Friday, February 25, 2011

Special Things

For a while now I've had a little secret list going on in my head.  A list of things I wanted to do once I was down to one job and once Antoine started consulting.  Some of the things on the list pertained to odds and ends around the house that needed doing but have been put off.  Other listy things involved exercise and improving my physical well-being.  And others were of a more secretive variety.  Little things I want to do or at least work on while Antoine is traveling to serve as little surprises for him when he returns.  It is my intention that all these little things on my secret list will become subjects for later blog entries.  I will keep you posted (pun very intended)!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Antoine and I have plans to do some antiquing.  Possibly a little day trip to this place.  Then Sunday we are meeting my parents in Columbus to do some car swapping and have lunch.  It should be a good weekend.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I find myself on the edge of something.  Maybe it's a cliff, maybe it's Spring more bad weather, maybe it's bliss.  Who the Hell knows!?  I know I don't.

This is the last week before Antoine starts his job in Chicago (well, just north of Chicago).  Come Monday morning I'll be driving him to the airport and kissing his goodbye until late Thursday evening.  It's a consulting position that will most likely last for about a year or so.  It's something that we have both been worrying about, in the most silent way possible.  But, it's scary.  It's such a big change and we have every right to be shaking in our boots about it.  I don't doubt the possibilities it holds, I am sure there are many.  I've just got a mass of butterflies fluttering around in my stomach that I can't seem to comprehend at this moment.  Oh change, how you twist and turn my inside parts!

Another cusp I find myself on is my new found work life.  Now that I have one job I am forced to think of only that one job as my work.  I love the library, but am I getting everything out of it I should?  And, more importantly, am I putting all the effort into it that I should?  Probably not.  But I want to.  I have been at the library for over three years, and for those three years I have, until now, had another job.  Have I made the most of the past three years here?  I'm not sure.  And now I am about to start a major project at work that will take a good amount of my time in the next coming month, and it really has nothing to do with the day to day work I do.  It's pretty new and uncharted territory for me and I'm a little nervous (but also excited) by it.  I have an opportunity to be creative, in a new way that I'm an unfamiliar with, to learn new programs and do something that others will actually experience and connect with my name.  Eeek.

So, I find myself here, on this cusp.  Terrified.  Nervous.  Excited.  Nauseous.  I know that good will come from these changes, that in the end I might learn a thing or two about myself, but that doesn't make it any less scary. 

Here I go...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The End of One Thing

I have finally emerged from my cocoon of fuzzyheadedness and can now think semi-coherent thoughts. Woot! Now, back to business...

Sunday was my last shift at Sbux. I opened, as I usually do. But since the shift that I usually opened with on Sundays (my friend Jess) had recently transferred to another store, I was left to work my last shift at Sbux with my boss, the store manager. Fine. I don't hate her like some people do at the store. Sure, she's not the best boss/manager in the world...but she's ok. We went about our open, setting things up and whatnot. We were ridiculously slow for a Sunday, but that was okay with me since I wasn't feeling well!

Then, at 8am, when the third morning person showed up I was surprised to see one of our male employees who am not particularly fond of (not because he's a guy, but because he's a young, arrogant guy who talks too loudly and thinks he's the shit when he's really not!). See, I was disappointed because I had been expecting to see the bright, shining face of my friend Liz (but apparently her and the Douche had to switch schedules for some reason). She was basically my equal, my clone at Sbux. We both had the same skill set, we made drinks with the same accuracy and speed and we both cleaned like mad women. I was somewhat anal-retentive when it came to cleaning the bar...and so was Liz; therefore we had a mutual appreciation for the others thoroughness! Only difference between the two of us, she's so ridiculously adorable it makes you sick (seriously, she's one of those young girls who can roll out of bed and without even trying look absolutely flawless) and she swears like a sailor (a very dirty, vulgar sailor). So yeah, I was a little bummed by the line up. The dude was being majorly annoying and barely anyone was coming in to distract me from his endless chattering!

