Close2myART

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For my boyfriend’s 26th birthday, I was acknowledged as the best girlfriend ever because I got him an awesome clock from Close2myART.  This Sail Away Clock is without a doubt the coolest thing decorating his room. However, they don’t just have fish…

I love shopping at Close2myART (even just window shopping) because really their stuff is just so original. What’s great about all of their products is that they have a real sense of personality without being over the top.

Now, what’s great about Close2myART at the moment, is that they are having a giveaway to celebrate their new blog.

Here’s the link for the giveaway: http://www.close2myart.com/blog/2012/04/close2myart-giveaway/

I highly recommend visiting their website to shop around at http://www.close2myart.com/shoppingcart/ .  The styles are amazingly quirky and unique!  Plus they have everything divided by themes…just in case you’re a dog lover for example.

I’m pretty sure my next purchase is going to be for my kitchen!

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Pippa

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Welcome to my new world.  In my new life, which began almost a week and a half ago, I became the very proud owner of Pippa: a one year old brown/grey tabby with the look of a mouser about her.  And she doesn’t just look like a mouser.  See that pink thing in the bottom right hand corner of the picture?  That’s one of the pink feathers of one of her toys.  That one is pretty much destroyed by now.

When Pippa first arrived at my apartment, she was almost unbearably shy.  When her foster mom left, she immediately retreated under the ottoman.  So there Ben and I were with our cheeks to the floor trying to coax out an extremely frightened cat.  Now, she’s gotten much more used to us.  After Ben figured out that maybe the whole apartment was too much for her, we looked up a little information about adapting a cat to it’s new environment. Hint: give them a little of their own space.  So we installed her in my extra bedroom since I have no roommate.  Having gotten used to that, she now comes out and plays every night when I get home and Ben comes over.  Then when Ben goes away and I get in bed, here she comes ready to play some more.  Her new favorite game to keep me awake all night is to drag her toys into my room and hop up on the bed with them.  It’s a funny mixture between cute and scary to wake up with a cat sitting on your chest staring at you while she has a feather toy hanging out of her mouth.

As for her name, yes, she is named after famous sister-to-the-princess Pippa.  Evidently, she and her litter were found the day of the Royal Wedding last year.  And I must say, she is quite the elegant kitty.

Also very inquisitive, Pippa seems to put real meaning into curiosity killed the cat.  She’s already attacked the sewing machine and the printer (while working).  I’m also pretty sure that if I ever actually opened my window she might fall out of it trying to get to the birds she’s been stalking from the sill!

A Month Sans Facebook

When I originally deactivated my Facebook account, I did it because I was literally spending way too much time on it.  Being the senior that I am, I would write on a paper for about five minutes and then take a fifteen minute Facebook break.  Repeat.  So, I deleted my Facebook and honestly, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while.

That said, I DO NOT think that Facebook is poisonous or severely deleterious to mental health, or ANYTHING like that.  I did, however, find the whole experience very freeing.  I didn’t feel tied up in the desire to check and see what had happened in someone else’s life in the five minutes I wasn’t connected.  And I think that even though I’m now back on Facebook, my habits will not be the same as before.  I am now a changed person.  Facebook is a beneficial social connector, but it does not replace life or social interactions.  Now that I am back on Facebook, I feel that I can finally use it appropriately.  Three cheers for successfully discovering the real joys of social networking!

Raspberry Ramblings

When I was a child, I hated to take naps.  At least, that’s what my mom and dad tell me.  The story goes that every afternoon in the summertime I would disappear…nowhere to be seen.  Mom, however, knew where I was.  She would find me without fail sitting in the raspberry patch behind the house tenderly plucking the fruits from the brambles before popping them into my mouth.  The succulent little fruits were an excellent escape from naps, and it remained so until I outgrew childhood naps.  That, and the raspberry bushes slowly died off as a result of tree growth and lack of sunshine.

