Are You a Pleasure Procrastinator?


According to this article in the New York Times, I am. Currently, I have unused gift cards for Target, Nordstrom, Macy's, Fleming's, Brewvies, and a facial at a local day spa. I even have one for a tattoo that my friends gave me for my 34th birthday (please don't do the math!). I've written about my problem before here.

I also have a bottle of my favorite champagne stored in my basement. Champagne doesn't get better with age, what the hell am I waiting for? Honestly, I don't know, but I think it has something to do with waiting for that perfect reason to celebrate. I wish I could tell you that a hoarded bottle of booze is the worst symptom of my disorder but sadly it's not. For nearly a decade I've been using a credit card to accrue miles for that perfect beach vacation. I have the miles now but still haven't planned the vacation!

I've always been this way. I opened my first savings account when I was thirteen and didn't make a single withdrawal until I bought a car after I turned sixteen and got my drivers license. I've thought this was my own little brand of crazy for years now but the New York Times article suggests that I'm not alone.

So, one of my New Year's resolutions will be to seize the day! I'm drinking that bubbly (maybe this weekend), laying out all those gift cards as a reminder to use them, and planning that long overdue vacation to a sunny place where cabana boys bring me cocktails. Please tell me that I'm not alone and that some of you do this too!

NY Street Art

I'm in love with the simplicity and creativity of Joshua Allen Harris's amazing street art. Wouldn't it be incredible to walk down the street just as one of these were coming to life?

Book Review: On Writing

On Writing On Writing by Stephen King


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've never read a Stephen King novel. A writer friend whose opinion I respect recommended this book to me. On Writing is divided into three parts. The first part is vignettes from King's life. While it was interesting and in some places quite moving, I was a bit confused while reading this section. I was expecting more information on the technical aspects of writing. My concerns were premature because the second part of the book was just that. I enjoyed reading about King's 'process'. Plus, his writing style seems doable. I've never really had aspirations to write a novel but after reading this book I'm feeling the urge to at least give fiction, maybe a short story, a shot. The final section of the book focuses on the auto vs pedestrian (King was the pedestrian) accident that happened in 1999 seriously injuring King and the influence that writing had on his recovery process.
I've not been converted to the horror/sci-fi genre but I do have a new found respect for King's writing and work ethic.

I've also recently discovered the King occasionally writes a witty column for Entertainment Weekly magazine (wipe that smirk off your face, I only get EW because of I bought a Sundance Film Festival package last year and the subscription was party of the deal).

View all my reviews >>

Christmas

I've been trying to put together a Christmas post to wish you all a merry Christmas but I haven't been able to muster the will to do it. You see, Christmas Eve used to be my favorite holiday of the year, filled with family and friends. But, I lost all that when my marriage ended years ago, combined with some more recent bullshit family squabbles. Instead, it is now a day that I loathe with every fiber of my being. For years, I've been threatening to spend the following Christmas lying on the beach but each year I puss out. Next year may be the year. On the upside, less than five hours to go until its over.

Hallelujah Chorus

Tis the season and despite where you fall on the 'meaning of Christmas' spectrum one thing is for sure, music is an integral part of the holidays. Inspired by my friend Erin's post, I offer you this humorous take on my favorite song of the season. I was a choir geek in high school which given Glee's popularity makes me feel a bit less nerdy about that revelation. Every year, we performed the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. I still get goosebumps when I listen to it.


I've Been Saving This Little Gem For You



This song takes me back,way back to my dancing days at Maxim's. Back to the days when I was more likely to fall for a gay man than a straight man. Freeze! White!

Book Review: A Scandalous Life: The Biography of Jane Digsby

A Scandalous Life: The Biography of Jane Digby A Scandalous Life: The Biography of Jane Digby by Mary S. Lovell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars I was partway through 'A Scandalous Life' when I realized that the author also wrote 'Sound of Wings', the Amelia Earhart biography that I'd just finished. Like Amelia, Jane was a woman who lived her life beyond the cultural norms of her time. Born in 1807 into a wealthy British family, Jane defied marriage vows and family expectations with her behavior. Her beauty, charm, and sexual prowess were legendary. But, the part of the book that I found the most interesting was later in her life she moved to the middle east to be a sheik and traveled the desert extensively with him. The descriptions of traveling the desert on camel, living in tents was really quite remarkable. If you enjoy biographies, I'd recommend you pick this up. View all my reviews >>

"I realized that my favorite books about marriage — Calvin Trillan's “About Alice” and Joan Didion’s “Year of Magical Thinking” — included one spouse who was dead."

