Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Excitement

The week has already been busy--here's what has been going on with me:

Yesterday was my and James' 2nd wedding anniversary.  Two years has flown by--and it has been so fun.  I had to teach last night, so when I got home James had Village Idiot pizza waiting (yum-the Hurricane pizza is to die for)*, as well as a dozen red roses and a necklace he picked out from an antique store all on his own.

(He knows me well--I do love a vintage piece!)  He is amazing and thoughtful.  We're going out to dinner Friday night to really celebrate and he says I have another gift coming that night...I am a lucky girl.

This morning I went to the Doctor for my 28 week pre-natal check up.  I had to do the gestational diabetes test, and I passed with flying colors.  Blood pressure is good, fetal heart rate is normal, and all is well with me and Jones.  I am measuring a week ahead of schedule, so he will probably make his appearance well before the February 14th due date.

Over the weekend I made James get the Christmas decorations down from the attic and attempted to start decorating--he talked me into waiting until the day after Thanksgiving for most things though.

And I also attempted to make bread from my starter for the very first time.  The results were less than stellar.  The dough came together well, rose well the first time around, but then I just couldn't get it to rise as much as it should have the second time around, so it ended up very flat, hard and heavy after baking.  I am going to try again tomorrow afternoon.

Looks good here, but wait...
A bread brick.

I am working on the knitted baby blanket--see my progress below.  It's going to take me while, but so far, so good.

I am also going to attempt to make a Peanut Butter Chocolate Tart with a Pretzel Crust tomorrow to take to Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house--I'll let you know how that goes.

Happy Thanksgiving Week, everyone!  If you're in Columbia and looking to shop this weekend, keep your local retailers in mind and support Small Business Saturday!

And, just because-- pictures of some of my favorite boys: my nephews, Ben and Taylor, and James and our dingo, Peach.

XO, Becca

*Village Idiot on Forest Drive has an amazing Monday deal where you can buy any size/topping pizza and get one FREE of equal or lesser value!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Entertaining Gift Guide

For that person who loves to entertain, (and we know who we are!):

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The bowl holds colorful, removable pouches to fill with different dips!

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Simple, gold wire trees--and 4 for only $10!

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Creative cocktails and clever quotations, for only $9.95 from Urban Outfitters.

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Can you say classy and kitchy?!

And finally, a display piece for your gorgeous cookies, cupcakes or cake: 
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I adore hobnail and milkglass...and baking.  Perfect!

And there you have it--some super-cool, modern and vintage entertaining pieces for the entertainer on your list this holiday season!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Waiting for "Superman"

It was just as appalling as I anticipated...and definitely made me want to go back to teaching in the public school system.  This movie is a call to action, and I certainly hope it is an eye-opener for those who see it.

The Nickelodeon is showing the film through next Wednesday, November 24th.  Tonight's
5:30 showing will be followed by a TalkBack with members of City Year and next Tuesday's 5:30 showing will be followed by a TalkBack with SC Superintendent of Education, Jim Rex.  You should really go see it.

The film didn't offer a panacea for the deepseated ills of our public education system, but it did proffer some ideas--like KIPP School ideals or Harlem Children's Zone and Geoffrey Canada's ideas.  I have read the book Work Hard. Be Nice., about the 2 KIPP School founders, Feinberg and Levin, and it inspired me.  This book made me want to go back to teaching--it made me want to go apply to teach a t a KIPP School.  These schools are working. 

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But, how feasible is it to make the school day longer and the school year longer?  How feasible is it to start teaching students and their parents in a formalized way as soon as they are conceived, as in Canada's "Baby College"?  It will take a lot of convincing to the beaurocrats involved in changing laws and the way the education system works for major changes to be made.

One of the most telling statistics in the film--and the one that should stick with and inspire change for both liberals and conservatives alike--showed how much it costs to support a prisoner in the US for the average prison-stay of 4 years, compared to how much it costs to send a child top a private school for grades 1-12.  It costs $24,000 more to pay for the prison time.  Enough.

Go see the film; let me know what you think.  Take action.  Our children are worth it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Knitting for Real

I am officially a knitter.  I completed my first hand-knitted item last night:

My first knitted item is complete!  (I look pretty scary in this pic, but it's the best one I have of the scarf...)
Thanks in large part to Lara Winburn of In the Loop for her expertise, patience and teaching. 

My next venture is a baby blanket for Jones--it's going to be simple; color-blocked oatmeal and green.  Let's cross our fingers that I can get it finished in 3 months!

Oatmeal and green yarn for Jones' blanket.
And, I have officially crossed another thing off my 31 Things to Accomplish in my 31st Year list! (Learn to knit).

