Thursday, December 31, 2009

Social Commentary in Unexpected Places

Image via here

I went to see Avatar last night. I did this because my husband has been dying to see it, and I love him. That is the only reason. I typically cannot stand sci-fi movies, much less 3-hour-long sci-fi movies with blue characters. I had 2 glasses of champagne pre-game hoping it would help me through; I was pleasantly surprised.

This sci-fi movie is really a treehugger, socially liberal movie in disguise. The social commentary included everything from honoring the earth and acknowledging where our food comes from to the horrors of war and greed. Love it! The 3-hour movie length didn't even seem too long.

My surprise over this movie got me this common...for sci-fi movies to really be social commentary and not just aliens and robots shooting each other? As it turns out, it is. Wikipedia says: "Science fiction films have often been used to focus on political or social issues, and to explore philosophical issues like the human condition."

Here are some that I came up with that I watched in my earlier years that now seem to have been trying to tell me something deeper...maybe even helped cultivate my inner treehugger/liberal:

The Dark Crystal: definitely some good vs. evil to restore the balance of the universe undertones...

E.T.: Steven Speilberg himself called this movie "a minority story." It definitely taught me about tolerance...and the possible exploitative evils of the government.

Wargames: taught us that there is no winner in war. Better to just play a game of chess.

What sci-fi movies can you think of that have an underlying social commentary?

Avatar also made me think of a book that I saw featured on an episode of the Ellen Degeneres show this week; (having a week off of work leaves plenty of time for one to re-discover the trash that is daytime television, though I do like Ellen). It is called Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. The author was discussing the book and he wasn't preaching about being vegan or even vegetarian, but encouraging us to at least find out where the meat and animal products we eat come from. He pointed out that some of the major meat producers in the country would not let him visit their farms or plants. He spoke of the evils of caging egg-laying birds and keeping dairy cows indoors and hooked to machines for their whole lives.
Image via here

One of my 31 things to do in my 31st year includes becoming more aware of what I am eating, where it comes from, and how it will affect my health, so this book is next on my list to read.

And my 31 things to do in my 31st year list is coming soon...(my birthday is Sunday, January 3rd).

Has anyone read the book?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Foray into Holiday Baking

I am happy to report that the holiday baking did occur; late night on December 23rd, and the afternoon of the 24th, before I hosted my family for Christmas Eve dinner. I ended up baking gingerbread cookies, pistachio shortbread, and chocolate covered peanut butter balls. All were successful, thanks to the help of my hubs and my friend Amy.

Didn't get pictures of the pistachio cookies or balls, but here are some pics of the gingerbread.

(A few were armless or legless, but diversity is important).

I packed the gingerbread, pistachio cookies, and balls into holiday Ziploc containers for the neighbors and friends and family.

Did you bake this year?

A Word for Wednesday


of common or frequent occurrence; in widespread existence; abundant, plentiful.

As in: My street is rife with naked Christmas trees today.
Image via here

Or: "Endnotes in Coulter's last book rife with distortions and falsehoods." (As reported by about Ann Coulter's 2006 book Godless: The Church of Liberalism.) Are we surprised? She is the anti-Christ.

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Word for Wednesday


given to pretentious or conspicuous show in an attempt to impress others; actions intended to attract notice

As in:
this funny Onion cover story.

Or: "I feel super-ostentatious when I wear my cowboy boots with a skirt."

Image via here
(Wish I looked this good doing it)

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Monday, December 21, 2009

Week of Christmas Rush

I can't believe it's the week of Christmas! I have not wrapped or baked anything, my house needs a thorough cleaning before Christmas Eve dinner for my family can be served there, and I have more than a couple presents left to buy...nothing out of the ordinary for me; procrastination is king in my home.

Here are some things I am hunting down for last-minute Christmas gifts:

For the dogs:
image via here

Pupcakes is having a sale on one item each day until's item: 30% of all sweaters and coats. My dogs won't be getting clothing this year, but some snacks are on my list. [Register on the Pupcakes website to receive their e-newsletter letting you know about all the great sales!]

