Monday, December 14, 2009


Stolen from The Happiness Project blog (again):

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for.”
- Epicurious

Love this. So important for putting life into perspective, which is precisely what I needed this weekend. Saturday I was completely stressed because I had to study all day and my lack of studying earlier in the week was weighing on me in the form of guilt and stress and being mad at myself. I was pretty unhappy all day. And why? I have so much in my life that I once only hoped for. Grad school is a gift, an opportunity, not a burden.

Another thing that has been brightening my days is this new blog I've discovered: It's mostly about interior design, which is not something I am really passionate about necessarily, but I find reading about certain fields or activities from someone who is really into it very compelling. Almost anything is worthwhile of interest, it just takes other people to show it to you sometimes. Now that I have narrowed down apartment choices for next year, I am loving the inspiration this blog gives me to do some cheap chic interior design in our new place, wherever it may be.

I have also learned to appreciate fashion thanks to Tom and Lorenzo's blog: They also blog Mad Men--what's not to love?

Now, I have my last final (YAY!) in 7 hours. It's officially study time.

Over and out.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Random thought brought to you by my law final

Best name for legislation ever: The Paperwork Reduction Act.

How could you possibly oppose it?

Thursday, December 10, 2009


1. I love the purple. It was the right choice.
2. My shoes came just in time because, good lord, the cold of last week is child's play compared to the cold of this week. And UGGS are like hugs for your feet. There is legitimacy behind this trend, I tell you.

But this cold issue: Is this what half the country deals with? Every single winter? LUNACY. Today it "felt like" between 4 and 6 degrees all day. Sheer insanity. I just have no tolerance.

More depressingly, I recently saw a monthly averages chart that put January and February temperatures both below December temperatures. So this is the best of it. Fab.

At the earliest possible moment, I am moving back south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It is cold here now.

I don't think I really understood the concept of cold before moving here. Because it would become cold in the other places that I lived, but here it just IS cold. All the time. I heard a weather report today and they predicted 2 degrees of difference between the high and the low. What is that about? I put on my heaviest coats and the cold goes right through 'em. I feel very ill-equipped to deal with the cold.

To make myself feel better about the whole thing I bought UGGS, in part because I knew it was some way to combat the cold, and in part because I had a Saks gift card in the exact amount that these UGG moccasins cost and pretty much nothing else at Saks was remotely affordable, even with the card. That store is straight up ridiculous. But anyway, I had quite a traumatic experience trying to get my UGGs, and I ended up ordering them in purple, because they ran out of my size in the other colors I wanted. I feel ambivalent about the purple. On the one hand, the point of warm shoes is to wear them, like, for the entire winter. You shouldn't have to coordinate outfits around them. On the other hand, I wear a lot of neutrals, especially in winter, and since I am buying the ultimate conformist winter shoe, maybe it's good that I at least got them in a weird color? I don't know, but in any event they should arrive on my doorstep soon, and at least my feet will be warm.

The good thing about the cold is that it actually makes you want to stay in the library longer, to delay the inevitable of facing the icy air.

It's supposed to snow tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blog Love (Kind of): Slate's Political Facebook Feeds

For awhile there, I read everything there was to read on You have probably noticed, as I have brought your attention to a thing or two over there. I've lost my obsessive interest in it and have dramatically reduced how much I read on it, though I still check it many, many times each day.

...moment of self-reflection for how messed-up that statement is, especially 'cause it is pure truth...

I need Internet rehab.



But the one thing Slate does that I still just 100% adore is their mock Barack Obama Facebook feeds. Probably because I am a nerd. But c'mon!
"John Allen Muhammad
sent a friend request to the Supreme Court.
John Roberts: Yeah, no."

Comedy gold!!

Shut up, it has more effect with the Facebooky formatting.

Anyway, check it out: Here's the most recent one, and then this post has all the past feeds.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pop Culture Thoughts

First, an update on my life:
I have two goals for this weekend/really not a weekend since I don't have class Monday so more like pre-Thanksgiving trip time:
1) stop having a cold
2) finish my policy brief

This may sound simple but it is going to be a challenge.

Now to the culture:

- Since this blog is Waitress-inspired, I feel compelled to tell you that on Wednesday I saw We Were Soldiers which stars Keri Russell, among others (including Jon Hamm!!). The only other thing really noteworthy about the movie-watching experience is that there was a horrrrrrrrrendously traumatizing shot of a guy's skin being pulled off after he had been burned from an explosion. I had to read Hiroshima in 8th grade and there was a description of this woman's hand that had the skin peeled off that was so vivid and awful and I have never fully recovered from reading it. And now I have the visuals to go along with it. THANKS, We Were Soldiers.

