Friday, March 27, 2015

Oh Hey Friday!: March 27, 2015

It's Oh Hey Friday! time, hosted by September FARM. The idea is that you talk about five things -- any five things, themed or random -- and away we go!




The "I Need" Edition!

ONE|
...a lip color and formula that will work on someone who has almost never worn a lip color and doesn't want it to be glaringly obvious. An easing-in, if you will. Someone being me. I always play up my eyes, because they get lost behind my glasses, otherwise, and I like my eyes. But I'd also like to change things up sometimes, ya know?

TWO|
...some new snack ideas that will travel well to work. I tend to be a grazer. I have breakfast when I arrive at my desk, followed by a mid-morning snack. Then lunch at noon (almost always leftovers from dinner). And then a 2pm snack to get me through til dinner. I've been eating the same snacks forever, I'm a little bored, but I just keep getting the same stuff. I need ideas.

THREE|
...some casual pants that aren't jeans. Don't get me wrong, I love my comfy jeans. But it gets *hot* here in the summer (have you heard?) and Florida summers are six months long (at least). However, a/c running everywhere one goes means that, as meltingly warm as it is outside, the indoor environments demand more coverage. I have one pair of lightweight casual pants, but everywhere I look, it's either dress pants or yoga pants. Isn't there anything in the middle?

FOUR|
...shoes (and maybe a necklace? for real, I am accessories-challenged) to go with this dress. Preferably not in black. I want some color. But I lack the confidence to know *which* color.


FIVE|
...how to decorate a longish, narrow hallway (by hanging stuff on the walls, I mean, because obviously) without feeling like the walls are closing in on you. There's just all this empty space and it's looked like this for almost two years now (that's when we T repainted the walls and trim, and swapped out the original 1980s doors) and I just have no clue.


Feel free to offer suggestions, because seriously. HELP.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

On friendship and (more) healing.

I've come to the realization that, just because I know something intellectually, does not mean I know it emotionally. A fair number of people told me "you have to just let this go" and "these things just happen." Easy to say, not so easy in practice, when it's your it's your heart that hurts.

Also, I've learned that just because I think I've concluded a healing process, I probably haven't. And somehow I'm always surprised when another missing piece of the equation pops neatly into place.

I wasn't coming out of as dark a place as the last time this subject surfaced, but for the past couple of months, a similar tune kept presenting itself to me, in various places and voices. I would read and mm-hmm, then click the little x to close the tab and move along to something else. 

All these bits and pieces simmered quietly in the background of my brain, as my thoughts are wont to do, shifting around, trying to fit here, rearranging and trying somewhere else, like some amalgamation of a mental Rubik's cube and a game of Tetris. Over and over, the thoughts tumbled, in some unconscious corner of my mind, until I read a blog post on Tuesday and click!, the picture came clear.

Liz was writing about something a friend told her once. (If you don't read Liz's blog -- Can't Never Could -- I highly recommend. Her writing speaks to me.) Her friend told her: “Nine times out of ten, when people get upset at you, it’s a lot more about them than you.” (Seriously, read her post, the one that I first linked to in this paragraph, because if this basic lesson doesn't apply to your life right now, it either has in the past or it's going to at some point, unless you never have any sort of relationship with anyone, ever.)

Back to what her friend told her: “Nine times out of ten, when people get upset at you, it’s a lot more about them than you.”

Have you ever held your breath for as long as you're able? Eyes starting to bugle? Head getting a little goofy? You know that first big gulp of oxygen? That. I read that sentence in that blog post, and it was like that first big gulp of oxygen, that missing piece I didn't know was the next part of the getting-over-it process. One by one, these jumbled thoughts and quotes that I'd mulled, both intentionally and subconsciously, glittered with an astonishing clarity. Angel choirs sang and light bulbs glowed and crowds roared with applause.