For my mom, sister, sister-in-law, grandmother, friends:
image via Hand Picked e-newsletter

Hand Picked has multiple items for only $1; this week only! Items include initial lip balm, glass bangles, sterling silver CZ post earrings, and sterling silver ball post earrings. Plus, through January 2nd, everything in the store is 20-40% OFF!

For my pops:
image via here

A Rosso gift certificate...I LOVE this restaurant, and so does my dad...if I get him a gift certificate, there's a good chance he'll take me along when he goes to use it :) And, if you buy a $50 gift certificate from either Rosso or Gervais & Vine, you get a FREE bottle of wine!

And for anyone on your list with children, a great gift is a Kids in the Kitchen cookbook, created by Young Chef's Academy, in conjunction with St. Lawrence Place, a transitional housing program for homeless families with children. The cookbooks are only $10 each, and all the proceeds will go to support St. Lawrence Place. They can be purchased from the following local vendors, or by contacting me at
Young Chef's Academy
Trinity Cathedral Bookstore
Mary & Martha's
Rosewood Market
Groucho's Deli on Forest Drive
Shandon Presbyterian Church

Happy last-minute prepping/shopping/cleaning/baking for Christmas!
What do you have left to do?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Word for Wednesday


an identifying name or title; designation OR a geographical name (as of a region, village, or vineyard) under which a winegrower is authorized to identify and market wine

As in: "Under the appellation of Roger Chillingworth, the reader will remember, was hidden another name, which its former wearer had resolved should never more be spoken." from The Scarlett Letter

And here's a blog called Appellation Beer: In Search of the Soul of Beer; a blog based on the premise that it does matter where beer is brewed...

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eating My Way Through Charlotte

Here's the run-down of the places I had the privilege of eating this weekend in Charlotte; (there's nothing like going on a trip with your parents--thanks mom and dad for the extra 5 pounds I am now carrying.)

As you may be able to tell from the forthcoming list, my father loves a good steak and he avoids "trendy" restaurants that may serve too-small portions or food that he doesn't recognize.

I looove to eat, so this was more fun than shopping for me.

Frank Manzetti's- this is a restaurant/bar owned by the same company who owns California Dreaming and New York Prime. I had a really rich and creamy 4-cheese penne pasta with chicken. One of their signature dishes is specialty nachos...mmm.

The Palm (twice, actually)- once for lunch, once for dinner. Amazing service, cool atmosphere. They have a new "Business Lunch" called the Mad Men Lunch Special...4 courses and a drink for $20. At lunch I had Ahi Tuna and at dinner I had Linguine with Red Clam Sauce. They also have bleu cheese stuffed olives in their martinis.

Cheesecake Factory
- a national chain, a plethora of choices from pizza to small bites to salads, and of course cheesecake. I had an awesome white pizza with spinach. My favorite Cheesecake Factory is the one at the top of the building overlooking Union Square in San Francisco-you can sit outside. A dining experience, for sure.

Del Frisco's- an amazing experience--fine dining steak house. I ordered sesame seed encrusted tuna steak with a wasabi cream.

McCormack & Schmick's- they specialize in seafood; the Crab Bisque was pretty darn good. So was their mimosa made with freshly-squeezed oj.

A foray into my sustenance last weekend:

Caesar salad at Del Frisco's
(started eating before I remembered to take a picture)

Tuna Steak with Wasabi Cream at Del Frsico's

James' Bone-in Ribeye, Creamed Corn and Sauteed Spinach
(I don't remember how many ounces that thing is...a lot)

Potatoes Au Gratin and Napa Cellars Wine at Del Frisco's
(may not look that appetizing, but believe me, it was good)

Bloody Mary and Mimosa at McCormack & Schmick's
(they weren't both mine, promise)

Mixed Greens with Candied Walnuts and Feta at McCormack & Schmick's

The fam at The Palm

Needless to say, I'm now on a diet. But it was worth it :)

Little Red Dress

My favorite Christmas present...

image via here

Got this in Charlotte from Anthropologie. Can't wait to wear it with heels to dress it up, or cowboy boots...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Charlotte, NC and IKEA

Ok, so this post is going to be short on words and longer on pictures...I had an amazing time in Charlotte this weekend. South Park Mall was bustling; there are so many stores there that we don't have in Columbia- Sur La Table, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters- I am glad we don't though, 'cause I would be broke...