-The Project Runway finale was super boring and I was quite underwhelmed by the collections. I came in rooting for Carol Hannah and she had some great pieces but it just didn't come together as a collection. Every piece was so disparate and I didn't see the connections between the colors that she was going for. Also that one outfit with the blue satin hood situation was really offensive to my eyes. But I do want to own that upside-down triangle dress. Irina's collection was fine but it was nothing new, and though it's been said many times, I liked the collection better when Jillian did it. Out of no where though, I found myself rooting for Althea to win! What? I dunno, her collection was cohesive without being all one color (Irina) and I SO want to own that giant blue sweater thing. But alas, it was not to be. The only time my favorite has won has been with Leanne and Chloe. And in reruns, I agree with Jay's win.

- I really want to see An Education but I don't think it's going to get to Bloomington. :/

- I could really do without the Twilight frenzy. Mostly because when I see the New Moon previews I am annoyed at how shoddy the CGI wolves look. Also, Taylor Swift: I have issues with you dating Taylor Laudner. You have the same name. This is not acceptable. I mean, who was the last famous person to date someone with her same name? Paris Hilton. One should be diligent about avoiding all things Paris Hilton has done in her life.

And one more thought:

What the HELL is going on with oncology right now?!?!?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I went to Atlanta this weekend! What did I do with my short time there? Well, I think I made the most of it. I saw just about everybody I know who still lives there, except for a few people who were unluckily out of town this weekend. Most of them I saw on purpose but I even had some chance sightings of friends too which was a lovely surprise.

I went to Flip-Flops, which is a bar/dance place in Midtown that I have great affection for despite it's tacky decor and overpriced drinks. I hiked Stone Mountain on possibly the best day for a hike that has ever existed. Ever. I had a family dinner with my SAS fam. I played games, I watched Cake Boss, I made dinner with Trader Joe's food. I went on a scholar dinner, and discovered that, while still very fun, scholar dinners lack a certain something when you know you won't be reimbursed $20. I went to Rise n' Dine, Loehmann's, and the bank. I played with pets, and listened to some adorable kids with Southern accents. It was a good weekend. And despite lack of sleep, I think the big city energy and sunshine I soaked up will make me ready to take on Monday.

ATL Pie: Chicken pot pie with pesto, feta, and sundried tomatoes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yesterday, I flew on Friday the 13th, out of Gate A13, in seat 13A, on flight Delta 1613. And I lived to tell the tale.


*Knocks on wood*

Friday, November 13, 2009

Poem from the Indianapolis Airport Gate A13 Window

Night has settled,
draping this suspended, metal-winged bird
in gentle darkness,
Inside stillness breathes,
perched between the hum and glow
of a cabin nearly asleep.

I gaze through a
small plastic-glass window,
my territory for the moment,
resting, reflecting
on news read,
a conversation had,
a journey at hand,
contemplating stars
across a lit and living landscape,
and our small yet perfect place
within them.

How sweetly we slice the two,
Heaven and Earth,
or stitch them together
on our journeys
of destination and heart,
while watchful eyes of earth and sky
wink at each other as they
pass on their rotations.

Aviators, aeronauts,
common travelers all,
we are simply passing through
at our own speed,
in our own way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Internet: Love/Hate

It's pretty well known that the Internet has made many things in life easier. And so we tend to think it makes things better. I have been known to sing the highest praises of Google maps, that recipe finder thing where you can see what you can make with what you have in your kitchen, online shopping, and I AM writing a blog right now. So I can't totally hate on the internet, obviously.

However, I have recently been planning my trip to India. And it's interesting, because I feel like I need to know everything there is to know about the hotels and safaris we are booking. I want reviews, I want pictures, I want to make absolutely sure it's a good, safe, clean, etc. place. But imagine what planning this trip would have been like even 10 years ago. I wouldn't be able to know anything! I'd have to get a travel agent, or just show up and see how it goes. And that honestly sounds kind of liberating. Since we can know everything, or so we think in this Internet age, if you make a mistake, it's your fault. It's because you didn't do your homework. My mom told me that she used to plan trips by calling the Chambers of Commerce of cities and asking for their brochures and other tourist info. I mean, there is so much potential risk out there, I get it, that we want to figure out how to mitigate it. But, ugh, sometimes I think it might be okay if I make a new recipe, go to a new restaurant, buy a new backpack, without reading what 25 other people have to say about it first! I always check reviews first! Always. That's loopy when you think about it, right?

Time to break free from the chains.

I don't know how the breaking free is going to be achieved, exactly.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happiness Project and other updates

There is this blog on Slate called The Happiness Project. I started reading it cause it is updated a lot and the posts are short and kind of interesting, but I always thought it was sort of trite. It recommends all kinds of too-easy solutions for how to make yourself happier, some of them are downright offensive to my way of life, especially her suggestion that making your bed everyday will make you happier. (!?!?! Nothing makes me angrier than making my bed! What a pointless routine! I am only going to make it messy again in 12 hours!!! What a ridiculous construct of society that we have to make our beds! No one sees them! Who cares! ahem...anywayyyy...that's how I feel about making the bed.) But anyway, I kept reading it, and I have found myself thinking back on tips and things that I have read on there pretty often. Like one of the posts was about how its important to get up and move around the office every so often; it makes your work day happier. So during my 8 hour work day I plan out when I am going to get up and walk around, whether it's to go to the kitchen, or to see my boss, or to stop for a minute and do some volunteer-style jobs like sorting the food in the pantry to get up. And I try to spread out my "get up and move around" activities so I don't become sucked into the computer screen of zombie-ness.