That is a quote from Elizabeth Weil's article 'Married (Happily) With Issues' in a recent New York Times magazine article. If you missed it, click here. Savor the article with a cup of coffee or wine, for it is long, but well worth the investment of your time. Weil's writing drew me in immediately with her sharp wit and humorous tales about her relationship. Plus, she quoted several of my favorite writers and their works. Writing like this inspires me.



A Dream Realized


Much like legions of others out there, I've longed to be a writer ever since I came to grips with the fact that I didn't possess the musical prowess to become a songwriting musician. My main problem was that despite my desire, I didn't dedicate much time to writing. Clearly, this is a problem for an aspiring writer, although one that seems relatively common.

I started this blog in order to make writing a regular part of my life. What started as a selfish exercise has become an enjoyable part of my life, more so than I could have initially imagined. The blog has also given me the confidence to dip my toe into the uncharted territory (for me) of freelance writing. I even embarked on a home improvement project this year to have an attractive and comfortable space dedicated to writing.

I don't know if all writers feel this way but when I put something out there, I feel quite vulnerable, exposed. It's getting easier as time passes and I become more practiced but there is always a slightly queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach when I do it.

I was recently given the opportunity to write an article for a local publication, Utah Stories. Today that article was published on their website (hard copies are also available in stands at local retailers). I wrote an article about Lamb's restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City. Lamb's has been an establishment on Main Street since 1939. It was a pleasure to meet the proprietor and hear his story. I hope I've done it justice. You can read the article here.

Favorite Blog Discovery of 2009

I have fallen head over heels in love with VeganDad's blog. Both of my kids are vegetarians and have been for a long time. I occasionally find that I'm lacking inspiration to put together meatless meals that truly are delicious. When this happens I just head over to VeganDad's blog. How does Crispy Cajun Chickpea Cakes sound? Delicious, right? He's also posted a bunch of Ethiopian recipes lately that I'm dying to try. I dare you to head over there and not find something that you'd like to try.

This Book Stuck with Me


Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother is a brutally honest account of motherhood. What appealed to me most were the things she dared to say about motherhood which many mothers must feel and think but wouldn't say out loud. I wrote a post about the book last summer. Click here for the link.

Best Article of 2009

This one is a no-brainer for me. Mark Bittman's NY Times'article on 101 Simple Salads posted during the summer has become a mainstay of our dining repertoire. Here's the link. Bookmark, refer to it often, and enjoy!

p.s. Bittman has done similar lists for suppers, picnics and appetizers. I can't find a link for the appetizers. I seem to have only a hard copy of the article. I'll keep looking and update.

Sidewalk Bistro


One steamy night this past summer I had the most ridiculously wonderful dinner in New York City. As some of you know, my daughter moved to NYC in August to start graduate school. I traveled out there to make sure she got settled into her new apartment and provide some moral support. Actually, she didn't need the moral support, I did, but that's another story.

Ban made the trip east with me and since he'd never been to New York before I wanted to spend some time in the city, in addition to time on Long Island with family. We spent a glorious day walking, biking, and taking the subway all over Manhattan. I posted about our adventures here and here. But late that night, we ventured out on foot into the Hell's Kitchen area and walked around until we found somewhere that appealed. Being New York City, you can imagine how many delectable temptations faced us but one stuck out in particular.

It was a little French bistro with sidewalk seating. I can't remember the name. I even looked back through my credit card statements (Ban must have paid). But I do remember the steam coming up through the manhole cover, and the crisp, refreshing taste of the glass of champagne, and the creamy smooth texture of the mussels that we ate. I remember feeling simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated and promising one another that we'd be back for more explorations sooner rather than later.

Best of 2009 Challenge - Trip


Blogger and social media guru extraordinaire, Gwen Bell posed a challenge to bloggers yesterday on twitter. She outlined 31 days of blog topics which all involve some reflection upon the past year. I loved the idea and today is the first day of the challenge. So, here is a post about my best trip in 2009. This was tough because I took a few really fun trips but one stands out as a milestone in a year full of ups and downs.

The best trip of 2009 was my summer trip to Island Park with my son. One of my dearest friends owns a cabin up there and she and her daughter were planning to spend the week there at the end of July. We pretty much crashed their week by inviting ourselves up there on a whim. You can read about the trip here. However, there was more to the story that I wasn't able to write about at the time.

Earlier this year, Ryan experienced some serious health problems. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I've never felt more helpless. We are very lucky that we have good health insurance and were able to get Ryan excellent medical care when he needed it. His path to recovery was steady but slow.

