Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Word for Wednesday


apture: ecstatic joy or delight; joyful ecstasy

As in: The USC Gamecocks and their fans were rapturous after their first-ever College World Series Championship win last night! 

image via here
If you live anywhere in South Carolina, especially Columbia, there is no way you haven't heard the good news...the USC baseball team is National Champs.  I am a long-time USC baseball fan--my Dad used to drag me and my sister to every weekend game at Sarge Frye Field from about the time we could walk--and my family still revels in USC baseball season every year and attends close to every home game.  My 2 year old nephew has a favorite player [Bobby Haney], and can name pretty much all the starting line-up--pretty impressive, right?

image via here
I know my Dad was a little sad that he wasn't in Omaha last night for this momentous event, but I also know he shares in their rapture over the incredible feat!
*Dad really wanted to head to Omaha this year, but stayed in town for the birth of my sister's baby, Taylor.   I'm pretty sure he would still say it was worth sticking around for :)

Definition via
Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Word for Wednesday


 nduce: to bring about, produce, or cause

Today's word is in honor of my sweet sister, Catherine:

 Cat, about 7 months prego with Taylor.  Such a cute pregnant girl, don't you think?!

She will be induced to have her second baby, another boy- Taylor Smith Kirkpatrick- tomorrow morning at 7 AM!  I am an ecstatic Aunt Baba, (as dubbed by my first nephew, Ben), and can't wait to meet the sweet babe.

Pictures and details forthcoming.  What are you looking forward to this week?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Are You Reading?

I have little else on my mind right now besides my upcoming trip to Boca Grande, FL, where I will be sitting on the beach all day and reading lots and lots of books.  So, today's post is about what I am reading right now, and I am eliciting your recommendations as to what I should read in 10 days when I collapse on the beach.

Here's what I'm reading now: 
(Note: I am one of those "I'm reading 4-5 books at once" kinda girls--I tire of one and start another, only to go back to the others at some point, or sometimes never, if they didn't hold my attention.)

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1. The Lovely Bones
I am almost finished with this and it has been a pretty easy, yet enjoyable read.  It's my Book Club's read of the month.  I would recommend it, and I want to see the movie once I finish reading.

image via here
2. East of Eden
 My friend Beth lent me this book and I started it quite some time ago, but it is really long, and parts of it have lost my attention.  I do plan on finishing though.  Beth says it's her favorite book ever--and when smart friends make that claim, I feel I must push onward to finish!

image via here
3. Love in the Time of Cholera
Yes, I started this one (again) while I was at the beach with my family in May, but have yet to finish it.  As you may remember from this post, it is my favorite book of all-time.

image via here

4. Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life
This is a quick-read.  Can't remember where I heard about it, but probably one of the green/organic food blogs I read.  It is about one girl's venture into becoming as self-sufficient as possible, including raising chickens, growing her own food, making her own clothes, etc.  It almost has me convinced that I can have egg-laying hens in my backyard someday...for real.  (And the City of Columbia just passed an ordinance making it legal to do so!)

I think that's it right now...

What are you reading currently, and what should I read next?  I would LOVE some suggestions!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday's Thinking of Food

*You all know by now my affinity for the All Local Farmer's Market--I went last Saturday and it was hoppin', y'all!  It was the busiest I've seen it ever, maybe-and I didn't get there until almost 11.  There were lots more vendors than usual, including many with fresh produce like locally-grown tomatoes.  Here's what you can expect there this Saturday:
Any child with his/her Dad will receive a FREE doughnut in honor of Father's Day--and Dad will get one too!

And, City Roots will be there with so many wonderful herbs, lettuces, and veggies, including chanterelle mushrooms, foraged from the mountains of NC!  That's pretty cool.

*And speaking of farmers markets, the Seeds of Hope markets have opened back around town--you may have noticed signs at various locations for these small markets.  Seeds of Hope invites small, local farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers, ensuring that they can earn a decent living from their farming.  "My" Seeds of Hope market is located at a small church off of Rosewood Drive; the couple who sells their produce there is from Kingstree, SC and they are so sweet.  And they grow the best cantaloupes I've ever eaten!  Seriously, I am eating their cantaloupe as I type this, and I will be back this Saturday to get another.  "My" market is open 8-12 on Saturdays.  Others around town are open different hours--there is one at Shandon Methodist Church, one at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, one at the Unitarian Universalist Church, and many more....check one out!  Click here for a list of all Columbia Seeds of Hope markets.

