Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Picture Perfect Birthday!

Today is the amazing, wonderful, and gorgeous Courtney's Birthday! In honor of her birthday, I present pictures of us through the years! 
Left to right: Courtney, Me
Beach babes hanging out at Dauphin Island!
Going to a wedding (don't you love the glasses). 
Left to right: Me, My Bro, Courtney
Another wedding.
Hanging out in 2007.

I can't find my pics from our last visit, but if I do I'll add them later.   Now, I believe, we need to visit each other again!!! 


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Temporary Switch- Mushroom and Bean Barley Soup

I’m switching things up a bit. Recipes and Pictures will be switched this week (but only this week). To make amends I will be posting Pictures (note the s as in plural, multiple pictures).

On to the recipe.
I first started using this amazing soup recipe in high school, and have loved it ever since.

This recipe makes about 1-2 servings (depending on our idea of a serving).

1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 oz. barley
1/2 Tsp dried parsley
1/4 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 small onion
1/4 tbsp olive oil

Drain and rinse white beans and set aside. Finely chop onions and slice mushrooms. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Next, add broth, milk, beans, barley, and parsley. Cover and simmer until barley is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Season with black pepper and enjoy hot!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Update and Reasons to Celebrate!!!

I’m starting my first set of work for the Census on Tuesday. I’m headed to Bon Secour, Alabama. Given everything I know about Bon Secour, I’ll be posting about it later this week (I see great seafood and scenery in my future (did I mention I’m psychic)).

On to the most important business.
So many amazing people are having contests this month in celebration of reaching an impressive number of followers. You should swing by all their blogs, not just for the contests, but because they are awesome! Also, Wednesday is a certain amazing person’s Birthday!!! Be prepared to celebrate!

Contests/ Celebrations
Carol’s Prints
Carol has reached 300+ followers!!! In celebration, she is having a contest where she will be giving away some great books to 3 (or possibly 4) ‘bloggie friends’. Head over to her blog and check it out!

Constant Revision
Simon is holding the “Most Epic Contest in the History of the Blogosphere, EVAR!” He has reached 250+ followers and is holding a very fun contest. So go check it out!

Silver Lining
Julie’s “200 Awesome People Contest” contest ended on Sunday (I think, stupid me for getting behind) but she still needed mention on here. HELLO, she has 200 Awesome People following her (and happens to be awesome herself). Mention is necessary.

Writing in the Wilderness
Sarahjayne Smythe has reached 150+ followers and is giving away some terrific gift cards. Hurry over to her contest!

Good to Begin Well, Better to End Well
Amalia is holding a Dream Sequence Blogfest in honor of 100+ followers! One lucky blogfester will also receive a gift card! Off with you! Go sign up so I can read your awesome dream sequences!

Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
Shannon Whitney Messenger is taking time out of her revisions to have a  500 Followers contest and giving away some great prize packages.  Check it out!

Margaret at Musings of a Would Be Writer had a fabulous 100 Followers contest and I won! Thanks Margaret!!!

I love how in the blogosphere, you celebrate your awesomeness by giving things to other people!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Barnes & Noble

About a week ago, I heard some very disturbing news.

My Barnes & Noble is closing.

According to rumor, they can no longer make the lease payments and have to be shut down. Their location has never been that great. They are located across the street from a mall. This means they get all the mall traffic without actually being in it. Also, there is a Books-A-Million in the mall. Not to mention that the parking lot for this shopping center is very awkward.

Barnes & Noble and I have had a long committed relationship. When I was little, their children’s section was one of my favorite places. They had all my favorite books and plenty of places to sit and read.

After my parents’ divorce, my father would pick me up every Wednesday from school and we would hang out for a couple of hours. Sometimes we went to the movies or the park; but, more often than not, we went to Barnes & Noble. We would look at books for a while, then pick our favorites and get something at the café. In the café, we would catch up on each other’s lives, or browse through our books. We would discuss what we were reading, which would generally lead to more discussion on our beliefs or opinions. This was the time when we would get to know each other. When so many of our problems would float away and our common interest in books would bring us together.

Toward the end of high school, I began looking for a job. I really wanted to work in a book store and preferred Barnes & Noble. Luckily, one of my father’s patients worked at Barnes & Noble and gave me a recommendation. My obsessive organizational skills shined. I loved being surrounded by the books. I loved my managers; Shiny Shoes, Grumpy Bear, and “Angel”. I loved spending my break reading books. I loved the atmosphere. I loved the discount.

Since graduating college, I’ve been on a budget crunch and have primarily been using the library or used book stores. In a way I feel guilty for not buying more from my trusty BN.