What made the trip to Island Park remarkable was how happy and healthy my son appeared that week.
He seemed like his old self for the first time in over six months. I kept watching him and found myself moved to tears on several occasions. I've always believed that this cabin is a magical place but this trip made my heart believe that everything was going to be alright after all.









Zumba Anyone?

I've been on leave of absence from roller derby since the beginning of October. I was experiencing foot pain and on the verge of derby burn out and needed the time off. It's been really, really nice to reclaim two weeknights per week. I've been able to read more, write more, and spend more time with family and friends.

On the downside, I've given up five hours of scheduled exercise time per week. I thought I would easily pick up the slack by trying some new classes at the gym, hiking more, and skating out-of-doors at Liberty Park on nice days. But in reality, I've just been a big slug (see above about more reading, writing and socializing). I'm embarrassed to admit it but it's true.

So, two months of leave finds me with pain-free feet but all my clothes fitting a bit more snug than I'd like. This week I hit the breaking point and decided that I need to get my butt in gear. I'm glad to report that I worked out all four days of the long weekend. This morning I met up with a friend for a spinning class. I haven't been to a spin class in weeks, maybe a month, yikes! The class was great and some new offerings at my gym have me inspired.

I think I'm going to try a Zumba class this week. Have you ever tried Zumba? Here is a youtube clip if you are unsure what Zumba class is. I think it looks ridiculously fun. Let me know if you want to join me!

Quinoa, Leek, & Cherry Stuffed Turkey Breast


Ban made a sensational stuffed turkey breast for dinner yesterday. There were only going to be five of us for Thanksgiving dinner this year so we didn't want to cook an entire turkey. He found the recipe on Dani Spies website. Here is a link to the quinoa, leek, and cherry stuffing.

We bought a turkey breast and for some reason, we were surprised when we got it home and found that it was basically a turkey with no legs or wings. I'm not sure what we were expecting, but nonetheless, we had to figure out how to debone the damn thing. Thank God, Ban is fearless and you can find instructional videos on how to do pretty much anything on youtube. I've included a link to the youtube video that we used if you are interested.

The process of deboning is a little gruesome if you are a meat-a-phobe like me, but as usual, Ban did an amazing job. After he skinned and deboned the turkey breast, he pounded it out flat. Then, he spread a layer of thinly sliced black forest ham over the breast. Next, he placed the quinoa, leek, and cherry stuffing over the ham.


Then, he rolled and trussed the bird. The deboned turkey breast cooks much more quickly than a whole bird so we were ready to roll after an hour and half in the oven.


The end product looked gorgeous and tasted delicious. The turkey was tender and juicy and the stuffing was light and flavorful. We'll definitely add this recipe into the holiday meal rotation.

Nothing Like a Finger Wag to Make Your Point

video

This part of Delta's safety video cracks me up each time that I see it.

Tenement Museum in NYC


Next time you are in Manhattan's lower east side, be sure to plan enough time for a visit to the Tenement Museum. The museum has purchased an 1860s tenement building which had been condemned in the 1940s when the landlord decided to boot the residential tenants rather than make improvements to the building to meet new building codes.

The museum researched the building and through census records was able to identify over 7,000 people who'd lived in the building between 1860 and 1940. They were able to contact descendents of many of the tenants and piece together what the apartments looked like at various points in time.

My cousin and I toured two of the apartments last weekend. One had been re-created to look like it had when German-Jewish immigrant family moved in around 1870. At that time, the building would not have had electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. Families would have provided their own coal burning stove. Ideally, they would have purchased it from the previous tenants. If not, they would have had to schlep it up to which ever of the five floors they lived on. They also would have needed to haul up the coal necessary for cooking and heating their space.

Four outhouses behind the building provided relief for the twenty families in the building, as well as, the patrons of the saloon and garment shop on the first floor.

The second apartment that we toured had been inhabited by Italian-Catholic immigrants in the 1930s. By this time the building had been upgraded with electricity and indoor plumbing had been introduced. Each floor had two toilets in the hallway. The museum was able to connect with a woman who'd lived in the tenement as a child. Audio recordings of her recollections add a intimate glimpse into the challenges of raising a family in 325 square feet of space.

The museum offers tours of other apartments and I hope to make it back there on a subsequent trip to New York. There is also a gift store which offered many interesting and unique gifts . You can visit the Tenement Museum's website here.

Random Adventures in Travel

The most random things always seem to happen when I travel. After eight days on the road, I eagerly made my way to the airport this afternoon. I arrived with plenty of time before my flight and leisurely wandered the Smithsonian Museum shop and a few other boutiques. I passed an attractively decorated wine bar that offered free wi-fi (why is it that I always find these when I'm not looking for either wine or free wi-fi and yet find them incredibly elusive when I am in need?!).