I am in an amazing mood today, (despite the fact that I haven't had a good night's sleep in a week--I guess this is normal for someone 7 months pregnant?!), because today is my Friday.  I am heading to Litchfield Beach for the weekend with my family tomorrow, and I am excited for a few days of good food, sleep (hopefully), reading, knitting, and breathing salty air!

What are your plans for the weekend?

And just because...here is the most recent "bump" picture and a picture, (albeit blurry), of my sweet hubs and sweet Abby:
I look tired and pale..and big!
Abby looks embarrassed, doesn't she?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Baking Bread

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Yep; I'm finally gonna try it.  It is on my 31 Things to Do in My 31st Year list, (which I have approximately 2 months to complete-update on that coming soon), and I haven't attempted it yet--it's about time.

I found this simple-enough explanation on how to create a "starter," from which to make bread...I'll keep you updated on my progress.  And local friends, hopefully, I'll have some to share soon!

Any suggestions or advice from you sage bread-makers out there?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thirsty Fellow & Reasons to Be Pretty

I finally got to the (relatively) new pizza and beer joint, Thirsty Fellow, a couple weeks ago.  It's located near the Colonial Center, and the atmosphere is pretty chill.  Lots of books lining the walls, pretty dark, and really big!

My friend and I ordered a large pretzel for appetizer--it was just what one would expect and want from a big pretzel; a bit of crunch on the outside, but doughy and warm on the inside, served with that fake cheesey sauce that I love with a pretzel!

For my meal I ordered a pizza with olives and red onions.  The crust was relatively thin--definitely not too thick, sort of a thinner Labrasca's-type crust.  I enjoyed it both that evening, and the next day cold for my lunch--(which is always the true test for me--I often enjoy pizza better cold than hot).

My friend had a loaded hotdog and a side salad.  She is a hotdog connoisseur, and said it was quite tasty.  Click here for more of their menu.  (They also have a Brunch menu).

So there you have it--Thirsty Fellow was a winner in my book.  And everything is really affordable.

Last night I went to Saluda's for dinner with my husband, mother-in-law and aunt.  The food was amazing!  I haven't been there in quite sometime; it is pretty fine dining after all, and that doesn't often fit into our budget.  But if you need an amazing place to take a date and you're trying to make a good impression, I highly recommend it.  (Sorry no pictures; left the camera at home).

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After an early dinner, we headed to Trustus Theatre to see Reasons to Be Pretty.  The show runs through next weekend, and it has gotten a good review in The Free Times- read it here.  We all really enjoyed it--go support local theater.

Hope everyone has a wonderful, chilly weekend!  I am so excited to finally wear winter clothes and have fires in the fireplace; we had our first of the season this week and it was divine.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday's Thinking of Food-- Happy Animals

After a long hiatus, (constant nausea doesn't do much for wanting to think about food...), this weekly post about food is making a comeback!

November 2010- image via here

While reading the most recent Bon Appetit magazine last weekend I came across an article about a man named Patrick Martins, co-founder of Heritage Foods USA, or as the article dubbed him, "the heritage food hero."  He raises "happy animals"--and is on a mission to save heritage breeds of livestock and the family farms that raise them.

I love his answer about what makes a "happy animal": "It has room.  I think that's the biggest thing.  It can walk around.  No living creature should be forced to live in a box.  That should shoot through the heart of every American.  We live in a country that is wealthy, that is trying to improve itself, that is a moral beacon to the rest of the world.  We cannot keep animals in boxes.  Period."

Well said.  Hopefully we'll all think of this when purchasing the meat and dairy to feed our families with, and purchase organic, cage free, humanely-raised and slaughtered whenever possible.

And if you're in the market for a turkey this holiday season, my fellow Columbians, check out Earth Fare.  You can order your humanely raised, organic turkey now--and donate one to a family in need while you're at it--check with our local store for details.

And, I also found in Bon Appetit a recipe for Oatmeal Muffins that I just might have to try this holiday season...wish me luck!  (I have never had much--(who am I kidding, any)-- success with muffins, biscuits, or bread in the past, but I am determined!)

Anyone have any tips for successful bread/muffin/biscuit baking?  Are you as excited as I am for the impending holiday season!?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Word for Wednesday


isillusion: to free from or deprive of belief or idealism

As in: I am feeling extremely disillusioned with SC politics and our state's constituency today.  Sheheen ran a great race in this red state of ours.  At best I feel Haley will be ineffective and nothing will change; at worst, I fear she will cut basic services to the bone and education, social services, environment, the working poor, you name it will suffer terribly...

I am also super-sad about the Penny Tax not being passed- I dearly hope another way is found to keep our bus system running- even if you don't depend on the buses, there are plenty of working poor people that do.

Brad Warthen, SC political pundit and blogger, summed up thoughts on the SC election eloquently here.

Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.