But, on the plus side, while I was on one of my ten minute breaks one of the sweetest and loveliest ladies that works in the morning, Amy, came in to bring me a card, some tulips, and give me a big hug goodbye! All of a sudden I was feeling thousands of times better and I was able to tune out the nonsense coming from the 19 year old annoyance a couple feet away from me. As my shift was coming to an end I looked down at the very end of the line near our retail section and saw a familiar face. Another friend with gifts to wish me farewell. This time it was Vanessa, my closest friend at Sbux who I closed with two days during the week, every week, since probably November! We have the same sense of humor and since she started at Sbux, Vanessa and I have been pretty good friends! She had brought me a box of cupcakes she had decorated herself (she works part time at a local bakery) with frosting bows and edible gold dust, all tied together with a balloon. Don't ask me why the balloon said "It's A Girl" (that's Vanessa for you), but everyone got a kick out of it, including me! Vanessa's goodbye gifts and hugs made a somewhat sour last day a little more meaningful.

While I'm glad to be done with Sbux, to only have one job...I'll still miss it! But while it feels weird not to have to go there anymore, not to see the regulars, or my dear's been nice to just be home (especially since I've been so ill lately). Monday was the first Monday in what seems like forever that I didn't go to Sbux to work after my day job. And since I always worked Mondays and Wednesdays, tonight will probably feel just as weird. It's a strange feeling to quit something that you've been doing every week for over three years. It's strange to not have to go to that job that you've had for so long, to see those faces that you saw several times a week. I guess it's a bittersweet feeling. I know I will come to like it, especially when the weather gets nice and I can spend quality time outside with Antoine or Cheese or friends, but right now it feels like there's a slight emptiness inside me. Like I've lost a little bit of something that's been my routine for the last three years.

And while I love my day job, Sbux put me in close contact with people my own age who were on the same level I was. At the library, everyone is older than me by about ten years, except for the students (but I'm technically their superior, so it's not the same). I'm someone who doesn't make friends easily. I'm not one to start up a conversation with people, even if I want to, but at Sbux I had to come out of my shell a little bit. Where at the library I can be the recluse you know and love (hell, I work in a flippin' basement...we're basically the hermits of the library down here), Sbux made me be more social! It compelled me to gossip (in a store of almost all women), it forced me to make small talk, and the people there were, for the most part, social people who wanted to get to know me. Instead of coworkers, most of the people at Sbux were friends! When I started dating Antoine I remember going into Sbux and telling people like Amy and my boss about it. In fact, I remember working at Sbux the morning of my first date with Antoine...and telling those who were working how nervous I was, but also how excited. I will miss the memories I had there, but I won't miss the people...because I've made a pact to myself and with others like Vanessa and Amy that this isn't the last they will see of me! Just because I'm not longer working there doesn't mean I have to say goodbye completely! I've made such good friends over the years that that is just not an option.

So, goodbye second job! Hello, free time to appreciate the things I care about: Antoine, our house, our creatures, beautiful weather (when it comes) and all the great friends that I have!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And the Death Popsicle Continues To Be...

Sorry folks, I'm still feeling all kinds of icky! Right now I've got the energy of a turtle...or maybe that's being too ambitious. I'll talk at you later, when I don't feel like death.

Monday, February 21, 2011

And the Death Popsicle Lives...

...well, sort of! Okay, not really!

I had every intention of giving you a real, quality post today...but I just don't have it in me! I'm battling a nasty head cold thingy that is leaving me feeling all kinds of miserable. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have the energy to give you something to actually read. Until then, stay well my friends!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cupcake Maddness

We have already established that my weekend in Louisville was one filled with food! What with Lynn's, Hammerheads and Ramsi's it was a weekend of delicious feasting. I like food, sue me! Anyway, we couldn't just go to Louisville and have all that savory goodness and call it quits there...oh no, I've got a sweet tooth to sustain. And it was my birthday weekend after all.