Some pics of my favs from Banana Republic:

And then we went to IKEA... I was an IKEA store virgin before this past weekend, and just let me say it was a very enjoyable first experience.
Driving into the IKEA store parking lot, it was like entering an amusement park. There were multiple flags at the entrance, (similar to 6 Flags), there were amusements for the kiddos, (a whole little play area just inside the door), there is a Cafe serving all kinds of theme-park food, and there were maps of the store available resembling something I remember trying to read in Disney World.

More pictures from Charlotte to come...mostly of the food I ate while there.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wishful Holiday Baking

I love the thought of baking and creating yummy treats to wrap in pretty containers and give away as Christmas gifts. I still remember the trays of goodies that we received from various neighbors when I was growing up--there were certain ones you always looked forward to because the ladies who made them made the same delicacies each year.

My favorite were the iced sugar cookies dotted with red hots, silver balls, and colored sugar--my sister and I would fight over those.Our backdoor neighbor, Mrs. Gray always made those...wonder if I could get her recipe...

Of course gingerbread people were a staple too, and various other traditional cookies like Italian Wedding Cookies, macaroons, and various fruit-filled or studded kinds, (which I of course avoided like the plague).

Up to this point, my holiday baking has consisted of 2 items: chocolate-covered peanut butter balls and sugar cookies. The peanut butter balls I am pretty damn good at, if I do say so myself. My good friend Amy and I have been making these together for years now; they're pretty labor-intensive, but not difficult, and well worth the effort.

image via here

Not to mention making them makes me think of that hilarious SNL sketch where Alec Baldwin Ana Gasteyer, and Molly Shannon talk about "Schweddy Balls."

I tried to take basic sugar cookies with white icing to another level a few years ago when I bought a set of 3-D cookie cutters from Nordic Ware that promised cookies that look like this:

image via here

Now, I know what you may be thinking...I was pretty naive to think my cookies would come out like the picture, but honestly, my naivete when it comes to holiday baking never ceases to amaze even me. Needless to say, my cookies were not picture-perfect...the bell looked a bit like a large be-headed woman in culottes and the reindeer like a rabid downward-facing dog with no front legs...too bad my pride was too hurt to take pictures.

So, I have decided, (naively, I am sure), to venture into new holiday baking territory this year and make the following recipes to wrap up ever so sweetly and pass on to neighbors, friends, and loved ones...beware:

image and recipe via here

The Wednesday Chef, a blog that I read regularly, featured these cookies this week, and I think they look heavenly. And possibly easy enough for me not to ruin.

image via here

Now, I'm sure mine won't look as perfect, but hopefully they will be that soft-bready type of gingerbread...that's my favorite kind.

And, I'm going to continue my tradition of making the peanut butter balls and iced sugar cookies, (although they will be decidedly 2-D; Nordicware cookie cutters be damned).

What are your plans for holiday baking?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Word for Wednesday


ithy: brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression; full of vigor, substance, or meaning; synonyms include succinct and laconic (my favorite SAT word)
definition via here

Love this "flashcard" of Dwight from The Office using pithy in a sentence.

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Picks for Local Shopping

Something to know about me: I am not a girly-girl.
I typically don't enjoy shopping unless I am by myself and I am looking for something specific. I have never spent more than $60 on a pair of shoes, and most days I wear flip flops or clogs. I was raised by a father who taught me to play softball, basketball, and to love watching baseball and football. I dressed as a Redskins football player for Halloween on numerous occasions as a child, wearing the jersey that I inevitably got for Christmas the year before. And Dad burned the end of a cork to make the black under my eyes; (apparently that's how they did it 'in the old days.')