I made my way down to the gate and ran into my former boss. I haven't seen him in ages but had exchanged emails with his wife recently about getting together for dinner. It seemed pretty random to run in to him 2,000 miles from home!

As boarding time approached, the crush of humanity pressed in on the gate, as people eagerly awaited the agent to call their zone number. I'm not sure what these freaks think they are gaining by creating a dense, nearly impossible to navigate crowd for those who actually are in the zone being announced. But whatever, this happens every flight. I still don't understand it and likely never will. Traveling seems to bring out the douchebaggery in people.

But things took an interesting turn as we neared take off time. Joe Cool strolls back to the empty seat across the aisle from me on the third to LAST row of the plane with his carry on bag ten minutes before take off. Not too surprisingly, all the overhead bins are full, so Joe is bending over with his ass in my face trying to jam his carry-on bag under the seat in front of him. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up. But wait, it gets better.

The flight attendant comes up behind the guy to tell him that the bag will not fit under the seat and that he'll need to check it. The man snarls that he doesn't want the bag to be checked, the flight attendant replies that there isn't room for it and that if he'd like to carry it on he could book him on the next flight. The man scowls and says 'fine, book me on the next flight'. Now, I've been accused of cutting off my nose to spite my face many times in my life but this one may just take the cake.

Joe and the flight attendant head up the aisle to the front of the plane while those around me gaze in astonishment at one another. The story should have ended there but sadly the flight attendant found a spot for his bag near the front of the plane and the douche made his way back to his empty seat. Thank God for headphones and netbooks. In avoidance mode, I've produced a prolific amount of writing during this flight.

Did I mention that I think Jason Chaffetz is sitting in first class? Then again, I thought I saw Sean Means at the Oyster Bar last weekend so I might be full of BS. Oh, and that I could have a date with the flight attendant if I wanted. He knew my name, has already mentioned that I have a beautiful smile and that he doesn't bite, only nibbles. Random adventures in travel.

Hell Yah!


How cool is my kid? Check this out!

Sunday Dinner with the New York Fam

I spent the weekend with my New York family. I went to the city, visited the Tenement Museum, and ate at some charming (read small) cafes. I spent a few nights with cousin on Long Island and had a great time with her ridiculously adorable daughter.

But one of the highlights was having Sunday dinner with my Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle, cousins, and the cousin's babies. We so rarely have the opportunity to share a meal together which is a shame because my Aunt Jo is an excellent cook.

Tonight, we started the meal with antipasto. Besides being visually stunning it tasted like salty, creamy deliciousness. Next up was my spaghetti with my Aunt's famous meatballs and tomato sauce. Heaven!

For dessert, we had the choice of chocolate cheesecake, crumb cake (my fave!), or chocolate covered pretzels and mugs of steaming coffee.


After dinner I headed back into the city to meet up with the girl child. We're having a sleep over at her place tonight which thus far has consisted of us camped out on her bed each with a laptop on our lap. It's been way too long since we've had a girls night like this.


Continuing Adventures in Travel

While I love to travel, I also hate some parts of the process of getting there. I’ve written about it before. Making your way through airport security is consistently one of my least favorite parts of the trip. I’m only carrying-on a large handbag which contains a novel, my netbook, an empty water bottle, snacks, my iPod, and the other necessities that one typically carries in a purse. Again the bag is big but it's not outrageously large. It's the same size as the one that you see tons of women carrying around each day.

The line for security was exceptionally long but I had plenty of time until my flight so it wasn’t a big deal. Well, it wasn’t until an older woman got in line behind me. Each time the line moved a few feet forward, she would run into my bag. Each time. I don’t think she missed it ever once. Clearly personal space was an issue for this particular traveler. I know I could have turned around to glare at here or ask her to stop it but I actually turned it into a game. It seemed incredible that she could bump me each and every time. I was waiting with anticipation for the time when she miss one opportunity to make contact. She never did.

Additionally, although she was traveling alone, she would randomly ask questions to her fellow travelers standing near her. She asked several people, including me, why some people went on a different, and much shorter line. I explained that they traveled so much that they’d accumulated enough points to have special privileges while traveling. She didn’t think much of this. A few minutes later, she wanted to know if it would be a problem for her to carryon to small cans of pineapple juice. I told her that you weren’t allowed to carry on more than three ounces of liquid anything. She didn’t like my answer and hailed a passing TSA employee who told her the same thing that I had told her. She asked him what she was supposed to do with them and said told her, ‘to drink up’.