This isn't me in the picture, but I like the idea of it. I'm pretty sure my feet never looked this clean when I was in the patch!

While my opinions on naps since then have changed, my love of raspberries has not.  Unfortunately, the ruby-red fruits seem wildly expensive and excessive in the grocery store, no matter how much I sigh over them as I push my cart past.

Did you know raspberries are called aggregate fruits because they are made up of smaller seed holding fruits known as "drupelets?"

When I went to Latvia, a little old lady we visited instantly won my love.  She had a garden.   A HUGE GARDEN.  An awe-inspiring, color-explosion, fruit-filled garden.  What’s more, she had raspberries.  And not just the ruby red raspberries I had grown up with.  She had GOLDEN raspberries.  I’m pretty sure I pulled a “Blueberries for Sal” move right then and there and ate half of her crop!

So, when Benjamin and I were at Southern States Farmers Coop looking at fruit trees, I pounced on the opportunity to get a raspberry plant!  However I bought a red variety, and today, I am determined to return to pick up an “Anne Yellow Raspberry.”  I’m pretty sure the raspberry I picked up was either an Encore Red or a Heritage Red.  (I’ll go back and read the label and get back to you.)

Now, raspberries aren’t just beautiful to look at.  (Though they are very beautiful!)  They are also extremely good for you!  Like the more hyped-up Acai berry (said, a-sigh-ee), raspberries have a lot of antioxidant action going on for them because of the ellagic acid they contain.  Raspberries are also antimicrobial and are especially helpful in preventing a build-up of bacteria and fungi in the body.  (I’m thinking yeast and vaginal infections here ladies.)  Raspberries are also chock-full of Vitamin C: about 53% of your suggested daily values is in just one cup of raspberries. There’s also a tale going around that the ellagitannins in Raspberries have anti-carcinogenic (or anti-cancer) qualities.  I’m not a scientist, and I’m not about to set out to prove it, but hey…it’s certainly not a reason to eat less of these dainty, lady-like fruits!  If you’re wanting more information on the healthy Raspberry, here’s the site I got most of my information from:  Raspberries, one of the World’s Healthiest Foods.

All this is to say, that Raspberries are pretty fantastic.  Now, I mentioned earlier that they are just CRIMINALLY expensive at your local grocery.  So, what’s the solution?  In my opinion, grow your own.  As a rule, Raspberries need full sunshine and well drained soil.  Apart from that, Raspberry plants can be used any way you want in your landscape design.  You could turn them into a hedge because of their bramble qualities or you could let them edge up your house on one side.  The flowers themselves are beautiful, so no need to worry about eyesores. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure that you’ll find yourself cooking with the beautiful fruits in a variety of ways.

If you don’t love raspberries by the end of the summer, I will hold myself personally responsible!

A Week in New Hampshire

For Spring Break this year, I didn’t venture to the southern shores for glorious seventy-degree weather.  Instead I trekked north to New Hampshire to enjoy a crisp breeze and high-quality, warm, beautiful friendship and fellowship.  On Saturday, the 3rd of March, I flew into Boston Logan international airport to see the beautiful and fantastic Jane Martyn.

When I arrived in Boston around noon, the sky was clouded and misty so there wasn’t much of a skyline to witness. So… no Boston on Saturday.  I’m ok with that, it wouldn’t have been a real full day anyway.  Jane and I of course substituted the original plan with what we do best: eating Mexican food and shopping.  One thing you should know about our trips is that they are ALWAYS based around food, and somehow the most important meals for us are the “welcome meals” — the one right after one of us gets off the plane.  It’s usually Thai or Mexican.

Upon arriving at Jane’s house, I got to meet the four day old King Charles Spaniel puppies.  A wriggling mass of black, white and tan the puppies were at the stage of being so small, rat-like, blind, and ugly that they were cute.  Amazingly enough, by the time I left, the little creatures had already grown and one had even started to open its eyes!

