 


Girlfriend #2: I don't really like mine that much. Mostly because its just me in it. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

christmas wish list

I am 26 years old, but I still make a Christmas list for my parents. I find that as I get older I don't want things like, oh, American Girl Dolls, but instead down pillows. Here are a few things on my wish list: 


-Flannel sheets (Is there anything more cozy in the winter?)
-Everything is Illuminated (I've heard this is a great book.) 
-Clinique black honey lip gloss 
-A kitchen scale 
-Decent metal measuring cups
-Tall brown leather boots (I found a pair I loved and my Mom let me get them early :)!) 
-Raincoat with a hood
-Clothes! 


I know, I have gotten so boring and practical in my old age. What is on your wish list??

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

thanksgiving reflections



Somehow, my family managed to pull off one of the best Thanksgivings we have had in years. Everyone was nice and loving to each other, we sat at the dinner table for close to 3 hours talking, telling stories, and sharing little tidbits about our lives. The whole clan was captivated. 


With all the craziness in life and finals coming up, I feel like its important to remember and reflect on those seemingly perfect moments in life. 


I was listening to Miranda Lambert's House that Built Me on my drive home. Even though I've moved around my whole life, I really like the sentiment. "Out here it's like I'm someone else, I thought that maybe I could find myself..." Nothing like being with family and just getting to be who you are, unapologetically. 





Monday, November 21, 2011

thanksgiving come early

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. This year I'll be driving up to DC from the land of sweet tea for a few days and then continuing north to Haddonfield, NJ to visit with my mom's side of the family. For me, it's the way Thanksgiving should be. We drink gin and tonics, graze all day, laugh a lot, sit in front of a fire place, and watch football. Its magical. 

I get reflective around Thanksgiving. So much has happened since last year when I was in the middle of grad school applications, working full time, and spending the holiday with my then boyfriend while plotting what was to come. The future was a big question mark. Now that I can see the view from this side, I can say with confidence that it is beautiful. People say that everything always works out. Sometimes you just have to trust the process and let it happen. I wasn't disappointed. Life is never perfect, but when I can look around and see that it is my own, that is something to be thankful for. 

One last thing. This year I am particularly thankful for friends. Old home crew friends who know me better than myself, college roommates that I shared closets and secrets with, DC friends I made in the last few years that I count among my closest confidants, and the new group of girls I've come to know here in North Carolina and have me laughing every day. Life wouldn't be nearly as sweet without them. So thank you, to those who may be reading this, for being part of my life. I couldn't do it without you! 

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday. See you next week. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

possibility

Possibility is one of my favorite words. 



"I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of 
people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was stunned by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say, 'Hi.' They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word."


Augusten Burroughs

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

happy friday!

I couldn't help myself. This is ridiculously cute.

Just a silly paper between me and the weekend, which will begin with watching the Carrier Classic. This might be the first/last time I ever talk about sports on this blog, but I think the fact that the UNC basketball team is playing the first ever game on an air craft carrier for Veteran's Day bears mentioning. It's on at 7pm EST. Go Heels!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

why i am here

Days in grad school can be long. Classes start at 8:30am and run until 6pm, just to lead to coming home and starting homework. In an hour I have to go out again for some volunteer work. It can all start to wear on you. The assignments. The hustle. The go go go. 


I came home and tried to take a bath. I was sore and it was all I wanted. I realized simultaneously that the tub wouldn't stop up and that my hot water went out. Sigh. Fail. 


As I started poking around the kitchen trying to figure out what to have for dinner I remembered how I felt this morning. I was in a class that is normally hum drum, but we had a guest speaker who was incredibly engaging. As he discussed work in family planning and reproductive health, public-private partnerships, and arguments across every discipline to advocate for resources and political commitment, I was excited. Pumped. Jazzed. I thought, "I want to be like you when I grow up." 


In the face of the mundane assignments and statistics quizzes I had to remind myself to hold that feeling close. This is why I am here. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

i want to party with florence

I think in my next life I'd like to come back as Florence Welch. I could do worse than be reincarnated as a 6 foot tall soul singing British red head. 


Shake it Out popped up on my radar today: 


These lyrics are perfect for my week:
And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, for the devil in me
Looking for heaven, for the devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me



Sometimes it is good just to remember that as much as you plan for things, sometimes life just happens. Cheers. 