Antoine and I have been on a bit of a cupcake kick lately! We're mad about Cincinnati's own Abby Girl Sweets (best carrot cupcakes EVER!). And after a recent trip to Indy I had to bring back some tasty confections from the Flying Cupcake (two thumbs up)! It seemed only natural to check out some cupcakeries while we were in Louisville! On Saturday we stopped by The Cupcake Shoppe to pick up a couple of after dinner/late night snacks. The shop was cute enough, the decor and the presentation of the cupcakes kind of reminded me of Cincinnati's Sugar Cupcakery in Milford. We decided on a banana chocolate cupcake and some chocolate number with vanilla buttercream...

The verdict: Meh. The cake was dry. The frosting was good, but not stellar. I was underwelmed!

On Sunday we drove to the outskirts of Louisville to check out Gigi's Cupcakes. I was a little worried about this one since it was a chain and all, but their cupcakes just looked so darned good online we had to check them out! We decided to go crazy and get 4 cupcakes for the road, deeming it an early Valentine's day gift to ourselves...

Clockwise from the left: White Midnight Magic, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Italian Cream Wedding Cake, and Kentucky Bourbon Pie

Chocolate covered strawberry. I loved the ganache...all cupcakes should have a ganache!

Italian cream wedding cake. Quite tasty, although the cake as a tiny pit dry! The toasted coconut was delicious!

Kentucky Bourbon pie was almost part cupcake, part blondie! It was packed full of pecans and chocolate chips, making it dense and delicious!

Sorry, no close up of the White Midnight Magic, but it was my least favorite of the group. All of the cupcakes were good, but I think the Kentucky Bourbon pie was my favorite (with the Chocolate Covered Strawberry coming in at second). Were they better than Abby Girl cupcakes? NO! No way, Jose! But they were tasty. My only criticism is while the piled high frosting was visually appealing, it was a tad overwhelming to the taste buds. Half a cupcake at a time was pretty much all I could handle; any more was a bit too much sugar/sweetness in one sitting! But still, they are very tasty, pretty cupcakes...especially for a chain cupcakery.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Museum Goodness

My apologies in advance for the crazy amount of pictures. Editing down has never been my strong suit!

The Louisville Museum of Art & Craft...

Part of a high school art exhibit that was really remarkable.

Also part of the the h.s. student art exhibit...a condom dress! Had a little chuckle with this one, but actually from far way I had no idea it was made of condoms, it just looked like a pretty little dress!

Hand stitched quilt.

Thought this was fun.

Close up of woman outline.

Crazy animal/demon masks.

Creepy baby doll art...Love it!

From the 21c hotel's museum that is free and open to the public...

Glycerin fighter planes that are slowly melting from the heat of the spotlight pointed at them.

Fun little piece of interactive art near the elevators.

A creepy exhibit of children's stuffed animals that have been turned inside out and re-stuffed! This bunny is strangely still kind of cute.

But then, there was a wall of electronic stuffed animals that terrified me! They were not so cute and there was a button you could push to start all the stuffed animals electronic functions at once. Antoine pushed the button! And I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares! It was terrifying!

View into the downstairs galleries.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Stroll Downtown

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Five Reasons

In case you aren't hip to the word, Antoine and I spent this past weekend in Louisville. It was partly a Valentine's Day thing, but mostly it was a way to celebrate my birthday (which was last week) and an excuse to get out of town and explore. Louisville has become one of my favorite places for a close vacation. Actually, this past weekend Antoine and I discussed that Louisville might just be a really cool place to live. And if I didn't have a house that I loved and a job that I loved in Cincinnati I would probably move there ASAP! So, in the spirit of all things fantastic about Louisville here's my list of the top five things that makes the city awesome (in my eyes) and makes me want to pick up the boyfriend and the animals and move there...

