Friday, May 31, 2013

Peachy Pancakes For Two

Man, it's been a while since I've done a recipe. Not for any particular reason; I've been cooking up delicious foods (especially since Jason and I started getting a localized veggie/fruit delivery every week), but I keep eating them so fast I forget to take pictures. And what's a recipe without photos? Well... it's still a recipe. But much less fun to read.

Anyway, yesterday I had a little extra time in the morning and made myself an adaptation of a pancake recipe I found while trying to search for 'healthy pancakes'. I'm going to tell you right here and now? No such thing.

What I did manage to do was take a distinctly unhealthy recipe and make it very slightly less unhealthy.

So, easiest awesome Sunday (or... Thursday) morning breakfast in the world... Peachy Pancakes!


Ingredients

3/4 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 ripe peach, diced as finely as possible
Canola or vegetable oil, for the pan


Onto the Creation!
  
This is the easiest thing ever. Mix all your wet ingredients (minus the peaches) together in one bowl and all your dry ingredients in another. Add the dry to the wet and mix thoroughly, then fold in your diced peaches.

Heat up a tablespoon or two of the oil in a skillet. Drop in the pancake mix with about two tablespoons for each pancake. When you start seeing bubbles in your pancake (like little holes in the surface), flip to the other side. You should need only a minute or two for each side. 

Your mix should make about six pancakes, which is perfect for two people. 

You can top it with syrup, whipped cream, or whatever. In the photos I topped it with a couple of tablespoons of nonfat Greek yogurt, which I really like the taste of, and some blueberries and honey. Looking at the photos makes me wish I'd had whipped cream, though.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'll Have You Itching by the End of This Post

So right, my story.

If you can't handle bugs, now would be the time to click away and go somewhere else and look at pictures of fluffy puppies or something.

Here, here's a fluffy puppy:


Click 'Read More' to read the story, if you think you can do it. Everyone else just spend about three minutes staring at the fluffy puppy.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Haircuts, Fuzzy Demon-Things, and Other Such Nonsense

Most of the time when I disappear for a few days with no advance warning, it's a good sign.

This last weekend is no exception.

I really did mean to write something, but I got a bit swept up in my weekend! I may have over scheduled myself between Sunday and Monday, but I regret nothing.

Sunday was kind of a whirlwind from morning through night; I had plans starting from 11 AM and didn't even get back to my house until sometime around... seven? Maybe? I honestly don't even know anymore.


I remember getting a haircut, though, and then having lunch with a friend at Coffee Underground (because seriously, not having caffeine until nearly 1:30 in the afternoon is simply unacceptable). That's got to count for something. We wandered the shops downtown until I couldn't help myself and picked up a couple of neat leather bracelets at Liz Daly that go with basically everything I wear all summer long.

The worst part was wandering around the new anthropologie in downtown Greenville, because this season's clothing may as well be a letter addressed to me that I cannot afford the postage for. Except that that metaphor doesn't make any sense, but we're going to ignore that.

When we landed back at my house, my friend had asked about some books on history and I think I ended up pulling something like fourteen off my shelves, stuffing them in a bag, and giving them to her to borrow. She may regret having asked to borrow "a few" and letting me choose what counts as "few".


Monday, I had lunch with two friends and their respective children, a toddler boy and a spankin' new infant girl. We ate at Tealoha, which is about as new as Sarah's baby.

I am planning a return visit with Jason and to try and remember to take photos then. Tealoha has much the same concept as a coffeeshop, but with variations of tea taking the place of espresso or coffee in the drinks. It was incredibly light and airy in there, thanks to a nice forest-green and light brown color scheme. Every single worker we dealt with was friendly, and actually I'm fairly sure I met the owner and she was lovely and friendly, too. So all-around a great atmosphere.

I had a Masala Chai Latte which was blissful heaven. Sarah had the same, but iced and blended, and that was like delicious spiced ice cream. Jo had the blended Jasmine green and strawberry. We all had a sandwich and Sarah and I ended up splitting a chocolate marble loaf because who can resist dessert? Everyone knows if you split it, it doesn't count.

I had a turkey and bacon sandwich. It came on super crunchy ciabatta bread and was divine. There was pesto, and some greens I could put on it so I could pretend it was healthy... delightful.

The only negative thing I can even come up with is that the sandwiches were a little higher-priced than I'd like, as they didn't really come with any side dish of any sort. I think that will probably be rectified later, though, and has more to do with the place having literally just opened and still getting its sea legs, so to speak. I would have appreciated some fresh veggies, chips, or the option of a cup of soup or little garden salad or something like that for what I paid.

