Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Song and a Picture

This week has been crazy busy! I only have time for the shortest of short posts today...but wanted to share some music that I've been listening to as I check things off my list. I really enjoy The Weepies in general, but this song - A Painting by Chagall - in particular. It's lovely and upbeat with specific imagery. Happy! And I looked up Chagall, as I was not familiar with him, though I might have heard his name in passing. Here's a painting of his...

Appropriately enough, it's named Lovers and Flowers. Goes along with our song, I must say. =)

Happy Thursday!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aarti Paarti, Indeed!

Picture from here

While there are definitely some TV shows and movies that either Jeremy OR I like...(Jeremy = Cops, Wipeout, MythBusters, gun or war stuff on the History Channel; Kristen = Drop Dead Diva, Gilmore Girls, a goodly amount of romantic comedies and musicals) we actually enjoy quite a few of the same shows (among those being Psych, LOST, The Biggest Loser, Design Star, Ace of Cakes, and The Next Food Network Star). Thankfully! So, among those, all of them have different seasonal schedules so we're guaranteed something or another to keep up with together throughout the year. =)

We watched the finale of The Next Food Network Star last Sunday evening after church. Jeremy and our friend Kevin were witness to how ridiculously elated I was at the outcome! From the beginning, I thought Aarti was going to win, even though I enjoyed some of the others, too - Aria and Tom, to be exact. But Aarti seemed to have it all...a different look and a new set of flavor profiles for The Food Network, since she's Indian and all. With a British accent - it's awesome! She had a well-developed idea for a show...since she already had a blog and a YouTube channel with a mini Aarti Paarti series, which she and her husband had developed. Honestly, I thought that Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Susie Fogelson, and Bob Tuschman probably had her pegged from the beginning as the winner. Since this is technically a competition, though, Aarti could have made some huge missteps and gotten cut along the way...but she held her own through the whole thing, coming out with consistently great-tasting food and a charming personality on camera.

I just had a great feeling about her, especially since she inspired me to cook Indian food where no Indian food had been cooked before. Last weekend I made two recipes from her blog...Baked Samosas and Earl Grey Kulfi. Before her blog, I had no idea what either of these were. In fact, I saw the title of "Baked Samosas" and my first thought was, "A baked drink? How is that possible?" I was thinking of a mimosa. (Can you tell I don't drink? Ha!) A samosa is actually a pocket pastry filled with meats, vegetables, spices, etc.  - and usually fried. This particular recipe is baked (for health and safety reasons - hot oil! Yikes!) and contains chicken, potatoes, and mango, along with a lime and chipotle sauce. I'm on board with anything chipotle. For real. And the mango was a sweet touch also. Seriously good.

It was delicious! We both really liked it. I ended up having more of the chicken mixture left and making more dough for it on Sunday for lunch. Then after lunch I worked on the kulfi recipe to be ready for dessert that night. And Aarti's impending victory. ;) I don't much get into sports, but I can get into some Food Network competitions!

Kulfi is an Indian ice cream and Aarti's version doesn't even need to be churned. Incredibly easy. As for the flavoring, Earl Grey is generally my favorite tea. Cream Earl Grey is even better (Jeremy strongly dislikes Earl Grey but will repeatedly drink Cream Earl Grey) so that's what I used for the recipe. And I left out the pistachios. I don't yet have any popsicle molds, so I froze the concoction in two small bowls instead, which worked perfectly.

I can't tell you how much I loved this recipe. It is FABULOUS! Tastes just like my favorite tea. Jeremy thought it was a tad sweet, but I am inclined to respectfully disagree. ;) My friend Sasha and my mom both loved it also. We've been brainstorming about different teas to infuse it with next. Maybe a chai tea?? Or a peppermint green tea? Or my Buckingham Palace Garden Party tea? That's it - that's the next one! It's an Earl Grey also, but with notes of jasmine. Ahhh...

So we ate kulfi last Sunday night and bit our (my) nails and waited for the outcome of TNFNS. And I was as happy as if I knew Aarti personally! 'Cause I kinda feel like I do, after watching her on the show and reading her blog. Her new show is already set to record at 11:00am this Sunday. Here's the teaser for it. =)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oh, Technology...You Stinker!