Anyway, so yesterday I found out that I didn't get this internship that I very much wanted and felt confident about. And I found myself thinking back to yet another Happiness Project post, where she quoted something her mom told her when she became editor of the Yale Law Review:

"That's so wonderful! Be grateful, because you worked hard for what you got, and you deserved it, but others also worked hard, and people don’t always get what they deserve."

I think this is a real truth that is very comforting and humbling. When you are hired, or elected, or chosen, or what have you, it tends to feel like a validation of how awesome you are and how you're the best. Which makes it feel like crap when you are on the other end of that stick. When the reality is, that there are too many deserving people for most things, so your being picked for something is a validation in some sense, but it's also just that you got lucky a bit and you should be grateful for that bit of luck that pushed you over the edge of the other people into getting the award/job/whatever.

Now that ends the philosophical portion of this blog. Now it's time for...

Updates on my life!

Major one: I am going to INDIAAAA. and I am very excited. It'll be for about two weeks over Christmas break. The itinerary includes Varanasi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra, and Udaipur. Anyone with travel tips please post them! The itinerary and planning stuff has not exactly been a piece of cake. It is quite something else to plan an international trip. This is obvious, but it just becomes oh-so-clear when you have to actually do it. It's fun though, and I am excited to hear Bollywood music in the streets (I have been taking a Bollywood DanceFit class--it's awesome--and I get so pumped for the trip after class every week) and see the sights and the tigers and the whole shebang.

Car: I have a headlight out, and apparently its an electrical problem. The dealer wanted me to pay $1100 to fix it. Soooo that's been a fun project in my life trying to figure out how to fix it without paying that completely ridiculous price. I love my car, but I am buying a damn Toyota or Honda next time.

School: Midterms are over! Insanely happy about that.

New life goal: To intern at the White House Domestic Policy Council this summer.

Pie/other food: I recently made a mixed berry pie for a dinner with all my housemates. It was delish.

I made this dish a few nights ago and it was also delish. And easy. And cheap. It's from GroupRecipes. I omitted the olives, cause olives are gross.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Writer Love: Cary Tennis

Hey there. I've been gone awhile and I'm sorry. I have some posts both thoughtful and frivolous in my head that may never be realized because I am deep in the cave of midterms and by the time I emerge next Wednesday who knows what will have happened to those lovely thoughts?

Anyway, this little post is simply to share with you the brilliance of Cary Tennis, who writes the Since You Asked advice column on I particularly loved his response to today's letter, and thus I was inspired to this post. Enjoy. I'll be back in earnest soon, but let Cary and the Since You Asked archives keep you company in the meantime.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Restaurant Love...and some thoughts on feminism?

Tonight I had a fabulous dinner in Bloomington. For no particular reason, we went to dinner. Which I think is the best reason to go out to dinner, personally. It was at FARMbloomington, and the place is more or less tailor-made for me. Some evidence: there I was, eating pumpkin bisque which had a hint of spiciness, and a BLT that they made with no tomato (with no complaints and it was still a substantial meal--it had goat cheese and avocado!), and sipping a whiskey mixed drink that tasted strong but looked fabulous and had I come at a different time would have included a candied ginger stick (they were out). So there I was, yummy food, when I look over my left shoulder and see: A VINTAGE STOVE.

So I think I have proved my point.

Anyway, here's the other thing about tonight. I got dressed up to go out, in a casual sort of way. No dress, just my favorite jeans and new sweater and my favorite bracelet and a new necklace that I created from other necklaces (DIY tip: if you have a necklace chain that you want to make longer, just attach another small one two it! People might notice and think its weird, who knows, but I think it works). I also wore my fab $8 Target heels. Now I really love high heels. Sometimes I put on heels to do household tasks to make them feel more exciting. No really, I do this. I also just wear them for the hell of it, to the movies, or whatever, sometimes. I love heels. I especially love them if they are really high and shiny or a crazy color. Whatever, the point is, I am very girly about heels. But there is this weird trend in feminism I have found, that thinks that heels are some sort of symbol of how culture makes women wear ridiculously impractical shoes to keep them stuck in their sex symbol status and not be serious members of society. That may be true. But all I know is, that just a minute ago I put in a load of laundry, heels still on, and I felt great. So there's that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Food Needed

Dearest readers, I am feeling quite woozy and it is entirely my fault. When I am smart, I bring a sandwich or some other sustenance to eat for earlydinner in between work and my 5:30 class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Today, for unknown reasons (cause I did nothing much but arrange my future class schedule this morning), I failed myself and have brought no food.

