Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Night of Wonder

Last night, I saw Ann Patchett at the New Haven Free Public Library.  Yes, that Ann Patchett.  Simply put, her reading was one of the best I've ever been to.  She was sweet, charming, intelligent and funny.  Actually, she was very funny.  Ms. Patchett spoke for a solid hour about everything from marriage to her new independent bookstore in Nashville, from her writing process to the time she met Rhianna.  And she truly appreciated that we had all turned out on a Tuesday night to hear, which was my favorite part of the night.

I stayed after to have my books signed (yes, I brought two: her new book, State of Wonder, and my favorite book, The Magician's Assistant) and was able to speak with Ms. Patchett for a few minutes.  She took her time at the signing (there were only a few people who actually wanted to talk with her while she signed their books; most people just wanted her signature so they were delegated to the 'express line') and she was more than happy to take pictures and answer questions on a one-on-one basis.

Here I am posing with the great Ann Patchett (please excuse my appearance--I kind of look like I just rolled out of bed but this is merely what happens to me after a stressful day at work).

Also, I just love the way she signed The Magician's Assistant:

Now, I'm headed off to finish State of Wonder, which has been beyond captivating so far  Has anyone ever attended an Ann Patchett reading? What's the best reading you've ever been to?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Big Winner!

I don't generally consider myself to be a winner; I don't have the best luck in the world.  So you can imagine my surprise and amazement when I received not only one, but TWO emails in the past month telling me that I won books just from leaving comments on a couple of my favorite blogs!

From Chick Lit Central, I received Allison Winn Scotch's The Song Remains the Same, and from Chronicle Books, I received Nichole Robertson's Paris in Color.  I'm a fan of both Allison (she has such great advice for writers, which she generously shares on her blog) and Nichole (Little Brown Pen is one of my favorite blogs and I even have her Pink photo series hanging in our living room).  I'm beyond excited to be the owner of these two gorgeous books!

Thanks to Chronicle Books and Chick Lit Central for being so generous.  I can't wait to spend an afternoon with my prizes! xo

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunday Funday

I always look forward to three day weekends.  They are like built-in bonus vacations and I try to take advantage of the extra time.  This weekend was packed with commitments and the only time Anthony and I had to do some chores around the apartment was Sunday morning.  Here's how the morning went:

I decided to make homemade pancakes using buttermilk I had in our refrigerator.  I found the perfect recipe in this awesome Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for Newlyweds that my wonderful aunt gave to me around Christmastime.

I then realized that we ran out of coffee because I'm awesome and forgot to buy some so Anthony ran out to Dunkin' Donuts for us.  So sweet.

The pancakes were good, a little heavy but still delicious.  I burned the last few and our smoke detector went off but whatevs.

Anthony took one for the team and put together the kitchen cart that I bought from IKEA a few months ago.  He did a great job, despite the horrible Swedish cartoon directions.

And now, we're both back to work tomorrow.  It's not officially summer yet, but it's been hot and humid, more like July than May.  There's so much scheduled for the next few months already, but Anthony and I are both looking forward to a few more Sunday mornings like this one. xo

Thursday, May 24, 2012

$1 Bin Binges

I unabashedly love Target. I'm also a huge fan of the $1 bin section, conveniently positioned right by the entrance so as soon as I enter the store, I am dazzled by the adorable, inexpensive items that I obviously don't need at all. Except that I totally want it all, especially the gift bags, the message pads, and the little plastic buckets (which I think are actually supposed to be for children). Case-in-point: last night, I bought this adorable little cardboard container:

I have no use for this, but I couldn't resist the bunting print or the bright flash of pink inside. I wish that everything I own would fit in the little box so I could carry it all around, holding tight to the purple ribbon handle. It was made to hold something fun, like neon gumballs or striped bobby pins. I don't think I'll have a problem finding a permanent home for it. It was more than worth my dollar.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Travel Diary: Four Days in Florida

 We were in West Palm Beach last week for four days, an early summer vacation of sorts. Anthony and I have never been on a 'beach' vacation and this trip was supposed to be a rejuvenating and restful break.  While we did have a great time and were able to relax a bit, the weather didn't really cooperate.  There were lots of cloudy skies, and thunder, and lightning, but also a few warm mornings at the pool while it drizzled, and one really nice visit to the near-empty beach amongst the raindrops.  We made the best of it and in the end, and really just enjoyed being together for four full days.

Some highlights:

  • On our first night, we went to Publix for groceries since we were staying in a condo with a kitchen.  As I walking over towards the muffins, the power went out.  About ten seconds later, the generators popped on.  Later in the check-out line, Anthony overheard someone say that lightening struck the building causing the outage.  Welcome to Florida!
  • All of the restaurants and malls are open with permanent light fixtures, furniture, televisions, etc. that stay outdoors permanently.  What happens when there's a bad storm? So confusing.
  • You can get a sunburn even when there is no sun. That seems like an obvious statement but some of us are idiots (ahem, me...).
  • The ocean was beautiful, and it was relatively clean.  We could see clearly down to our feet. Long Island Sound it was not!

Maybe we'll go back someday.  Or maybe we'll go to another part of Florida, or another place with beaches. I kind of wish we were still there though, sitting on lounge chairs next to each other, looking out at the white-tipped waves.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rainy Beach Days

Anthony and I went to the beach and the pool today because, hey, we're on vacation. Who cares if it's cloudy and raining? The beach was nearly empty and we literally had the entire pool to ourselves. We couldn't have planned it better. Bonus: we both got burned even though the sun wasn't out at all. Here's hoping for a somewhat dry day tomorrow, which is our last before heading home from our short Floridian jaunt.

P.S. Anyone have any Palm Beach favorites to share? xo

Sunday, May 13, 2012

An Orangey Mother's Day

For Mother's Day, I decided to make this Orange Chocolate Chunk cake for dessert.  Of course, I didn't think it would take me four hours to make.  I never thought about how it might melt in the car while my family and I had an early lunch.  And just from looking at the recipe, I didn't think I'd dirty every bowl, spatula and utensil that I've ever owned.

It takes a lot of time to hand-squeeze oranges. 
My hands still smell like citris.

                                                        Sometimes I use this pig spatula...

The chocolate chunks didn't sink to the bottom like I thought they might.  Just in case
you were wondering, the batter is delicious.

Yes, the cake stuck to the pan.  Are you surprised? Me neither. 
I patched it up best as I could.

The ganache was the best part.  It did kind of melt off the top of the cake,
but it was still perfectly rich.

Cake aside, Mother's Day was a success. The dessert wasn't important, and neither were the presents.  It was important that my mother and grandmother had a wonderful day.  Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Last night, I had a dream that I was working at a sandwich shop.  My brother was the manager, and he made me chop and dice vegetables for hours.  Then, he made me work on a Saturday afternoon after I already made other plans and I was sad.

Why can't I ever have any fun dreams, where I'm meeting celebrities, or flying through some galaxy?  Almost a decade ago, I had a dream where Anthony created a new type of poker game, became famous and then kissed one of my friends right in front of me.  When I woke up, I felt so betrayed that I could barely look at him for an entire day (how irrational of me!! So sorry, Anthony!).

It's amazing how our subconscious imagination works, pulling in ideas and people from all different parts of our lives and creating a whole new 'bizarro' world.  Do you dream often?  When I was young, I always wished I had enough dreams to fill one of those 'dream/nightmare' journals!

Image from the fabulous Tim Walker archives