Now go dance around your kitchen and listen to this song. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

people and community

I like meeting new people and connecting with them. Even if it's convincing the middle age woman at the mall that she needs those leopard pumps for her holiday parties. I liked meeting one of my friend's parents this weekend-- she and her mom have the same laugh--amazing. I enjoy hanging out with someone you know a little, and after one night you feel like you know them so much more. Those nights are pretty cool, especially when I think about how I used to coexist in an office environment everyday with so many people I knew on a superficial level.


I guess what I am trying to say is that for an extrovert like me, this little southern town fits. People want to know each other. Barriers aren't quiet as defined as they were in the big city. It's refreshing. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

not quite perfect

After turning in a giant assignment for school last night, I decided that today, Saturday, I will just do things that I like. I slept in, I went to the gym, I made eggs and waffles for breakfast, and then I read this. I stumbled across the article from Cup of Jo, one of my favorite reads. 


It's a love story. For the past few months I've stayed away from love stories. They still feel too implausible after one day being in love, and the next day having that taken away. But lately, I've started to have a bit of hope. I've been spending time working on myself. Arranging the pieces in my life in a way that is pleasing to me, so that when the time is right I'll be ready. 


Read the article. I don't want to spoil it for you, but I think if you have ever had a crush or an amazing love story that just wasn't quite right, you'll feel this deep in your bones. I know I did. 


With hope, today I go shopping for date clothes. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

southernisms updates

There was I was, walking through Harris Teeter, just looking for some skim milk and I came across this: 
Um. WHAT? I thought the Turducken was an urban legend. Apparently they sell it in grocery stores in North Carolina. 

Is anyone else totally grossed out by this concept?

Also, it took me 26 years to realize that a "tail gate" is the back part of a pick-up truck that folds down. I think that says something about my urban upbringing...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

It's been a while since I've been excited about Halloween but this year I think it is going to be SUPER fun. Chapel Hill is known for its Halloween celebration. The streets are all closed downtown and then the weirdos come out. Should be a total spectacle. I'm going to be Baby Spice with the 4 other Spice Girls. Epic. 


I went to a party on Saturday and went as Christina Aguilera from Burlesque. Here is the evidence:  




I also had some fun fishnets and red satin heels on. This was the first time I wore a wig and it was awesome!


Love this song from Burlesque:



Happy Halloween!! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

the most delicious tomato soup

Considering that I have been eating this tomato soup the last 4 days and haven't gotten sick of it yet, I figured I should share the recipe. I made it for my first soup party of the season and forgot how much it makes so I had lots of leftovers. You may want to half the recipe for 4-6 servings. 


I love this soup so much I want to kiss it :) 




Adapted from Serious Eats' Nordstrom Tomato Basil Soup


Ingredients

serves 8-10
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
  • 3 28-ounce cans whole peeled Roma tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 pint heavy cream (sometimes I use less, just add it, taste, add more.) 
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crushed red pepper (optional) 

Procedures

  1. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrots and onion and cook until beginning to soften, 10 minutes, then add basil and garlic and cook until vegetables are completely soft, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Add tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes, or up to 45 minutes.
  3. After allowing soup to cool somewhat, purée in a blender or food processor until smooth, doing so in batches if necessary. (I just stick an immersion blender into the pot and it does the job too with less mess.)
  4. Stir in cream little by little over over low heat, until desired texture is reached and soup is just heated through. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and serve warm. (Sometimes I add garlic powder as well to round out the flavors.)

    This is great served with garlic bread.

    Bon appetite! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

the romance of mr. darcy

Ever since the wedding I've been feeling romantic. I LOVE this quote from Pride and Prejudice:

Mr. Darcy: Miss Elizabeth. I have struggled in vain and I can bear it no longer. These past months have been a torment. I came to Rosings with the single object of seeing you... I had to see you. I have fought against my better judgment, my family's expectations, the inferiority of your birth by rank and circumstance. All these things I am willing to put aside and ask you to end my agony.

Elizabeth Bennet: I don't understand.

Mr. Darcy: I love you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

going to the chapel

My baby sister got married this weekend!!! It was such a magical few days filled with love of the couple and of our families. I'm so excited to have a brother! Everything was absolutely perfect. 
 


