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Archive for August, 2010

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the notes, comments, and emails! Every single one has brought a smile to my face, and I can’t thank YOU all enough for helping me along by keeping me writing.

Who knows if this would have happened without this blog? As bloggers, we’re all already writers. But I don’t know if I would have traveled outside my comfort zone to do this if it wasn’t for my blog.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

My posts have been so random lately! Not much in the way of daily eats, but that’s okay. I have some great posts that are backlogged, and I’m trying to get those out AND stay up to date with things going on.

And…I know I have not posted ONCE about Honduras yet. It’s coming. It is extremely tough to put that trip into words and to break it into sections that make sense. I’m working on it, but there’s a lot to get through to make those posts come together – pictures, memories, emotions. Not an easy task, but one that I’m excited to finish so I can tell you all about the trip.

Just in case you want to know, I am still taking pictures!

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Overnight oats for breakfast with oats, almond milk, cinnamon, greek yogurt and local fruit! Blueberries, raspberries, peaches, walnuts.

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I had a new quinoa recipe for lunch (recipe coming) and pizza for dinner.

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I’d been waiting all day for this pizza! We heated it up in the oven to keep the crust crispy.

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And some salad, for a little green today.

Did you know that college football starts in 2 days?!? I cannot even put into words how excited I am. It’s ridiculous. Just thinking about our game next week makes me get butterflies in my stomach – and all I do is watch!

I’m watching ESPN right now and cannot. wait. until. Thursday.

Am I crazy?

ALSO – today is my sister’s birthday!!! Happy Birthday Melissa! See you this weekend for lots of fun + football 🙂

AND it’s someone else’s birthday…Rose! 🙂

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On Writing

All my life, I’ve wanted to be a writer.

I spent summer days immersed in books, reading until I could read no more. I entered writing contests in elementary and middle school, wrote a sequel to Snow White, a short story about my teacher being eaten by a hippopotamus, a book about the beach, and one about my sisters.

I wrote a poem in my little notebook with the Orca whale on the cover when my Mawmaw passed away. I wrote in my journal and notebooks when Marques and his mom died. I wrote when Nany and Pampaw moved on to bigger buffet tables in heaven, when I was rejected by a boy in high school, when my best friends decided to no longer be my friends, when I was convinced I was the right girl for a certain boy – only he didn’t agree, when nothing in my world made sense, when I was cheated on, when I was lied to, when giving up seemed like the best option, when I felt alone, when I was so in love I couldn’t think straight, when I found my soul mate, when I was so hurt and deceived by people I thought I knew that writing was all I could do. I write when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m angry, when I’m anything.

I get completely lost in books, imagining myself in each scene and easily getting attached to the characters.

I’ve fallen in love, fallen out of love, been crushed by tragedies, smiled at happy endings, and cried for people that don’t exist. And as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be able to create that magic for someone else. To have someone else read what I’ve written and be transported, to fall into the words, to put off other things just to get through one more page, one more chapter.

And yet, writing here is all I’ve allowed myself to do. I have been so utterly terrified of failure that I would talk myself out of reaching for other opportunities.

I want to write; I do. But other than this blog and my honorable mentions from elementary school, I have no real world experience. Maybe that’s what has been holding me back: I know that without experiences and publications, it is extremely hard to write for a living.

How do you get past that fear of rejection and into your life long dream?

How can I push past all my excuses and reasons for not doing this to go after what I want?

Can I do it?

What is it that changes dreams and passions and longing into acting and doing and creating?

Is my dream of being a writer just a dream, something that will never happen for me?

One of my favorite authors of all time, Ernest Hemingway once wrote: "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know."

So here it is.

I am scared to go after what I truly want in life. Some days, I don’t even know exactly what I want.

I’m afraid to take the leap and take a chance.

I’m terrified that I’ll get in over my head and have no way back. But I’m also scared to stay where I am – uninspired, unfulfilled, and unhappy in my work.

The crazy thing about this post is that I wrote the beginning of it a few weeks ago, and just getting those thoughts and feelings out and onto the screen, letting them flow through my fingertips as they danced over the keyboard, made me truly realize what I’m missing.

I decided to finally act.

And I’m so incredibly humbled and ridiculously giddy to announce this exciting news!

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I am officially a published writer!

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I’ve been reading Bella Magazine, a regional (Virginia) magazine for women for months and love everything they’re doing. After emailing back and forth a few months ago, I finally had my first piece published in their September issue – and I couldn’t be more ecstatic!

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It is crazy to see my face – my face! – in print.