While staying at Jane’s home in Southern New Hampshire, we did a lot of cooking, eating, and shopping…it’s what we do best together after all.  We also stepped outside of our boxes a little and when ice-skating.  At first neither of us could remember how, but by the end of an hour we were both gliding around semi-confidently with the company of two hockey players and a recovering figure skater.

While on the road to Connecticut to the coast there, Jane introduced me to the wonderful store: Charming Charlie.  It’s the most colorful, most organized, most creative store I have ever seen.  Simply put, it’s an accessory store organized by color shades and combinations.  They have all types of hats, scarves, wallets, rings, purses, EVERYTHING you could ever accessorize.  And it’s all grouped by color combo. Just imagine…not only is there a table for hot pink….there’s also a completely separate area for lighter pinks and tan.  I don’t usually like to talk too much about clothes but I highly recommend this store to everyone who likes to accessorize anything.

While at Niantic, we discovered that not only was there a severe lack of conch shells at the beach, but there was also an extraordinary number of social sea gulls.  Jane, however, kindly refused their company as they were rude and didn’t understand the concept of personal space.  We spent just enough time to appreciate the view before scampering back to the car.  The gulls and the wind had finally gotten to us.

We also took a trip to Northern New Hampshire to see my aunt and uncle, Steve and Brenda Jones.  Their property is a haven on earth of quietness, peace, and serenity.  Even with the goats, donkeys, miniature horses, chickens, sheep, two dogs, and three house birds, I am completely serious.  Brenda and Steve are two of the world’s sweetest and most welcoming people ever.  Their dogs are pretty welcoming too!  Brenda has Collie and a new Collie puppy at three months old.  The beautiful blue Merle puppy is much bigger than I thought she’d be, but she’s crazy energetic and playful.  She’s also incredibly soft and lovable.   Long story short: I want a collie someday.  Specifically Blue Merle.

While at Steve and Brenda’s we stopped by Hanover, NH to see Dartmouth.  It’s a beautiful campus with a lovely downtown, but let me tell you: the people are so snobbish, it’s ridiculous.  Yes, you’re at an ivy-league.  No, that doesn’t mean your sperries and your hair are made out of gold.  Get over yourself!  Lunch at Molly’s and an exploration of the Rauner Special Collections library were fantastic however.  The featured exhibit in the main reading room was about the Japanese student Nubo Mitsui at Dartmouth during WWII and the era of internment camps.  Backed up by the board, Mitsui was allowed to stay under surveillance.

We left Steve and Brenda’s to head to Boston.  While we didn’t leave as soon as we would have liked, we still got a pretty good deal on parking in the North End.  Jane took me through the North End where I saw zillions of genuine Italian restaurants and experienced the biggest little city on earth.  We visited the North Church were the lanterns were hung: one if by land, two if by sea.  First of all, let me say, that the pews in this church (and all the subsequent ones) were absolutely astounding.  They look like the inside of carriage with a plush, cushioned bench and a footstool or two in front if you want.  Seriously?  I don’t know how they fitted everyone in there!

We also visit Revere’s statue and tomb along with those of Sam Adams and Phyllis Wheatly.  On our way, we walked reverently through the Boston Holocaust Memorial.  A sobering walk, the memorial is made up of several tasteful stone markers at the entrance and exit of the walkway.  The path itself is comprise of four or five glass rectangular prisms rising into the sky with the internment numbers of victims inscribed.  Inside each pillar was a grate from which steam emitted as the passerby can read two quotes from survivors on either side.  The quotes are both moving and heart-wrenching.  We took the time to walk through and read all of the plaques, and thus entered our first annoyance of the day: a lady hurriedly walking, nay striding not on the sidewalk going around the memorial but straight through the memorial without glancing at what she was passing through.   Perhaps she didn’t have time and perhaps she’s seen it a million times, but I certainly believe the memorial deserves more respect than that.