Angelo--he just exudes "chach," no?
image via here

*Did you watch Top Chef last night?  It was exciting, although I don't have a clear favorite yet.  Obviously, Angelo is really good, (he won both the Quick Fire and the Elimination Challenge last night), but he's a bit of a "chach."*  So far, I think I like Kenny, just because he agrees with me that Angelo is indeed a "chach," and because he was pretty bangin' at the mise en place challenge. No other stand-outs to me, so far.  What did you think?  Here's another review of the season premiere.

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*On a sweeter note, I read about a fun new candy store, Sweeteeth, in Charleston, SC here.  Isn't the packaging cool?  And they specialize in artisan chocolates like peanut butter & chipotle dark chocolate or salted caramel with dark chocolate.  I really want to try some...and, lucky me, (and all the rest of you who don't live in Charleston), you can order the bars on-line here.  The bars are also sold at various local shops in and around Charleston, for list, click here.

Happy Thursday, folks!  I think I'm going to try the new Vista restaurant, Tako Sushi, Saturday night--I'll let you know my thoughts next week.

*"Chach" is a word that I learned from my sister and her husband...not sure of the origin, but I find it is the perfect word in many cases.  Basically, it means d*bag or know, a guy who is arrogant for no reason whatsoever.  I looked it up in Urban Dictionary, and it is defined there as "a person (usually male) who attempts to exhibit a cool and popular look but generally comes across as either an asshole and/or a total loser."  (We all just brought one to mind, right)?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Word for Wednesday


anderlust: a strong innate desire to rove or travel about

I LOVE this word.  I first was introduced to this word about 7 or so years ago by a friend who was using the word to describe how I was feeling at that moment.  He said: "So you've got a lot of wanderlust, huh?"  At the time, I had been telling him my plan to move back to San Francisco as soon as I figured out what I wanted to go back to school for- (I was a public school teacher, and though I loved it, knew I wanted to try something else).

Our last visit to San Fran, 2007.
I ended up going back to school to get my Masters in Social Work about a year after that conversation, and stayed in Columbia, SC to do it because it was exponentially cheaper to go to a school in-state.  I told myself, "after school, I'll move west; just 2 years more."  Well, in that 2 years I met my husband, fell in love, and then got married in 2008.  And we're still in Columbia.

Don't get me wrong, I really do love this place, and our families are both here, and I love my job...but I still have major wanderlust...especially for San Francisco.  We went to Europe for 10 days last summer on our belated honeymoon, and that took care of the wanderlust for a minute.  I'm currently thinking of another trip to cure the itch--any suggestions?

The view of the amusement park from our balcony at Gran Hotel La Florida in BarcelonaIf you've ever seen Vicky Christina Barcelona, this is the amusement park shot in that film.

Do you have wanderlust?

Definition via
Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Top Chef Season 7 Tomorrow Night

image via here

Besides Glee, (whose season ended last week), Top Chef is the only show I feel compelled to watch every episode.  This season is in Washington, DC, and Padma's back with Tom Colicchio.  I can't wait.

As the blog Obama Foodorama details here, next week's Back to School episode will challenge the "cheftestants" (yes, that's really what they call them), to create a healthy, kid-friendly meal for only $2.68 per child, the reimbursement rate schools receive for each child who is eligible for free lunch under the federal program.  Should be interesting--and bring awareness to our need for school lunch reform in America.

Who else loves Top Chef?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekend Round-Up

 image via here

Greenberg, the new Ben Stiller film about being a failure, opens at The Nickelodeon today and runs through June 17th.  Here's a trailer; I think it looks pretty funny:

Tomorrow at the All-Local Farmer's Market, there is seafood!  Sea Eagle Seafood will have jumbo shrimp, flounder, grouper and more.  Of course all the other staid favorites will also be there selling local produce, grains, flowers, dairy, get the idea.

And, there is a FREE wine tasting and sale at Cellar on Greene from 12-2 PM tomorrow afternoon!

