Monday, January 31, 2011

Call me crazy . . .

but somehow, I really do love Valentine's Day.

I've rarely been coupled on Valentine's Day.  I have an uncanny ability to end up in the midst of a break-up, or arrive at some sort of ending, right before February 14th (this year being no exception).  And yet, I can't help it--I still love the holiday.

Maybe it's that I love love, maybe it's that I love chocolate, maybe it's how cute conversation hearts look in Spanish:


My girlfriends and I have had an all girls Valentine's Day sleepover at my house the past five years, even those years we've been in relationships.  The V-Day sleepover always involves mac & cheese, pink lollipops, Valentini cocktails, funfetti cupcakes, nail polish, copious amounts of Sex and the City, and silky jammies.

doing my nails at V-Day sleepover 2006

I think this was 2008--we even had heart-shaped ravioli!

part of last year's spread

It's totally a controversial holiday.  Some people love getting super mushy with their lover, some couples think it's cheesy and commercial, some single people get bitter & boycott, and some single people--like me--embrace it as a day that celebrates LOVE!

Occasionally a little bit of self-pity begins to sink in, but then I remember how amazing my girlfriends are and how much fun the V-Day sleepover is every year.  And it's kind of cute that my coffee table is turning into a Valentine factory:


Plus, I bought this from Gracie's etsy shop last night:


What do you think of Valentine's Day?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shivers & Goosebumps

I know videos can be tedious to watch.  I often start watching a video someone's posted on facebook or a blog, and then skip to the next thing after about 30 seconds (my attention span is that of a flea's).

But as a person who teaches kids of incarcerated parents, I find this video so moving.  It made me get teary toward the end and my legs got goosebumps!  Most of my students are all too familiar with what this guy is saying in his brilliant & haunting poem.

Not to be preachy, but there are 2.4 million children in this country with a parent who is incarcerated.  If we don't intervene/step up/embrace them, it's all too clear that they're gonna slip through the cracks.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday I'm in Love!


1.  These giveaways:
**Meghan (whom I adore and whose blog I always look forward to reading) at The Perfect Compilation Tape is giving away your choice of Rhianne's prints!


**Neely at A Complete Waste of Makeup is giving away a $50 gift certificate to your choice: Target, Starbucks, Sephora, Anthropologie, Lululemon, or Banana Republic.  WHAT?!  Go enter!



2. Lunch with my dearie former student & her babykid:

3. One of my besties had her baby!!!  
Perhaps you know who I'm referring to. :)  I'll give you more deets as soon as she gives me the okay, but let's just say I can't wait to meet my lil nephew!

4. Scoutmob
If you live in San Francisco, Atlanta, or New York City and you don't have Scoutmob, get with the program.  Every other day or so you get a 50% off coupon (on your phone) to a restaurant/store/etc. around town.  Last Friday night I had dinner with some of my faves at Andalu for half off (three of us had dinner & a pitcher of sangria for $30-something!).  Sweeeeeeet.  

Not loving:

Sammi, go home already!  Last night was such a tease!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brandon

Perhaps obsessiveness runs in the family.  I myself have not escaped the curse; as you know, I've watched this video about 864 times, lately I can't stop ordering takeout from Currylicious, and let's be honest: I still remember my 7th grade crush's home phone number, for that was the depth of my obsession (notice I said crush--this dream was never realized).


But I think my dad is worse than me.  His most recent obsession?  A termite-sniffing beagle.


My dad travels a lot for work, and claims that he found an article about "Brandon" in a hotel magazine.  Evidently, Brandon and his owner are the greatest new thing in pest control; the owner walks Brandon through the inside & outside of the house, and Brandon scratches wherever there are termites.  He is allegedly far more effective than humans or machines.  

It all started when my stepmom, sister, and I received this email from Dad:




Kit Kiefer

to AmymeKate
show details Jan 18 (9 days ago)
You have to watch the video! Unbelievable!