The drinks, though. I ended up buying a few ounces of looseleaf tea to take home, and I've already gone through half of it. Whoops. Oh no. I'll have to buy more. However shall I cope.


This has nothing to do with anything, it's just a picture of a weird animal Jason and I saw a couple of weeks ago and I just realized I never showed anyone.

What is this? Is it a groundhog? A mole? Some kind of fuzzy demon? I demand an answer to this mystery that doesn't involve me having to put any effort into finding out!

Anyway, right. I was trying to explain my weekend.

I ran through the grocery store, came home, and had enough time to throw together some Irish Soda Bread (this is not quite the recipe I use; I got mine out of a 3- and 4-ingredient cookbook I bought back when I had my very first apartment in college) before we ran over to my in-laws' to have dinner. My sister-in-law is about to head to Italy for a few weeks for a study-abroad program and we wanted to make sure we saw her off right! Which, on my end, apparently just involves being paranoid about all the bad things that could happen.

Which is basically what I do.

Obviously I could have thrown something together yesterday, but while I had Tuesday off (since I work Saturdays, my long holiday weekends are Sunday-Tuesday) I did... surprisingly little. Other than a story I'm going to tell you for tomorrow's blog post, because I think it's funny enough to deserve its own post.

Today I was back at work, and I'm home to heat up leftover lentil and rainbow chard soup I found while googling what to do with rainbow chard and made for dinner last night. I threw in a couple of cut-up zucchini since I had no celery or carrots and one of my favorite tricks, a chipotle boullion cube from a box my friend Shelly gave us forever ago. I'm still working through it, but it's my favorite trick to add extra spicy flavor. Also I sure did not use a gallon of chicken broth. Because that is a lot of broth.

So, in short... whew.


This doesn't have to do with anything either, except that this shows you what happens when I try to take a nice haircut photo.

We are a photogenic people.

Or not.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

This is What I Do With My Art Degree


Every once in a while, I wade on in here and start talking about art. Today is one of those days. Those of you completely uninterested should probably go watch videos on youtube until you forget that I am a giant art nerd. To save your internet connections, I'll stick a jump-cut here. Click 'Read More' to read the rest of the post.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Be OK

Photo from Time Magazine

There's a joke, that people who survive a tornado always come out saying, "It sounded like a freight train" when a reporter sticks a microphone in their face.

The reason they say that is because that is exactly what they sound like, or as near as to make no difference. The roar even almost sounds like train cars rattling across tracks.

Almost always, the tornado siren at the local fire station is blaring alongside it, adding a discordant, horrible up-and-down-and-up wail on top of the wind trying to flatten the world. If you're in it, you are deaf to each other until the noise dies down.

The mercy of tornadoes, what little mercy there is, is that they don't last very long.

Except that sometimes, they do.

We get flippant about tornadoes in the Midwest. They occur so often that they become something we are mostly cautious about, but discount their destructive potential. People stand outside with cameras and cell phones while a funnel cloud bears down on them, or drive out on country roads to get just the right shot. There's a video circulating on youtube right now that a man took while driving his SUV around a parking lot, with the massive Oklahoma tornado heading right at him before it changes direction. That he walked out of it uninjured was nothing short of sheer dumb luck.

It's a risk we take because fatality counts from tornadoes tend to be so low that we forget what a tornado can do when given flat land and plenty of time.

My thoughts are with people in the Midwest today, but most especially with those affected by the huge EF4 (news has just reported that they are officially declaring it was an EF5) just outside Oklahoma City, in the little town of Moore, a town most assuredly devoid of fortune; they were decimated in 1999 by a tornado with the highest wind speeds ever recorded.

As always, the stories that come out of storms like these are stories about the best that people have in them; neighbors helping dig out a man's canine best friend, teachers throwing themselves on top of as many students as possible to shield them from debris, people showing up to help rescuers dig to find those trapped in their own storm cellars, men and women carrying injured children out of a ruined school, citizens declaring over and over again, "We will rebuild."

Because that's what people do. It's what we're best at; adapting to each disaster in order to make ourselves less likely to be as badly affected by the next one.

Living where I do now, in Upstate South Carolina, I don't have to think about tornadoes in the same way I did back in Illinois. I no longer listen for the telltale siren every time there's a thunderstorm that fits the pattern, and I don't check for watches and warnings on the news the way I used to.

We discount the danger of tornadoes in the Midwest because we see them so often, the warnings and watches are very nearly part of the routine of spring and early summer. Maybe an occasional few houses get flattened, but it doesn't seem that bad from the outside. We drive under green skies now and then or find our cars dented from hail, but for the most part, we don't see much more than an EF1.