That's about all I have on my plate for the weekend, what do you have in store?  
James' best friend, Jason, is coming in town and we'll be cooking out at the house at some point.  It's gonna to be disgustingly sticky in Columbia this weekend, brace yourselves.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Word for Wednesday


oq au vin: a French braise of chicken cooked with wine, lardons, mushrooms & garlic.

image via here
I chose this cooking-style as today's word because of an opportunity that presented itself to me yesterday: Young Chef's Academy, located in Irmo, SC, is offering adult cooking classes this summer!  There are 4 series scheduled, including Savory Baking, Bon Appetit: Channeling Julia and the Art of French Food, Cake Decorating, and Top Secret Restaurant Recipes.

I am very tempted to take the Art of French Food series, which includes Coq Au Vin.  I think I could channel Julia pretty well...

Call (803-749-0670) or email: to sign up or customize an adult activity to your wishes.  Cost is $75- $100 for each 3-part series.  Tell them Becca sent you.

Also, the only other place I have ever heard the term Coq Au Vin is at my favorite fondue restaurant, The Melting Pot.  The menu describes the coq au vin cooking style as: "Flavors of fresh herbs, mushrooms, garlic, spices and burgundy wine."  Yum.

Happy Wednesday!

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Peaceful Villa Farm & Mediterranean Market

Just the name of this place sounds pastoral.  Has anything ever sounded so demure and easy-like-Sunday-morning?  I was not disappointed this past easy-like-Saturday-morning when I walked inside and met the owners, a couple named Ed and Kathleen.  They were both as cordial as could be, and genuinely in love with what they do and interested in knowing who their customers are.

As I got out of the car, I was greeted by red and white-checkered-tablecloth-covered tables teeming with fresh produce:

As I ventured into the small shop, I met Ed, the owner, and we began to talk about how I had found them.  I told him that I had read the recent Free Times review of their quaint store and had to check it out for myself.

Ed is native to Egypt, and he and I had a brief discussion of my Mediterranean cruise last summer, and our love of the small farm we visited in Sorrento, Italy where they grew their own olives and lemons, from which they made olive oil and limoncello.  As Ed and I were talking, his wife, Kathleen walked in carrying jars of freshly-picked olives to put out for sale in the store.  (Talk about fresh!)

Ed on the farm (picture borrowed from their Facebook page)

Kathleen in the shop, receiving a Golden Spatula Award from WLTX (picture borrowed from their Facebook page)

Don't they just look like nice people?
The "market" has plenty of hard-to-find Mediterranean dry goods, but also homemade items like lemon-basil pesto, pasta sauce, and breads.  I purchased one each of the fresh pesto, pizza/pasta sauce, and a whole-wheat baguette, and tried the pesto last night over whole wheat pasta.  It was delicious.

Some amazing gold-detail glasses that I will return to purchase...

The Peaceful Villa's Facebook page is filled with pictures and information about their store and updates on what is fresh in the market that day.  Kathleen makes plenty of amazing sauces, breads, baklava, and even convenience foods--she told me that she has bags of already-chopped veggies for sale to use in a stir-fry.

Check out this West Columbia gem Wednesday- Saturday at 1532 Sunset Blvd. and definitely get some pesto!  Tell Ed and Kathleen that Becca sent you!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Check Out Pinterest

I can't recall now where I first read about the new website called Pinterest, although I'm quite sure it was one of the many inspiring blogs in my blog roll.  Anyway, Pinterest is "a place to curate and share collections of things you love."  So far, the site is so new that you have to request an invitation to use it, but I did, and less than 2 days later got the invitation.  (Believe me, I am in no way special, so anyone can get an invite!)

Once you're a member of the site, they give you super-simple instructions on how to create a "Pin It" button to place on your web browser's toolbar--then, when you're browsing you just click the button to "pin" the item you like to your Style Board.  You can also "follow" others' Pin Boards, and re-pin things you like.

Click here to see my Style Board.  Here's a cool board I follow called San Francisco Spots, curated by sfgirlbybay, who also has a great blog.

It's kind of addictive, and fun to see who shares your love for certain items.  Also a great way to keep track of things that you like and may want to purchase someday in the future, like on payday:

 image via here

...or when you win the lottery:
 image via here

What would you Pin?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday's Thinking of Food

Just a couple things today...some food art and a book about pet food.