I couldn't get the video to load, but I figured it was just another one of the billions of dog-related things that he sends us all too frequently, so I shrugged it off.  However, Dad fired back:  YOU MUST SEE IT!  GOOGLE "BRANDON PEST CONTROL!"  So I did, hoping for something amazing.

Well . . . I mean, it is what it is.  I suppose it is mildly entertaining that this dog is so well-trained that he can detect termites.  But my enthusiasm for the whole thing gets me about as for as 0:24 into the video.

But my dad's outta control, y'all.   He's been signing emails to me: 

"Love you! (and Brandon),
Dad"

After fielding a couple phone calls from him just to talk about Brandon, I answered his last one, "Dad, is this call about Brandon?"  To which his answer was, " . . . . yes."

All of us but one have dismissed this as a period of temporary lunacy.  The one who's holding out?  You guessed it--Ignatius.

not a happy camper

Ignatius is pissed that all of Dad's attention is now on another beagle, and one that he's never even met, at that.  Ignatius is supposed to be the star of the show!  Who cares if he can't sniff termites??  

(This next part requires me to confess to y'all that Ignatius has a facebook page.  But by now my dad's sanity has already been discredited, so it should come as no surprise).  

Prior to checking out Ignatius's facebook page in the heat of all this "Brandon" stuff, I figured the funniest part about the whole ordeal was that the beagle's name is "Brandon."  Isn't it funny when pets have totally human names?  Cracks me up.  In any case, then I saw Ignatius's facebook status, and I laughed hard enough to see the value in all this: 






Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Health Buddy

This was my lunch yesterday:

broccoli sauteed in coconut oil with Bragg's aminos
Quorn fake chicken cutlet

UNINTERESTING!  A far cry from my delicious homemade pasta the other day.  

Some of you read Summer's post yesterday about getting back on track health-wise.  Well, I am right on board with her!  Enough with waiting till late May to panic about bathing suit season . . . it's time to take the bull by the horns.

My general philosophy is that December is for baking.  And really just eating in general, what with all the holiday parties and festivities.  Which means I guess that January should be for cleansing, but I've had one experience with the Master Cleanse and while it was a worthwhile rendezvous, I'm pretty sure we'll never meet again.

And sooooooo, with my health buddy Summer, I'm committed to super healthy cooking and exercise.  I've even started hanging out with this freak again:

shudder

Summer is weighing herself but I am not because, well, I woke up the other morning feeling brave and ready to weigh myself . . . only to realize I don't have a scale.  But I guess the whole point of this thing is being really smart about what I eat and exercising as much as possible, and when you feel good & strong, you just feel it.  Without a scale.  

When my dear friend Amanda and I went on our date last week, she told me about one of her favorite recipes and emailed it to me that evening.  

Chickpea Potato Curry


(Ingredients)
*2.5 cups vegetable broth
*2 15-oz cans garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
*1 14-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes with chilis (Muir Glen has a good one)
*6 baby Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
*1 medium onion, diced
*1 tbsp unsalted butter
*2 tsp minced ginger
*1-2 tsp salt
*1 tsp ground cumin
*1 tsp ground coriander
*1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

(Instructions)
1. In a large pot, combine all ingredients.  Stir to mix and nestle the potatoes into the liquid.  
2. Set the pot, uncovered, over medium heat, and simmer for about 35 minutes (or until the potatoes are tender).  Serve the curry in bowls over jasmine rice.

(Modifications I made cause I can't for the life of me leave a recipe untouched)
*I eliminated ginger cause I don't like it
*I added 1 tsp curry powder
*I boiled veg broth first (I used water & 2 cubes Knorr vegetable bouillon) and then added other ingredients, and I cooked it covered
*I didn't use butter cause I'm trying to be healthy and frankly, I see no use for unsalted butter (bring on the salt!)
*I ate it sans rice, and it was so good.

So here is my plea for more healthy recipes from y'all!  What do you make when you're trying to be super health-conscious?  I have about three restrictions:

1. I'm vegetarian
2. I hate mushrooms
3. I HATE mayonnaise

Otherwise, bring it on!  