I thought about the quote I found on Goodreads:
"Introverts treasure the close relationships they have stretched so much to make." ("Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture," Adam S. McHugh)

And I realized why *I* had been so deeply injured. It's work for me to let new people into my inner circle, so to be rejected so unceremoniously, so abruptly, in essence, yanked a treasure out of my hands that I had spent so much of myself on grasping. It made me feel worthless. But: “Nine times out of ten, when people get upset at you, it’s a lot more about them than you.” Someone else's actions, no matter how they affected me, weren't about *me* or my worth. It was someone else's fear of something to which I was not permitted access, but, as Liz later writes, "We all see life through our own very special filter. And that filter is skewed. That filter is made up of hurts and joys unique only to us."

Well...huh.

And then there was the quote I read in a blog post:
The hardest breakup of my life was with a friend. (Annie Downs)

And I realized why *I* had been so deeply injured. You see, I think we realize that romantic breakups will happen. After all, we are all only supposed to have one romantic relationship at a time and so most of those relationships aren't designed to last. But friendships? We can have as many of those as we are individually pre-programmed to carry. Therefore, we don't *expect* them to end. I can't speak for you, but I've had my share of romantic breakups, and none of them were all that pleasant, but this whole friendship breakup knocked me square on my backside. It hurt in a way no former boyfriend had ever caused. *Ever*. And I'm sad to say that there were a good number of people who passed judgment on this particular breakup. Assumptions were made, but I can say for certain, very few people actually asked *me* what was going on. But this? Wasn't about me either. I didn't initiate it. I can't speak for the hows and whys and whens. But just because there were skewed filters here, in disguise as judgments and assumptions, didn't make them true.

Again...huh.

And *then*, there was a portion of one of my daily devotional readings:
I wonder how many of you have walked through betrayal. It is awful. You’re powerless to stop the pain and you keep wishing in vain that it could somehow be a different story.

And I realized why *I* had been so deeply injured. I didn't want this story. I didn't want this outcome. I didn't want this breakup. I didn't want to feel this hurt. Because I had tried everything in my power to prevent it, to mend it, to redirect it. But you've got it: this was also not about me. I *didn't* ask for any of this. It was the unique filter of another human being and there's a story there, but it isn't mine to know, or to tell, even if I did.

It's all slowly coming into focus.

And finally, I read another piece of writing, where Ali Martell, shares about her own friendship breakup:
She saw things one way, which incidentally was full of inaccuracies and things she had decided were true. And I saw things one way, which, at the time, I felt was the right way to see things.

And when it wound itself in and around Liz's words, something in me said "yes, YES!" We see things through our own unique lenses, crafted out the the experiences we've had and the lessons we've learned. In fact, this very situation has likely tweaked my own filters in some way or another, because that's the way of it. But at the end of it all, how someone else sees things, and whatever inaccuracies that includes, it isn't about me. It isn't about the way I see things or how they came to see things differently than I do. What they decide to be true and how they decide to react to those truths is about them.

And suddenly, I breathed. I felt free of those weighty questions and the internalizing and the "what did I do?" of it all, because: “Nine times out of ten, when people get upset at you, it’s a lot more about them than you.”

Funny thing, last night, I was sitting in church, because it's Lent and that means a Wednesday evening service full of contemplation and introspection (sounds grim, maybe to some, but I actually look forward to it). At the end of the message was this thought: Don't be hardened because grace is extended and not returned, or worse, outright rejected. Simply offer grace without expectation. 

As I sat in the pew, with the sunset casting glowing colors on the walls before me as the light flooded through stained glass windows at my back, I thought: That's what I want for *my* story, to extend grace, even when it's ignored, even when it's absorbed without acknowledgment, even when it reaches out into a vacuum, and even when it's thrown back at me. I want to feel glowing and light and filled with pure, rich oxygen. That's what I want to be about me. That's how I want my filter to be tweaked by this event in my life.

Today, I feel a little more whole.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Flower and Garden Fest 2015: Round Three

Yikes. I meant to get to this sooner. It's only been nearly two weeks since round three took place. Sheesh.

So, picking up after Saturday's round two, Daniel and I met up on Sunday for additional Festing. Since Daniel was limited on his days to Fest (unlike yours truly), we headed for the places where there were still foods he wanted to try.

FLORIDA FRESH


Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart.