Thus far today I have eaten: cereal (at like 12:30pm), chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. You see, my work place is lovely and has copious amounts of bite size chocolates available to munch on during the day. Today, there was even a Milky Way Midnight and an obscene amount of Whoppers. MY FAVES. It doesn't take a genius to deduce that I may have eaten beyond the recommended amount. So now I have like nothing but non-complex carbs in my system and its problematic.

6:45 (when my class ends and I can go home to leftover red beans and rice...yummm....) cannot come soon enough.

In other news, kids, fall has arrived here in Indiana and I am so excited to be breaking out my sweaters and scarves and partaking of warm beverages!

'Tis all for now-- wish me luck in not fainting during management class!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Farmer's Market Saturday

So today I went to the Bloomington Farmer's Market and it was lovely. The weather was beautiful, which was especially great since its been raining off and on all week. There were quirky performances, like some kind of folk dancing and high school kids posing as living statues. Anyway, we bought honey, smoked cheddar cheese, apples, spinach, potatoes, rhubarb, and some pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. I got the Kansas City bbq sauce, and it was delish. We also stopped by the Lotus Festival's free stage and heard some music and saw some free-spirited dancing. We also played tennis. It was a very productive day in relaxation.

Anyway, the farmer's market inspired me to, at long last, make pie! It is currently in the oven and is about 5 minutes away from done:

Farmer's Market Saturday Pie: strawberries, rhubarb, brown sugar, vodka crust with lattice top

Friday, September 18, 2009


Tim Kreider strikes again! Another superior post on Happy Days. This time he's looking at the way we handle the vast array of life paths/choices available to us and sticking by our particular choice. Love love love this man's writing.

Favorite passage [not cause I share his perspective on the issue, but it cracks me up]:
"Most of my married friends now have children, the rewards of which appear to be exclusively intangible and, like the mysteries of some gnostic sect, incommunicable to outsiders. In fact it seems from the outside as if these people have joined a dubious cult: they claim to be much happier and more fulfilled than ever before, even though they live in conditions of appalling filth and degradation, deprived of the most basic freedoms and dignity, and owe unquestioning obedience to a capricious and demented master."

Read the whole post here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


It has been brought to my attention that there is a lack of pie-related business on this pie-themed blog of mine.

Sadly, this is related to the lack of pie in my real life. People, it's been months since I had any pie! I unfortunately lack the time right now to bake a pie since they are time-intensive, and grad school right now feels like its finals 100% of the time. I dread what finals will really be like. Never have 1 page assignments consumed so much of my energy and produced so much hair-pulling and stress.

Graduate Stress Pie: dark chocolate cream, ginger meringue, ginger-graham cracker crust.


BIG BROTHER SPOILERS AHEAD! Ashley and Ty, you have been warned.

I heard somewhere that the word of the year/decade/something was "plutoed." As in, got demoted like Pluto got demoted from planethood.

I have a suggestion for a similar word, and though it may not be as timely as plutoed, I think it fills an important void in our language: gumped. This verb shall be used to describe someone who has inadvertently landed themselves in a fortuitous situation, as in, duh, Forrest Gump.

I can't take credit for this word, and revealing the original source of this word will embarrass me, but for you dear readers, I will soil my reputation. Here's the story: Last night was the finale of Big Brother. I had not even understood the premise of this show, which is 11 seasons old, until my housemates maliciously got me into it. I was pretending for awhile that I was only watching to be sociable since other people were watching, but last night I watched the 2 hour finale allll by myself (Tivoed down to 1hour 15 min, but still). No one else was even home. No more pretending to be above it after that.

So anyway, in the finale Jordan and Kevin competed for the power to evict the last houseguest. The competition went down to a tiebreaker, the answer to which was 51. Jordan guessed 50. Now Jordan has proven herself to be not the most mathematically inclined. Last time a similar competition arised, she guessed 224 when the answer was 90something. So after the show, I went on some message boards (I knowwwww) and someone said that Jordan had Forrest Gumped herself into the win.

So that is the story. Let's just brush over my pathetic involvement in a show I didn't want to watch in the first place.

I think the word is AWESOME. So many people must be gumping all the time but no one has had a word to describe it, so the phenomenon has gone undetected.

This post is a waste of your time, I realize. Sorry.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Retail Love: TOMS Shoes

This post is a bit delayed, as I purchased my TOMS about 3 months ago. However, when I saw that they were coming out with a new design, I just had to post about them.

TOMS have always a lot going for them:
1) You get to feel good about yourself for buying them, because in doing so, you have donated a pair of shoes to children who don't have them, and this prevents diseases like Podoconiosis and allows them to attend school. Hard to argue with this.
2) SO COMFY. These are the best walking shoes I have ever owned. It kind of feels like you are wearing slippers, and yet you still have support. They are great.
3) Fun designs! They are always coming out with new styles and they name them after anthropologists and authors so you get to feel both benevolent and intellectual while you wear them. Also you feel a little pompous. Life's a trade-off.
4) TOMS also has this young founder of the company, named Blake which makes him seem extra young and hip, who appears on AT&T ads and such and is generally seen as an innovative entrepreneur of a company with a profitable business model and a selfless mission to help the less fortunate. It's all very now.