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Attempt at Noodle-Makin'

So, in brave determination to broaden my culinary horizons, I had my first experience with handmade pasta last night! I won't say it was an incredible success, but it was a valiant first effort.  Here's how it went down:


I went to several different websites (and even watched one video) on how to make pasta dough.  I didn't have the recommended 00 (very very fine) Italian flour, but most sites said that regular flour would work.  I mixed 2 cups of flour with 3 eggs and a splash of olive oil, then kneaded it together.

There was one step I didn't take a picture of, and I think it was a crucial one.  As per the instructions at Smitten Kitchen, I cut the dough into halves and rolled each half into a long tube-like thing and wrapped it tight in aluminum foil, then put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.  This made the dough much more manageable.

After I took it out, I rolled it as thin as I could (but not thin enough) with a rolling pin, then rolled the dough up like you'd roll up . . . wrapping paper or something. :)


Like that.  Can you see that it's rolled up?  Then, with the sharpest knife I have (not sharp enough--I have pretty shitty knives), I cut centimeter-wide slices like this:


See those cute little spirals?  When you unroll them, they make linguini!  (well kind of).  After I'd done this with both rolls, I unrolled all the adorable spirals and dried the pasta for about 15 minutes on the counter (I dried it for as long as it took me to chop the veggies).  My counter looked like this:


Funny, right??  It was pretty exciting, I gotta say, seeing them lookin' all pasta-like up in there.  Then, I chopped up some onion, garlic, red pepper, and rainbow chard, mixed in some sweet grape tomatoes, and sauteed (admittedly, I added a little butter.  And salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings).


Yum.  Then, I made a mistake.  I was going back and forth between just adding the uncooked noodles to the wok with all the veggies, boiling the noodles for a couple minutes, and sauteing them in a separate pan.  I went with the latter, although I think I should have flash boiled them, at least, and maybe thrown them right in with the veggies.  Instead I cooked them separately in a pan, which resulted in them browning too much and ending up a little . . . wonton-like:


But we live and learn.  And I'm super determined, so you better believe I'm trying this again pronto (I'm thinking meyer lemon and cracked pepper pasta), and I'll know what to do better.  After my little noodle wontons were done, I added them to the wok and tossed them with the veggies:


I added a little more salt & pepper, some grated parmesan, and squeezed some delicious meyer lemon on top (this lemon was so sweet that I literally ate a piece of it).

Anna was my guinea pig and she was a good sport about it. :)  I loved the flavor of the whole thing, but the texture of the noodles left something to be desired.  I'm gonna have to consult some more pasta making sites (and my daddy) to get some good tips, but I'm still pretty excited by this--fresh pasta!  Fun!

Have any of you ever made pasta?  If so, throw me some knowledge!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday I'm in Love!


I've got a new shoe crush and it's taken hold of me.  Evidently, Rihanna and I have the same taste in Louboutins.  The one pair I own, she owned first (damn her!).  And now, she's bested me again, cause she has the Christian Louboutin Misfit 150s!  Thus begins my Friday I'm in Love post with

1. These Loubs:

other things I love about this photo: Vogue, Rihanna, Annie Leibovitz


Believe it or not, I think I like them best in the creamy khaki color.  They're perfectly dramatic in black, but maybe a little too goth for me.  But the lighter color?  HOLY MOTHER.  I've fallen hard.  They're only $1500, so I only need to take 862 more babysitting jobs to get my paws on them!


2. Snooki's book being on the New York Times best seller list.

Don't believe me?  Click here.  


Did I just order this book from amazon?  Why yes, yes I did.  What can I say, I love to read. ;)

(What I'm not in love with: that I have $80K of student loans and an MFA in Creative Writing and yet Snooki's book is on the best seller list).