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And my pictures/recipes! I’ll have a monthly column to write about all things food – recipes, restaurant reviews, or random tidbits.

Needless to say, I’m psyched. It just seems surreal that it’s actually happening.

I finally took my own advice and went out on a limb for my dream.

Maybe this isn’t the next great American novel, but it’s my words out there in print.

Thank you, thank you for reading and commenting and helping me get up the courage to go after this dream! Thank you to my family for the constant encouragement and unfailing belief in my abilities. And a big thank you to everyone else I see going after their dreams with incredible resolve and determination – your notes and posts and emails have been so important in my own journey and a great inspiration to others around you.

 

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Two questions for today:

What dream are you putting on the  back burner?

And…

What in the world should I call my column?!?

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Diva Nikita

This past Friday night, I attended a fun Ladies Only event – Diva Nikita, which benefited the YWCA Focus Forward Program, an emergency and transitional housing program for women and children who are homeless.

The event was held at the Sheraton Roanoke and was put on by CW5/Fox, K92, Caroline LaRocca Event Design LLC, and Bella Magazine to also celebrate the start of the CW’s new show, Nikita.

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It turned out to be a fun night, and I’m so happy that the proceeds benefited such a great cause in our area.

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They had booths around the perimeter of the room, showcasing everything from purses to jewelry, art, and a hair salon!

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The dinner served was pretty good – I didn’t really know what to expect food-wise, but I made myself a great meal.

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They had 2 set-ups and each table had a big salad bar and a “make your own pasta station”, with a chef that mixed it and heated it up for you.

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I grabbed a salad with romaine, spring mix, olives, broccoli, cauliflower and balsamic dressing plus some bowtie pasta with zucchini, squash, onions, mushrooms, and marinara.

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And then – the desserts!

They were passed around and were all bite-sized, which was perfect. I tried one of each.

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First, a little lemon bar that was my favorite of the evening.

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Light, refreshing, and the perfect size!

There was also this chocolate cake-type dessert on a stick.

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It was good – very fudgy, but I really liked the lemon bar better!

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And deep-fried twinkies.

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Pretty good! It was actually really light and not greasy at all – but I don’t think I could eat an entire twinkie if it was fried. This one bite was just enough.

After everyone ate dinner, they had 2 different fashion shows: one put on by Millie’s, a store in Salem, and one by Fashionistas Roanoke who created clothing out of recycled materials.

Here’s a few highlights:

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The dress above was made out of shredded paper!

They had some great gift baskets (two different people at my table won!) and also had dance lessons!

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Plus, I had my picture taken with Miss Monica from K92’s Morning Thang – our favorite morning show! We listen to it every weekday, and she is hilarious.

All in all, Diva Nikita was a great event and I’m happy I was able to attend.

 

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Jammin’ Pizza

I’ve been such a Susie Homemaker today! And I loved every minute. I would much rather be in the kitchen cooking than working on my computer.

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I made my first ever batch of homemade jam – post to come! They’re still cooling/setting and I don’t want to post until I know if they actually worked.

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But they sure do look cute!

My other big cooking project for today was mixing up the pizza dough for dinner.

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This dough recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas, which is perfect for us because we always want leftovers! You can always cut it in half, if needed.

 

Basic Pizza Dough

  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (one package of active dry yeast)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 – 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • olive oil, for bowl
  1. In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for 5 minutes or until creamy.
  2. Mix the 3 cups of whole wheat flour and salt into the water/yeast mixture.
  3. Add in regular flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
  4. Pour 1 Tbsp olive oil in large bowl and add dough, turning to coat it in the oil.
  5. Cover the bowl with towel and let sit 2-3 hours or until doubled.
  6. Punch down and divide into 2 rounds.
  7. Cover the dough again and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling out.
  8. Bake at 475-500 degrees for 12-15 minutes with desired toppings.

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I’m pretty sure we’ve perfected our pizza. The secrets? Homemade dough (duh) and a hot, hot oven to make sure that cheese melts and browns and the dough stays crispy on the bottom.

Our process is pretty easy now – I make the dough and get the toppings ready. Nick rolls it out.

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Tonight’s pizza selection:

Pepperoni and red onion with homemade pizza sauce and fresh mozzarella.

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Margherita Pizza, using tomatoes from our garden, basil from our porch, olive oil, and fresh mozzarella.

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Plus some salad…just so we would eat something other than pizza.

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And we went running after work! It was HOT today, but it was a good run. I feel good tonight!

Dinner is done.