"Family, last time I checked, are a group of people who give you love" - Stephen Kellogg

Saturday, October 15, 2011

dc meets nc

I walked into a bar where a man in a blue shirt and pink bow tie checked my name off the list. There were deep leather couches, more men in bow ties shaking signature cocktails behind a giant oak bar, and it was crowded enough to feel festive but not too loud to talk. Women were in dresses, men in pressed shirts with the sleeves comfortably rolled up to the elbows.

Was I in DC? It sure felt like it. 

But no, I was at the Crunkleton in Chapel Hill. I think I have found my new favorite bar. 
Perhaps it was the company, some new friends I am making, but I was just totally taken with the vibe. I had a cocktail made from gin, Saint Germaine, cucumber and lime. It tasted like summer with a smoothness to it that most cocktails don't have. 

There are plenty of dive bars in the area that are great to wear jeans to and have a microbrew, but this place just felt special. It felt like an event, not just getting drinks. Totally fabulous. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

raise your glass

I have never had more spontaneously happy moments than during the 2 months of living in North Carolina thus far. This place is magical with all its friendly people, amazing night life, and socially conscious community. 

LOVE. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

flick chicks

Ps- You have to check out this article in the New Yorker about Chick Flick Archetype characters. 

LOVE THIS: 

"The Woman Who Works in an Art Gallery:
How many freakin’ art galleries are out there? Are people buying visual art on a daily basis? This posh/smart/classy profession is a favorite in movies. It’s in the same realm as kindergarten teacher or children’s-book illustrator in terms of accessibility: guys don’t really get it, but it is likable and nonthreatening...The Gallery Worker character is the rare female movie archetype that has a male counterpart. Whenever you meet a handsome, charming, successful man in a romantic comedy, the heroine’s friend always says the same thing: “He’s really successful. He’s”—say it with me—“an architect!

All the Charlotte Yorks and Ted Mosbys out there are high-fiving each other right now.

my girl tonight

I just saw Jon McLaughlin a few weeks ago and have been listening to his cd Forever If Ever. It's pretty darn great. 

I'm mentioning this because I just realized one of the songs is perfect for a wedding. With my sister's next weekend it just had me in tears. For those of you like Annie, who are planning a wedding, perhaps you may want to add it to your playlist for the night? 

My Girl Tonight lyrics


Monday, October 10, 2011

bride to be!

This weekend we celebrated my sister's upcoming nuptials. (2 weeks!) She's in the middle, with one of her awesome bridesmaids on the left. Don't we look so fancy? 

I hardly get to see my baby sister, so having 24 hours with her was awesome. She's going to be a beautiful bride. I will be crying all day. I know it. 


Cheers! 

Friday, October 7, 2011

eat, pray, love

I have a tendency of reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert any time I am going through a major change in my life. I read it for the first time when I moved to Spain when I was 22-years old. Now that I am going through another transition it feels appropriate to pick it up again. I always feel comforted by her words. Because as human beings, I think what we really want is not to feel alone in this world. What better feeling than to sit with someone and think "you get me"? 


Here are some of my favorite Eat, Pray, Love quotes: 



This was my moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude.


It's for the best. I know it is. I'm choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I'm making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet to come surprises. 


You've got some serious control issues...You're a powerful woman and you're used to getting what you want out of life and you didn't get what you wanted in your last few relationships and its got you all jammed up. Your husband didn't behave the way you wanted and David didn't either. Life didn't go your way for once. And nothing pisses off a control freak more than life not goin' her way.


Do you think any of us know what were doing? Do you think there's any ways humans can love each other without complication?...It's still two human beings trying to get along so its going to become complicated. And love is always complicated. But still humans must try to love each other, darling. We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we tried for something.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Inspiration



“I’m not going to mislead anybody. Politics is really hard. And it is harder for women. There’s a double standard, and you can’t complain about it. You just have to accept it, and be smart enough to navigate it. And you have to have a pretty tough skin. To paraphrase a favorite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: If a woman wants to be in politics, she has to have the skin of a rhinoceros. Most men who go into politics just think they’re great. They believe they can do anything. Most young women, not only in politics but in most areas, are more cautious and more likely to say, ‘Could I really do this? Am I good enough?’ I was talking to a friend and very successful businessman the other day, and he said, ‘The thing that still annoys me more than anything is that I see all these young women who are so much more capable than they allow themselves to believe. And I see so many young men who are so much less capable but who believe they are God’s gift to the world.’ I would just say to women: Try it! Put your foot in the pond and see if you want to swim.” -- Hillary Clinton

Monday, October 3, 2011

mmm tostada

Over the weekend I made this tostada recipe twice that I came up with and was overjoyed each time, so I figured I should share it with you. I am not one to cook really with measurements, but perhaps you can follow?