When I talked to one of my former co-workers last week they informed me that May 30th will be their last day. Corporate will not be opening another Barnes & Noble in our city because they figure the Barnes & Noble about 45 minutes away (on a good day) is close enough to our city. Corporate also believes that our Barnes & Noble workers can simply commute to the other location and the Barnes & Noble customers will follow. However, our town also has two Books-A-Millions and several nice small bookstores. I don’t see many people commuting to the store across the bay.

My father, sister, and I will be having a “Farewell, Barnes & Noble” day next month and will forever miss our lovely Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday Recipe- Chocolate Omelet

Don’t Knock It Till You Try It!!! (Yes, I am yelling at you)

When my mother first told me about her Chocolate Omelets I figured that it would be disgusting, but I am not one for turning down a new dish (as long as it’s meatless). What I found is that this is a delicious treat that is actually, relatively, not bad for you. Kinda.

It may sound strange (or not), but it is actually really good. My mother and father claim to have “invented” this while my father was a Resident at Duke. However, I have found several other recipes online. Some of the recipes I’ve seen online seem complicated, but this recipe is simple.

Chocolate Omelet

1 Serving

2 large eggs
2 tbsp unsweetened Cocoa
4 tsp sweetener (sugar or artificial)
2 tbsp milk
1-2 tbsp butter

Blend eggs, cocoa, sweetener, and milk. You can blend them by hand or use a blender. Make sure not to over blend the eggs, a few seconds should do the trick.
In a preheated saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Then, add the egg mixture. Continue to cook as you would any omelet. Some people like to finish it in the oven to ensure it is thoroughly cooked, but I generally just cover the mixture while cooking.

As a finishing touch, I like to add whip cream and strawberries or raspberries (be sure to let it cool first, melted whip cream can just make it soggy). Some people also like to mix in flavored liqueur. I recommend playing with the recipe to find your perfect mixture of cocoa, eggs, and sweetener.

Also, to make it a bit "healthier" you may want to reduce the eggs to1 yolk and 2 whites. 


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Picture Perfect Tuesday: A Bashful Rose

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;” Or be as beautiful. 

Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene II

Monday, April 19, 2010

It appears that I am always a bit preoccupied

The Census Bureau called the Friday before last and asked if I could begin training early and I, of course, said yes. Training was long, easy, but long. I ended up working a 37 hour week in 4 days. Also, I am now trained in fingerprinting. Job skill? I’ll go with it. While the training started last week, I still don’t know when I’ll actually start work. Also, we (the trainees) kept getting varying answers on how long the job will last. O well, I'm getting a paycheck.


I did manage to go to a lecture by E. O. Wilson last Wednesday. To name a few of his titles; he is a sociobiologist, naturalist, theorist, and author. He lived much of his childhood in my hometown of Mobile, AL and earned his B.S. and M.S. from The University of Alabama (my Alma mater) and his PhD from Harvard. Among many other awards, he has won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction twice. Also, he has written a novel titled Anthill.

My favorite quote: “You can remember it best by thinking of us as being a Star Wars civilization: We have Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions and God-like technology. That's the source of all of our problems.”

I don’t necessarily agree with all of his beliefs, but he is a very interesting man with interesting views.


It’s so amazing watching my nephew grow and reach new developmental milestones. He is so amazing! I brought him with me to UU this weekend and it was great watching him interact with the other children.


I find out about Teach for America today! I’m feeling the nerves, but whatever will be will be! At least I applied and have had this experience.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Picture Perfect Tuesday

Another shot from Italy.  I never saw a child with this woman, or the man that was with her. I spoil my dog, but this is a bit much.
PS.  Quinny Strollers are quite pricey.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Day at Wal-Mart

The other day I took my car to Wal-Mart for an oil change. I had an hour and a half to kill so I browsed and then went to the waiting room. I sat down and had pulled out my book when I realized that two small boys were sitting in the corner staring at me. First, I performed the self-conscious ‘what’s wrong with my appearance’ check. Then, I smiled politely and went back to reading my book. The oldest boy moved a few seats closer to me, with brother in tow, and began telling his brother stories about his classes and mentioning other bits of information (while repeatedly looking to see if I was paying attention). I am a frequent eavesdropper, which means I learned a few things about these boys.

The oldest is in Second grade and his brother is 2 years younger.

Their mother is a worker in the Auto Department and can’t afford any type of after school care. The boys wait at Wal-Mart till the youngest boy’s father can pick them up and take them home. They like waiting there, but their mom worries that one day a supervisor may get mad or a customer may complain. She worries a lot.

They are getting evicted because their mother can’t pay the rent.

The oldest cannot be beat in math. He is in fact a ‘Math Scholar’. This was proven by him answering math problems myself and several of the workers posed.