OMG. This may be one of the best things I have ever consumed. Lemon and berries is one of my favorite flavor combinations, so this was bound to be a hit. The flavors were bold but not overwhelming. The texture was *perfect*. And there was a secret layer of blueberries long the bottom as well. My one and only complaint was the thickness of the crust: it prevented it from getting soggy, which is always appreciated, but it was nearly impossible to cut through with just a plastic knife and fork. I was fearful I was going to launch this deliciousness right off my flight each time I tried to chisel through the crust and that was just not going to be ok with me. I should be clear, though. This would not prevent me from ordering this again.


Still being early in the day, I decided to stick with fruity, when we moved along to...

HANAMI


Frushi (fresh pineapple, strawberry, and melon rolled with raspberry coconut rice, sprinkled with toasted coconut, with whipped cream on the side).

They've offered this all three years since adding Outdoor Kitchens to the Fest. I get this every time. It's light and fresh. And it's a fun twist on sushi. And I get to practice using chopsticks. I win!


After that, I was ready for something a little more substantial.

URBAN FARM EATS


Ghost Pepper Dusted Tilapia with Crisp Winter Melon Slaw and Mint Oil.

It's kind of funny, because just a day earlier, when we rode Living with the Land, I wondered aloud to Daniel what winter melon was like. I didn't even realize it was on one of the Fest menus! Verdict: I think it was good, but they were so generous with the dusting of ghost pepper that my taste buds were screaming for mercy and I'm not really sure I got a good enough taste before I scorched them. I had this dish last year, too, and it wouldn't have been this potent or I wouldn't have gotten it again. I don't know if I just got an anomaly or if they kicked it up a notch (or four) for 2015.


I needed to cool my mouth. I practically sprinted toward...

PINEAPPLE PROMENADE


Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade.

I like this beverage. It's refreshing, both in temperature and flavor. The lemon is toned down a bit by the violet, which softens the tartness more than sweetens it. I am a fan. (I did not eat the violet. Daniel did, though. He said it tasted like lettuce.)


One more stop before Daniel needed to get going to the airport. And, to be honest, I was still mildly full from the day before, so I was about out of space.

LOTUS HOUSE


Vegetable Spring Rolls. Beijing Style Candied Strawberries.


The spring rolls were another item from last year's menu, and simple as they are, they are worth getting again. They are filled with veggies and they have a crispy jacket (and barely greasy, even though they are fried!), but the star remains that mysterious sauce. They never mention it nor identify it in any way, but it is delicious and, therefore, make an otherwise simple dish extraordinary. We also split the strawberries, which I had considered and passed up the past two years. I couldn't figure out if that coating was going to be sticky or too thick or who knows what, but that crisp candy shell was super thin and just added a little crunch to the berries, which were perfect and sweet and juicy.


Quite a satisfying round. I believe I have one more left to go, which I will probably tackle after Easter. Stay tuned!

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: 2015 - Week 11

Checking in for the week of March 15 through March 21.

WHAT I READ |
When Crickets Cry (Charles Martin) - Oh my gosh, this book. What a heartachingly beautiful story. The characters are so fleshed out, I feel as if I know them. The writing was just lyrical for me -- even in its description of things like rowing, about which I have no interest. I wish it could have just gone on and on, but the story was so satisfying, even in its ending, that I cannot complain. I noticed that several of the reviews expressed some confusion about the final chapter, but, without spoiling anything, it made perfect sense to me. You just have to read slowly and pay attention.
Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel) - Slower reading while I get used to who all the characters are (I have to keep checking the list of characters in the front of the book). I do wish the author didn't use the ambiguous 'he' right after switching scenes so often without clarification, since the vast majority of the characters, so far, are male.

WHAT WE ATE|
T grilled up some steaks and we served that with roasted asparagus and wild rice. Wednesday was BLTS...mmmm, bacon. Saturday, we had one of my favorite meals: grilled sweet and sour meatball kabobs over white rice.

WHAT I ACCOMPLISHED|
Winter decor has been packed away and spring is almost completely out now, which means our guest bedroom is once again occupant-ready, instead of looking like the North Pole. I also swapped out our not-summer sheets for our lighter weight summer set (and for some reason, I have had terrible nightmares both nights since?). A few more magazines have made it out the door for recycling. And, you know, all the usual housework.