Ingredients: (this is cooking for one, but you could replicate it however many times you need.)


2 whole wheat tortillas 
Shredded cheddar cheese
Trader Joes Roasted Tomato salsa (Or Salsa verde) 
Refried black beans 
Sliced avocado or guacamole
Sautéed peppers and onions


Cooking:
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F
2. On a cookie sheet place one tortilla. Sprinkle shredded cheese on tortilla and top it with second tortilla. 
3. Spread refried black beans on top of the second tortilla. Place tray into the oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is melty between and beans are hot. 
4. While the tortilla is heating in a frying pan sauté diced peppers and onions in a bit of olive oil.
5. Take tortillas out of the oven and top with peppers and onions, salsa, and avocado or guacamole. Slice in quarters. Bon appetite! 


The whole process takes about 10-15 minutes. It is a quick and delicious dinner! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

i love this crazy, sometimes almost magic, awful beautiful life

Yesterday was probably one of the best days since I have moved to North Carolina. I slept in, had a lazy morning, then went out to participate in a school of public health field day. I met lots of new friends, got to run around and play for a while like a kid, and enjoy the weather. Afterwards, I went to a potluck for the first meeting of the new Chapel Hill chapter of Dining for Women. It's a pretty cool thing, you gather once a month, everyone brings a dish, and you donate what you'd normally spend out on dinner and the money goes to a featured organization of the month. Everyone brought something delicious and it felt great to give back a little. I'd definitely recommend starting one of your own! 


Afterwards, I went out to this little town called Saxapahaw to see the Lizzy Ross Band. She was like a cross between Miranda Lambert and Regina Spektor. It was a total blast dancing around with a few friends like fools. Also, the venue- phenomenal. I have never walked into a place before and thought, this is where I'd have my wedding. I had that feeling! (I know, boyfriend first, but a girl can dream.) Just such a cool interesting place! 


It was such a stellar day. I am loving North Carolina!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

i wish my smile was your favorite kind of smile

Do broken hearts ever heal? Or do they just eventually drift away?




zzz

I'm having a sleepy day. All I want to do is lay around and eat carbs. How good do these pumpkin scones sound? I could also go for some zucchini bread


And with that I am going to take a quick nap. One of the perks of being a student-- sleeping at 4pm on a Tuesday. 




Are you having any cravings lately?

Monday, September 26, 2011

braised chicken is a revelation

Even though it is still 80 degrees out I think I am starting to get into cool weather nesting mood. Today, all I want to do is cook. Not like, single girl throwing a meal together, but something that makes the whole house smell good and warm and delicious. I turned to the experts of comfort food: the Deens. While I tend to shy away from Paula "Everything has 2 lbs of butter" Deen's recipes, I do have a cookbook from her sons: The Deen Bros. Take it Easy. There is a lot of casserole in there, a little more midwest than my usual cooking, but I have found this one recipe that is a serious gem. I have made it probably 5 times and it is so simple, but tastes like so much more. 

You ready for this?


It is called Quick Braised Chicken with Rosemary and Potatoes. Try it. (Adapted from the Deen bros)

Ingredients: 
2 teaspoons salt, plus additional for seasoning
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil (I usually just do a few glugs)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I use the pre-chopped in a jar)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary 
2-3 lbs of chicken legs, with bone
1 pound small new red potatoes, cut into 8ths. 
1 onion, cut into chunks 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and rosemary 
3. Place chicken in a large broiler-proof baking pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes and onions around the chicken. Pour the rosemary sauce over the chicken and make sure everything is coated.
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Uncover and switch to broil for 5-10 minutes, or until the juices run clear for the chicken and it looks yummy and browned. 