It's the risk Midwesterners take to live in what I personally think is one of the most beautiful places in the country.

But oh, what a risk it seems, when we see something like this.

My thoughts are with Moore and with those who lost family members and friends. My heart is with the mayor declaring they will rebuild.

Of course they will.

It's what people do.

We take the blow and stagger, then get back up and rebuild.




here's a link to a small USA Today article on how to help

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Not Quite Zen



I went and sat on our back porch and everything smelled like honeysuckle.

The sounds were all calling frogs and birds and the dog rolling around in the grass. The sky is a little gray with clouds and it's humid, but it just seems to make the noise seem even closer and clearer.



For a moment, I was content with the sheer perfect serenity of the moment.

I was one with the universe, et cetera and so forth.


Then I sneezed six times in a row, suddenly couldn't breathe, and had to come inside.

Stupid nature.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Berries & Grins



Our first strawberries, fresh and warm from the sun, ready to pick.

 

A happy dog, just finished rolling until he coats himself entirely in clover.

Two ways to make your May evening just that much brighter.

Even if just going outside to take the photos made me sweaty. Stupid humidity.

Every spring since we moved here I consider moving to Canada. Every winter I remember why I don't.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Like Sunday Morning


It was a good weekend.

Saturday we hit up a friend's birthday party, where I ate entirely too much spicy guacamole and regret nothing. Also we watched a six-year-old run around wearing the remains of the Snow White pinata as a hat, which is its own kind of joy.

Artisphere happened this last weekend, and while that whole adult-with-a-job-every-Saturday thing meant I had to miss Friday and Saturday's festivities, we were still able to make it up there Sunday morning. The events downtown are one of the reasons we love Greenville so much, and Artisphere is one of the best. Artists apply for booths to run up and down Main Street, which is shut down for the most part to handle the pedestrian traffic.


There's a lot of pedestrian traffic, you see.

The booths are great; there's a really good mix of photography, painting, other 2D options as well as jewelry, metalworking, woodworking, ceramics and tons of 3D work as well. Jason and I hit up nearly every booth for a while, really taking a good look.

Then we realized we had begun to skip booths simply because we were hungry, and wandered back up Main Street to try a new place I'd seen in the news; Sully's Steamers.


Sully's is a steamed-bagel-sandwiches kind of place. I had an idea of what I was in for the minute I realized how large the menu was. We were greeted almost immediately by the friendly people working there and decided to eat our sandwiches outside since it was so nice and there is some seating out there in the sunshine.

I couldn't decide what I even wanted (there were simply too many delicious-sounding things), so I ordered a "wild card", which is basically telling a bunch of strangers behind a counter "I trust you with my taste buds; do whatever." I told them I have no allergies and I like everything, so make me something cool.

I got a Sinful Steamer on a jalapeno bagel.



To say it was good is... somewhat of an understatement.

It was awesome. Cheese, barbecue sauce, meatballs, bacon... it was all there on a slightly-spicy, chewing, crispy-outside bagel sandwich. Jason got something called "Ted Wins", but I honestly have no idea what that was because I hardly looked at his sandwich; I was way too focused on my own.

 Definitely a place we're going back to, especially on days when we head downtown and really walk all over the place and work up an appetite.

After lunch, we were right back into the crowd so we could check out the booths we had been missing. I ended up picking up a bracelet from Nicole Wayne, this awesome very simple bright summer green;


I am currently making eyes at the turquoise and burnt orange iterations as well. Longing, hopeful eyes.

We had to head back so we could get ready for Mother's Day dinner over at my in-laws' house, which was a great time... except for the part where our dog chased their cat up a tree because he wants to be friends so badly and cats tend to mistake that eager speed for hunting. That was sort of mortifying.

He did love all the open space in their yard to run in and all the new people to slobber all over. He's actually pretty chill today; I guess his weekend wore him out as much as it did us.

Today is less fun; errands, mostly, and a long-overdue dental appointment that I can't say I'm particularly excited about. It was interesting to talk to the receptionist who answered the phone and hear her sort of amused resignation when I told her how long it had been since I'd gone to a dentist, though. I'm guessing she gets that a lot, especially since so many people lost insurance during the recession and so many people my age never really could afford it in the first place.

So, basically, today is brought to you by the magic of benefits.

Favorite booths at Artisphere; obviously Nicole Wayne, Sandi Garris, Marie-Helene Grabman, William Baker, Donald Boudreau, Amy and Jeff Dallas, and Vincent van Gourd.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Stay Out

So yesterday, I received a packet from Montana in the mail.