In the same vein of historical investigation we also visited the cemetery at King’s Chapel and the church itself.  Another astounding work of art, the church had a pew box adorned with overhead hangings which was reserved for the royal governor.  George Washington later sat in the same pew at a fundraiser.  Let me tell you, there were LOTS of places that George Washington visited in Boston and they are all CLEARLY marked.  After stopping through Fanieul Hall and Quincy Market (the world’s worst tourist trap), we tripped over to the Irish Famine Memorial (especially important to my friend’s direct Irish roots) and the South Meeting Hall.  A museum worth paying to go into, it’s a tribute to revolution and free speech, no matter what end of the spectrum it falls on.

We intended to stop at an Irish restaurant to partake of traditional Irish fare and Boston atmosphere so that Jane wouldn’t have to cook for me if we didn’t have time.  The Purple Shamrock, however, was a waste of time apart from the time we had to sit down and relax.  First the boiled dinners that we had come for weren’t ready yet because the delivery man had JUST brought them.  Next, they didn’t have their soup of the day.  After that, we found a long, thick, black hair trailing out of the Boston Clam Chowder.  Disgusting!  Needless to say, we were NOT impressed.

After walking all across Boston, we took the T back to the North End and drove out to go get massages.  A day well spent, we drove exhausted back to New Hampshire where we promptly collapsed.

The next day was slow but wonderful.  We got up…and I really mean Jane got up and began preparing a traditional Irish meal: corned beef with cabbage, carrots and parsnips, mashed potatoes, and white sauce.  Incredibly delicious and filling!  I’ll be sure to try and imitate it, though I don’t know that anyone can make Irish food like the Irish!

The trip wasn’t over though until I’d actually made it on the plane.  Everything that could go wrong, went wrong when I went through security.  First my hairpins set off the metal detector so I had to get a pat-down.  Then my purse set off red-lights. Turns out, I had forgotten about removing not only my pepper spray but also my multitool.  Both were confiscated, but on account of the pepper spray, the state police were called in as it is an illegal item in Massachusetts.  Lucky me.  One pitiable and remorseful explanation later, I’d finally made it to my gate with fifteen minutes and a bathroom break to spare.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip and even though I’m sure I haven’t done any of it justice, I had a truly wonderful time with wonderful people.  Pictures to come soon…maybe.

Just an Update

First: my new year’s resolutions did NOT work out as planned. Yes, I am running.  Yes, I am buying seeds and dirt.  NO, I am not going to the gym every day.  And even though I’ve been trying to eat better, I still have a tendency to carb-load.  I guess it’s true when they say that you just can’t change over night.  Maybe my goal should be to change all of these things by next new years.  That seems a little more manageable.

I’m also partway through my second semester of senior year, and let me tell you right now: it’s a nightmare.  I love my classes, and I love what I’m learning in them.  Sometimes I just have no motivation though.  Now I always thought I wouldn’t succumb to senioritis just because I would be so dedicated.

WRONG!

Senioritis is probably the worst feeling and the best feeling I’ve ever had all mixed together.  I’m extremely ecstatic that I’m graduating in May.  This feeling of ecstasy (not to be confused with the drug…I’m sure the effect is nowhere near the same) rushes to my head when I’m in class or doing homework, and BOOM!  I don’t want to do what I should be doing to be productive.  This would all be well and good if these were classes  I could skate through.  And maybe one of them is…but not all of them.  In fact, I need pass all three of my Spanish classes to graduate.  And I need to excel in my history class to boost my future career.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely going to pass all of them.  And I’m going to put all of my effort into my history class.  But this mix of excitement and stress leads to a lot of weird nights.  Let me describe the scenario for you.