Serve hot (about 3-4 people) with the juices spooned on top. 

YUM.

Since I am a poor grad student I save the chicken bones and make stock with them :) 

I also pour about 1/4 cup of chicken stock if I have some around in the pan to make a bit more gravy. 

game changer


 pic
Saturday night when I was home I went to a fundraising dinner with my parents. It felt so good to get dressed up and mix with people in international work! I brought home a BCBG wrap dress and some black leather heels. It was a bit rainy but kind of humid. I needed something on my legs but was not looking forward to the idea of wearing the control top pantyhose I threw in my bag at the last minute. So! I went to Target and looked around and decided to try out a pair of thigh highs. I'd never worn them before but figured it was worth a shot. They were black opaque and looked like regular tights. I got them home and got dressed and was out the door. 

I can say with confidence that after 3 hours of standing, mingling, drinking and walking, those suckers stayed in place! I didn't have to tug them up once. I was imagining as the worst case scenario of having an important conversation and one of them rolling down to my ankles and awkwardly excusing myself. But these, my friends, did nothing of the sort. I don't see them on the Target website, but they were Hanes. I would definitely suggest trying them out next time you need to sport some legware. They look pretty sexy to boot!

(FYI, they did not have a lacey top, it was more of a thicker band. Not sure if that helped with the staying up.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

my favorite season

Today is the first day of fall!


Fall is my FAVORITE season. I love when the humidity drops and it starts to be sweater weather. I love cooking big pots of soup. I love going on dates when it starts to get chilly and it gives a guy an excuse to put his arm around your should to keep you warm and protected against the elements. I love the first time its cold enough to use a fireplace. 
 
Every year, on September 23rd, I feel like I am supposed to remember something. Do you have those days? The closest I can get is that maybe it was the anniversary with my first boyfriend when I was in 9th grade. 
 
I'm back up in DC this weekend. Hooray! It's rainy and icky outside so I am spending the day in a coffee shop doing a little work and then catching up with some friends and family tonight. It's good to get back to my roots for a few days. 
 
Have a fabulous weekend, friends. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

roots and wings

I have been IN LOVE with Stephen Kellogg for about 10 years now. I think I've seen him in concert at least 5 times and he is coming to Chapel Hill next weekend. You can bet your bottom dollar that I am going to see him! Since its a small town, maybe I can convince him to get a beer with me after. 

I really hope he plays Milwaukee. I just found this awesome live version to share with you all. Swoon. Who are some of your favorite artists?





Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

little updates from the south

Sorry for the lack of posts lately! I have been seriously swamped at school and then had migraines 3 days last week. Didn't leave much time for blogging and fun stuff. 


I survived and I have had a really fun past 24 hours. A friend of mine from DC was down here yesterday so we hung out, got some froyo and wandered around Chapel Hill for a while. My man friend made me a delicious dinner last night-- shrimp scampi, salad, garlic bread and chocolate covered strawberries. Yum. Today we joined up with some friends and tailgated before the football game against UVA. UNC won- 3rd game in a row this season! 28-17. I've never been a college sports fan before, but now I am totally into it! It was a pretty rainy and cold day though, so I'm going to cuddle up in some fleecy sweat pants and hit the books. I know, crazy Saturday here. It's payback for taking the last 24 hours off. 


Hope you all are having fabulous weekends yourselves. I think tomorrow I need to do some grocery shopping. I really want to make this chickpea, corn and red pepper salad. Looks like such a great healthy lunch! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

the sisterhood

I feel blessed to have had a life full of fabulous female friends. When I moved to Virginia 13 years ago (!) I spent the first half of 8th grade floundering and then found the loves of my life in a school production of Fiddler on the Roof. Despite the goofy costumes, the girls I met that Spring are still some of my best friends. In college I lucked out with a wonderful roommate freshman year that I really felt connected to right from the start. I also sang in an all-female a capella group and spent a lot of time with those girls both in rehearsal and socially. I've seen them get married and have babies. It's been incredible. Once I moved back to DC a lot of my "homecrew" friends had moved away, but somehow I found a few girls through the guys I knew to be wonderful additions to the every expanding sisterhood in my life. It's been particularly fun to invite them all together to parties and see them get to know each other as well. 