3. FREE SNOOKI
That moments after Snooki was hauled off by the cops and taken to the slammer, JWOWW was sporting one of these:


In case you've forgotten some of Snooki's finer moments, here's a little reminder:



4. Jude + Tim Riggins


Jude is nobody's fool, and damn straight he's paying homage to the fact that Tim Riggins has been released from jail and is back in Dillon, Texas!  Let's just say my Wednesday nights have gotten a little brighter (uh--hotter) now that Timmy's back on Friday Night Lights.  

welcome home, baby.  
tell me, what kinds of things did you miss while you were in prison?

Hope the rest of you have had a lovely week and have fun weekend plans.  I finally have a day off on Sunday (!!!) so let's just say the world is my oyster.  Happy weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Girl Time is the Best Time

Yesterday I was feeling all kindsa bluesy, so when my friend Amanda (whom you read about here) came to my office after school and suggested that instead of working out, like we'd planned, that we do something more fun and girly, I couldn't have nodded my head more quickly.

Important to know: I almost never get my nails done.  I love the experience of a mani/pedi at a salon, but I also enjoy doing my nails myself (smoothing & filing & clipping & painting, all while sitting on my couch watching tv with a glass of wine, is so therapeutic to me!).  Therefore, I rarely fork over the cash to get 'em done pretty at a nail salon.  However, yesterday, going to get a mani/pedi followed by a drink at a neighboring bar just seemed oh so right.


So we hopped in my car and went here:

San Francisco Sun, Cole Valley

I've actually been to San Francisco Sun many times before, cause I used to live in the neighborhood, and while I don't get my nails done often . . . when I do, I go there.  I'd like to point out that for $30, you get a delightful manicure and pedicure in the best spa chair I've experienced while enjoying complimentary wine.  That's right, free booze with your mani/pedi!  Suffice to say, Amanda and I were in heaven.  It's pretty in there, everyone is nice, and the owner, Colette, is so neighborly (we ran into her afterwards at the pub next door).  

I forgot to take a picture of Amanda's nails, but here is what I chose:

 these little piggies went to the salon!

I left my camera in Georgia, so these are merely iPhone pics--my fingernails are actually more light purpley in person.  I love the way they look!  I chose an OPI lilac shade for my fingers and an Essie purple-pink for my toes (I always go darker on my toes).  I have to confess that I already can't wait to go back (but next time I'm gonna try out the gel manicure--anyone done that yet?).

After our decadent nail experience, we hopped over to Kezar Pub for a beer and some nachos:


Kezar is a neighborhoody pub between Cole Valley and Haight/Ashbury, and they have a fine selection of beers on tap (I got Blue Moon; Amanda got Stella).  We split a small nachos and had some great convo and I left feeling totally rejuvenated.  Seriously.  There is nothing in the world like girlfriends to make you feel better about boy problems.  I'm so grateful for my friends (and my city!).


Hope everyone's having a great week . . . I really want to talk about Snooki getting arrested, but this post is already pretty long, so that will have to wait till tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

La Douleur Exquise

Feeling like this today:



Luckily, I have a girly happy hour date after work to look forward to.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Heroes

Here are just a few of mine.  Don't you like to see them all smiling?

Martin Luther King, Jr.

(have you seen Susan Sarandon portray her in Dead Man Walking?)

Nelson Mandela
"the struggle is my life"

Rosa Parks

Che Guevara
(and not just cause he was hot)

What all of my heroes have in common (those pictured above and those not) is that they all fought ceaselessly for what they believed was right.  I think that we, as humans, have a responsibility to the world--how can we witness injustice and stand by silently?  Not all of us can travel around the globe fighting oppressive governments and healing sick children, but we can all do something.  We can volunteer, we can teach, or we can stand up for what is right when we hear someone make a hateful remark.

Thinking about how I can be more like my heroes today!  Tell me, who are yours?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Breesies!

Today is a very special day.  Not only is it the 32nd birthday of my beloved Drew Brees, but it's the 2nd birthday of his first son, Baylen!

happy birthday Brees boys!