1.) FOOD! It only took one trip to Louisville to know that the place has some really fantastic food! But this past trip just reaffirmed how many great restaurants there are in L-ville: Lynn's Paradise Cafe, Hammerheads, and Ramsi's Cafe on the World (to name just a couple of the more casual spots). During our first trip to L-ville we quickly realized just why Lynn's has become such an iconic restaurant there! Its comfort food really packs a punch and even though the prices might be a tad steep the portions, taste and quality certainly make up for it! Plus you can browse through their unique store while you wait to be seated. This time around we decided to try a couple new places, in addition to Lynn's. Hammerheads is literally a little dive bar in a basement! But the looks of the place are certainly deceiving, because the food was phenomenal! My brisket sandwich was probably the best brisket I've ever had; smoky and tender with just a little bit of spice! And the fresh cut duck fat fries rocked my world! Antoine's half slab of ribs were equally delicious and, to our surprise, the bacon brownie was fabulous! For lunch on Sunday we decided to try out the brunch buffet at Ramsi's Cafe. I was skeptical, since buffets in general tend to really suck...but Ramsi's made me a believer! Best buffet EVER! And one of the best brunches I've had too! Seriously, if you haven't been and you have the chance...GO...NOW! Hell, if I could I'd go this weekend!

Behold the uber delicious strawberry and apple spinach salad (with a basil balsamic vinaigrette) from Ramsi's! I went back to the buffet three times to get more salad!

2.) Downtown! Maybe I've just been living in Cincinnati too long, but it's nice to see a downtown area that doesn't shut down by 5pm! And a downtown that you don't have to fear for your life when you go walking around. Downtown Louisville is beautiful, clean, and the perfect place to take a stroll on a Saturday. Main street is my favorite little drag downtown with a variety of hotels and museums to gawk at and enjoy! I have yet to visit the Waterfront park area, but I assume it's lovely on a warm day with it's numerous bike paths and picnicking spots!

3.) Museums! Although the Speed museum doesn't hold a candle to the Cincinnati Art museum, I completely adore downtown L-ville's assortment of different museums and galleries! You've got the Slugger museum, the Ali Center, the Science center, the Frazier International museum, 21c's public galleries, and, my personal favorite, the Museum of Art and Craft (but more on that later)...and again, that's all on Main.

I think the Art and Craft museum is up there in my favorite museums anywhere! It's simple and not at all fussy, yet it always seems to surprise me with its exhibits!

4.) Bardstown Rd.: I had heard about Bardstown Rd. but on our first visit to L-ville we didn't pay much attention to it. But this time around we fell in love with the area! After brunch at Ramsi's we decided to walk off our delicious meal by strolling down Bardstown Rd. First of all, the amount of people out walking their dogs or having lunch outside with their canine friends at their feet was crazy [awesome]! And it made us miss Cheese somethin' fierce. And Bardstown is not only home to fantastic restaurants like Ramsi's, but it also has a plethora of fun little shops and boutiques. A couple of the shops made me feel like I was walking into a physical Etsy store...EEK! And I walked away with selection of earrings to prove it! Next time we go to L-ville we will certainly be trekking back to Bardstown to explore further! (Sorry, I didn't take any pics while we were walking around Bardstown)