Yes, the state.

No, I have no idea why Montana is sending me packets. It was sent to my name and address, though, so clearly Montana is interested in knowing things about me.

Anyway, I look at the plastic bag it came in, and this is the first thing I see:


Stay out of Montana...?

That's kind of rude. How could they know to ban me from the state yet, I've never even been there!

I mean, at least give me a chance to prove I'm only going to make a spectacle of myself first!

... and why would you send a highway map along with your "KEEP OUT" packet? What kind of people are running their visitors' bureau exactly? "Here is all our natural beauty that you will never experience, bwa hahahahahaha!"

Rude, right?

Then I opened said packet, and this is what it actually says:


Step out of bounds.

Oh.

Well, that's much nicer.

That explains everything, right?

Except for how exactly they got my name and address and why they want me to come and visit when I'll only give them cause to regret it.

Although I guess they don't know that yet.

Ssshhh.

Don't tell Montana about me, okay?

I want them to be surprised.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Is... Is That Blue Sky?


YES.

YES IT IS BLUE SKY.

Divine, amazing, sacred sunshine-y awesome not-raining blue sky!

So of course I dragged the dog out for a freakishly long walk to enjoy it.


The trail was a little worse for wear after three straight days of downpour with occasional wind-gusts (we met the clean-up crew on our way back, clearing away the debris), but that didn't stop me and my intrepid canine companion. We laugh in the face of damp!

6 and a quarter miles later, we finally decided to be tired and crawled back in the car to come home. He started running circles in the yard an hour later. It's taking me... somewhat longer to get my energy back.

Today I've managed to make a cajun chicken salad for Jason and I to eat for lunch at work, started on tonight's dinner (sort of; I washed some of the greens that will make up the salad because why not?), have had about enough coffee, working on the second load of laundry, and I'm cleaning the bedroom. One could almost feel accomplished if one could not turn around and see what a mess the living room is.


That's why I just don't turn around.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

5 Things: Upon a Rainy Day

The Upstate's in a cold, wet place right now. It's been rainy off and on, and never really sunny enough to dry things up. Tonight we're supposed to receive a few inches of rain, which means there are flash flood warnings all over the Upstate, North Carolina, and even northern Georgia right now. (Obviously, people in Illinois and the Midwest in general are rolling their eyes at this already; they've been dealing with floods for what feels like a couple of weeks now).

I worked today, but I think everyone's ideal cold rainy day is a day at home staying warm and dry, right?

I let myself day-dream last night and kind of put together a wishlist of rainy day things; what I'd like to be wearing, what I'd like to be drinking, reading, the blanket I want to snuggle under... anything I could think of. Just dreaming about taking the chill off.

Also, to be writing the word 'chill' in May in Upstate South Carolina is deeply amusing to me.



1. The Book I'd Be Reading

Superman: The Unauthorized Biography by Glen Weldon

Most of the people in my life know that I've got a soft spot for the Man of Steel. People think he's boring, and it's a point to them that he really is often written in a way that is deeply boring. He's just... Superman. He wears a suit, he saves the day. Recent versions have turned him into an even more obvious allegory for Jesus Christ; a Savior who comes to Earth to save us from ourselves and even dies and then returns later.

Superman, though, can be an intriguingly complex character.

We're talking about a man whose entire sense of identity is built around a kind of abandonment complex. The core of him is that he deeply wants to be human; he looks like us when he wants to, he talks and acts and thinks like a human being in many ways. In the end though, he's not human. He's Kryptonian, the last son of a dead society (until, of course, comic writers wanted badly to introduce more superheroes like him... then we get SuperGirl and all sorts of chaos in the mythology). He wants to be one of us, but inevitably he is constantly reminded that he is not.

What does that do to a person? There aren't a ton of Superman comics that really get into that in a way that feels serious. Kingdom Come is one of my favorite books of all time; it's a generation-gap story at its essence, about old-school Superman and the way the world essentially disowned him by moving on. Superman is hiding out in Kansas, back to living the simple farm life he grew up with, after becoming increasingly disaffected by the growing violence of a new generation of superheroes who apply power without a sense of responsibility. It's a love letter to the old-school DC heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman, and a kind of cautionary story about the true result of the newer generation of superheroes, who are more about what their powers get them and what they can do as opposed to who they could do it for.

He's graying around the temples but still a huge and powerful man, angry and righteous while still, in the end, good. The effect of who he is trying to live in the world and the toll it takes on him is made clear. He's not exactly a nice person; how could he be, when he has spent his life being underestimated, overestimated, and forced to walk among people inherently inferior to him?