BUT. TOMS previously only came in one style. You know what they look like (see the picture of the adorable kid). They are slip-on shoes that look kind of like Keds or Vons or something. In just about every color, fabric, etc. imaginable, but all in the exact same shape. And I have heard complaints that this shape is unideal. I have to agree, because while my TOMS look excellent with one pair of jeans (the aforementioned Martin and Osa ones) they create a strange line with any jeans that flare enough to extend beyond the top of the shoe. It looks like just one line from jean to foot and its unflattering. (I'm sorry I lack the fashion vocab to make this make more sense, but trust me.) In fairness, they also have these wrap boot things. But they are weird-looking and seem impractical to me.

Anyway, now you have NO EXCUSE not to get some TOMS because a little email in my inbox told me they now have lace-up TOMS!!! Behold:
They have clearly recognized the need for additional styles, so I think we can expect even more variety in the future.

Now go buy some comfy shoes and spread some good will while you're at it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

Well, it is labor day, a national holiday, and yet I am about to go to class in about an hour. Why IU still schedules class on this day is beyond me, really, but we do get an extra day off at Thanksgiving, so I guess it can be forgiven. It is especially irksome, though, because all of the program offices are closed, so I can't forget about it being Labor Day and am instead taunted by other people's three day weekend while I finish up my reading on legal reasoning.

So far grad school has been mostly good. I have one class that is enormously frustrating, because the assignments are very unclear and so far we have had no lecture so no one knows what is going on or what we are supposed to know. The best thing, though, is that some of the things I learned in undergrad are actually really useful in graduate school. After taking the GRE and looking at my class schedule, I was honestly convinced that I was starting from scratch, and since so much of undergrad is about learning how to be an academic person, and I have very poor memory for details, I just didn't have much hope. But, no! I have a law class that my Civil Liberties class was a great background for, and thank GOD I took Econ 101. Come to think of it, both of these classes were things I took in the last semester of my senior year, so I guess its good I didn't decide to graduate early and got things together before I left college.

Right now I am sitting near the cafe in my building and they are grinding coffee. It smells fantastic, and makes me miss working at the Green Bean.

Okay I better finish that reading on legal reasoning. Ciao!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It is late at night

and I am still reading for my class tomorrow.

I think my undergrad study habits need some updating.

That's all for this post today.

I had pizza for dinner so no recipes for the weary.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Escuela!! For real this time.

So tomorrow I once again embark on an official start of grad school, but this time with real, legit classes to attend. I have to figure out how to take the bus, and my stats class syllabus says they expect everyone to have taken introductory stats ( but other than those frightening things I am excited. I got all the classes I wanted, though it took some finagling and some waiting. The best part, really, is that the only class with a start time in the AM realm is one day a week, on Friday. The other days, its either 1 pm or 5:30 pm! I never thought I would be able to replicate the awesomeness that was my first semester at Emory, when I didn't start until after 11 everyday, but I dare say this is better. Now, these late start times are all really an illusion, since I have to put in 10 hours of work every week for ServiceCorps, but I still like it. I think I will especially like it when it is below zero and dark out in the early winter mornings and I can stay tucked in bed instead of trudging through the snow to wait for the bus.

Orientation has been good, I like the people in my program, and while I have some occasional freak-outs about not being ready for this or not knowing what I want to do exactly when I graduate, I think it's going pretty well so far. The only truly bad thing is that my books cost waaaaayy too much.

Last Wednesday was my first night out on the B-town. Went to The Vid, a pool hall type place, and The Bird which is a very awesome live music venue. When we were there they had a cover band that sang Tenacious D among other things and whose lead singer looked like John Krasinski (who is engaged, btw! sad day of mourning for all of us Jim fans). So far, Bloomington's night scene is outperforming Atlanta's, at least in terms of my taste.

What else? Played tennis today. It's a new thing Eric and I are doing because there are parks and rec courts within walking distance of our house and its good free exercise. I lost the first game 4-0 and it made me way more angry than it should have. I am apparently a terrible competitive player. I thought it was just golf that brought out the crazy in me, but tennis too! I threw my racket, you guys. Not mature. Though, I will say that I was much more cordial when I then lost 4-3. At least that score is respectable.

Yesterday was Eric's birthday and so on Friday night I made him dinner. I make dinner a lot but I put in extra effort for this one because it was an occasion, I have to say that it was pretty much delicious. So in lieu of a pie recipe, today I leave you with Turkey Feta Burgers and Spicy Chili Fries:

Turkey Burgers (taken from this recipe at AllRecipes and modified a wee bit)
  • ground turkey
  • half a container of feta cheese
  • a lot of dried oregano
  • one egg
Put everything in a bowl. Use a fork to beat the egg a bit. Mix it all together with your hands. Make into patties, throw on a skillet for about 5-8 minutes a side. Toast wheat buns on the skillet once the burgers are done.