It was a dark and stormy night.  (Ok, maybe just dark.)  As I sat before the fire in my luxurious (read: decent) townhouse, I thought to myself, wow…this paper will be so cool!  I’m going to write something really moving about…legalizing prostitution…in Spanish.  Then comes the inevitable hour of moaning to whoever will listen about how much I DON’T want to write the paper that could be amazingly moving.  At around 10pm I’ll snap out the paper after copious amounts of dictionary checking.  This occurs every Tuesday night in my townhouse.  You can witness the exhibit this Tuesday: join me for cocktails before witnessing my descent into chaos.

Tonight, however, is a special case.  This is the night my four to six page paper of a survey of oral histories will be born.  At the moment I have a shocking two pages written.  As it is five minutes away from 10pm as I write this, I am indeed impressed with myself.  This is an interesting mix of both ingenuity and procrastination.  So here I sit, once again in front of the fire, practicing my writing skills on my blog instead of on my oral history survey.  Well…I guess this is simply another way of being productive.  Either way, I WILL finish it, and it WILL be good.  In the meantime though I’m going to see just how much I can stress myself out before actually writing this paper.

The 10 Truths

The 10 Truths

Since I stumbled upon this link this morning, I haven’t been able to resist sharing it on every social networking site I have.  I think that this blog post reminds couples of something that is often easily forgotten when things get hard: a great relationship doesn’t just magically happen.

I’ll admit, GOOD relationships happen.  You meet someone and you keep in touch, you become friends, and you share a couple things.  GREAT relationships require work like this link says.  And that’s true not only of romantic relationships but also of friendships.  In some ways it seems counterintuitive that you should need to work on a relationship, but really it makes perfect sense because if you stop feeding it, it’s gonna die just like anything else that’s living.  That’s the truth.

In fact, I enjoyed just about everything on this list.  It’s simply an amazingly comprehensive list from taking care of yourself to building the other person up instead of tearing them down.  Some of us may thrive on snarky relationships built on cutting comments, but in my experience those aren’t the ones that last.  The friendships and relationships that stick around are the ones where people feel secure enough in themselves to build th other up.

I especially like the line that ANGER IS A WASTE OF TIME.  I have never read a truer statement in my life.  Anger is perhaps one of the least productive emotions on the face of the planet in my opinion.  Sure, it can spur you on to take care of something that needed to be taken care of, but more often than not, it’s simply going to ruin your day.  However, unfortunately for the human race, hormonal women, and rational alien invaders, anger is an irrational part of human nature.  Even if it is irrational though, we have to deal with it.  So, finding ways to channel and diffuse anger can be one of the best skills around because you can use it to calm both yourself and others down.  “Righteous anger” is a pretty popular phrase, but most of the time when people use it, what they really mean is is they refuse to see the other side of the issue.  Only they can be right.  Thus, anger has now gone beyond productive and into the stalled stage of self-centered agony.  It feels good for about a minute when you’re ranting, but afterward….well, let’s just say I speak from experience.

Finally, I love the line about getting regular tune-ups.  Especially important in romantic relationships, they are also vital to platonic friendships.  Taking a weekend to have time with a friend you don’t see all that often and actually talk about stuff will do wonders for a friendship you might be looking to keep.  I think that admitting to needing a “tune-up” as this blog post so eloquently puts it is a very self-aware and brave thing to admit to.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to admit I need a personal fixer-upper much less one for a relationship.

The list of ten truths is something to take to heart in regard to every sort of relationship we might be cultivating….but especially a relationship you want to last a long long time.

Feeling Good for Me

While my boyfriend was out of town for a couple days, I read quite a few books of the chic-lit genre and even succumbed to Drew Barrymore’s Never Been Kissed.  I also noticed how the majority of what I read was about girls who thought that they just weren’t pretty and drastically changed to get the attention of the perfect guy.  If the guy in question really was perfect then he would take notice and quickly assure the girl he liked her the way she was before.  It’s a very sweet plot sequence, but after reading three stories in short succession with that same basic story I started to feel bad and I just couldn’t figure out why.  Why was I drawn to these books and movies when I felt guilty afterward?