* I was reading Design for Mankind, one of my daily blog-reads, by Erin Loechner, when I came across this post about Liz's Foodtography.  I absolutely love it and want a print for my picture wall in my den.  Liz takes time lapse photos of her meals and posts them to her Flickr stream 

image via here

image via here

* I came across this book review here"If you've ever been curious about pet food, a new book by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim is sure to satisfy. Feed Your Pet Right examines the politics, marketing, and science behind pet food, and also serves as a research-based guide on how to feed your dog or cat sustainable and healthy foods." 
 image via here

Interesting to find out that the 5 major pet food producing companies in the US also produce "people-food": Nestle, Mars, Proctor & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Del Monte.  If this industry is as unregulated as the "people-food" industry in this country, (as I can only assume it is), then this should be an informative and eye-opening read for anyone who is an animal-lover.

Has anyone read the book?  Are you loving the local farmer's markets around Columbia, or what?!

Eating Our Way Through Charleston, SC, Part II

So, here's the second half of our Charleston culinary adventures over Memorial Day weekend.

On Saturday, we didn't partake of food, but drinks at the super-luxe Pavilion rooftop bar.

 Grill 225 is also in this hotel, but that wasn't in our price-range for the weekend.  My Dad swears it's the best steak he's ever eaten though, and that's saying a lot coming from him.

 The view from our table.
The Carnival Cruise Ship that now docks in the Charleston harbor weekly.

Collin's amazing-looking mojito.  (If only I liked mint and lime in drinks...)
After a leisurely afternoon filled with good food at Blossom and drinks at Pavilion Bar, we headed home to rest up a bit for the main event--Wild Olive for dinner.
Our friend from high school, Caroline, and her boyfriend, Matt, joined us for dinner at this John's Island "Cucina Italiana."  The 6 of us arrived a little late for our 8 o'clock reservation, but no worries, the staff was prepared and sat us immediately.  The restaurant was pretty hoppin', and actually was still busy when we left almost 2 hours later, but service suffered none.  
We got a few appetizers for the table- calamari, beef carpaccio, and 2 orders of the fried risotto fritters.  The fritters took the cake for me--they were stuffed with house made sausage, (yes, I ate some meat), spinach and Parmesan, served with a vodka-tomato aioli.  I would go back just to eat these.
For the main course, I enjoyed a Ricotta Gnocchi alla Marinara, which was tasty, but it was not the best entree at the table in my opinion--that title is reserved for Austin's Goat Cheese Ravioli.  I had debated between the ravioli and the gnocchi, and after tasting Austin's (a few times), was disappointed in my decision.  The ravioli is not only stuffed with goat cheese, but also dried orange, thyme and hazelnuts.  The flavor combination was unbelievable.  Seriously, I want some right now.
 Goat Cheese Ravioli

Caroline's Shrimp "Picatta" served over Fried Green Tomatoes
I don't really remember what everyone else at the table had to eat, (sorry y'all, I was really excited about mine and Austin's food), and it also may have had something to do with the  wine and extra-dirty martinis that were flowing...
 I definitely remember the desserts though.  We debated getting dessert at all, as we were all very satiated at this point, but we ordered anyway, and I'm glad we did.
 Chocolate Pistachio Custard--amazing presentation, don't you think?  And equally tasty.
 Black and White Semifreddo- dark chocolate, white chocolate, pistachios, and strawberries.  The best of the 2, I thought.
And so ended a perfect meal with super-fun dining companionsHighly recommend Wild Olive.
 A very dark picture of the amazing chandelier hanging from a tree outside Wild Olive's door.
 And the very cool shadow cast on the ground underneath the chandelier.
Charleston, and Wild Olive, we will return.  Soon, I hope.

Happy Summer to Me

TOMS wedges went on sale yesterday.  I tried to purchase these on-line yesterday, but the website crashed.

Never fear, it's back up today.  I just purchased them.  Happy summer to me.
image via here

Here's the promo video for the new wedges:

And of course the best thing about TOMS is their One for One premise: for every pair purchased, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need.  One for One.

Happy summer, indeed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Garbage Revolution

I was perusing this website to find a RuMe bag, after seeing them featured in the June 2010 Bon Appetit...

This one is my favorite, and it's only $5:
image via here
 {Can be used and re-used to store snacks, loose change, whatever- since they are dishwasher safe}

When I came across this website, promoting the new documentary film Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home. 
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Click here to see what you can do to help reduce garbage, and how to host a screening of the video.

What do you do to reduce and re-use instead of creating more garbage?