Thursday, October 22, 2009

i've always done my best work under pressure...

NOW I get the great ideas for the wedding. the personalized touches. the ideas for the ceremony. the inspiration for our songs. NOW. a couple days before we leave.


i've had a busy but productive time of late, and even got my licensure application all ready for the mail today. we're about to book our honeymoon in cozumel. most everything is done except for the packing and some minor details.

i am getting VERY excited. it seemed for a long time that this wedding was something to be planned, not something to be actually experienced. and though we probably could be better prepared, i'm giddy with the realization that we are actually going to be by the beach, waves rolling in, as i say my vows to my sweetheart.

instead of the normal anxiety and self-criticism, i'm even feeling love for our mutual inability to make decisions until the absolute last minute. weird. i think there's something in the air that's making us both wacky. gabriel even got a faux hawk and HIGHLIGHTS today. my sweetie, who has never uttered the word 'product', who happily goes to work with bedhead, who gets a haircut the exact day hair gets in his eyes - he got highlights. crazy times...

Monday, October 19, 2009

cooking in the midst of chaos

I thought I'd make a quick, nice dinner tonight. I haven't cooked in a few days and was feeling antsy, but I also didn't want to take a bunch of time away from wedding planning. So I got steak, an avocado and crab clusters (on sale at the supermarket, never before purchased). I thought I'd make steak - very quick- and a crab/avocado salad stuffed back in the avocado shell. Back at home I realized I should have gotten some cilantro, or scallions, or at least lemon/lime to bring this all together but oh well. I steamed the crab for a few minutes, got the steaks ready and was very proud of myself for creating a 5 minute yummy meal. But then I had an aha moment. Aha! The crab meat is stuck inside the crab shell. Aha! I don't have shellfish utensils. My fiance suggested pliers, and I had the ingenious idea of using a chopstick to help push it out. So my quick dinner turned into an hour of me laboring over crab with pliers and a chopstick. A comical, but very unproductive, use of time.

Dinner turned out great in the end!

pre-wedding chaos

Posts will be far and few between over the next few weeks, sad to say. We're leaving before dawn on Saturday for a two-week stay in Mexico. That leaves four days to finish writing the ceremony, gather music, decide wedding songs, various other wedding thingies, do laundry, clean house, pack, apply for licensure, book honeymoon, etc. It's a busy time.

In other news, I am officially PADI open water certified! We did our open water dives this past weekend. It was a grey windy 53 degrees both days (an anomaly here), and the water was 64 degrees. Given the fact that I ended up shivering in 89 degree pool water, my instructor brought me 3 layers of wetsuit and I still thought I'd get hypothermia. COLD. The worst was being already freezing cold, in a bathing suit, and faced with the prospect of peeling on a cold wet suit. My body was like girl what do you think you're doing?! And once the suit is on it's little comfort because you lug on many pounds of gear and walk to cold water to freeze there. It was a long weekend.

We dove in a quarry where visibility was 5-8 feet, super murky. We swam through an old rusty bus 30 feet down - it was one of the most ghostly experiences I've ever had. I fought off bouts of primal panic throughout the weekend, but they were fleeting. Overall it was challenging but fun, and I am really excited to dive in Mexico. I could use some easy dives in clear water to build up my confidence...dives that don't include taking regulators out of your mouth, taking off the scuba gear underwater, emergency ascents and taking off your mask and swimming around.

Though my upcoming posts may be sparse, I promise lots of amazing pictures come November!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Another thing off the list:

I am not big into jewelry, at all, but even I have to admit these are stunning. (It's hard not to have nice wedding bling when your mom's husband is a diamond/jewelry dealer - thanks Dave!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

getting all ansel adams on mother nature's ass

That's what my eloquent fiance said I was doing when I showed him some of these pictures, taken at Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The only picture I am disappointed with is the one of the blue heron. It was so prehistoric and beautiful and weird, and it just isn't captured. (You can see it on the Gardens' website, though.) I was enamored with this creature. Later I realized this is the bird that Richard Powers ruminated on in his book The Echomaker. Yeah, this book won the National Book Award. Yeah, it has a wonderful title. Yeah, the plot sounds irresistibly interesting. Yeah, it got a glowing review on NPR that made me buy it for friends and family before even reading it myself. DON'T READ THIS BOOK!!!! It is atrocious. I am not saying it's uninteresting, or it has slightly too many adverbs, or the characters could have been developed more, or twenty pages could have been cut out. I am saying ALL the pages should have been cut out, and I could have examined a splinter for 10 hours and had a better time. This was easily the worst 'good' book I've ever read. Go ahead and read it to prove me wrong, but don't say you haven't been warned. And don't be fooled by the first two pages which make you think the tome may be a poetic metaphor. The other hundreds of pages are written like a fourth grader.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Amphibious fun

It has happened that I have too much too blog about and too little time. Last Wednesday I went to Myrtle Beach for a beach break and to do a bit of wedding planning. To my surprise my dad, his wife Denise and my Aunt Neicey threw me a little bridal shower! So nice. Thursday was spent at these beautiful gardens and I took hundreds of pictures (to follow), along with bikini and wedding supply shopping. And on Friday we went to the beach (it was 86 and sunny on October 9th - I may never move willingly north of the Mason Dixon line again) - it was so hot and lovely and I started getting very excited for Mexico! (And a bit anxious - we'll be there in two weeks now.)