Cover of "Never Been Kissed"

I actually really like this movie! She becomes more confident and then gets the guy.

Once I got to thinking, I realized that quite a few popular books for women center around the trials of an insecure woman seeking validation in her life via a significant other.  Let me begin with the Twilight books.  I’ll be honest: I read them when they came out.  I had no shame at the time, because they were, dare I say it, entertaining.  After the phase had passed and I’d relegated the books to a dusty corner shelf, I wondered what it was about these books that left a strange aftertaste.  Then I read a particularly clever blog post from The Oatmeal (found here: http://theoatmeal.com/story/twilight) about the reason Twilight is so addictive.  The main character is severely under described and laden down with an extreme number of self-image issues.  Why is this non-image appealing to so many women?  Why should women, particularly young women, be drawn to a heroine with absolutely no self-esteem and no self-worth unless  she has a man (excuse me, vampire/werewolf) validate her existence?  Sure, it’s something that any awkward preteen can relate to, but I don’t want to stay an awkward preteen and I certainly wouldn’t consider one to be my personal hero.

Cover of "Twilight (Twilight, Book 1)"

Twilight: Epic Saga of Self-hate in the Face of Inhuman Boy Drama

Now, the morals of all these stories (with the exception of Twilight) are generally good.  The female discovers that she doesn’t need make-up to be pretty, or she really is pretty already without even trying, or her dream guy actually does already like her when she’s being normal.  The problem is that the characters never seem to figure this out until the end when the (perfect) man tells them how it really is.Then I read a short story where the teenager in question started wearing make-up because her boyfriend asked her to–so as to amplify her beauty.  In the end, of course, said boyfriend was a bad influence.  I have no issues with a little make-up. I don’t even have issues with a few tips and tricks from the bf.  In fact, mine is a helpful source of feedback from plucking eyebrows to the new haircut; and I appreciate it.  What I don’t like is the idea of protagonists who are women with no sense of self-worth until someone tells them otherwise.

Insert: my confession.  I used to be that girl, which is probably why I enjoyed Twilight so much.  I didn’t grow up being confident in who I was or what I looked like.  In fact, I’d say I was raised to be modest to the point of being down on myself.  That said, part of my insecurities are just genetic.  It’s a fact of life, there are just some things you can’t help inheriting.  Having made strides to overcome insecurity and self-doubt, I find it disturbing that the books that sell are the ones featuring women with the problems I have sought to overcome.  The problem that I have with these books is that even if the right man assures the protagonist that she’s beautiful, if he ever leaves any time in the future she’s going to be a complete wreck.  She won’t be broken up inside because the man she loves is gone (scratch that…maybe she will) but she’ll inevitably question: was I pretty enough?  What did I do wrong?  So in the end, they didn’t learn the right lesson.  What they learned: He said I was perfect.  What they should have learned: I am beautiful and I don’t need him to tell me so, but the compliment’s nice all the same.

I can’t very well write to the publishers or editors and ask them to remove all the books about insecure women from the shelves, because that’s actually what sells.  And they sell because there are insecure women in the world.  I can say that as a woman in the proverbial “Insecure Women Anonymous” group.  My resolution to stop the cycle?  To not read books that foster the ideal of a woman who is worthless until told otherwise.  Perhaps I should clarify that reading books like this doesn’t make women insecure.  If you’re confident, they aren’t going to bring you down.  And if you are insecure then you immediately identify with them.  However, I do think that they promote a cycle.  I want to be a woman who understands my own beauty and worth without needing someone else to tell me.  And I want that for everyone, no matter who you are.

Sunshine in February, or Why I Love Mexican Food

While having a conversation with the lovely Heidi Beth of New York recently, we both reveled in our intense love of Mexican food.  More specifically, we both adore Mexican, South American, or Caribbean food.  I know it’s not all the same by a long shot, but for me it falls into one category: sunshine and happiness in the form of food.