CANDLE SCENTS|
Twisted Peppermint (BBW) - I toyed with the idea of leaving this one out until it was used up, but it was only half finished and, let's face it, the siren call of spring scents was too difficult to resist.
Red Velvet Cupcake (BBW) - I like this one ok, but I'm not sure I would get it again, at least not in a larger jar. I'm not a fan of most chocolate-scented candles and this one is a bit heavier on the chocolate notes than I'd prefer.
Bunny Cake (YC) - This is a soft scent. Light hints of vanilla and lemon and coconut. Perfect amounts of sweet and fresh. Very subtle though. I have to be near it to smell it.
Vanilla Cupcake (YC) - This one claims to be vanilla, buttercream, and lemon, but I don't detect the lemon. Just lots and lots of delicious vanilla.
Buttercream (YC) - Detecting a pattern here? LOL! This one is a classic. Decadent vanilla.

WHAT THIS WEEK LOOKED LIKE|
Daniel is, quite possibly, the only person I've ever met who not only likes the Beverly (at Club Cool in Epcot), but craves it. I am always highly amused at the people who watch him in bewilderment as he tosses back two or three of these when they make a face and toss the cup after one sip.


It was a black ballet flats kind of day.


Sunrise through dew.


I was really early for church on Wednesday evening.


Sunset behind me, twilight ahead.


Sunrise burned through a hazy layer of fog. It looked like the sky in the desert scene of Living with the Land at Epcot.


Determination. I feel like there is a lesson to be learned here. You wouldn't know to look at this little basil, but something lopped off three of his leaves, leaving one tattered and scrawny leaf on a twig. I thought for sure it was a lost cause, but I couldn't bring myself yoink it out. This wee fellow is determined to be alive though. Adapt and push forward. Less than a week later? New leaves and thriving.


I do not understand why Dunkin Donuts makes their boxes such a challenge to open. I destroyed it trying to get in there. Just gimme my lemon-filled donut!


Cinnamon swirl raisin bread. Untoasted. Smear of real butter. Perfect mid-morning snack.


Real life. Three words come to mind regarding the guest room: Winter-splosion. Overwhelmed. Gulp. (Ok, so one of them is made up. Still.)


Imprinted with love.


New scent day! Stealth selfie style.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

This Week on My TV: March 21, 2015

Disclaimer: Consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. You read at your own risk!



**(Blue Bloods, S5E18 Bad Company) I'm trying to piece together how I feel about Sarah's story. I can't imagine how I would feel about the person who had murdered my entire family when I was six years old and then, during the trial, said his only regret was that he hadn't killed me too. But when she went to meet him at the prison, at his request, to express his regret now, I thought her reaction, telling him he should try to kill himself again and succeed this time, was a little harsh. I can't imagine saying that without feeling like I had somehow sunk to his level. Also, her wedding processional was the traditional recessional and that bugged me. -- Pretty good first undercover gig for Janko. Although I don't get how she knocked that Serbian mob trafficker over the head with the lid from a toilet tank and it didn't break!

**(Mom, S2E17 A Commemorative Coin and a Misshapen Head) Violet: Oh no. He knows I grew up in the circus. He doesn't need to meet the clowns. -- Most of the time, I feel bad for Violet. She's a snot, but she had a really crappy childhood and I can see how it would leave her hardened and bitter. (Plus, there is something about her that reminds me of one of my best friends, in a good way, and I can't shake that off.) But I really wanted to smack her for her view on getting engaged and married. This guy is clearly head over heels for her and she just wants the big ring, the cool condo, the housekeeper. I guess I am sensitive to that, knowing good guys aren't a dime a dozen, and she's setting up to stomp all over one.