At one point the oldest began to talk about one of his classmates, Danny, and how he got in trouble for ‘humping’ a chair. He made a few comments about other things before bringing the conversation back to his friend Danny. The oldest turned to his younger brother and proclaimed that Danny was a child molester. At this point I was more deeply involved in my book and just caught the last bit of his statement. I figured I had misheard something and continued reading. The oldest boy then described a child molester to his brother, in detail. At this point I realized what was happening and interjected before he defined ‘rape’. I told him that this was not the proper place to discuss that topic. His younger brother then told me that he already knew what that word meant.

While my studies have taught me that some children younger than these two know about these topics and worse, I was still taken back.

Then, the boys gave me a greater shock.

They began discussing what the Easter Bunny was going to bring them. The Easter Bunny that they both completely believed in.

It always surprises me how much children can know and still carry these magical beliefs.

I think it speaks to their resiliency, but also to what they are exposed to. So many keep Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy alive, the secret safely hidden, but then allow* children to be exposed to horrible facts of life no child should ever have to know.

*By allow I mean society as a whole seems to be allowing this to occur. I realize that individuals don’t always have control over what children are exposed to.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Wednesday Recipe- Corn Maque Choux

First an important announcement!  

100 Followers at Musings of a Would-Be Writer! *applause* This, of course, means a 100 Followers Contest! Check it out! - Not just for the contest, but because she is awesome!

Corn Maque Choux 
Pronounced ‘mak shoe’

*Corn Maque Choux is one of my absolute favorite dishes!

Here’s a bit of information about Corn Maque Choux.
Corn Maque Choux is a Cajun side dish that was introduced to the French settlers by the American Indians. Today’s recipe is more of a collaboration of French and American Indian recipes (it really depends on who you ask, but some will say it is French with American Indian influence and others will say it is American Indian with French influence) . There are a lot of variations of the recipe and it can be a lot of fun to change it up or mix recipes to make your own. It is generally served as a side dish, but adding meat (my friends like sausage or chicken) , fish, shrimp, crawfish, tempeh, ect can make it a great meal in itself. – I recommend the shrimp!

Corn Maque Choux*
Recipe serves 6

4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups corn kernels (4 – 6 fresh ears)
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup green onion tops, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable stock (you can also substitute a can of diced tomatoes and green chilies for the stock)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk or cream

Melt 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add corn, onions, bell peppers, and green onions, stir just enough to keep the vegetables from burning***. Sauté until the onion is limp and transparent. Add the garlic and sauté about a minute more, continue to stir so as not to burn the garlic. Add the seasonings, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to very low; add the stock and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, stirring often. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter until melted.

In another bowl, whisk the beaten egg and the milk until frothy. Gradually add the egg mixture to the corn mixture, stirring briskly to keep the eggs from scrambling. Add sugar, stir and increase heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally to keep mixture from scorching.

Remove from heat.  Enjoy while hot!

* Camera is temporarily out and no online picture really works for this version. I will hopefully add a picture later!
**  I always prefer organic and fresh ingredients, but availability and budgets don’t always allow for them.
***When stirring or scrapping the bottom of the pan a wooden spatula is best. It works well and won’t scratch your pan.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Picture Perfect Tuesday

This picture was taken during my first trip to Venice, Italy. It was taken on the Riva degli Schiavoni outside of the Palazzo Ducale. In the background you see gondolas on the Canale di San Marco and the building is the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore.
The woman in the picture was advertising for an opera.

I'm Back!

I’m Back! I’m Back! It’s been a while, but now I’m Back with a vengeance. I like plans, I am good with plans and I need a plan or I put things off and randomly ramble. Spontaneity and I may be great friends, have had many good times, share some fun stories, but we don’t get much accomplished. SO, here I am with a brand new template (Thanks Courtney), a brand new title (subject to change), and a brand new plan!

Now for some Updates!

I made it to the last round (final in-person interview) for Teach For America and now I am waiting to hear back. The interview went well and my practice lesson went smoothly, but from my understanding you never know with Teach For America. Only 15% of the people who apply are selected. I don’t find out if I get a position till the 19th! I am quite nervous, but following the philosophy that what should happen, will happen!
The closest interview location happened to be New Orleans (one of my favorite cities). Now who wants to drive two and a half hours for an interview, interview all day, and then drive back? Not me. So, I recruited my lovely sister to come with me and spend the night. Two single girls in New Orleans for one night… enough said.

I got a temporary job! It is with the Census Bureau and lasts up to 8 weeks starting the 27th. Hurray!

A lot has been going on with my family lately. Most of it I won’t post because it’s not my story to tell, but it’s been a bit stressful. I have a tendency to worry worry worry for everyone around me. Hopefully everything will clear up in the next couple of weeks and my worry will be for nothing.

Anyway, as the week progresses I will be sharing some of my plans and I will get my blog rolling!

--In fact, because this post- intended for Monday- has been posted so late I will be posting again immediately after so that I now fit my plans!!!