Saturday, today, Gabriel and I started our scuba training. We breezed through the academics since we're nerds, and then hopped in the pool. Okay, hopped is completely the wrong word. That tank is HEAVY for a 100 pound girl. In case that's not enough, there's a weighted belt and tubes everywhere. You get a mask and snorkel so you can't see well, and fins so you can't walk well. I've never felt so cumbersome. The first time we go underwater it's to breathe, and I realize quickly that it is very easy and natural to panic in a situation like this. I'm talking the clinical definition of panic, too. After a few breaths we pop back up and our instructor explains that next time down we're going to take out the breathing apparatus underwater, constantly exhale, throw the apparatus behind us and try to retrieve it two different ways. Pop it back into our mouths, blow the water out and continue breathing. Umm.. ok. He demonstrates underwater and points to Gabe, who does both like a pro. I signal that we need to have a little talk above water. No way am I ready for that, I politely say. I need to pee, and besides that, I need to swim around breathing underwater a while before I get comfortable enough to take my one link to oxygen OUT of my mouth. Not to mention time to get acquainted with the tubes and buttons all over my body.

To my credit, within a half an hour I was happily swimming around like a fish, and by the end of the day I didn't even panic when I was 12 feet underwater and my breathing tube came out and starting gushing a stream of pressurized air. I asked a lot of questions today to compensate for my total lack of technical intuitiveness, but now feel like I understand enough to not die. (This is important.) It's also nice to dive with someone that uses this equipment once and then could design his own. (And who is now, after midnight, watching a downloaded 'How It's Made' episode on scuba gear.)

I took 614 pictures on my Myrtle Beach trip and am so impressed with our little camera. I want to share lots and am not sure if I should put them on this blog, or start a flickr account, or some such thing. I'll figure it out soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall cooking

I love fall for its beautiful leaves, the smell of fireplaces and especially the food. Fall has proved to be disorienting in North Carolina. I am used to wearing sweaters by now in Boston, and hearing crunching leaves on the sidewalk, and feeling the creeping internal fear of winter. Here it's been chilly a few times in the morning, the leaves are are tinged yellow but not nearly crunchy, and we're more likely to hit 80 degrees than need to use the fireplace.

One thing is reassuringly the same and this is fall flavor. I walked into the supermarket last week and found aisles of apples, apple cider, squash, and pumpkin. It's heartwarming for me. When we had visitors last Friday I made some fall yumminess.

This, folks, is an apple peeler/corer.

My Aunt Boo gave me this for Christmas a couple years ago and it makes apple-heavy kitchen labor a cinch. I nearly impaled myself on it this go-around but avoided disaster with a little help from my engineer fiance. Here's a before and after shot of the apple:

I used the simple bread dough ratio from the amazing cookbook Ratio. (I'll spare you another rave review of the book this time.) I sauteed apples and butter and sage, and it's an instant solution to make your house smell like Fall Heaven.

I originally tried to mix in the apples with the yeast dough but realized soon that this is impractical. So at the end I put the apple mixture on top of rolled-out dough and rolled it up jelly roll style. Here is what miraculously emerged out of the oven:

It is not the greatest picture and I'm not going to be able to describe to you how good this was. It was damn good. Maybe I'll post the recipe.

I've never made any candy, but tried a modified pumpkin seed brittle recipe. I didn't have a candy thermometer, so had to ditch my first effort. But the second effort yielded gorgeous and yummy brittle. So fun to make!

I served the bread with two local cheeses and cinnamon cream cheese. Add grapes and brittle and you've got yourself a wonderful fall spread. If you are an astute observer, you will notice wine is missing from this picture. We tried a NC sweet muscadine red wine that was sweet and light. This picture could be titled Home:

Fall so far gets my approval here even though it's taking it's time to arrive. It's also too warm here to go apple picking. Too warm! Imagine that! And my body does not believe the weather facts and the countless statements from locals that it will generally be the 50s in the winter, that things bloom until December, and other things start blooming in February. It is gathering wood, root vegetables and blankets, and bracing itself for six to seven months of icy chill.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another day, another food tour

This past weekend my mom and her husband Dave visited our new hometown and we took a whirlwind tour on Saturday. Mostly a tour of food. We did Taste Carolina's Durham food tour. We learned a lot about the town's tobacco industry history:

We visited the American Tobacco complex. There was a family festival, so lots going on, including this great band:

Out of nowhere came this scary-ass clown:

We went to six restaurants and had a tasting at each. This is the mushroom dumpling at Rue Cler:

There was A LOT of walking, but it was fun (see fun pictured below):

A mural in Durham:

This was crostini and amazing butternut squash soup at Toast, a paninoteca in downtown:

And we had LOCOPOPS!!! I have raved about them before, and now we got to meet the owner! She is a lady who was in IT middle management and hated it but didn't know what to do next. She had paletas one weekend (Mexican popsicles), quit her job on Monday, sold her house, and drove her dog in a jeep to Mexico to learn the popsicle making trade. Now she's a successful business owner here. So inspirational, huh? She said she got the name from her parents' opinion of her new venture. Mom and Dave had a pumpkin spice popsicle, I had passion fruit margarita and Gabe was brave and had a truffle mushroom popsicle.

We then took Mom and Dave to a couple restaurants in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Many a martini was had, and some amazing barbecued quail at Cypress on the Hill, easily the best dish of the day. It's now officially surpassed Acme as my favorite restaurant in these parts. We all came home fat and happy, and even managed to have a big brunch the next day at famous Crooks Corner. (I think their food suffered a bit with the rush of brunch, but I'd go back at a slower time. And who serves hushpuppies with marinara sauce?)

It was fun to show them around town, because I realized I know the place so much better (obviously) than when we first moved. I also got a new appreciation of Durham through the tour. It's so awesome to see the town developing into a unique, artsy community with a great restaurant scene. I'm so used to the Northeast where everything was established in Pilgrim-time, or at least Thomas Jefferson-time.

Have I mentioned I love living here?


Related Posts with Thumbnails