**(The Good Wife, S6E15 Open Source) When Marissa equated campaign tactics to high school, all I could think was YES!! -- Finn! I missed him. -- When Alicia visited Canning in the hospital and he was unconscious or asleep or whatever, I kept expecting him to crack an eye open. I wasn't actually shocked when he didn't. -- I can't decide if Johnny Elfman decided to have Alicia go after Peter because he has feelings for her and doesn't want to take the job on the west coast after all or because he's sick of Eli telling him what to do. T's theory is that it was Marissa saying "handsome men are always so weak" and it got under his skin. -- I cannot believe Diane had her husband served!! -- Regardless of how the election turns out, I'm going to be sad if this is the last we see of Frank Prady. I really like his character. -- Canning is such a snake. I wish I could say I'm surprised that he plotted with David Lee to set Alicia up...but I'm not. -- I am so conflicted about that kiss between Alicia and Johnny. On the one hand, I wanted to see her end up with Finn. But on the other, that kiss was smoking hot!

**(Mike and Molly, S5E14 What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy) Drunk Peggy was HILARIOUS. -- Man, they sure went the unexpected depressing route with the contents of that trunk up in Peggy's attic.

**(Scandal, S4E15 The Testimony of Diego Muñoz) Things I didn't like: The goofiness of Susan Ross's character, because if she were seriously named VP, I would be outraged. Abby and Leo together, which is awful, because she is clearly happy, but he gets on my nerves. Cyrus going...blonde? -- Things I did like: Abby showing up in Olivia's office to chat with her because that's what friends do. The compassion Olivia showed Rose when she told her "how Lois died." David telling Jake they weren't the bad guys anymore; they are the good guys and he is going after B613. -- Olivia is a mess. Even despite the fact that her love life is often a mess, I'm not used to seeing *her* messy. I get why she's a mess, but it's still so strange.

**(Better Call Saul, S1E7 Bingo) I feel so bad for Jimmy. He does the right thing, turning in the money and sending the Kettlemans back to Kim, but he probably won't be able to get the bigger offices. He can't win for losing. -- Mrs Kettleman is a whacknut. -- I saw him offering the big corner office and partnership in his firm to Kim. I saw it coming from a mile away. Just as clearly as I saw her declining it. -- Is this the beginning of a new, if tenuous, friendship between Jimmy and Mike? -- LOL: Jimmy's face on the Bingo cards.

**(Elementary, S3E17 T-Bone and the Iceman) Sherlock: I'm not easily surprised, but I do confess not expecting this. ... He says as they walk into a room filled with a bunch of frozen corpses. -- A case that surrounded a murder that tied to a cryogenic storage facility opened up the opportunity for Sherlock to refer to "corpsicles." That made the whole thing worth it. -- I am not sure about the story with Joan's mother and brother. Too many open ended questions. Does her mother have early stage dementia? Is her brother having an affair or not?

**(Chicago Fire, S3E18 Forgiving, Relentless, Unconditional) Cruz: What are you saying? That meatloaf can only hold so long onto prime rib? Otis: No. I'm saying any girl that makes you feel like meatloaf isn't prime rib. -- I'm kind of tired of this Mills-on-squad arc. I love the character of the Chaplain. I'm on the fence about this new thing with Severide and Dr April. I did not expect Cruz to break it off with Brett. -- Seriously, Otis?? You would even briefly entertain the idea of going after Brett the day after your best friend broke it off with her?

**(Reign, S2E16 Tasting Revenge) This whole "find a mistress for Francis" thing is weird and awkward. I get that these things happen in this time and setting, but one would at least hope it would happen organically. -- Antoine [to his servant when Kenna arrives at his room]: Fetch me something. I don't care what it is, just fetch it from far away. ... Bleh. Don't stoop to his sliminess, Kenna! Make it work with Bash. He's a good guy. Also, OMG, Antoine, your "gravely ill" wife is just immensely pregnant?? Pig. -- I am disappointed that it seems Castleroy is done on the show. I liked him. There aren't enough decent people on this show to balance the evil. -- How far Greer has fallen, being a madam. Unlike most of the others who have fallen from grace, though, I wonder why we're still "keeping in touch with her." Her story must not be over yet. I know we're supposed to be happy that she and Leith are finally together, but I feel like that ship has sailed. -- The second Mary and Conde leaned toward one another to kiss outside, I knew there would be a witness. -- Was Mary wearing dagger earrings?! What does that foreshadow? And speaking of foreshadowing, after Bash stormed out, what about Kenna's hand resting on her abdomen, after that remark she made to Antoine about wanting children, unlike her husband? -- Well, I didn't expect that speech from Francis, giving Mary his blessing of sorts to be with Conde. But is Conde going to entertain the thought of involving himself with TWO queens?? That meeting at the end with the English envoy was...interesting. -- All this sneaking around for Mary and Conde, wondering if anyone is following or watching...why not just use Clarissa's old secret passages?