This is the one food genre that I will NEVER get tired of.  There’s something so wonderful about food that is so freshly flavorful and spicy that I just cannot resist.  For me, there are four basic parts to the perfect meal in this category: good chips, lovingly seasoned black beans, tasty fish, and the PERFECT guacamole.

To me, guacamole is something of an art form.  How do you get the right combination of every ingredient to give your avocados the perfect spicy and smokey yet fresh authentic flavor?  There is for sure an element of trial and error on anyone’s part when they are making guacamole.  My bit of seasoning might be a pinch for you and a spoonful for me.  But I would like to throw out the winning combination that Ben and I discovered.  However, there IS always room for improvement with the guac.  It literally gets better every time we make it in my house!

Ben and Morgan’s Guac

Ingredients:

2 large avocados

1.5 tsp Cumin

10 sprigs cilantro

Texas Pete or Authentic Caribbean hot sauce (We prefer Bajan hot pepper sauce from Barbados)

Salt and Pepper

1 lime

1 tsp lemon juice

2 roma tomatoes

1 small section of an onion (preferably vidalia)

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Tajin seasoning

 

Healthy and yummy!

As you can imagine, making this is pretty easy and self explanatory.  Scoop your avocados into the bowl.  I do this by cutting them in half and then using a large spoon.  They should come out perfectly if they are ripe.

Doing it this way prevents your avocados from getting mashed too early.  I like to wait until everything is added to start mashing up the avocados so that I don’t over do it.  I like for there to still be a little chunk to the mix.  Before your next step, go ahead and add the lemon juice to the avocados.  This will keep them from turning brown while you chop if you haven’t already taken care of that step.  Next dice up your tomato and onion into the mix.

When adding your cilantro you have two options.  You can a) remove the leaves from the stems and chop those up to add to the guac and discard the stems.  This is probably the way most people do it, but it’s very frustrating because you have to pick the leaves off the stems and then attempt to finely chop them while they stick to the cutting board.

Interesting side note: Did you know that some people can't taste cilantro like others? All they get is the weird texture and not the awesome flavor. It's actually a genetic trait.

In my opinion, solution B is much easier and more flavorful: after washing your cilantro, hold the 10 stems tightly and cut finely with kitchen scissors directly into the guacamole.  See?  Much less time consuming.

Next, add your garlic powder, cumin, tajin, and salt and pepper.  For salt and pepper, try to use freshly ground; this part of the recipe is entirely up to the decisions of your taste buds but I’d start off with four grinds of each.

For us, the cumin is the secret ingredient that really kick starts the guac and interacts wonderfully with the fresh flavors of lime and cilantro.  You can of course add more than the amounts in this recipe.  The ones I have listed are just good starting points so that you can figure out the perfect amount for you and whoever you’re cooking for.

Shop Barbados! It's worth it!

Next, add a dash or two of hot sauce.  This is a good substitute for jalapenos, but I’ve actually found that since I like my guac to have subtle spice but no real bite, I prefer sauce over fresh jalapenos.  Not to mention ever since some friends from Barbados brought us some of this Bajan Red Hot Pepper Sauce, we haven’t stopped using it once.  It’s incredibly spicy but the flavor mixes so well with the other ingredients.  It’s phenomenal!

Mash your guac together making sure everything is fully incorporated: you want a mix of flavors, not a couple of individually good ones. Now cut your lime in half and squeeze the juice onto the guac. Stir and add the rest, then stir again.  Serve with a slice of lime and a couple cilantro leaves on top. Voila, guacamole, the nectar of the gods.

Presentation and taste make for time well spent!

 

¡Buen Provecho!