Fries (taken and modified from this recipe)
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick fries
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup tomato-vegetable juice cocktail
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1+ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 425. You toss everything together to make the sauce and then you toss the fries in it and put them on a baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn them, and bake for another 20 minutes, and voila!

Also I made asparagus, but I trust you all can figure that one out for yourselves. Time for Mad Men!!

Au revior, mes amis!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Some updating on my blog whilst watching reality shows on CBS

Tomorrow, I embark on the first official day of grad school, but it is just orientation, so I am not so stressed about it. I have a looong week of it, but at the end I will actually know which classes I am taking, so that's good.

I went out for Mexican food tonight with all of my housemates, since all of us have finally moved in. The house still doesn't seem crowded, by some miracle.

Also, I have become really obsessed with FarmVille, this game on Facebook where you build a farm. It's getting a little out of hand, but hey, now I'm at level 10! I have a feeling that my addiction will quickly come to an end as soon as have some actual things to do, instead of just finding ways to kill time like I have been the last week. It's been very relaxing and all, but also...I have been spending a lot of time virtually farming, which I think is a good sign its time to get some activities.

Pre-Graduate School Pie: peaches, candied pecans, Cool Whip, cinnamon, lattice top crust.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Barney Frank = Made of Win

This video of Barney Frank responding to a lady at a town hall meeting who was comparing the health care reform plan to Nazism (??) really made my day:

Let us hope that some sensible reform comes out of all this theatricality with the guns and the Nazis and death panel rumors and aren't we just trying to make sure more people can afford decent medical care??

Television Love: Top Chef Masters

Tonight is the season finale of Top Chef Masters. This is a spin-off of Top Chef in which well-established chefs, many of whom have been judges on regular Top Chef, are pitted against each other. There were 6 semifinal episodes where the winner moved on, and then in the finals one person gets booted each week. I absolutely love this show and recommend to all who have not seen it to go turn on Bravo immediately, because they are almost certainly running a marathon of past episodes.

I have been a fan of Bravo's competition reality shows--Project Runway and Top Chef. But Top Chef Masters is heads and shoulders above these two, because even though there is a competition involved, the competitors are such pros that they don't resort to any schemy tactics to win, but mostly they help each other out and just praise each others' work. It's this lovely collegial atmosphere. On a reality show!

One of the main reasons to watch is one Hubert Keller, who runs Fleur de Lys restaurant in San Francisco (where I soooo want to eat now), among other restaurants. He is an awesome old French man with the accent and long grey hair and he is completely charming. Plus he rocks all the challenges, such as creating an 18 dish buffet last week. 18 dishes! Hubert FTW!

Monday, August 17, 2009

"I keep going a lot of places and ending up somewhere I've already been"

The above is a quote from last night's premiere of Mad Men, and it meant something far more profound than the way I am using it in this blog post. Which is, to note the weird congruencies between Bloomington and other places I've lived. Okay, so its not even that profound, its just some road names.

In Bloomington, the cross street (a little too generous of a term, maybe, considering its a residential street intersecting with a tiny cul de sac) that I live on is called Emery. I can also within a short distance drive by a Clifton Ave, and a Woodruff Lane.

Weird, right?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On Food, Love, and Julie & Julia

Today I saw Julie and Julia. I loved it, and it has been released at an oddly appropriate time for me.

Food has recently risen in relative importance in my life. I have always loved to go out to eat (who doesn't) and my family makes fun of me for choosing a career where I will most certainly not become wealthy when I have been choosing the most expensive thing on the menu since before I paid any attention to prices.

But this summer, I did a little internship program called SAS. And 16 people lived in a sorority lodge all together and we all loved each other and it actually was the 'intentional community' that the program mission statements proclaim. Anyway, food was very central to the whole thing. Our shared love of feta and 'family dinners' bonded us immensely. You hear a lot about how the ideal nuclear family unit should sit down around the dinner table together every night, and my family did a lot of the time--but we mostly all liked each other anyway and I didn't often attribute it to the dinners we had per se. But this summer, I saw that food could actually, to be cliche, bring people together that wouldn't have been as close otherwise.

And personally, I started to cook a lot more. My mom is a great cook, and she taught me a lot of what she knows constantly gives me good kitchen tools to help me be a successful chef too. But during the school year, when time was scarce, I mostly (sorry mom) ate Lean Cuisine or other frozen foods from Trader Joe's. Cooking just for myself didn't seem all that worthwhile anyway. But when you combine 15 hungry people, a generous food budget that doesn't come out of your own pocket, and a job that only took up 20-30 hours a week, well that is just a good recipe for cooking.