5.) Breakfast! Okay, I know I already mentioned "food", but Louisville breakfast really deserves a category of it's own! Being my favorite meal, I'm super critical when it comes to breakfast/brunch spots. Lynn's exhaustive and creative breakfast menu (served all day) is sure to please any breakfast lover! It's the reason there's usually a pretty lengthy wait for breakfast on the weekend (again, their awesome store helps distract from the wait)! I thought nothing could top Lynn's with it's enormous buttermilk biscuits and it's intensely fantastic scramblers...but Ramsi's just might one up Lynn's (but it's a very close margin)! Ramsi's brunch blew me away! The hot and cold brunch bar alone was pretty fantastic, with a variety of breakfast meats (including some delicious/freshly cooked bacon), vegan/vegetarian friendly options, pancakes, fresh fruit and scrumptious salads (seriously, I can't get over how good that spinach salad was)! But then add in a customizable omelet station (Antoine and I had bacon, fresh spinach and cheese omelets that were fantastic; very generous in portion and quantity/quality of ingredients), free OJ and milk, and a dessert bar and you've got a brunch buffet that will knock your socks off! The kitchen staff keep putting out freshly made goodies so there's constantly something new and "just made" to try out! If I lived in Louisville it wouldn't be a stretch to say that I'd go to Ramsi's brunch buffet at least every other weekend. Sure I'd have to fast the rest of the week to make up for it, but it'd be worth it for sure!

Lynn's decor makes me happy!

Seriously, I'm kind of in love with Louisville! I can't wait to visit it again! See you tomorrow with another recap!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy VD!

I'm not one of those people who usually goes nuts over Valentine's Day. We never really go out to dinner for it or celebrate it with any real vibrato. But, in the past, I have made Antoine a V-day card (because I'm crafty) and on a couple of occasions he may have bought me some chocolate, mainly because candy makes this lady very happy! I'm not against the holiday, although I do subscribe to the school of thought that labels V-day as a contemporary ad campaign for card, flower, and candy companies. But that's the world we live in.'s an epidemic!

Still, there is a sweetness to the holiday (pun much intended). Even if you are not with a special someone at the moment, I think that VD (aka "Valentine's day", not venereal disease) has a way of making you appreciate the people who are important to you. I remember in high school the spanish club would sell little bundles of Hershey kisses they called "besos" around this time of year. My friends and I were nerds and therefore didn't have boyfriends so we'd buy some "besos" for one another. Sure, we were 14 years old and would have clawed each other's eye out for a chance to have a boyfriend, but it was nice to know that you had friends who cared about you, who enjoyed making you smile. That's a pretty awesome feeling!

So, whether you despise VD or not, I hope you have a wonderful Monday folks! I'll see you tomorrow with the first installment of my Louisville recap!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Essentials

This morning Antoine and I are getting up bright and early and heading to Louisville for the weekend! Luckily, Louisville is only a two hour drive south for us. But any good road trip/weekend away requires a couple of essentials, and I'm a nut for here you go:

  1. A traveling partner: I'm lucky enough to have a traveling buddy who tends to like the same things I do and who's very easy going. Sometimes the littlest things can make a trip really standout, whether it's a spontaneous stop at an antique mall or an ill-conceived to a popcorn shop that doesn't seem to exist. Having a good traveling companion makes all the difference in such adventures!
  2. Music: Any decent road trip requires good music. I plan on going old school and bringing cds of the following: White Stripes (because Antoine and I adore them and will always adore them), the latest Bright Eyes (because it's all I've been listening to lately), Fleet Foxes (to prep for their new album), and My Morning Jacket (because they're from L-ville, and to prep for their new album).
  3. Cameras: I'm going to be a super geek and bring both "Sprocket" (the SLR) and our easy point and shoot (not yet named, how sad)!
  4. Good drinks: For my birthday my friend Helene got me a lovely blue bottle of Riesling, and I have every intention of taking it to enjoy in the hotel. Nothing like a good night cap when on vacation!
  5. Swimwear: Although most of the time it goes unused, I believe it's always a good idea to take your swimsuit along if your hotel has a pool. You never know!
  6. The PLANS: Because I'm oh-so-nerdy and I love to be in control, all of our trips are planned out in advance (at least to a certain extent). Before a trip I spend considerable time researching that specific city/area and finding the best museums, restaurants, and points of interest (can you tell my sister is a travel agent?). I then proceed to print off descriptions, locations, hours and whatever else of of interest. I apologize to all the trees I've harmed in my travel planning, I tend to go a little overboard...but it usually pays off in the end!
  7. The iPhone: Never leave home without it! It's essential for tweeting every possible detail of your trip, and for creeping on people when you have downtime or waiting for your dinner. Don't look at me like that, you know you do it too!
Happy weekend folks!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Crazy Tiger Cat