**(Grey's Anatomy, S11E16 Don't Dream It's Over) Meredith: She was perky. And she sounded happy and tall with a lot of great hair. -- Awkward: Maggie ranting about an Alzheimer's patient...to Richard...who lost both Adele and Ellis to the disease. -- They yell "clear!" before they shock a patient with the paddles. But what about when the patient is pregnant? The baby can't "get clear." -- What was up with that crying from Jo?? That was some seriously bad acting. -- That lecture Mer gave Stephanie about the streak, and the baby who is already motherless, and the father who will either die and leave his baby an orphan or live only to learn his wife did not survive...and how none of this is about her. I know a lot of people hate Mer's whiny moments, but I love who she has become. -- Loved: Bailey's speech to Alex about Jo freaking out over all the sadness, reminding him that death is scary and overwhelming for the residents, that they are obsessed with Mer's streak because they want to cling to anything that can defy death. -- Jackson is a really good guy. -- Yay: Gathering in the hallway on the mobile patient beds! -- LOL: Maggie's disgust with Alex. -- I like the relationships Maggie is forging with Mer and Richard. -- OMG CRUEL I HAVE TO KNOW IS HE???  All that waiting for Der to show up at home and all we get is "you called me and a woman answered my phone" and Mer repeating it back to him???

**(Once Upon a Time, S4E14 Unforgiven) Is no one else bothered by the fact that, when we first met Ariel, *Regina* was Ursula, and now, suddenly Ursula is someone completely different?! -- Ursula's thieving tentacle. ::shudder:: -- Sheriff Chisel Chin. ::snicker:: -- Ursula's fairytale hair slays me. -- Weirdest. Pregnancy. Test. Ever. -- How much can they string us along with this secret?? "Tell her the truth." "Tell Emma everything." JUST TELL ME!! -- Regina: I should have known Fish Sticks and Pound Puppies were up to no good. ... This show kills me with its nicknames. -- Snow: Because when you betray the people you love, when you make them see the worst parts of you, what you've done changes everything. There's no going back. You've shattered the bonds you worked so hard to forge. The stronger those bonds once were, the more difficult they are to put back together...if they can be repaired at all.

**(The Blacklist, S2E16 Tom Keen) Red [to Ressler, who wants to accompany Red in collecting Tom]: You look and feel and smell like cop. You are what you are. That's admirable. But this is my world and you're a tourist. You blink wrong, we'r both dead and your partner goes to prison. -- Red [as the German thugs shoot out the windows of the vehicle Red arrived in] See? That's why we got the insurance. -- The showdown of Connolly vs Judge Renner was pretty intense. -- So, is this really a case of Tom loves Liz? Did he fall for his assignment? If this is an act, I can't figure out what he gains. -- So, where's Tom now?? Just...gone with the wind? He called her, which likely won't make Red very happy, but what's the end game here? -- Well, crap. After all this mistrusting of Connolly, now I think I might like him. -- Red: Be careful, Lizzie, because the truth is, once you start down this road, there's no logical place to stop. You could see to her education, health insurance, housing. You could watch her or have her watched, keep her safe. Try to ascertain her hopes, dreams, desires. Pull strings, call in favors to discreetly smooth the path. And for the first few years, it may work. You'll draw some measure of virtue from being her invisible benefactor. But that won't last. It's all a fraud. And it's really not about her at all. It's all about *you*. And you're just...going through the motions to salve your own guilt. Look, all the money, all the time and effort, all the favors in the world cannot possibly equal what you took away from *her*. Everything else is...just a nice gesture. ... HOLY CRAP. HO. LEE. CRAP. -- Lizzie [to Red about how he gave Tom his life back for showing up in court to keep Lizzie out of prison]: You saved a man you hate to save me. -- I guess it's safe to say only Red holds the actual list of blacklisters, since, based on the episode opening, Tom is number 7 and I'm thinking that would have raised red flags with at least half a dozen people.

