Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Botany of Desire Review

Overthe past few years, Michael Pollan has become the new guru of what to eat and what not to eat.  I thoroughly enjoyed "In Defense of Food" and picked this up thinking it would be similar.  If you're a total foodie-nerd like me, you'll probably enjoy the book, but it's quite different than IDoF.

In this book, Pollan profiles four plants (apples, tulips, cannabis, and potatoes) and how they've adapted themselves to fit human desires (sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control, respectively).  It's an interesting read, but ultimately less about food than about botany and human desires (as the title would suggest, duh).  Still, it's well-written and entertaining.

On a slight side note:  Michael Pollan plays "Not My Job" on "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" and it was one of my favorite episodes of 2009.  Paula Poundstone kills me.  Listen here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Maybe I just have no soul or something, but this movie looks terrible:

Plus Sandra Bullock's hair is just a no:

Image from Pajiba

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Recipe Round Up: Pumpkin

I've seen a ton of good pumpkin recipes lately on the interwebs, and with fall nearing its end, I figure now is a good time to share recipes to use up the leftover pumpkin.  Sorry I don't have any photos--I simply forgot to take any. 

Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage Gnocchi
I can't remember where I originally found this recipe, but it's become a staple when I'm not sure what else to cook.  It's quick, easily adaptable, and very satisfying--a perfect fall recipe.  Apologies for not having a very complete recipe here, but it's hard to mess up.

1 large can pumpkin puree
1 package loose mild sausage
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup cream, half and half, or chicken stock
4-5 sage leaves, finely chopped, or a few pinches of dried sage
1 package gnocchi (or any other pasta; rotini works well for this)
A pinch of nutmeg
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the onion until translucent with a swirl or two of olive oil in a large pan
Add the garlic, cook another minute or two
Add the sausage, breaking it up into pieces as it cooks
Once the sausage is cooked, add the can of pumpkin, sage, nutmeg, a few glugs of chicken stock, salt and pepper and stir; begin boiling the gnocchi or pasta
Just before the gnocchi is finished cooking, add a swirl or two of cream or half and half to the pumpkin sausage mixture
Once the pumpkin sausage mixture is heated through and the gnocchi are cooked, serve!

Pumpkin Chocolate Cranberry Cookies from my former roommate Sarah

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1 cup raisins ( I used Craisins)
.5 cup choc. chips

Cream together butter and sugar, add pumpkin, egg and vanilla till well blended. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Mix well. Add craisins and choc. chips. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Lasagna from Blooming Wildflowers 

Two 15 oz. cans of pumpkin
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup half and half or light cream
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 teaspoons olive oil
5-6 turkey sausage, veggie sausage or Italian sausage links
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
9 no-cook whole wheat lasagna noodles
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, saute sausage. Slice and set aside.
In a medium skillet, saute mushrooms, onion and sea salt to taste. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, cranberries, cream, sage, nutmeg, pepper (to taste) and sea salt (to taste)
Cover bottom of crock pot with a layer of pumpkin mix.
Top with a layer of noodles. Cover with a thick layer of pumpkin mixture. Add a layer of cheese mixture. Add a layer of mushrooms. Add a layer of sausage.Repeat until there are three layers. Top with the remaining pumpkin mix and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Cook on high in crock pot for 3-4 hours.Serves 6-8.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Icing from Healthy Delicious

1 cup fat-free milk
2.5 tsp yeast (2 envelopes)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4-1/4 cups flour
3/4 stick butter, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 oz low-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 drop of vanilla extract

Heat milk in a microwave for 30 seconds, or until luke-warm. Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Stir and allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes – the yeast should grow and become foamy. If it doesn’t, discard and start over with new yeast.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree with the remaining granulated sugar and the salt. Beat in the eggs until incorporated. Add 2 cups of flour and beat until combined. Beat in the milk mixture, being sure the include any yeast that settled to the bottom. Slowly add the remaining four.

Cover and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size – about 1 hour.

Divide dough into four pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about the size of a cookie sheet. Transfer to a cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer. Repeat with remaining four pieces of dough.

In a small bowl, blend 1/2 stick butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Divide the cinnamon mixture between the four sheets of dough, spreading it in a very thin layers. Roll the dough up, starting with the long edge. Cut each dough log into 12 slices (each will be about 1-inch thick). Transfer to a large roasting pan (I recommend lining the pan with a silpat or some parchment paper for easy clean-up), leaving a little bit of room between each roll. Cover and let rise for one hour.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Combine the cream cheese, 1/4 stick of butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. If desired, you can thin this mixture out with a splash of milk.

Remove buns from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before frosting.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

My parents are so proud

...I quit Perez Hilton and Farmville.  Cold turkey.

Just thought you should know.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cat Update

Last time we checked in on the cat, she was just recovering from tape worms and had yet to go to the dentist.  That seems like ages ago. 

Since then, she's visited the dentist and instead of cleaning her teeth, they had to extract them.  All.  Except two.