How Time Flies

People always say time flies when you’re having fun.  It’s a bit cliche, but I’ve realized it’s definitely true.  I was sitting in my apartment today renewing my apartment lease for next year when I realized that this time next year…I wouldn’t be a senior in college anymore.  Now, I’m not entirely sure about what I’ll be doing, but I know that I’ll be right here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, because it’s not just where I’ve been going to school for four years.  To me, Chapel Hill is home.  I’m not entirely sure when I felt the change because if I had been asked last year where I was from, I would say: the western half of NC, as in where I grew up with my parents.  Now, when people ask me where I’m from, I tell them Chapel Hill.

My bff from New Hampshire, Jane, at the Old Well on UNC Chapel Hill's iconic campus.

Even though this is one of my favorite pictures, this really isn’t what I think of as my home in Chapel Hill.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have spent most of my time in Chapel Hill on this very campus.  Most of that time has been rather phenomenal, but unlike some of my classmates, I’ve put down some roots in the area apart from my GPA.  It’s probably helped that I lived off campus after my freshman year, but I have to say that I’ve been through a lot in this town and I’m definitely not on a mission to leave it any time soon.  I’ve heard a lot of grads-to-be say that they can’t wait to explore the world or just get out of North Carolina.  Now, I do want to explore the world, but I’ve reached the point where my desire isn’t to get OUT of Chapel Hill; it’s to find a way to stay here permanently.

First off, I got my first real job in Chapel Hill.  After taking a class on the Southern Historical Collection, I made sure to apply for a job there the next summer.  And what do you know, I’ve been there ever since.  It’s a job I really do love.  I’ve enjoyed the people I work with, the people I meet, the things I do, and the things I’ve learned.  Now it’s definitely a job, I don’t want to romanticize it into impossibility, but it’s been a pretty darn fantastic run, and I can’t regret spending three years on the fourth floor of Wilson Library for anything.

The stacks of the Southern Historical Collection. Not my life....but a big part of it.

Living in Chapel Hill has opened my social sphere and I have so many friends here that have helped me grow into a better person.  Now, again, I don’t want to over-romanticize everything in this post.  I’m going to be truthful, and when I get sappy, you’ll just have to bear with me and trust that what I’m telling you is just the way it is!  First I’ll give a shout-out to Rachel (since you are reading this post if I know you): a person at work to let me know when I’m being stupid or careless while being nice about it.  Also the person to help make me feel at home in my new job.  Not to mention, your endless supply of trailmix has done wonders for my blood sugar.

Then there was my first ever roommate: Mary.  Mary and I had (read: have) very different personalities, and I don’t mean the kind that mesh well together on a daily basis.  So, needless to say, living together in a tiny room with a bright overhead light did absolutely horrible things to our friendship.  It’s funny how things like study habits and boy drama can get in between people.  So, Mary and I snarked it out.  Now, we’re pretty good friends because of our little trial by fire.  It certainly took us a while to get back to this point, but once we did, we were pretty tight.  Not like we’ll tell each other every little thing but we’re friends because we can look each other in the eye and say: living with you sucked.

While we’re on the subject of roommates, another great result of living in Chapel Hill was the best roommate ever: Anya.  I’ve come to the conclusion that’s it’s actually pretty hard to be friends and roommates with someone at the same time, but somehow Anya and I managed it.  Anya was one of those people who didn’t really hesitate to tell me when I was being stupid, excessive, or even over-talkative (which obviously happens a lot).  We became friends because she helped me get over myself and because we both liked the same quirky things: ie, British tv shows.  In short, we bonded over the simplest of experiences: being college roommates.

So all of these friends have helped me make great memories in Chapel Hill, but none of them necessarily tie me to this town.  What really means a lot to me are the friends I have here that are more like my family.  Those are part of the reason that I feel like Chapel Hill is really my home now.  Perhaps the most significant are Howard and Donya and their two kids, Katie and Max.  They’ve been a help in a lot of ways.  Donya especially has been super supportive.

Howard, Donya, Max, Katie in Belize

All of this said, Chapel Hill/Carrboro is now my home.  Now I’m just on the search for a job….oh joy!