**(Last Man Standing, S4E19 Summer Internship) Mike: I'm the boss. I snuck out while I wasn't looking. -- OMG, Ryan is at Mike and Vanessa's house, doing their laundry?! When are those two going to be expected to grow up? -- Mandy is going to "live off her savings" while on her unpaid internship in New York City? Mandy...has that kind of savings?! -- I'm not sure what to make of Mandy's orange lipstick. Is that a thing? -- Unintentionally creepy: Kyle wants to finish learning taxidermy and then tells Mandy "once he's an expert at stuffing things he knows he'll always have her by his side" and he "wants to look at that face forever." -- Highlight of Mike's vlog: No, what I think what you want is a proper balance. You want to see enough of each other that you can pick your spouse out of a police lineup, but not so much that you end up, you know, *in* the police lineup. -- Second best highlight of the vlog was the promo for Outdoor Man Grill: Not only do we welcome lovebirds, but we serve them in a port wine sauce.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Oh Hey Friday: March 20, 2015

It's Oh Hey Friday! time, hosted by September FARM. The idea is that you talk about five things -- any five things, themed or random -- and away we go!




The "Hello Spring!" Edition!

I struggle with the arrival of spring here in Florida. I know the relentless heat is coming -- or, as is the case this year, is already here, a whole two months early -- and that starts my hibernation time. The a/c is on almost all the time and I cringe when the electric bill lands in my inbox. I'm just not ready for this. Hold me. On second thought...don't. I'm already too sticky and sweaty.

In an effort to buck-up-buttercup, I am going to think of things I'm looking forward to, now that it's spring.

ONE|
Baseball is two weeks away from starting. If I'm going to be crawling into my cave for the next eight months, at least I'll have my Red Sox back to keep me company! In fact, I order our 2015 MLB Extra Innings package yesterday and, once again, it comes with complimentary MLBtv Premium, which is a nice touch for when I need to mute certain announcers and listen to the Red Sox home radio broadcast synced with the action on the tv.

TWO|
WDW starts staying open later into the evenings, now that the spring break crowds are arriving, which will bleed into the summer crowds, and while it is far too warm for much daylight time spent in the parks, venturing up there in the late afternoon and early evening holds a certain appeal. It's a fun change of pace from my usual morning trek up I-4. The parks have a totally unique personality from their daytime versions when they're lit up at night.

THREE|
Being born and raised in the northeast, I'm used to four definitive seasons. This whole "summer" and "not summer" bit hasn't really grown on me in the thirteen years I've been here. I need to manufacture traditional seasons, darn it! And one of the ways I do that is through scent. I have my spring inventory front and center. My lotions are changing from soft, warm scents to bolder, brighter, fruity scents, like Black Raspberry Vanilla and Apricot Vanilla (from my ridiculous Bath and Body Works stash). And my candles graduate from rich and spicy to fresh and airy.

FOUR|
Fresh fruit. February and March bring strawberry and blueberry seasons to Florida. They are tasty. They make me want more. Nectarines. Plums. Cherries. Pineapple. Melon.

FIVE|
I am potentially the least fashionable female alive, but even I can look forward to switching the darker, smokier palates for lighter eye makeup, trading out the clothes in jewel tones for softer pastels, and getting back to nail color on my toes (because let's be honest -- I stay properly groomed, but with my toes out of sight for the not-summer, I give them a breather from being showcased in sandals and open-toed shoes all summer long).

What does the arrival of spring mean where you are?

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Flower and Garden Fest 2015: Round Two

Round Two brings Festing with a Friend. I never mind Festing solo, but Daniel and I always have a blast when we Fest, so that's fun too!

We started off at...

THE SMOKEHOUSE


Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake with Maple Frosting and Pretzel Crunch.

We descended on the Fest about 38 seconds after it opened, so it was still only 11am. This was a good semi-breakfasty way to kick off the late morning. It's kind of like having pancakes and bacon in a different form. There is sweet (frosting, cake) and salty (bacon, pretzel). It's all just very satisfying. And check out all. that. bacon.