See?  No teef.  She had a condition called stomatitis, which, from what I understand, is a bacterial infection resulting from an allergy to plaque.  She had no roots left on most of her teeth and apparently had ulcers running along her tongue, her cheeks and down her throat.  Not good.  The other two teeth will likely have to go at some point too. 

It was heartbreaking to have them deliver that news, but it was clearly the right thing to do.  Since then, she's obviously felt a lot better; she's a different cat entirely.  She's hunts our toes, chases the laser pointer and is generally in everyone's business at all times.  She's put on some much needed weight too.

She's had a hard time adjusting to the time change and is just now starting to let us sleep in until a whopping 6:00 am.  Ugh.

But all in all, she's adjusted to her new home very well and it feels like she's always been here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pet Peeve #32451654.1

Weary:  –adjective
physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc:  My weary eyes

Leary:  –adjective
wary; suspicious (usually fol. by of): I'm leery of his financial advice

Wary:  –adjective
watchful; being on one's guard against danger:  I'm a little wary of parking my car in a dark lot.

See the difference?  These words do not mean the same thing.  Get it right people.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pillow Lust

I love this bookcase that Jamie of I Suwannee posted awhile ago, but the pillow really caught my eye.  I think it's this pillow from Jonathan Adler and I think I need it in my life.  Christmas is coming!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ooh preeeeeeeeetty!

I think this would look lovely with my green winter coat.  The blue is gorgeous too, but I would have nothing to wear with it:

Cashmere Squiggle Scarf from Anthropologie.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Updates around the casa

Two of the four walls in the den are now this color:

The other two walls will get painted when I get around to it.  Also, later today I should be receiving this (in chrome) for the guest room:

And this (as a runner) for the hallway:

I'm very excited.  I love me some bold zig zags!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Office Inspiration

Devil Wears Prada office

Last weekend I was watching The Devil Wears Prada (again) and among all of the shoes, bags, and other fabulous accessories, what grabbed my attention was Miranda Priestly's office. It got me thinking that it would actually be really easy and not necessarily expensive to recreate. A Parson's desk, a pewter lamp, and several Ikea Ribba frames with black and white photos is really all it needs. Some chic accessories like the fabulous mirror and a green vase with white roses and voila! It's all making me feel like the futon and bargain-basement desk in our den is so very...ick. The desk needs to go. Soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Best. Show. Ever.

Hands down.  We're currently watching the entire series for the second time, we're that obsessed.  Yes, it came out a few years ago, but it holds up well.

Favorite characters?



Stringer Bell (yum):

Full series available here

(photos from

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Repeat

A little random this week, but if you've never listened to Steve Earle, you should.  He's got a really unique voice and his music runs the gamut from rock to bluegrass.  I happen to like his bluegrass stuff the best.  My favorite off the "Townes" album is the song "Lungs."

Monday, October 19, 2009


This has become one of my new favorite wines.  It's jammy and big and instantly gratifying.  It's also totally smooth and incredibly easy to drink.  It usually runs $14-16 and is available at most of the chain grocery stores around here or you can buy online here.  I've also tried their Shiraz and the Malbec, but the Primitivo far and away my favorite.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Garden and Gun magazine. Yeah. Go figure.

It's published every two months and they have fascinating articles, mostly not about gardens or guns, but mostly just southern stuff, like where to find the best barbeque in North Carolina, the resurgence of moonshine, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Pretty neat!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Goin' veg

I've decided for no real reason in particular to go vegetarian for dinners this week.  I could use some more vegetable-based meals in my repertoire, so I think this will be fun.  So, on tap for dinner this week is:

Vegetarian lasagna, made with mushrooms instead of ground beef
Quinoa-stuffed squash
Roasted vegetables over creamy polenta
Cheese ravioli with walnuts, cranberries and dates
Tofu (not sure what I'm going to do with it)

I'll report back.

On Repeat

The songs "Well Well Well" and "Mother Pray" are particularly good.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

WTF JCrew?

$325 and no, they're not prescription.

Hot pink anklets? These are just all wrong.

Jenna, you're much better than this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Oh Bono, I love you and your weird glasses:

Photo from

"The Claw"

Saturday night's set list in Raleigh:

Get on Your Boots
Mysterious Ways
Beautiful Day
No Line on the Horizon
In A Little While
New Year's Day
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Stuck In A Moment
Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
I'll Go Crazy - Remix
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On
Where The Streets Have No Name
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

Friday, October 2, 2009

Back! And now with more cat!

Well, after 5 years of marriage, we finally decided to step up our commitment level by adopting a cat.

I visited the SPCA of Wake County a few times in late August and ran into this little girl in the shelter. She had come into the shelter as a stray and looked like crap: her coat was matted down, she had a string of drool hanging from her mouth, was totally scrawny and smelled kinda bad. But she jumped into my lap and stole my heart and it was all over from there.

belly rubs

We brought her right before Labor Day and she settled in pretty much immediately: she started eating right away, slept on our bed the first night we brought her home and found the litterbox with little problem. The SPCA estimated her to be around 10, but we think she's about 3-4. We'll know more when she gets her teeth cleaned next week (I guess checking their teeth is like counting rings in a tree). Aside from bad teeth and some tape worms that have now been taken care of (side note: GROSS!) she seems to be perfectly healthy and is gaining some much needed weight.


