Thursday, October 29, 2015

when a small town becomes a really, really big city

I visited Austin, Texas, for the first time ever this past weekend. It doesn't usually rain there, but it poured for the majority of my stay. My husband accompanied me on the first half of the trip - the second half and my initial reason for going was for a conference focused on the donor database I use each and every day for work. Austin is very cool and happens to be growing at a very fast pace. I am glad I was able to see it now, as I think there will be major differences even within the next six months. We spent our time eating our way through the city (the food is delicious, but very heavy), viewing art, having a mini spa day, and seeing some of the historic structures Austin is well-known for. We covered all of the major food bases and ate a Mexican-style brunch, a farm-to-table dinner, and a barbecue brunch. I ate more meat in the last few days than I've eaten in the last two months. Notable dishes include buffalo ceviche (not sure what got into me, but I literally ate raw buffalo meat with charred radish, onion, chilies, key lime, cilantro, and sweet potato chips), brisket, and sausage (andouille, turducken, and boar). Most of the art was modern art, which really tickled my fancy. I wish we were able to catch some live music, but instead we were only able to fit in a pop-music dance party at one of the bars on Rainey Street. I was thrilled with it; I'm not sure my husband felt the same way. Would I rush back there in a heartbeat, no, probably not, but I would visit again and next time I would stop at one of the hat stores we passed and pick out something to adorn my noggin.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

plated, blue apron, freshology, platejoy, and purple carrot

Mine looked just like that - I swear!
I have pretty mixed feelings about all of these new companies who deliver meals to your doorstep. Do I think it is a neat idea? Yes. Did I end up cooking and eating things I never before thought I could put together myself? Yes. Is it a complete waste of packaging materials and individual containers? Hell to the yes! Are the cooking times all perfectly accurate and on point? Hell to the no!

I recently had experiences using Plated and Blue Apron. I tested out both companies using a free promotion (normally it costs $59.99 for three meals that feed two people). While I do think that is on the higher side of my normal grocery totals, when I cook dinner for myself I tend to make large pots of soup I eat for four days. The meals I chose to receive from both companies included things like duck, pork, cod, and chicken - all of which I would never put into a soup...well, maybe chicken. My favorite meal was Asian Duck Tacos with Pickled Cucumbers from Plated. I actually cooked duck and it was delicious - like whoa! I was so proud of myself, but must admit I have yet to recreate the meal and have no definite plans to do so in the upcoming weeks. Something I learned when putting together the Blue Apron meals is that I like to use butter as a cooking base, as opposed to olive oil. I do not think vegetables need to be prepared with two tablespoons of oil - it is gross. A little melted butter goes a long way and if the pan begins to look dry, I add a little water.

While I was VERY proud of the final products - they literally look like gourmet meals, complete with spices, colors, and garnishes - I was so disappointed by the amount of waste they produce and how inaccurate the cooking times were. Not only do they come in huge, insulated cardboard boxes; every ingredient is in its own Ziploc bag, or container. It makes throwing things together pretty easy, but you end up with an enormous pile of trash once you're finished. I also have a bone to pick with them about cooking times. Most of the recipes I chose said twenty-five or thirty-five minutes - not the case! One of my meals literally took an hour and a half. While I wouldn't make a habit of ordering these, it is nice to splurge every once in a while and skip having to make a trip to the grocery store. They deliver to most cities at this point, so you should try it for yourself, or just search the websites for recipes and make them with your own grocery shopping at a fraction of the price. Click here to visit the Plated website and here to visit the Blue Apron website.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

small towns, scenic routes, smiles, and tennessee

I can't remember how I stumbled upon the Shelter + Roost website, but I am glad I did. I'm also not sure I will ever find myself looking to vacation in Tennessee, but at the very least, these vacation properties are worth a browsing session for decoration inspiration and set-up ideas. Who needs a hotel when you can stay in one of these absolutely beautiful homes? A few of them have a few more decorations than I personally think they need, but overall they are all gorgeous and look so peaceful. I also love that they use a plus sign in their name.  If you ever find yourself in Tennessee, stay in one of these homes and let me know how it was. Click here to visit their website.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

whine about it with matt bellassai - his take on fall

I REALLY love fall, as I said a few days ago, but this is FUNNY stuff and you should watch it. It is also my first video post, which is exciting - hopefully it works properly. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

on a star stream, headed for a snow dream

In addition to my hike, I've also been feeling recharged as a result of discovering music...some old, some new. My present most favorite song on earth is Sorcerer by Stevie Nicks. It is so GOOD. The song was released on an album of hers that came out in 2001 called Trouble in Shangri-La. I discovered it after hearing it on a Stevie compilation I received for Christmas last year (from my husband - nailed it) called Crystal Visions. Aside from one or two songs, this collection of Stevie Nicks' songs is top notch. And although I received it for Christmas, it was somewhat lost until recently, but now it is found and I listen to it every day. The particular song "Sorcerer" dates back to her Buckingham-Nicks era (yes please) and was recorded as a demo. It was considered for some Fleetwood Mac projects, 1979 Tusk in particular, but never made it onto anything official until twenty-two years later, which also happens to be my favorite number. This song went particularly well with our voyage to Vermont, as one of my favorite lines is "who found lady from the mountain". Click here to watch the official video.

Monday, September 28, 2015

hello old friend, it's really good to see you once again's fall, summer is over, and I feel like writing. My life has been busier than ever and I'm not sure I will be able to write each and every day, but I miss it so and want to start this thing up again. Here we go, and boy do I have a lot to say, but for now I am just going to wish you a happy fall and hope you find time to pick apples, eat cider donuts, and carve a pumpkin. I was able to do the first two things in that list this past weekend during a visit to Vermont and loved every minute of it. I wish every weekend could be last weekend and I wish New Jersey could be Vermont. I was lucky enough to get a hike in as well, which is where all of this excitement and life is coming from. I feel like I have been recharged and am ready for the colder months to settle in upon us. I'm least for now. 

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