Picture from here

I recently changed my comments section to a different format. But it looks like it didn't work of my friends said he tried to comment on a post, but it never went through. The comment section is now back to the older format, the pop-up window...hopefully, it'll work alright. Give it a go and we'll see! ;)

P.S. I really wanted to include Kip's wedding song from Napoleon Dynamite (because my husband LOVES that movie) - the "I love technology, but not as much as you, you see" part always cracks me up...but I couldn't find a good version of it on YouTube.

Friday, August 13, 2010

An Ode to Kindergarten

I'm pretty sure it was never quite this hot each fall when I started school. I suppose it's a combination of the fact that we actually started school later in August back in the "good old days" (I think, right?) and the fact that it's consistently hotter outside now than I've ever remembered in my life. I mean, I've always known the summery feeling of climbing inside a hot car. A car that's been parked outside in the sun for awhile. It's hard to breathe because the air is so thick with heat. It's difficult to even touch the steering wheel for fear of getting burned. But this year seems so much worse. How is that even possible? I don't know, but the miserable heat is going to be super fun on the playgrounds, I'm sure. Bless their little hearts! They're going to have to have a snowcone truck parked outside and require two mandatory trips per play period.

Thoughts of school always come back each fall. There's no two ways about it. And I miss it, in a strange and wonderful way, each time. Jeremy and I have lots of little school-age friends and nieces/nephews, especially those going into kindergarten. And I've been alternating teaching/helping with the kindergarteners at church on Wednesday nights in the last few months. These kids heading to school all been on our minds a lot lately. We wonder how they'll they will like it...what will be their favorite part(s)? And we think back to our own days of starting school.

My friend Ashley's daughter Ella is starting kindergarten...she's been praying all summer to get into the "castle room." A room with a huge castle inside it - where the children go inside to read their books. Tell me that doesn't sound awesome. Well, simply put, prayer works! She, lover of all things Disney princess-related, was thrilled to find out she had, indeed, been assigned to the teacher with the castle room.

By the way, this is the same Ella who was ecstatic to find out that they would be having music lessons. She said, "I've been wanting to learn to play the violin!!" =)

Ella's mom Ashley has been known, through the years, to say, "I smell kindergarten" at random moments. I think it's a mixture of aromas found in a kindergarten classroom that conjures up such a memory for her: crayons, markers, glue sticks, construction paper (wait, can you smell construction paper?) And it's a good memory. These kids heading to school now will, hopefully, have some wonderful memories of their own of kindergarten someday.

Here are a few of mine:

1. My teacher - Mrs. Cherry. Isn't that the perfect name for a kindergarten teacher? I still marvel at it. She was always very sweet and liked me. I did get in trouble once, though, because I was under one of the tables, trying to get the markers. Or something. Memory is very fuzzy on the details but somehow she reprimanded me and said I wouldn't get to go outside to play that day. I think she either forgot she said it...or maybe remembered how sweet and good I was 99% of the time and just decided to let it slide. ;) And I never got in trouble again! In kindergarten anyway. Not that I remember.

2. I remember my new friend Andrea (that I haven't seen in YEARS and I'm blanking on her last name) and at some point syncing my breathing with hers...we thought we'd always breathe exactly together from then on. Both of us are rocket scientists now, oddly enough.

3. My first crush was on this boy named Cam. He was never my little boyfriend, though. I was too shy. But I had chicken pox in kindergarten and Mrs. Cherry had everyone in the class draw me a get-well picture. I remember looking through them and looking at Cam's picture longer than everyone else's...

4. We had a Christmas play and I was a doll. I had long curls, so I guess that Mrs. Cherry thought I was perfect for the part. My grandma made my dress and pinafore. My cousin Beth was in a different class...I think she was an elf.

I've heard that our favorite little kindergartners are excited about school and are loving it so far. I've been excited and nervous for them. And for their moms, who report tears or almost-tears on their part.

May kindergarten bring the kind of good memories...of craft projects and reading castles and new friends and playtime...that they will think about fondly for years to come!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Relaxing Tea Party

Remember when I talked about tea parties quite a lot? It was back in the month of May and I had been absorbed with this particular tea party...there are quite a few posts about it. Well, I want to tell you about a different tea party. This tea party took place several weeks after the BIG one. And it was completely different.

