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Archive for February, 2011

Music Update

A lot of people have been asking me recently, “What’s up with your music?” So, I thought I would give everyone a general update. In the past month, I think I’ve done more writing than I did in August-January combined. I’d been wanting to write for a while (mostly through the fall) but it just wasn’t happening. It was like my whole mind was dry.  I was wringing my mind but nothing was coming out.

I think the major source of my writer’s block was starting my job in August. I was putting so much of my mental and emotional energy toward stabilizing myself at Music Resource Center that I didn’t have any creative energy left over to put toward music. I was unable to move any of my concerns/ responsibilities/ tasks to the back burner of my mind, which I think is key to getting creative juices flowing. It’s only when I can let go of reality for a little bit that little bits and pieces of song ideas lurking in my subconscious can come to the forefront and I can actually begin to do something with them.

I feel good about the spring, no, I feel great about the spring. I mean, it’s 68 degrees at 10 o’clock in the morning on February 28! How could I not feel good about the months ahead? Good things are happening. As songs come to fruition, I’ll post them here.

Thanks to everyone who’s asked about or encouraged me with my music along the way. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me and how much you’re helping me become the person I most want to be.

 

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We’re back! Ryan and I were so excited to be able to spend the weekend in Florida with John, Peggy, and Ryan’s cousin, Katie. It was a short trip but so worth all the travel time. This is about where we were— a little south of Sarasota on a key.

So, as we came to find out, Siesta Key’s claim to fame is their beaches. Apparently, the sand is ground quartz which makes it some of the whitest sand in the world. And, as an added bonus, it doesn’t get hot under your feet.  I think Peggy put it best, she said, it feels like you’re walking on flour! And, she was exactly right. Here’s Ry testing out the sand.

Here’s Katie and Ry at one of the beaches. It was packed!

My favorite part of the trip was actually kayaking (jaw drop!). There’s no pictures of this because I was pretty sure I would capsize my first time out, and I didn’t want my camera to drown with me. I had never been kayaking before so it definitely took me a good while to get adjusted and get into a rhythm, but once we were out on the water it was the best. We went through a little lagoon– the water was only two or three feet deep– and we were eye-level with pelicans and egrets, and we were tinier than all of the bushes and vegetation. The water was so serene and the vegetation so untouched that it felt like you were in a different world. We even saw a baby manatee swim right under us!

Ry and I also got to go out on a boat one afternoon which was really lovely. Fortunately, the owner of the boat was eager to take some pictures of us, so we actually have some of us together!

The owner of the boat also assured us that there were lots of celebrities who own properties in Siesta Key… Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Tom Cruise (or his mom, I believe), Stephen King, and everyone’s favorite, Jerry Springer! So, we did spend a good bit of our car rides speculating about where different celebrities might live.

So far in this blog, I think I’ve mentioned way too many ‘tivities and not enough about food! We definitely took in some of Siesta Key’s best restaurants like Ophelia’s, Bella Roma, and Turtles. My favorite meal was probably at Bella Roma where I got Caprese Salad and Fritto Misto and Ryan got Carbonara with homemade pasta. And, we finished every meal with key lime pie from Publix.

With all that we tried this weekend, there is still a lot of Siesta Key yet to discover. We did not get to try kayaking with alligators… which I thought sounded like a deathtrap… but Peggy assured us was very safe. I think we might let Katie and Peggy try that one first and let us know how it goes! Oh well, back to the grind now! Thanks Peggy and John for such an amazing trip!

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See Ya!

That’s right! Once again, we are headed off to Florida for a second-helping of sun, sand, and fun this winter! This time we’ll be in Siesta Key with John, Peggy and Ryan’s cousin, Katie.  Surely, I will have good pictures post from this trip. Everyone enjoy the fantastic weather that’s supposed to be everywhere this weekend!

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Raleigh Trip

I have to apologize in advance… these pictures aren’t too exciting. What can I say, I must have got caught up in having fun and forgot to take pictures? An,d I don’t even have a pic of cute little Lacey!

We had a fabulous time visiting with Pat, Mel, Lacey, Cam, Ethan and Allison. The best part was that we all got to spend time together (E&A and P&M had never met) for the super bowl which ended up being a ton of fun. You know us— we had a full menu going: make-your-own-taco-bar, guac, Ryan’s cheesey buffalo dip, and Ethan’s ribs. It was awesome. Here’s us all getting situated, just home from the grocery store. Let the four-people-cooking-simultaneously-in-one-tiny-kitchen begin!