I know I said there would be no post today, but I just couldn't help myself! I had to share this crazy picture of Guillermo I took on Wednesday, mid-yawn! I just love it!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Sticky Situation

I started this blog to...actually I can't really remember why I started this blog. I never figured many people would read it, but I knew one would...Antoine. There's only a very select few people (those people who are very dear to me) who I know read this with any regularity or consistency, one of them being Antoine. I know he reads it daily, because if I haven't blogged that day he asks me about it. So, outside of Antoine and that small group of friends I never expected anyone else to really read this thing. I mean, who would? It's a very random blog that focuses mainly on my life. And my life isn't exactly film/novel worthy. But in the end, this blog has become a means of self-reflection and self-documentation. I can look back as far as late 2009 and glance into my own brain. For someone who has a horrible memory this is a great tool. Sometimes I've written posts that are just for me or Antoine, other times for specific friends or family, and other times I just send my random/nerdy thoughts out into the world wide web and hope that someone out there will see them and think they are at least mildly interesting. But usually, not so much.

So, why all the heavy talk? Well, yesterday was my 26th birthday. Do I feel older and wiser? Not really, but I do feel slightly different...but I think that has very little to do with my age. It's that different feeling that comes when you have a day that's so super grand or, on the flip side, super stinky that it actually changes your perspective and/or your view of yourself. Unfortunately, yesterday was of the not-so-grand variety. The day began with a giant swig of chocolate milk that turned out to be sour (even though the sell by date was 2-13-11). And for the rest of the day I had that funky sour taste in my mouth. We had planned to have a quiet day in and after working like crazy lately I was looking forward to a little peace. Sadly, the day kind of flopped, big time. I won't go into specifics, but let's just say it wasn't exactly what I had planned and on a whole I was a little disappointed. But these things happen. Sometimes things in life don't go as you planned, but you can't just let everything get ruined.

I guess that's what I took away from my not-so-stellar day, that one little thing, one moment, one action can have the power to sour a snow ball effect. But only if you let it. You might drink sour milk or have a fight with the one you love...but it's your reaction to that that dictates how things are going to turn out in the end. If you act like a 5 year old, with tantrums and sad faces, then things are probably just going to stay sour. But if you brush away all the bad and take charge, there's a good chance that you have the power to change everything around. So, instead of being in a funk today because my birthday didn't turn out as planned I'm going to focus on the positive. Yesterday was bad, but the weekend has a lot of great potential! A weekend in Louisville with Antoine has all the possibility of a fantastic birthday celebration, so I'm going to embrace that and brush off the negativity of one bad day. Because, in the end, that's all it day that I probably won't even remember years from now!

Word to your mother! Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! No post from me tomorrow since I'll busy planning for a super fantastic birthday/Valentine's day weekend in Louisville! See you next week!

**I am not blaming anyone for my not-so-great birthday, because everyone has the best of intentions when it comes to these things. I am merely acknowledging the fact that it was less than desirable. In the grand scheme of things, this is not life altering or remotely important, so it's best we keep things in perspective and face today with a new outlook!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Recipe: Pepper Soup

Everyone's got those special dishes that their grandmother, mother, uncle, or whoever makes that are a staple in your family and that remind you of that specific relative. For me, that's pepper soup. When most people hear "pepper soup" they usually think "black pepper" and yes, that sounds weird/gross! No, pepper soup is not just black pepper in some sort of broth, it's more along the lines of a thick, almost stew like, soup that kind of tastes like a stuffed pepper! All while I was growing up, pepper soup was one of my favorite meals. My grandma would usually make it in the summer when peppers are fresh (aka cheap) and my mom and I would go nuts for it...eating bowls and bowls at a time. It's one of those comforting dishes, the smell of it alone time warps me back 15 years and takes me instantly to my happy-place!