Dishes are washed.

Breakfast is prepped.

Just laundry to fold and a puppy to cuddle.

 

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Omelets, Revisited

I made a huge mistake this morning.

I did not take a picture of the beautiful and perfect omelet that Nick made me for breakfast.

He asked if I would be sharing his omelet on the blog and when I told him that I didn’t take a picture…well, he said “I made them especially perfect and round this morning, just so you could take a picture but you can’t even share it now”.

I’m not really sure why I didn’t take a picture: we were busy in the kitchen getting breakfast ready (me prepping ingredients, getting the fresh herbs, slicing the peaches, making coffee)…and I was just hungry once I got my plate 😉 Plus, the camera battery was still charging!

To make up for my lack of picture this morning (and get back in my husband’s good graces), here are a few of his other picture-perfect omelets he’s made in the past year.

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I don’t know how he does it – his omelets are always perfect! And delicious.

Today’s had tomato from our garden, onion, extra sharp cheddar, and fresh basil and parsley. That with a peach and coffee was so good this morning! A great way to start the week.

After seeing how good he is at making omelets, I’m pretty sure I won’t be trying to make them anymore. I’ll leave the omelets to him 😉

 

Are there any dishes that you’re really good at cooking – ones that just come naturally to you?

 

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This post is a little bit of a tease.

the keys to good cooking

A few weeks ago, I was asked to be a host on the virtual book tour for Harold McGee’s new book, Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best Foods and Recipes. And of course I said yes!

I love books. I love cooking. And I knew I would love to have the chance to preview and read this book.

This first post is just a brief glimpse into the book, but I can already tell that I’m going to enjoy it – and I think you will, too.

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ABOUT HAROLD:

Harold McGee writes about the science of food and cooking. He’s the author of the award-winning classic On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, and writes a monthly column, “The Curious Cook,” for The New York Times. He has been named food writer of the year by Bon Appétit magazine and to the Time 100, an annual list of the world’s most influential people. He lives in San Francisco. (from the book tour website)

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All of the book tour participants received a few snippets of the book to preview, and I love how it’s laid out.

The table of contents shows that the book is divided into certain food types, from fruits, nuts, eggs, bread – even chocolate and coffee!

Based on McGee’s introduction, this isn’t meant to be a cookbook – rather, it is meant to help readers with their comfort and methods in the kitchen. He writes that there’s an "abundance" of recipes online and elsewhere . . . and that it’s "all too easy to get lost along the way."

I know I’m not the only one that feels that way when searching for recipes! There are hundreds upon hundreds and learning the basic steps of certain recipes will help you in case something is missing in the steps or an ingredient was left out that you know should be there.

In the section of the book that I was offered to review (because I will be reviewing the book in full later this fall), there’s a chapter on "Vegetables and Fresh Herbs” where McGee offers several tips for how to pick the best, freshest produce:

  • Fresh vegetables and herbs are alive and breathing and should look like it. The best-quality fresh vegetables are the most recently harvested and most carefully handled.
  • Precut vegetables are convenient but more vulnerable to spoilage than intact vegetables and are often wilted. Refresh them in ice-cold water before using.
  • Frozen vegetables can equal or better the quality of fresh, especially vegetables that lose flavor and tenderness rapidly after harvest. These include green peas, lima beans, and sweet corn.

There’s also a sneak peak at his “Meats” section, with some great information:

  • Searing meat does not seal in its juices, and moist cooking
    methods do not make meats moist.
    Juiciness depends almost
    entirely on how hot you cook the meat.
  • Meat overcooks quickly. Low heat slows cooking and gives
    you the greatest control over meat doneness.
  • Recipes cannot predict correct cooking times. There’s no
    substitute for checking meat doneness early and often.

This book is full of helpful information and the basic things everyone should know – these types of tips and hints will keep you on top of your game in the kitchen, no matter what gets thrown your way.

You can check out the other stops on the tour here – there are already some great reviews.

Based on Amazon.com, the book is set to release October 28th. Don’t forget to check back with me on November 9th for my full review!

tlc tour host

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Food Filled

What a great weekend!

I’m still uploading pictures to get through, but the past 3 days have been full of fun, food, and new activities for me.

Coming up this week:

New spice rub.

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Recap of the Diva Nikita event I attended Friday night!

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Jam Adventures – my first time making jam at home with the 10 pounds of blueberries Nick and I picked today. My hands were stained, I had blueberry juice on my knees, and I loved every minute.

 

I need some rest before having to get up and work tomorrow!

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