Okay, okay, I know this isn’t what you want to see. Here’s a picture of cute Cam. I think he’s looking more like his dad these days.

Uncle Ry helping out with dinner time.

Mmmmm. Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese.

And now for the adults’ feast. Alli’s guac is the best in the whole world. Here’s her recipe.

But, Ryan’s Buffalo Chicken Dip did take home the Rookie-of-the-Year award. If you’re wondering what Buffalo Chicken Dip is think cream cheese, blue cheese dressing, hot sauce, chicken and cheddar cheese all melted together. Yeah, yum.

Let me know if you want the Buffalo Chicken recipe! Thanks Galls and Dodsons for hosting us!

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What did I ask for in my orange inspiration post? That’s right. Orange cotton. And, what did I find during my Marshall’s trip this afternoon?
I know, I know. It’s not orange in this picture, but this image is the closest image that I could find on the Max Studio web site…. you know that if it’s at Marshall’s, the “designer” stores have taken any trace of the item off their web site and permanently deleted evidence of its existence from their records. But, yes, I found this top in a lovely coral. Easy, breezy and perfect for summer evenings sipping mojitos outside at Zocalo. I can’t wait to wear it this spring with some white pants accented with some turquoise jewelry, like this.

Pair it with some tan leather flats or platforms and a cute clutch and you’re good-to-go. I’m thinking this little clutch would work well.

Yes, most definitely.

And, get ready…. this weekend we are going to visit the Dodsons in Raleigh for the first time! And, we love that we’ll get to see Pat, Mel, Lacey, and Cam, too. Get ready for some super-cute picture overload early next week.

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OK— I lied. We’re not going gluten-free, but we are definitely trying to go gluten-low! A friend of ours, Chris “single-and-ready-to-mingle” Dunn (a.k.a Dunny), has been gluten-free for about 4 1/2 years. Listening to Dunny talk about how radically his health has been improved by eliminating gluten from his diet has been enough to make Ryan and I at least question whether or not it is something we want to consider.

Now, where I come from, going gluten-free could be considered blasphemy. I’m Italian (well, at least a very dominant part of me is) so by saying you’re going to eliminate gluten… you say no to homemade pastas, beautiful semolina loaves of bread, and tiramisu. Blasphemous. But, at the same time, it calls to mind the fact that a true Italian diet (lots of fish, veggies, and fruits) is actually closer to a gluten-free life style and less like the Americanized CiCi’s pizza -tyle Italian (garlic bread, pizza, pasta) that we’ve come to know.

After sorting through countless articles trying to figure this gluten thing out, I’ve come up with two good articles. The first one, by Russell Meyers, explains Celiac Disease and gluten problems in laymens terms (hallelujah!), and the second one, Gluten Free Goddess, provides some great recipes, as well as great FAQ and advice for going gluten free.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that Ryan and I have Celiac Disease— that’s statistically improbable. But, I do think that there are certain merits to eating gluten-low. For starters, by eating gluten-low, it encourages you to eat low-carb: adding more veggies and fewer processed carbs to your meals. And, while I don’t necessarily believe Ryan nor I have Celiac’s Disease, I don’t think it’s a black-and-white issue. I think there’ s probably a spectrum of gluten-sensitivity in which you could be affected negatively by gluten but not to the extent to which you’d be labeled with the disease. Some chronic signs of gluten problems are: diarrhea, gas, bloating, and stomach cramps. And, while I don’t want to necessarily admit to having any of those, I will say that it would be worth it to me to adjust me diet to decrease the occurrence of those symptoms. How’s that for diplomatic?

So, what is that gorgeous picture that I posted above? It’s a gluten-free, delicious recipe that I just had to share. I caught Ellie Krieger on the Today Show on Monday morning, and what she was making looked so good I had to try it. If you fast forward to about the 3rd minute, she begins to make the recipe that you see pictured above and below.

I did, however, do a few things differently than her: I didn’t add carrot, I added a bit more tomato paste (maybe twice as much), and I added a dash of red pepper flakes for a kick. I actually made the ragu at about 11 o’clock in the morning before I went to work and then re-heated it right  before I pulled the tilapia off the grill later that evening around 7 o’clock.

I used tilapia instead of salmon— it’s cheaper and a nice change of pace.  All I did to prepare the tilapia was salt and pepper the filets in the morning (then let them stand in the fridge for a few hours), then I whipped up a marinade of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice and let the filets marinade for about 20 minutes, and then I threw the filets on the non-stick grill for a few minutes until lightly browned. Finished product:

Delish and 100% gluten-free! Not missing my pasta at all!

 

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