So, she stood in line behind me, bumping my bag each time we made forward progress, pounding her pineapple juice. Finally, we approached the scanning machines and I headed to one on the left and thankfully she headed to the right. Relieved, I made my way down to the gate and only waited moments until they started boarding. Given Delta’s random zone assignments which I can’t make heads or tails of, I quickly found myself in my aisle seat at the back of the plane. The window seat was empty so I didn’t want to make myself too comfortable knowing that someone would come shortly to fill that seat. Imagine my horror as I looked up and saw the security line lady heading my way. Noooo! Gratefully, she wasn’t right next to me but one row up in the aisle seat across from me. She’s there now drinking a can of pineapple juice that the flight attendant brought her.


Wasatch Woman Magazine


As many of you know, I'm a bit of a twitter junkie and as such, I've had the opportunity to meet an amazing number of really cool people. One of the people who I've 'tweeted' with is Pam Baumiester, editor of Wasatch Woman magazine. Earlier this summer she mentioned that she'd like to do a piece on roller derby for the magazine.

Late in August, I was contacted by Rebecca Edwards, a super groovy writer for Wasatch Woman. She wanted to interview me for an article on women athletes in Utah. How cool is that? We met for lunch and basically chatted about how I got into roller derby. She was taking notes on a legal pad but it really felt more like a conversation than an interview. I thought she did a great job weaving our conversation into a funny article.

In September, we did the photo shoot for the article. They had a magician, I mean, make-up artist and hair stylist work me over. Kitty did such a great job that I've started having her do my hair in real life too. Once 'done up' the photographer, Scott kept me relaxed and laughing with his laid back demeanor. He also humored me asking a thousand questions about photography, cameras, lighting, etc.

I was so nervous about the whole thing. I felt a little vulnerable at the beginning. Who knew how they would portray me and my sport? But from start to finish, the entire experience was fantastic and I'm so pleased with the final product! You can check it out here.

The Garden



A 2008 documentary, The Garden follows the incredible story of the urban South Central Farmers (in Los Angeles) struggle against back room city hall deals and shady developers to preserve their community garden. The South Central Farmers had been farming the land and feeding their families on 14 acres encircled by warehouses, with the downtown skyline in sight. Their struggle drew the attention of celebrities and activists alike.

I love documentary films and this one was very engaging, despite the emotional rollercoaster the farmers faced within the legal system. The film was nominated for an Oscar in January 2009. This film is available here on Netflix (you can also be watched instantly on Netflix if you don't want to wait for them to mail the DVD to you).

Book Review: The Sound of Wings

The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart by Mary S. Lovell


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wanted to read this biography of Amelia Earhart before I saw the movie about her that was released this fall. She lead a very interesting life, always advocating for equality for women. She was about my age when she disappeared. Much of the book centers on her relationship with her publicist husband who the author credits with keeping Amelia in the public eye during her life and after her disappearance. Reading about the early days of aviation was enjoyable too. We take very much for granted the safety and reliability of air travel.

View all my reviews >>

Snuggie

You know that you've secretly wanted one but you've worried that by buying it you'll look like an old person. Perhaps I'm the only who thinks that but whatever. I have some awesome news for you today. There's a way more hip version of the Snuggie that won't make you sacrifice your street cred. Now you totally need it, right?

Halloween 2009 - Yip Yip



Another year of incredibly creative Halloween costumes this year. Ryan's was especially spectacular. He was a Yip Yip. Do you remember the Yip Yips from Sesame Street? Here's a little video clip in case you don't. Ryan's Dad made the costume and it turned out amazing, right?

Radio Hour: Alice

Every once in a while all the pieces seem to fall magically into place. Yesterday, Ryan and I went to see Plan B Theater Company's production of Radio Hour: Alice. The show's run is sold out but you don't despair. The show was also being broadcast live to listeners of KUER's RadioWest. Here's a link to the podcast if you are interested in checking it out.

Ryan wanted to go because Bill Allred from X96 Radio from Hell show is narrating the play. I wanted to see it because my friend Daisy is the foley artist (that's the person who does sound effects in case you didn't know...I didn't know, I had to look it up). Best of all, my teammate England's Glory (and Daisy's sis) happened to be there with her son! The show was outstanding, Ryan and I were completely captivated.

After the show, we hung around to hello to Daisy. We met Bill Allred who graciously agreed to me taking a picture of he and Ryan. Ryan was so excited and he was grinning from ear to ear afterward.