Baylen was born on his daddy's 30th bday.  How awesome is that?  (Too bad I've already blown that chance for myself, as my 30th birthday is in 7 months and 1 day.  OMG).  I hope that mama and baby brother Bowen are treating them both like the princes they are.  

undeniably adorable

Although, gotta admit, I wish Breesy were celebrating his bday weekend by winning a game tomorrow.  In any case, happy birthday to the sweetest quarterback around (next to Matt Saracen).  And also, happy birthday to my twin friends AJ and PJ, whose big day I'll be celebrating later tonight at this awesome place with a gorgeous view of San Francisco.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Bluebird


me:  Okay, so as you are writing your stories, imagine there is a bluebird perched on your head and he is chirping "Imagery, imagery!"  He is reminding you to use visual images and lots of details in your story.  

DS:  Maaaaaaannnn, forget the bluebird.  F*** that ni**a.  He ain't helpin' me.

me:  Did you just say "f*** that n**a" about the bluebird?

DS:  Yep.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Womb Aches

when I see something this cute.



Seriously, the first time I saw it (last week), I got really teary in my office!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seth Cohen? Are you out there? (aka Christmas Pressies Part 3)

I've already shared with you some of the incredibly sweet Christmas gifts I received this year in this post and in this post.  Today I have another overwhelmingly generous gift to share . . . and it comes from a girl I've been friends with since middle school!

Amy and I were in the same homeroom all 4 years of high school because our last names both started with a K.  Our homeroom teacher was a bit of a freak (she was often hungover, and occasionally she'd wear these leather pants that literally zipped from the front to the back, so she could unzip them and the legs would come off), which provided us with ample opportunity to goof off and share silly stories.  We went to prom together, we shared our first dates together, and we stayed close through college and graduate/law school and now, once again, we live in the same state (albeit 7 hours apart).

the sweet Lazzaronis, one of my favorite families in the world

Amy & new baby Sammy

my kinda kid!

me and Amy on Newport Beach

happy hour in southern California :)

A few days before I went home to Georgia for Christmas, between giving final exams, mailing packages, teaching galore, packing for Christmas vacation, nurturing my terrible sore throat, and spinning my head off trying to get everything done, I got a package in the mail from Amy, Dave, and Sammy.  This is what was inside:


Can you believe it?  How generous and wonderful is that?  You better believe I hopped on Southwest's website and booked a ticket, and I am so excited to visit my dear Lazzaronis the first weekend of February!  Not to mention, I'm still very moved by the hugeness of this gift.  They are always so good to me.

Gabby blogged about this restaurant in Orange County, and I can't wait to try it with Amy and Dave.  And if we're lucky, we might revisit The Beachcomber on Newport Beach, where last time we shared a light lunch and some white wine.  Of course we'll make a stop here (duh), and we always head to this place once or twice for some delicious food and "the world's largest selection of draft beer!"

Thank you so much dear Lazzaronis . . . I can't wait to hug your necks, squeeze that sweet baby, and step my toes on the (probably cold but still) southern California beach!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Old Photos

When my mama asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told her that what I wanted most of all was a photo album with copies of all our old family pictures.  And sure enough, it was my very favorite gift.  I think I appreciate them even more since I live so far away from everyone in my family.  And while the second disc is currently MIA (traveling/packing/unpacking/traveling), here are some of the photos from the first one (she gave me a photo album with pictures, and included a couple cds with some of them scanned digitally):

baby Claire and mama, August 16, 1981

baby Claire & daddy--nice to meet you!

cousin Jennifer in the foreground, baby Claire with crazy hair in the background

with Grandpa

gazing at my daddy

baby bffs:  Claire and Lesley
don't you recognize her bright red hair?
all baby pictures with Lesley in them are cheerier :)

I'm gonna upload some more as soon as I find the second disc . . . I promise I have a sister. :)

Do y'all have your baby pictures and early family photos?  If so, I wanna see!  (Micaela, you should do a baby picture themed Wanting to Know You Wednesday!  We could even play a guess who game!).