Tastebuds awake and clamoring for more!

BOTANAS BOTANICO


Seafood Ceviche (shrimp, scallops, and grouper with mango and avocado).

So much color! It was just as fresh (thank God) as it was bright. There is just so much visual appeal to a dish that is bursting with color...and flavor to match. With all those components, every forkful was a different combination of delicious. It was cool and refreshing, which was good, because the day was heating up in a hurry.


We were sitting at this little table, which was smack in the sun, and we needed to locate some shade.

FLEUR DE LYS


Confit de Canard with Pommes de Terre Sarladaise (pulled duck confit with garlic and parsley potatoes). La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush (Grey Goose vodka orange, St-Germain liquor, white and red cranberry juice).


I'm just going to be honest. I have dreamed of this dish since the last Flower and Garden Fest. I am not even kidding. The duck is so tender, it practically melts in your mouth. The potatoes have so much flavor, they practically reach out and slap your taste buds. The are soft and creamy in the center, but the potatoes that were on top in the oven (the baking dish is inverted onto your plate) are brown and crispy. And just...I'm drooling now, just thinking about it. The slushes they do in the "France" fest booths are always delicious. The description of this one claims orange and cranberry, but I have to tell you, it tastes like grapefruit to me. Despite the fact that it started melting almost immediately, it was still cold, tart, and so refreshing. By the time I finished here, I was sighing with that "I could die happy now" sort of contentment.


We were on our way to use some Fast Passes (Spaceship Earth and Test Track), via a stand-by line detour at Living with the Land, so on our way, we stopped for some refreshment...

URBAN FARM EATS


Crispin Blackberry Pear Cider. Cucumber Lemon Spa Water.


We traded these back and forth as we strolled toward the Land Pavilion. The water was kind of meh, for me, but that is partially because I do not like lemon in my cold water and partially because we were in the upper 80s, so this could have used a little bit of ice to not become lukewarm. The cider, though, was incredible. I tasted far more blackberry than pear. It was sweet but refreshing.


When we finished our attractions, we headed straight back for more eating.

JARDIN DE FIESTAS


Veggie Quesadilla (flour tortilla filled with Monterrey Jack cheese and mixed vegetables).

I couldn't even tell you what was in here for sure, other than cheese. I believe there were mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and onions. It was standard fare, but very tasty. I felt like it could have done with a little salsa or sour cream or something, though.


Circling back the direction from which we came...

PINEAPPLE PROMENADE


Pineapple Dog (spicy hot dog, pineapple chutney, and sriracha mayo). Sparkling Pineapple Wine. Ace Pineapple Hard Cider.

They were not kidding about spicy! This is the same hot dog they use for the Kimchi Dog during Food and Wine Fest, just with different toppings. This packed a ton of flavor, but it was just a bit too warm for my preferences, though, so I was glad to be sharing. (Seriously. Daniel was laughing at how pink my face got!) We shared the two beverages as well. Both were tasty -- and definitely pineapple! -- but I surprised myself and actually liked the cider more than the sparkling wine. I am typically very partial to the bubbles, but the cider was just plain delicious.


We meandered our way around the World Showcase. Daniel tried some various dishes, but I was busy digesting. But I couldn't resist a stop at...

PRIMAVERA KITCHEN


Bellini (sparkling wine and peach puree).

This is my kind of yummy. I sat in the setting sun and sipped my drink, while we chatted and people watched. I love that this is sweet from the peach, but it doesn't overpower the dryness of the sparkling wine. It's the perfect hot weather sip.


Room for one more...

FLORIDA FRESH


Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese, and Balsamic Reduction.


This is a repeat from last year and it's just really yummy. I would never think of putting watermelon into a salad with savory ingredients, but it's so refreshing. Actually, so much of what they put on the menus for this Fest is light and refreshing, with the emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It's perfect warm-weather eating. The onions were cut a bit thick for me, so I pawned them off on Daniel, but the rest was all mine. I am such a sucker for balsamic anything, and the serving was super generous. A great ending to the day.


Because Daniel was in town, there was another round on deck for the very next day! Stay tuned...

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