Daisy also invited us to come backstage to check out the foley table. We were fascinated to see all the common household items used to make sound effects. Ryan and I really liked the cigar box guitar with the pool cue neck.


After the backstage tour we all headed over to the Beehive Tea Room. Have you been there? If not, you should go. It is so charming instead and they a wonderful selection of tea, plus sandwiches, salads, quiche, and assorted sweet treats.

Daisy and her sweetie, Jay. Aren't they adorable? Jay was also in Radio Hour:Alice. He voiced the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter. Jay kept Ryan and I entertained with stories about Murphy the ferret. I had no idea that ferrets made such great (albeit mischievous) pets!

In Case Thursday Evening is Still too Far Away



Here's a little something to get you through the workday afternoon slump. Oh, Kelly, why did you ever stop blogging? I still check 'Things I've Bought That I Love' every once in a while to see if you've starting updating it again.

Voila!

Well, I came through the process of revamping my blog site relatively unscathed. There are still a few little buggy things I'm working on but I was able to accomplish most of my redesign goals.

When I started my blog, I selected the black background because I liked the way pictures looked against it, but I didn't realize how difficult it is to read white text against the black background. So, my first goal in the redesign was to lighten things up. I also wanted a cleaner, sleeker look.

Additionally, I like websites and blogs that make it easy for me to share content with my friends on Facebook, Twitter or via email. I also like it when I can bookmark the site on Evernote or Delicious for later reference so it was important to me to have that functionality on my page too.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the redesign. I heard from one friend the other day via email that she had trouble leaving comments on my site. It made me wonder if others were having the same issue. Overall, I'm glad I went through the process because it was a great learning experience for me. I'm happy with the results and hope that you'll find your reading experience more pleasurable too!

Feeling the Need to Revamp


Do you ever look in the mirror and feel underwhelmed? Do you feel as though your look is tired? That's the way I'm feeling about my blog these days. So, I've decided that I'm going to hunker down and spend the next few days sprucing things up around here. Hopefully within the next day or two (or three) Wise Ax will be sporting a whole new look. Stay tuned!

Cine-Dips

Earlier this year some of our friends started Cine-Dips which is a group of friends who meet monthly to watch a movie and share delicious dips. Ban and I have not been able to make it even once this year because of conflicts in our schedules.

But all that changed last night. We watched The Man Who Planted Trees, the 1987 Oscar winner for Best Animated Short. You can actually watch the 30 minute short in its entirety below. You can also check out my post (and links to recipes) on the Cine-Dips blog here. All told, the food, film, and company were excellent and we can't wait until the next installment of Cine-Dips.


The man who planted trees

Miguel | MySpace Video

Evernote



Do you use Evernote? If you don't, I am going to try to convince you to give it a try. Evernote is a free program that allows you to keep track of everything that needs keeping track of in your life. In Evernote you create notebooks and then you stuff those notebooks with whatever you want. Let me give you a few examples of how I use Evernote.

I use Evernote to keep track of holiday and birthday gift ideas for my friends and family. If I see a potential gift idea on a website, I'll use the handy web clipper to clip the site and put it in my Gifts notebook. If I'm out and about and see an item that would be a good gift idea for someone, I'll snap a picture of it and email it to my Evernote account.

A member of my family had some health issues recently and I used a notebook to keep track of everything related to those issues. I have .pdf files of research articles, medication schedules and doses, email correspondence with physicians, notes to remind myself to follow up on things that I need to take care of, etc. It's been very handy to have everything in one place. Plus, you can share notebooks with other people if they need access to the information too.

I have a notebook for recipes. I can use the 'tag' feature to give attributes to each recipe, such as, soup, appetizer, thai, vegetarian, etc. Then, I can search for the recipe either by the name of the recipe or using the tags.

I have a notebook for ideas on blog posts and stories that I want to write (writing about Evernote has been in that notebook for weeks now). I have a notebook for keeping track of books that I want to read, music I want to listen to and restaurants that I want to try.

I have a notebook that I use as a wine journal. I simply snap a picture of the bottle, email it into Evernote, and add some notes about what I liked about the wine or what food was paired it. I've just started doing the same thing for artisan cheeses.

Are you convinced? Do you think you'll give it a try? Check out their informational video when you have a minute. If you start using it, I'd love to hear your thoughts about the program and how you are using it. You should know that Evernote isn't paying me to say these things. I love this program, use it daily and thought that you might find it useful too!