Our tea party steering committee worked hard during our tea party, so we went in search of a tea party where we could sit down and relax. Have you ever heard of Halls, TN? Maybe not, even if you're from's a teeny-tiny place. Much smaller than Henderson, whose population is 6,600 or maybe a little more. Probably about 37 people lives in Halls and I'm only slightly exaggerating. But! There's a pretty cool place that exists in Halls...Charlene's Colony of Shoppes. It has a tea room (The Just Divine Tea Room - partly made from on old church building. Get it?) and an antique shop and clothing shops and an enormous and very fabulous home decor store. And it's truly out in the middle of nowhere. It's awesome. There's always lots of people's a destination, meaning that a ton of people drive aways to get there...and just to go there.

Six of us on the committee were able to go on the field trip that day and we had a most excellent time. I think the drive was about an hour and a half, so we had plenty of time to talk and catch up on either side of our tea party/shopping time.

That's Sasha (left) and Laurel (right). Sasha and I walk and talk together most weekday mornings and we gather on Wednesday evenings with our husbands after church to watch Psych. I got them hooked. (If you've never watched it, check it out. But only if you like to laugh.) Sasha is very good at crafty stuff, as are all of these ladies, in that I think about it! She especially likes to make jewelry and is learning to sew. 

Laurel is a former First Lady of Freed-Hardeman. She and her husband still stay extremely busy with traveling and raising money for the school. They also have a lovely fig tree in their backyard and when she learned that I had never before tasted a fresh fig, she took it upon herself to bring me a bowl full when they became ripe a few weeks ago. She also invited Sasha and me to harvest some more figs from their tree, which we gratefully did. And now I'm addicted to figs! They're brilliant! (They may get a separate blog post later.) Laurel is also very witty and smart and I'm looking forward to her speaking at our church ladies' day in October.

Ah, yes, and this is when Laurel accidentally put the teapot lid on her cup instead of back atop the teapot. And she reenacted it, a little sheepishly, and let me take a picture. She's a good sport. =)

That's Margaret sitting beside me. She loves the color yellow and books and kittens and fun rainboots and she teaches English at FHU. Very quippy, that Margaret. =)

That's Rhonda - she speaks Spanish (teaches it at FHU, in fact), does a lot of Latin American mission work, and is a creative and hard-working Bible class teacher for the kids at our congregation. She has three adorable blond-headed grandsons under the age of 6 and they love her lots. She's a good one!

This is the Queen Bee - Debbie. She's the starter of our tea party and runs the show every year. Equal parts CPA and crafter, which is pretty amazing in and of itself! We love our Debbie. Her husband is John, who teaches English at FHU - and they have two smart and entertaining sons.

She used to be in plays in college. I'm not sure you can tell. ;) Hee hee.

The special of the day at the Just Divine Tea Room was a Tuna Nicoise Salad (pronounced ni'swaz - and there's supposed to be a little French marking somewhere in there, but I do not know how to make that happen). It was very different and very delicious! I've had a nicoise salad before, a few times in my life in fact - but it had been awhile, so I was due another. (Especially since I cannot make tuna anything at home...Jeremy would run far, far away. Since he jokes about everything, sometimes it's hard to know when he's kidding or not...he had told me about his hate for tuna, but when we were first married, I kinda thought he was exaggerating for comedic effect. So I made a salad one time with tuna in it...he was a good sport by barely choking some of it down before he completely gave up. Bless his heart. We then had a serious conversation about tuna and I've never served it to him since. And I promised I never would. The end.)

Is this salad not beautiful? Very pretty. And the dijon vinaigrette was excellent.

And I'm kinda giving you the recipe right here, just by looking at the picture: a bed of spinach topped with hard-boiled egg wedges, sliced black olives, diced red onion, chopped red bell pepper, tuna and capers. And they're kinda hiding in the back, but there's green beans and chopped boiled potatoes there, too. Cover it all with a lovely dijon vinaigrette and you're set. Pretty healthy!

We all went and shopped for awhile and then went back for dessert at the tea room before we left that afternoon. Rhonda and I shared a chocolate cobbler. Sigh! It was a good day with good friends.