Last Wednesday was my grandparents 65th wedding anniversary and in honor of that I decided to make a giant pot of pepper soup! Pepper soup was always one of those dishes that only my grandmother would make...her signature dish. And no one else was trusted to get it right. That is, until I graduated from High School! For my graduation party (reminder: I was/am kind of nuts) I wanted to serve pepper soup. Forget the fact that it was June and soup isn't the most practical thing to serve at an outdoor graduation party...that's what I wanted. So, just before my party, my grandma taught me how to make pepper soup. And since the recipe had never been written down (she had always just winged it, you know, since it was tattooed in her brain) I decided to write down the recipe as she made it. I remember that day clearly, my mom and I standing beside my grandma at the stove watching each move she made, wide eyed and intrigued.

I took that recipe that I scribbled down as she cooked with me to college. And once I got an apartment (aka a stove) and moved in with Amanda I could finally make it for the two of us. And I did throughout the many years we lived together! I altered the recipe slightly to accommodate Amanda's taste, adding more peppers and onions. Then when Antoine and I started dating I made it for him, and again adjusted the recipe because Antoine like more ground beef and less peppers.

Here it is, in all it's glory:

Pepper Soup (handed down from my grandma June Bruce)

3 large green peppers
1 large vidalia onion (or 2 medium onions)
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 lb ground beef, seasoned (w/ salt & pepper), browned and drained
65 to 75 oz tomato sauce (I always use Hunts)
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp dill weed

Fill a large stock pot about 1/3 the way full with water and place over high heat. Season water with a pinch of salt. Chop green peppers and onions into bite-size pieces (about 1" x 1"), then pour into boiling water.

While the peppers and onions are simmering, brown the seasoned ground beef. I like to us a lean ground beef and then I drained it of excess grease (you could easily use a ground turkey or a meat substitute, but I do suggest draining off any residual oil/fat). Once the peppers and onions are slightly tender (the peppers will change from a bright green to a more muted tone) pour or ladle out some of the water so that the peppers, onions, and water only fill the pot half way (you will need plenty of room in the pot for the rice, ground beef and tomato sauce). Then add in the rice and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Then stir in the ground beef, tomato sauce, parsley, celery seed, dill weed, salt and pepper (to taste). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for another 10 minutes. You will need to keep an eye on it, because without frequent stirring the tomato sauce will stick to the bottom of the pan. After the 10 minutes, reduce heat to low. Continue to occasionally stir and check on the soup. It is done when the rice puffs slightly and is completely tender.

This recipe yields an entire stock pot full of soup, and it makes for great left overs! If you are like Antoine and like things extra meaty then I would use a pound and a half of ground beef. If you are like Amanda and love green peppers, add an extra one to the recipe.

Sorry I couldn't supply you with a better visual, but I just never got around to taking a decent picture, so you'll have to settle for an iPhone picture of my leftovers!

Gone in the blink of an eye...

...that was the weekend. It seemed like the entire weekend fit into a span of just a couple hours! I guess that means it was a good one. And, I can confirm, that it was. Antoine and I did some cleaning/tidying of the house Friday night in preparation for Amanda's arrival the next day and for my birthday celebration with the girls. Saturday morning, after shaking Antoine awake so he could make his famous waffles, I drove a couple minutes down the road to meet up with Amanda and our friend Barb. Amanda had crashed with Barb and her fiance Jon Friday night, so I met up with them for breakfast. Then Amanda and I made our way to Findlay market to pick up my deliciously crafted Dojo gelato cake!

Behold! I layer of fudgy chocolate cake (from Take the Cake) underneath a thick layer of mouthwatering Vietnamese coffee gelato, all surrounded by a thin layer of light whipped cream-style frosting. It was delicious...the perfect cake! And, since it was so massive, even after Antoine and the four of us girls had a piece we still have more than half the cake left! Yay, gelato cake for the rest of the week!