Now that I am down in North Carolina, the fact that I would be studying and learning with a lot of girls was inevitable-- I am doing a Masters degree in Maternal and Child Health. Of course, there will be women. However, I wasn't expecting to bond with them as much as I have. We are all still getting to know each other, but I threw out the idea of a girls night on Saturday and ended up with about 10 of us hitting the town. We went to Good Fellows for a drink and then hit the iconic Top of the Hill where we were all dancing fools. It hit me just how much fun it is and how good it is to just let loose with a bunch of women. I am really looking forward to getting to know them all over the next 2 years. 

 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

what if it does

I came across this quote the other day on Le Love:

 It is a risk to love.
What if it doesn't work out?
Ah, but what if it does?

-Peter McWilliams 

How sweet and optimistic!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

that went well

God bless Molly Wizenberg and her delicious chocolate cake. After our dinner of salad, pasta and chicken parmesan (and a bottle of prosecco) I presented the cake on a lovely cake stand. Two slices were served and topped with whipped cream. He ate a bite of the cake, and then he came over and kissed me. Good.

If any effects could have been wished or hoped for, I think that was the best possible outcome. 

The next morning I gave him a few slices for his coworkers. A dessert like this is best if it is shared. 24 hours after I baked the cake it looked like this: 

I'm slowly chipping away at the rest of it, but mostly I would like it if he came over again to help me finish it off. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

winning hearts and minds

I've always loved to read, however, it is pretty rare that a book really catches me. Last year I was introduced to the wonderful Molly Wizenberg. If you haven't heard of Molly, allow me the honor of introducing her to you. She started off writing the food blog Orangette a few years ago, which eventually became a full-blown book: A Homemade Life. Her book is one of those special ones that captivates you and makes you feel like you are now best friends with the author. Molly (we are obviously on a first name basis) shares her life through food memories and passes along those recipes as well. It's glorious and glutenous. Read it. You won't be sorry. 

The last recipe in her book is one of her most famous. Its called the "Winning Hearts and Minds Cake."  This is not the most beautiful cake, but I would gander to say it is one of the most delicious. We are talking about 1 and 3/4 sticks of butter, half a pound of chocolate...this list goes on. The first time I made it was for my dad's birthday and the whole family gave it rave reviews. 


Tonight I am having a boy over for dinner. I made the cake last night and its sitting on a beautiful cake stand just waiting for the right moment. Fingers crossed that it lives up to its name.

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

set fire to the rain

It has been pouring cats and dogs here all day! On top of that we had 2 tornado warnings! Pretty crazy! We have already had an earthquake and hurricane since I have lived in North Carolina. I always thought the east coast had relatively calm weather but these past few weeks have proved quite differently! I kind of like the idea of Zeus throwing lightening bolts in the sky to explain for all this chaos.

Today I've been listening to my current favorite "rain" song: Adele, "Set Fire to the Rain."

Doesn't that just sound magical? And how freaking amazing is her voice?



Monday, September 5, 2011

daily affirmation

I'm a boomerang, doesn't matter how you throw me. 
Turn around and I'm back in the game, 
even better than the old me.

-Gavin deGraw

cougar town



Saturday night some new gal pals and I went out to a country western bar. We figured that we better get a real taste of the South, and what better way then to go line dancing! This place was just what we were looking for-- loud country music, a bar for girls to dance on, a mechanical bull and bras hanging from the ceiling. Klassy with a K. We got our $2 beers and hit the dance floor. 


After a while my friend said, "Hey that cute guy at the bar keeps looking at you, you should talk to him." She proceeded to drag me over and introduce me. Thanks, Capitan Awkward! Well he started teaching me some line dances and we were laughing and having a fun time. Then he pushed me around the dance floor solo for a few songs. It was a total blast -- it's been a while since a guy who really knew how to dance took me for a spin. 


Finally we needed a break and I asked him where his beer was. He held up his hand with a big black X on it and answered with a deep southern accent: "I'm not 21 yet." 


**Cue sound of heart shattering**


"Wow. I am so much older than you."


"How much, are you 22?"


"Ha. You wish. I'm 26." 


So that was the end of that! One more dance for fun and then the girls and I called it a night. I wasn't honestly considering pursuing this guy but I just realized, Wow, welcome back to a college town. 18 to party, 21 to drink.