Weldon's book starts at the beginning and traces Superman's life, who he has been and how he's been used as generations change and the beliefs and values and things of importance change with us. I deeply want to curl up with this book on a cold afternoon, just me and a blanket and maybe a snuggly dog, and dive in. Weldon is a certified Superman Fan, which bodes well, and I've read some good reviews from other critics who like Superman.

Maybe it says something about me that my two favorite superheroes are the two most often consigned to the one-dimensional claptrap bin; Superman and Captain America. I like these genuine good guys, trying as hard as they can to work in a world that isn't quite the one they thought they knew or the one they really belong in. They can be complex, but are often underwritten and painted in broad strokes, used poor or not used at all in favor of superheroes that can be more easily made gritty and dark, or witty and irreverent, without sacrificing a huge core part of their character.

Actually, now that I've written this I think Jason and I will hit up the bookstore here in a little bit. Hm.




2. The Outfit I'd Be Wearing:

Sweater Shirt Pants Slippers Socks

Look, I can be a huge comic book fan and also want to wear pretty things, okay?

I love me some teal. Love love love. This nice open-weave sweater can work during the summer on warmer days (IE, almost every day) with a tank top, but for this rainy-day imagining I'm doing, a nice long-sleeved shirt underneath helps you keep warm. The idea here is basically one step above pajamas, but nice enough that if I have to leave the house for some Godforsaken reason, I don't have to do anything more than switch up shoes.

I own this Land's End shirt, which was a Christmas gift, and it's incredibly soft. A little short, though, for those of us with a tall person's waist and tree stump legs, so I mostly layer it under things.

Skinny jeans, SmartWool socks (do I ever wear any other kind?), and black slipper-moccasins with fleece on the inside keep me warm while I sit and read, even without taking into account...




3. The Blanket I'd Be Snuggled Under:

Vintage Striped Wool Blanket by CharmHouseVintage over on etsy.

I just love this blanket. I think it's even shown up on an earlier 5 things. I love stripes and sort of deep forest colors. I go look at this on etsy every once in a while, but I'm a bit loathe to spend $65 on something I'm just going to cover myself with while I'm sitting on the couch.

Oh well.

Nothing wrong with day-dreaming, right?




4. The Tea I'd Be Drinking:

Vanilla Chai by Amanzitea

Cold days call for chai, in my opinion, and maybe a little caffeine to combat how warm clothes and blankets and dim light can make you sleepy. Amanzitea is near to us, so it's the tea place we've been visiting most often, so I'm thinking this awesome chai is basically what I'm looking for. A little honey and a little warmed milk (or almond milk, which is what we have in our fridge right now) and basically I'm set for the afternoon.

We've talked about how much I love tea, right?

Right. Of course we have.




5. Who I'd Spend the Day With:

You knew who this would be.

Oh, what. Did you seriously think I wouldn't take this opportunity to be sappy and annoyingly cutesy? That's what bloggers do, right?

But hey, there isn't any ideal day where Who I'd Spend the Day With isn't half the reason it would be ideal.

And other sappy shnoogy-woogums type of stuff can be imagined here; I won't make you all hate me by continuing any further with it.

In other news, a friend of mine just had a baby, who I've already had the good fortune to meet when she was only a day old. It is always a surprise how very very tiny newborn babies are. They seem like the smallest and warmest of little bird-bone fragile things, and I find myself holding them like they will somehow spontaneously combust. Nonetheless, she opened her little eyes and looked at me. Well, she opened her little eye. She is not yet fond of opening both at the same time.

Babies, you guys.

Babies. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Baby Got a Brand New Bag



I has a new bag!

I ordered it from Monday Morning Studios over on etsy. It takes her about two weeks to make the bag to order, and then she sends it out. I received it last weekend and have been carting it around essentially nonstop since.

The fabric is really thick and strong, the inside is lime green which is one of my favorite colors (the other is that turquoise blue on my shirt up there), the print is super cute, the colors basically go with every single thing I own. The leather strap is cut to order and adjustable, so I can wear it as a tote bag or the way I am up there, as a messenger bag.

Basically, this person? This person is my purse person now. Forever.


It comes with a pretty, helpful tag and a note thanking you for your order.

Also the colors?

The colors are perfect.


Even the dog likes it.

 I will pretty much be wearing this all summer, I can already tell.

And, y'know, into fall.

Maybe in winter, too.


Sorry things have mostly been radio silence this week; I haven't been feeling great, so I haven't been up to much, which means my life doesn't exactly make for interesting stories.

Unless you really enjoy stories about me drinking tea, because I am doing that like a boss.