Anyway, that being said, a girl's still gotta look cute every now and then. I do love the right piece of jewelry or a great pair of high heels that I can usually only muster the strength to wear for an hour or two before switching out for flip flops. I also love shopping for vintage home items as well as gifts and clothing...and so, without further ado, here is my list of great places to shop for such items in Columbia, SC; (in no particular order...)

1. Bohemian: a very boho-chic boutique, (but without the pretense that usually goes along with the word boutique). Some of their items are a little out of my price-range, but they have good sales, and often. Their jewelry is unique and the clothes are stylish while still boho enough for my liking. Their sister store just down the street, Bohemian Home looks dangerous...I have never had enough expendable cash to even venture in, but the window-shopping has been entertaining. Bohemian is located at 2736 Devine Street.

2. Revente: if I need a dress for an event, some new jeans, or killer heels, without having to pay full-price for name brands, this is where I go. I LOOOVE Revente's clothes, shoes, and prices. They are the best women's consignment store in Columbia, in my opinion. I just recently bought 2-inch tan suede peep-toes by BCBGirls from there for $15. No lie. Revente is located at 737 Saluda Avenue.

3. Frenchie Skirts: If you want a one-of-a-kind skirt or dress, made by an amazingly stylish and fun local designer, made from the latest season's fabrics--straight from New York or Italy or somewhere equally as amazing, then you must stop by Frenchie's quaint workshop on 2321 Devine Street, (by appointment). Frenchie is not only a friend, but she also made my wedding dress, [see below--not a great picture, but it was exactly what I wanted for my beach wedding]. She is forever making a wedding or debutante dress, or filling some Columbia socialite's "fall order" of skirts, but is about as unassuming as well, someone with no fashion-sense at me. She has never made me feel silly for asking questions such as: "can the hubs wear a cream/khaki suit in October?" or "opaque tights with peep toe shoes; a do or a don't?" [Decidedly a "don't" on both accounts, if you were wondering]. A Frenchie Skirt really is a big deal in this state, and elsewhere in the South for that matter; you should get one.

4. Roundabouts Consignments: Located at 224 O'Neil Court, it's not necessarily a place you may have run into while shopping in Columbia--it's not downtown or in 5 Points, or the Vista or Sandhills for that matter, but if you dig consignment furniture and love a bargain, it's worth a trip. I recently purchased a vintage lamp for my living room and a really old globe in a wooden stand; neither of which cost more than $15. Sweet.

And look at this kitschy little dining set they have for sale, so cute:

image via here
[News flash--just read on their website that after the January 1, 2010, they will be moving to the old Stein Mart building on Two Notch Rd.]

5. Mary & Martha's: This place is a kitchen-gadget-lover's dream, without being too pretentious and over-priced that you can't buy anything. My husband loves a kitchen gadget and I've gotten him a few stocking-stuffers from here for the past few Christmases. I also got a really amazingly cute/chic, yet cheap, apron for a kitchen bridal shower not too long ago. It was so cute that several guests at the out-of-town party mentioned coming to Columbia just to visit Mary & Martha's! [It's not often that I am the guest with the "it" present at the party, so I was hugely proud]. The shop is located at 4711-16 Forest Drive.
One of my most favorite purchases that I use often to shave parmesan onto a salad, pizza, or just straight into my mouth: a finger-peeler available for $5.95 at Mary & Martha's.
image via here

And here's an apron by the same company that made the one I took to the bridal shower; available at Mary & Martha's for $17.95:
image via here

Where are your favorite local places to shop? There's still a few people on my list to buy for...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Looking Forward to This Week...