One Lucky Day in Yellowstone


We spent Friday in Yellowstone National Park. Perhaps it was the recent Ken Burns' series on National Parks but I had this urge to spend some time exploring the park. Clear sunny skies prevailed over an unseasonably warm, autumn day. I was hoping to spot wildlife. This is where our lucky streak started running hot. Check out this guy on the side of the road. Nice rack, right?


Or how about this wolf? He crossed the road right in front of us and immediately pounced on a small creature, maybe a chipmunk or something. We got a close up glimpse of the circle of life I guess.


I was fascinated by the thermal pools. The water in many of them is crystal clear and you can see down into the deep abyss. Other pools were muddy, bubbling, sulfuric messes. The geysers were spectacular too.




One of the most spectacular places in the park is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I'd never been to this part of the park before and the scenery is stunning.


Part of the grand loop was closed due to road construction. This means that we had to double back through the park to get out. It takes a deceiving amount of time to see the sights in the park, partially because of the 45 mile per hour speed limit.

As we were making our way out of the park, I ended up getting stuck behind an elderly gentlemen driving an old Land Rover. I'm not sure if was the man's age or limitations of his vehicle but he was averaging 30-35 mph the whole way. The roads in parts of Yellowstone are narrow, curving passes (read: no passing lanes or clear views to pass for long stretches). I wanted to get back to the cabin in time for sunset so I was getting really frustrated that this guy was impeding my progress.

I finally had the opportunity to pass him and wanted to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, a park ranger passed me and clocked me going a wee bit over the speed limit. I saw him flip around and knew I'd been caught. I've never been pulled over for speeding before. I wondered if tickets cost more in national parks. The cop approached my car and I started apologizing profusely. Apparently, I'd been doing 58 in a 45. Doh!

I told him that I knew that I was speeding and explained that I'd been stuck behind the old guy for miles. He laughed and thanked me for my honesty. He took my license, registration, and proof of insurance back to his vehicle.

I don't know if he can tell that I've never had a speeding ticket or been pulled over before. Or maybe he'd been stuck behind the old guy earlier in the day. But, either way, he came back to my car, handed me my stuff and told me to slow down. Pretty lucky, don't you think?

Happy Hour Done Right

You take some tasty treats like these and walk down to the water's edge. Sip, snack, sigh...repeat.

Relaxation and rejuvenation are on the docket this weekend. We are holed up in my friend's cabin in Island Park, Idaho. I wish there was some way to share with you the way the air smells up here. It is so clean, crisp and pine-scented. Intoxicating! The stars are unbelievable too. There must be roughly a gazillion of them in the sky. I saw a shooting star last night. I made a wish and I hope it comes true.

Au Revoir, Gourmet

Like foodies everywhere, I was stunned to hear the news earlier this week that Gourmet magazine would cease publication with the November issue. Print media has taken a beating for certain in these economic times but to see a powerhouse like Gourmet go down was a surprise.

Chris Kimball of Cooks Illustrated (a magazine that I subscribe to) wrote this provocative Op-ed piece in the New York times. Fans of Cooks Illustrated or America's Test Kitchen know of Chris Kimball's somewhat smug demeanor and in the Op-ed he can't resist taking a swipe at Conde Naste (who owns Gourmet) for selling off another cooking magazine that he owned in the 70s. But, he also brings up some food for thought (sorry, I couldn't resist). Cooks Illustrated accepts no advertising and is fully funded through reader subscriptions. Their associated website also limits free content. Only paid subscribers have access to all recipes and web content.

Is Gourmet's demise evidence of a societal trend moving from valuing expertise, education and good writing, in favor of a more open approach where everyone has the ability to upload content to the blogs, restaurant and recipes reviews regardless of adeptness?

One blogger responded to a comment I made on Twitter today with a link to his blog post on the subject. You can see his response here. He interpreted the Chris Kimball Op-ed somewhat differently than I did. I wasn't outraged by Chris Kimball, in fact, I think he raised some interesting and valid points. Chris Kimball's article is obviously focused only one field, food writing. The same transformation can be seen in politics, reviews of products, customer service reviews, etc.

In a digital age, should information be free? Has our wiki'd society devalued expertise or has this new egalitarian turn raised our collective knowledge?

Beauty

No wonder they look so flawless. It is good to keep things in perspective.

Bring On Da Funk!

Do you like to roller skate? Come to the Gallivan Center this Thursday night! I'll be there and you should be there too. Bust out your unitards and leg warmers and let's show Salt Lake how roller skating is BACK! Check out this link for more information.

Twins!

Ban and I are super excited to announce that we have two new additions to the family. Roombas! Our first one died about a year ago and after valiant efforts to revive her, Ban finally had to admit defeat and let her go.