Her name is Grizabella, but she also goes by G-Dizzle, Grizzle Dizzle, G-Money, or Li'l Squirt.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Road

I just finished reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy and I'm still not sure what to think of it.

The premise of the book is that following some event (the reader isn't sure what exactly happened), the earth is rendered almost completely lifeless save for a few people who presumably were able to take shelter during the event and live through it. There are no animals, no foliage, nothing. A father and his son, armed with a pistol, two bullets and a shopping cart, are trying to make their way to the coast. What the father expects to find at the coast is unclear, but it's clear they can't stay in any one place for two long--roving bands of canibals roam the land and no place is safe. Because what happens when there's no vegetation and no animals? There's no food. (The father and son are not canibals and survive on what few canned goods they can scrounge up here and there, but they're at starvation's door throughout most of the book as it's been years since the "event" and most places have been thoroughly ransacked by the few remaining humans.)

So what follows is 287 pages of utter bleakness. It's hands down the most depressing and disturbing books I've ever read. By far. After one particular scene, I had to put the book down for about two weeks and switch to some light-hearted chick lit in order to give myself a break.

I contemplated shelving the book permanently, which I rarely do, but in the end I decided to keep reading anyway and I'm glad I did. Despite the unyielding bleakness, the book is absolutely captivating and compelling. For someone who reads at night and is lucky to get through a single page without my eyelids getting heavy, I found myself easily reading 20+ pages a night. Part of that is the style: there are no chapters, just short paragraphs and the narrative is pretty concise. There is little in the way of punctuation (which apparently aggravated some people on Amazon) and what little dialogue there is is short and to the point. But the other part is the story itself; the father's love for his child is deeply moving and their hope that things will get better makes it difficult to put the book down.

It's hard to say that I enjoyed the book because it was so heavy (oh hey, did I mention its bleakness yet?), but it's undeniable that there is something to it. Apparently, this is a pretty good representation of McCarthy's other books, but this is the first I've read. I'm honestly surprised that it's been as popular as it has been because I have a really hard time figuring out how this appeals to the masses. And what further boggles my mind is that they're making a movie out of this. According to IMDB, Viggo Mortenson plays the father and Charlize Theron the mother. If it follows the book at all, she's going to have a very small part. Oh and if you doubt my description of how utterly depressing this book is, check out the list of characters on IMDB. See what I mean?

Anyway, it's expected to be released October 16, 2009 and honestly, I doubt I'll see it. I think the book was enough for me, but we'll see what Pajiba has to say about it when it comes out and decide then.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Our living room needs this:

Moroccan leather pouf from here

Much like my shoulder needs this:
Coach Parker Leather Satchel from Nordstrom

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dreaming of Spring

It's February 8 and it was about 70 degrees and sunny. Beautiful enough that I went outside and washed both cars.

This weather has me yearning for spring and spring clothing.

Here's how I envision a perfect spring work look:

Daisy necklace, Juicy Couture, $48; Gladiola Print Cami, JCrew, $118; Nolita Denim Jacket, JCrew, $98; Classic Pencil Skirt, Banana Republic, $59; Genevieve Hobo, Cole Haan, $395; Felix Sandal, LAMB, $395
I'd wear it mostly jacket-less, but reserve the denim jacket (which I think I'm going to have to get at some point) for when the office gets chilly (which, now that I think about it, is always).
Of course, the $395 (fierce!) shoes are probably not going to happen and unfortunately I doubt the delicious hobo bag will either. A girl can dream though, right?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Um, yeah, hi. It's me.

It's been awhile since I've posted here. Unfortunately, I have no good story as to why I haven't blogged in months. I haven't been hot-air ballooning around the world; I haven't been on a three month research project in Antartica; and I haven't been scaling Everest. Nope. I've been here in Raleigh, not blogging.

As you might have noticed, it's 2009 now, we have a new administration, and I'm 28. And speaking of a new administration, how great was Tuesday? Our office closed because we had 4.5 inches of snow, but Chris had to work and then volunteered to stay in a hotel so he could get to work the next day, so I had the day to myself and watched, oh, 14 straight hours of television.

A few random thoughts about the day's events:

1) I thought Aretha's hat kicked ass. She pulled it off, plus, she's Aretha Franklin, so that's all that really matters. And did you know you can become a fan of the hat on Facebook?  Now you do.  You're welcome.

2) The inauguration was pretty spectacular. I thought Rev. Joseph Lowery, who did the benediction, was fantastic. I loved him.

3) Chocolate cookies sandwiched together with chocolate buttercream don't suck. There's something to be said for having 4.5 pounds of chocolate chips in one's freezer for occasions when you're snowed in.

4) My husband rocks. He surprised me at Christmas with these red Hunter wellies that I'd been wanting for awhile. They're perfect for snow. I need to get the wellie socks to put in them to keep my toes warm though.

5) Our backyard looks pretty when it's covered in fluffy white snow.

That's all for now, kids. I'll blog more later. Promise.
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