via here

1. My nephew's first ever Christmas Sing-Along at his school. His 2-year-old class will be singing "Jingle Bells."

2. O Happy Night! A local artisans sale and benefit for Camp Burnt Gin at the Happy Cafe.

Join us for an evening of wine, appetizers and all of your
Holiday shopping at the Happy Café!
Tuesday, December 8th
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Happy Café
4525 Forest Drive
Stella & Dot
Gift Chicks Jim Finch
Catherine Campbell Becky LaCoste
Gina Holmes Monavie
Elizabeth Suber Frances Nelson
Lindsay Wolfe Powers Strickland
Pilar Emanuel Nini Ward
A percentage of vendors’ sales will go to support Camp Burnt Gin.

via here

3. A long weekend trip to Charlotte, NC with my entire family--mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and husband. We will eat, drink, shop and relax...ahhhh.

via here

4. Going to see Precious.

What's going on fun in your week? The holidays are quickly approaching--and I'm loving the cool weather! Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Soup Swap

via here

What is a Soup Swap?, you may be asking yourself...well let me tell you my dears. It is quite possibly the dorkiest/old-ladiest thing I have ever endeavored to try, but I am so excited! I found the directions for one here a few months ago and decided I had to try it out.

Basically, here's the deal: I have invited a group of gals to my house this Saturday for a good old-fashioned Soup Swap, (not sure if it's old-fashioned at all, but it sounds like it should be, so go with it). Everyone must bring a soup, split into 6 1-quart containers, as well as the recipe for their soup so everyone can see what is in it. Once everyone is assembled, we pull numbers out of a hat to see who gets to "pick soups" first. Then each person in turn picks 6 different quarts of soup to take home and freeze and enjoy all winter long.

I think I will have about 15 people participating in my first-ever soup swap this Saturday--so far the soups that will be brought to the table include broccoli/cheese with rice, potato sausage, tortilla, white chili, taco soup, tomato-basil bisque, corn chowder, and just-plain potato. Yum!

Can't wait to post some pictures and let you all know how it goes. Oh yeah--we'll also partake in some light appetizers, homemade cupcakes, and champagne--a fun party to boot!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Word (and a Phrase) for Wednesday


ndulation: an act of moving in a wave-like fashion; one of a series of wavelike bends, curves, or elevations.

As in "wow, the undulations by those loose girls on stage would certainly not make their fathers proud." While at Wild Wings in the Vista last Friday evening my husband's Aunt Jenny and I found ourselves using this word in just such a way. I felt very old, yet very classy while watching the goat show [see below] that ensued that night...[Aunt Jenny this one's for you :)]


oat show: a crazy, unorganized, or really f***ed up situation.

[See above for usage]
Not exactly like this, but similar in certain ways, for sure. I believe this phrase originated with my friend from college, Casey, but I have kept it alive and my husband now loves it. It is quite descriptive and the exact right phrase to use in so many situations.

Have fun finding uses for the word and phrase of the week!

Daily Drop Caps by Jessica Hische

Monday, November 30, 2009

Things to Do This Week

1. Make every effort to join in this FREE celebration: the first ever
Sustainable Holiday Celebration--tonight!
presented by Sustainable Midlands

Come one, come all, save gas and skip the mall!

Join us on November 30th at 5:30 PM at 701 Whaley to shop and socialize with friends while helping protect the environment and sustainably celebrate the holiday season.

Local and Sustainable Gifts
Sustainable Holiday Decorations
Great free food & libations
Hand-made ornaments by local school children

Please contact Ryan Nevius for more information at or 803-381-8747.

image via here

2. Go see Cold Souls, playing at The Nickelodeon;
last showing tomorrow night at 8 PM.

3. Go to the Shandon Presbyterian Church Alternative Gift Market and support local and global charities while getting meaningful gifts for friends and family. (I will be there representing St. Lawrence Place, which provides transitional housing and programs for homeless families with children).
Wednesday, December 2nd at 6:00 PM
Shandon Presbyterian Activity Center
607 Woodrow St.

4. Holiday Market! Fabulous place to shop for Christmas gifts--put on by
the Junior League of the Midlands.
The Junior League does great things in our community.
December 3-6
Americraft-Cantey Building
SC State Fairgrounds