We waited a while because the hurt was still too raw but sometimes an opportunity just presents itself and you know that the timing is right. I'm thrilled to introduce you to the newest members of the household. Check back often to see the shenanigans that these two get into!

SCDG Commercial


My fellow teammate, Nico Noir, is a film-maker in real life and she's creating a commercial for the Salt City Derby Girls. She's been filming all over the valley this week with a few more shoots scheduled for this weekend and next week. Yesterday, I took part in a shoot in downtown Salt Lake City at the Gallivan Trax station.

I had a blast! We were getting crazy looks from passersby and a few even stopped to take pictures. At one point in the shoot, local weatherman, Sterling Poulsen, and a camera man came outside to film a tease for last night's weather spot. We convinced him to let us skate past him while he said something like, 'See what's rolling in for the weekend weather'. I didn't actually see if it aired but it was pretty fun nonetheless.

I'll keep you posted on when the commercial is completed and where it's going to air!

Cleavers Win!

Last Saturday night, the Leave it to Cleavers beat the Sisters of No Mercy 125 - 68 and thus remained undefeated and league champs for the second year in a row! I am so proud of my team. They are a spectacular group of women and I am fortunate to call them teammates and friends. Check out Bill Frost's game report for the City Weekly here or Veronica Scar's report for the Salt Lake Tribune's Culture Vulture blog here.

I Gotta Feeling

Go ahead and laugh, but I am a sucker for a good flash mob dance number. Whenever I see video of one I can't help wishing I was a part of it. Looks like fun, right?

Weekend Home Improvement Project

My living room is large. One end of the room has been a mishmash of hand-me-down furniture and therefore, not very well utilized. I had an idea of what I wanted but was unable to get a clear vision for the space. I needed storage, book shelves, and somewhere for both Ban and I to keep our laptops (mine has been living on the dining room table for years).

On Friday, Ban and I made the pilgrimage to IKEA and bought four Expedit shelving units, a desk that hooks in, and two office chairs. This is what my car looked like after we loaded up.

We spent the next seven hours assembling our purchases while trying to make sense of IKEA's wordless instructions.


On Saturday, we cleaned out the old desk and gathered books, office supplies, printing stuff, etc. which has previously been scattered in various places around the house. Once everything was organized, we started filling up the space.


Here's the final product. I'm thrilled with the way that it turned out! One final postscript, while I was cleaning out the desk, I found this photo of what the space looked like when I bought my place six years ago. Quite a transformation, don't you think?

How to Make Olive Bread: Stop Motion Style

Have you seen this video? I don't know what it is about stop motion but I love it. It may just be that I have a huge amount of respect for anyone with the patience to make all those incremental moves. But seriously, this is awesome.

Old-style carny sideshow attraction offends some State Fair attendees - Salt Lake Tribune


Old-style carny sideshow attraction offends some State Fair attendees - Salt Lake Tribune

Did you see this article in the Salt Lake Tribune today? I love the fair, although, I've never been a fan of the sideshows. In fact, they kind of freak me out. So, it was with a sense of trepidation that I read the article after the headline caught my eye.

I guess I didn't realize that some of the sideshows contained human beings. What must it be like to sit in a dark trailer or tent 12 hours a day? Has Lina really consented to this lifestyle or is it yet another case of someone being exploited? Read the article and let me know what you think.
Have any of you seen this particular sideshow? I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

Harvest and Bounty


For the last few months I've been on a kick to improve the way I eat. I typically eat pretty healthy food but I've been making a conscious effort to really reduce the amount of processed food that I eat. So, last weekend, my girlfriend Liz helped me can 28 jars of marinara sauce and 18 jars of chili sauce. Seriously awesome, right?

Ban and I already tried the marinara on calzones and I can tell you that it is garden-fresh garlicky goodness in a jar. Additionally, my step-dad loves chili sauce on scrambled eggs as much as I do, so it was very convenient that he had a birthday on Monday and I could give him a jar.

It took Liz and I about eight hours to make the sauces and then process the jars but in the end it was worth every second. I'm so inspired that I'm considering making a double batch of chili verde and canning that too!

So Proud!


Look at the big brain on Lauren! Her diploma arrived this week and although we did not know it during the commencement ceremony in June, she was graduated Cum Laude! (see arrow above)

Garden Fresh

Last night we raided Ban's Mom's garden. She grows tomatoes, squash, tomatillos, peppers, parsley, basil, eggplant, and swiss chard. We cut some small, tender swiss chard leaves to have with dinner. As Ban was washing the leaves this afternoon, he found this little guy. I've never seen such a tiny snail!