I discovered this summer that cooking for other people can really feel like giving a gift--especially when I make pie (the blog title may have tipped you off to my particular fondness for pie). Because as my mother and grandmother taught me, you must make pie crust from scratch, and cut in all that butter and shortening, and roll out the dough and shape in the pan just so. You put in time, manual labor, and creativity. And when people think that what you make is yummy, well, that's just the best.

I also discovered that cooking can be a comfort just for me, and me alone. The day my dog died, I came home from work, and I just shredded cabbage, made sauce, chopped nuts, made dough, and stirred and mashed and washed and whisked and whatever I could think to make I made it, for about 5 hours straight. It helped me to do something, and to be around people but to be focused so I didn't have to talk too much, to be sad but keep my mind occupied. I wasn't sure how to grieve, really, so I cooked. And that was when the mechanics of cooking started to seem sort of wonderful.

I heard about this book, where they interview a lot of people about their jobs (it isn't Gig- a very similar book which I love, but it isn't this one) and the only one who is really happy with his work is the stone mason, because he creates something tangible with his own hands, every day. Cooking is starting to feel like that to me. And Julie Powell and Julia Child--even thought I didn't know that much about either one before I started to read all the on them before the movie was released--both cook food as a labor of love, and as an ambition and serious project. Food that is difficult, and kind of gross to make, what with all the innards and aspics and killing lobsters, but that you can dig into, work at, and turn into something scrumptious.

I want to jump straight to the end of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to deboning a duck to wrap in that delicious-looking pastry thing that Julie makes at the end of the movie...but maybe I should learn to poach an egg first.

Julie/a Pie: rhubarb, cornstarch, sugar and an extra buttery crust.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Mantra

Somewhere (I think it might have been on this blog) I read that one of the ways to get past writer's block is to think:

"I have something to say."

I am not a writer, per se, so the writer's block issue is not so pertinent to me, but I have found this mantra incredibly useful anyway. I have some trouble with public speaking. I do better if I have a prepared statement--make me speak extemporaneously and good luck to the audience, it's usually an unmitigated disaster. This is why I am great on paper but tend to fail at interviews--come up with answers on the spot and express them coherently? That's asking a lot.

But it helps me a lot to think to myself, hey, you have something to say. This person needs to hear why you would be good for this job, or this group needs to hear your opinion or position on this issue. Somehow, thinking that I have something to say turns the idea of speaking from something to dread into something that is simply necessary. The disaster won't be speaking, it will be failing to speak. My focus shifts to the idea, not the expression of that idea.

So that's a little mantra for you. Maybe it will help you too.

Random product desire: Vintage Stove

Every so often, I have an intense want for something that makes no sense whatsoever to purchase. Like baby shoes. Or, for example, I want a dog, and I look at those “Free Dog!” postings on the Free section of Craigslist, even though I have no place for a dog right now. That dastardly yet wonderful Free section of Craigslist also made me briefly consider picking up a free sailboat and taking up sailing, though luckily I came to my senses about my total lack of nautical knowledge before I went and towed it away or anything.

My most recent nonsensical product desire was brought about by this Slate article about the wonders of vintage stoves. Before I knew it, I was browsing Antique Stove Heaven, and had picked out the stove for me (if you’re curious, it’s the O'Keefe and Merritt Town & Country stove pictured above--six burners, two ovens, three broilers, one warmer, a removable griddle and a utility shelf!!!). Obviously, this is all quite fruitless, since I probably won’t be in a position to redo my kitchen and make it retro for at least a decade.

But besides my occasional yearnings for things that I cannot reasonably purchase, my desire for a vintage stove also stems from my fondness for old, utilitarian things. I think that in modernization we have lost a lot of the functionality that old stuff used to have, or discarded useful things entirely in favor of something newer. Those in-house intercoms from 1980s houses, for example—um, awesome! And totally useful. I know we have cell phones now and everything, but somehow it doesn’t seem as lazy to use an intercom to call your mom from the opposite side of the house to say, hey come to the computer room, I need your help with something, since the house comes equipped with it and everything. My friend Julianne had one in her house, and I completely loved it. I asked my mom once why we didn’t have one, and she said something like “Oh, those are dated.” Which was probably true, but why did such an innovation ever fall out of style? I don’t get it.

A few years ago, we got a new dishwasher because our trusty old one broke down. This new one is fancy-looking—stainless steel and all that—but it consistently leaves the dishes dirty and takes way longer to wash things. I constantly miss that old, ugly one. Same thing with our new coffeemaker. I guess its better quality, but there are about 13 steps to go through for a simple cup of coffee.

So I want a vintage stove. One made right after World War II, cause dammit, that’s when Americans knew how to make things right.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Retail Love: Madewell and Martin & Osa

While in LA to visit Alycia, we went shopping at Century City. It created two retail loves.