We ushered the beautiful gelato goodness safely home to the freezer where it sat until later in the evening. Amanda then decided this would be a good time for me to open my birthday present from her. Wrapped in fun paper with little baby cartoon elephants and hippos on it was a photo album. In the front of the album there was a cut out section for a small photo. And there sat a photo of Amanda and I...from Amanda's 25th birthday. It's high up there on my favorite pictures of Amanda and I. In the picture we are both wearing our Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman t-shirts (naturally) and a very intoxicated me is making a ridiculous face as an even more inebriated Amanda plants a big kiss on my cheek! Already, this gift was making me laugh. Then I proceeded to open the album...on the first page there wasn't a picture, but a note written by Amanda; a journal excerpt to be exact. An excerpt from the day Amanda and I decided we were going to get an apartment together. See, it wasn't just any photo album, it was the story/journey our of our friendship. Of how we went from being classmates, to study partners, to roommates, to friends, to best friends, and then to HLPs. Once I made it through the album, laughing out loud numerous times, I was in tears. It was perfect! Possibly one of the best gifts I've ever received! And I plan on continuing to fill it with pictures of Amanda and I and our adventures for years and decades to come! After the laughing and the tears, I naturally told Amanda I hate her for turning me into a weakling and melting my heart of stone.

Then we were off to run a couple errands before we picked up my sister and headed to the Ohio Valley Antique Mall. It was by far the largest antique mall I've ever been too! It was so large, in fact, that we got lost a couple of times. And when we had finally made our way through it we were all thoroughly exhausted. I walked out with a couple of awesome things, including these adorable crab salt n' pepper shakers...

Look at those wee-little crabby mustaches!

After the antique mall (which I totally want to go back to and take Antoine in the near future) we picked up our friend Helene and headed off to dinner at the Dilly Cafe (formerly Dilly Deli). We ate beer cheese, chit chatted about life, laughed, sampled each others tasty dishes, and had a great time...
Time with the girls always has a way of releasing any tension you had and makes you appreciate the good friends you have!

After dinner it was back to our place a little Dojo gelato cake, which everyone LOVED! It was a great night. With bellies full of Dilly fare and gelato goodness Amanda and I drove Helene and Michelle home. On the way, Helene and Michelle honored us with a wonderful sing-along performance to Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It"! It was fantastic, the perfect end to a fun day with the girls/birthday celebration! Those ladies are amazing, and I completely adore them!

The next morning I opened at Sbux, but Amanda came in to do some work and keep me company. Then we got some brunch at Roxy's, since I had a certificate. It was great to have some good one-on-one HLP time! We chatted, talked girl talk and it felt good! And then she was off, back to Indy. As soon as she left I began to miss her, but I'm looking forward to March when I'll hopefully be heading to Indy to spend some quality time with her for her birthday!

So, that was pretty much my weekend! I did not watch the Super Bowl, and I'm glad I didn't! Although I got thoroughly filled in just by reading my Facebook and Twitter feeds...down to every flippin' MF-touchdown (can we say, "a little much")! Hope you all had an amazing weekend! See you tomorrow!

Friday, February 4, 2011

You're So Vain...

Well, it's Friday. Woot! I was worried it would never come, weren't you? I'm so excited because this weekend I'm celebrating my birthday with some of my favorite ladies in the world! So, since Saturday will be a very egotistical day for yours truly, I decided to share some of my vain shots from last weekend's fun...

Have a wonderful weekend party people! If you're into the Superbowl I hope whichever team you want to win does, although I could really care less! I'm just in it for the wings. And I have every intention of letting Antoine camp out on the couch and watch the game downstairs while I sit in bed, eating wings, and watching movies! See ya later alligators...

Thursday, February 3, 2011