Madewell: I believe this store is some kind of J Crew off-shoot, but it fits my style much better than J Crew. It might be a little hipster-y, but its mostly just comfy basics that look cute without trying. At full price, it is outside the realm of my shopping budget, but I have now been there twice, and both times all their sale merchandise was an additional 40% off. And it wasn't one of those sale racks where you look and think there is a good reason it is all on sale. This time, I got a great navy sweater and a cute T with drawings of garden pots all for less than $20. The sad news about Madewell is there are very few of them, and definitely none in the state of Indiana. But scarcity is part of the appeal, isn't it?

Martin & Osa jeans: For far too long, I was in a jeans slump. I had a fancy pair (blackish skinny ones from Anthropologie) and two crappy pairs (wide leg ones from Target with a paint stain, and ancient old jeans that used to be nice but were now incredibly frayed, and didn't ever quite fit right). I had nothing in the middle. No jeans to just wear with some flip-flops and a shirt and go to class looking like you put some thought into yourself that morning. So I had long since started wearing my fancy ones way too much, and they had begun to fray and it was a bad situation.

In the summer I had been able to get away with it a little more, but fall was imminent. I found some jeans to hold me over at an American Eagle sale, but they weren't juuuust right. And then--Martin and Osa. These jeans are perfect, they feel like they were actually made to fit my body, not too long, not too short, not too fancy, not too casual, and in a nifty teal-ish color to boot. I love them. I love them so much I haven't worn them yet. I am saving them for the first day of school, because I am still 13.

(I have Osa Slim jeans, but I'm not sure if the exact type is available online now, because they were on sale in the store.)

August in Tucson

Today, at long last, I smelled creosote. For those of you not raised in the desert, you should really try to come to Tucson during monsoon season, just for the smell. I don't know the science of it, but when creosote (a desert bush) gets rained on, it smells a certain way, and the gusty wind blows it through the air and that's how you know that rain is coming your way. It's an especially wonderful omen, because summer in Tucson is incredibly hot. Everyone knows this. But seriously, it's like living in an oven, so when you smell creosote, it is such a relief.

There is something really unique and wonderful about being home these days. Extended periods of time where I really have very few obligations, because what kind of obligation can you incur when you are only living somewhere for 3 weeks? So I see my friends, I catch up on projects I've put off, and I get to eat out of my parents' refrigerator and sleep in my comfy old bed. And it's great. None of the stress of traveling, and all of the free time. It really works for me too because I am such a lazy person at heart. I know a lot of people who get really antsy and bored if they don't accomplish things during a day, and while its true that I might get that way if I failed to accomplish anything for weeks on end, for the most part it doesn't bother me, in the same way that I look at my room and can think its clean when other people could shriek at the horror of the clutter. I really just don't see the mess, and my lack of productivity also usually has to be pointed out to me by other people.

So that's been my last week or so: relaxation in this hot hot desert. And now it is raining. I like to think it is a little karmic reward for me since today I went to boot camp exercise class with my mom, which is OUTDOORS, and at 5:30 pm. At 4:30 the car's thermostat read 107, just to give you an idea.

Hmmm...what else do I have to say, blogosphere? I think I'll just make a list of some other activities completed since I've been in Tucson.

- golf with my dad
- saw Up for the 3rd time
- yoga
- pilates
- swimming
- finished Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
- began High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
- bought a netbook
- salsa dancing
- ate dinner at Feast (my absolute favorite Tucson restaurant), Zona78, Blanco
- wine tasting
- had a strange reaction to chigger bites, which is now nearly cured
- learned how to cook Indian food
- enrolled in health insurance (YAY!)
- started a blog

Man, in two months, grad school-me is gonna be quite envious of summer-me.

Tucson Summer Pie: chopped pork tenderloin, prickly pear sauce, peaches, and traditional crust.

Writer Love: Tim Kreider

I have recently discovered a little something on the New York Times website called Happy Days, a blog about happiness. It is an excellent procrastination read, especially good for when you need a break at work, because what boss can fault you for reading about happiness? By far my favorite posts have been by political cartoonist Tim Kreider, who I think may have missed his calling.

I discovered his writing with this post: Reprieve, about his year of happiness following a near death experience.
Here's my favorite little passage:
"It’s like the revelation I had when I was a kid the first time I ever flew in an airplane: when you break through the cloud cover you realize that above the passing squalls and doldrums there is a realm of eternal sunlight, so keen and brilliant you have to squint against it, a vision to hold onto and take back with you when you descend once more beneath the clouds, under the oppressive, petty jurisdiction of the local weather."

He wrote just the other day about whether we are able to experience happiness, or only remember it: Averted Vision.

And for any David Foster Wallace fans out there, here is a tribute to the writer by Kreider.

Welcome, Welcome!

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

Since I have once again moved, I thought it would be a wise idea to start a blog, much like I did went I went away to college. Except this time I have gone away to graduate school, so I have to be fancier than livejournal and more creative than ranting about whatever crosses my mind at a given time.

I anticipate that this blog will be about 3 parts personal journal, 1 part a modified version of Mindy Kaling's Things I Bought That I Love, 1 part Huffington Post (I'll link you to interesting stuff), and 0.5 parts Waitress-style pie recipes.