Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tribe in Tampa

Earlier this month we took an overnight trip to see our beloved Cleveland Indians take on the Tampa Bay Rays.   It was a nice break from the work week, and allowed us to see a new stadium while rooting for the Indians.   Below, a few highlights

We stayed at the Hotel Indigo, a boutique hotel in downtown St. Petersburg.

It's centrally located downtown, so we walked to Tropicana Field on Wednesday night, and were able to take advantage of the free stadium shuttle afterwards.

Check out the adorable rooms. . . .

I was smitten with the bedding and color scheme; you can barely see the checkered bed skirt and shams, which also included navy blue.   It was intense, but I liked it!

The halls were a bit busy, but again, it worked.   The building used to be a local inn back in the day, so it has a funny layout, and the folks who run it decide a quirky decor would be a good idea.

Initially known as the Heritage Inn, this building was built in the 1920.   I asked Michael to stand by the sign that explained it was one of the first hotels to offer a chilled ice water system to their guests.  Guests could refill the pitcher from their  room with chilled water before retiring for a relaxing night's sleep.   Naturally I tried to turn on the spout.   Michael explained that modern hotels featured ice machines and cold water in the bathrooms so this feature has been rendered obsolete.   Right.   Good call, Cornellie.

Time to go to the baseball game!   Tropicana field is a dome, so it's climate controlled and full of big lights. 

Our seats were very good; we were seated about 5 rows up on the third base side.  

Most importantly, I had a great view of my boyfriend, Michael Brantley, because he bats left handed.

The Tribe ended up winning the game, 10-6 overcoming shaky pitching.   Our section had a smattering of Cleveland fans, which made the end of the game that much more fun!  There was a bit of trash talking among some silly guys, but it's a sporting event.  What do you expect?

It was a late night, but we got back to our funky hotel room around 11:30 and were asleep around midnight.   The 3 am fire alarm (seriously!) was unwelcome.   We were jolted awake, only to stand outside in 80 degree heat and excessive humidity.   Thankfully there was no fire - especially because it took the 7 fire trucks more than 10 minutes to arrive.   Sheesh.  We were all allowed inside after about 30 minutes, but I was not amused.

We had a little free time the next morning so we went for a stroll along the bay.   I was evidently channeling my sister, because I came upon a stray kitty cat sleeping on a picnic table.   So I took a picture and talked to her.

We headed back to "The Trop," this time remembering to take a photo.   The sidewalk leading up to the stadium depicts fish and sting rays and other Florida motifs.   Just as you'd expect!

Since we got in so darn early, we took some time to explore the stadium.   The Sting Ray tank is a highlight but there was a crazy line, so we headed up to the 'bleachers' and got a birds eye view instead of walking right in front of them.   We even found a guy to take our picture with home plate behind us.

Sadly the Tribe was shut out 6-0 on Thursday afternoon.   We were glad to have had the opportunity to see our home team in a new stadium, and even happier to see them win one night.   Seeing any kind of live baseball is always a great way for the two of us to spend a few hours!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Opening Ceremonies

First things first- I did not find there to be a legitimate 'battle' between Mary Poppins and Voldemort.   I know MP is awesome, but her simple act of flying in would not scare him away.   Where was the action?  Liars!

One of the good things about the opening ceremonies is that despite not watching with all my friends and family, text messaging means we can still share thoughts in real time.   Highlights are below

Pannie: The first half hour can be summed up thusly: YAY ENGLAND!
Al: What the @#$% is this crap?

Mom: A storm knocked our our DirecTV right when the Red Queen appeared!
Ashley: Suffragettes!
Al: Danny Boyle is apparently on more drugs than a Soviet athlete
Mom: Matt is pissing me off
Al: Holy @#$%^# Germany!   Stick with designing cars, not clothes 
Mom: Dad needs a Nigerian hat

And finally, my favorite image of the night, courtesy of many facebook friends

Friday, July 27, 2012

Opening Ceremonies!

No surprise, but if you need to find me this evening, I will be on my couch watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics Games.    I will also be making fun of Bob Costas [a given] and texting Pannie about all sorts of things including, but not limited to, finding her a boyfriend with a crazy long last name.   With any luck I will also learn a new word in the process.   Last time it was 'sartorial'   Anyway.

Besides drooling over the male swimmers and guys on the track team (I'd drool over the gymnasts too but they're all at least 6" shorter than me) I will be anticipating this pomp and circumstance.

British literary characters?  Check!    Mary Poppins?  Voldemort?  BATTLING EACH OTHER?!?!   What in the world?

Fingers crossed that He Who Must Not Be Named gets his ass kicked by the magical nanny.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Happy Travelers

It's Thursday which means... it's time for another installment of The Book of Jules.   You know, the post where I share my opinions with everyone else, whether on not they care about them.   This is the beauty of a blog to which only I post! 

Today's topic: TRAVELING

More specifically, air travel.   If you have traveled on an airplane any time in the past 10 years I can only assume you will agree with my sentiments that the traveling public, in general, is ignorant.   Frequent business travelers (hi Dad!) are likely exempt from the term traveling public, but I have seen a lot of crazy things.   Keep in mind I live in the most visited travel destination in the world.   Technically, no I do not live in Disney World, but we do share Orlando's airport.   When I fly, I fly with non-business travelers.   Large families with multiple generations results in strollers and balloons and Grandma not knowing she has to take off her coat and her shoes and God knows what else.

Here are some tips I am sure these kind people could benefit from knowing.  It goes without saying that it is not comprehensive, but speaks to commonly seen 'situations' here near The Mouse.

Wear comfortable clothing that is meant to be worn in public

I did not say pajamas or sweat pants.  Comfortable, public-appropriate clothing does exist, I promise.  I don't know when this happened, but as a culture, Americans seem to not give a hoot about their appearance, especially when traveling.  Comfort reigns.   I am all about being comfortable during long trips, but most of you are on a plane for 3-4 hours.  We are not flying to Beijing; we are flying from Chicago to Orlando.

Do not wear copious amounts of jewelry

There will be metal detectors at security.   You will forget about the 84 bracelets on your arm and waltz right through, and have to come back and take everything off.   Don't bother wearing them in the first place.   Trust me, they do not go with your sweatsuit anyway.

Know your group number

Many airlines board by zone or group number.   Familiarize yourself with this designation so you are not clogging up the works lingering at the jet way door while others go before you.  Relatedly, do not assume you are more important than everyone else and charge ahead to take your seat.   You will inevitably put your suitcase in the overhead bin above MY seat, which would have been vacant had you waited your turn.
If you are a family traveling with small children - and I swear I am often the only person who is NOT - do your homework.   Get the special family with kids boarding card so you can get settled.   Do not wait until you are at the gate and junior is hungry or covered in Chik-Fil-A sauce and crying for his Mickey balloon.

Do not walk down the aisle while dragging your [too wide] carry-on bag behind you

You will bump into everyone on both sides of the aisle.   Pick up the bag and carry it in front of you.  If it is too heavy to pick up, you have no business carrying it on and should just check it.  We all know you have checked other bags and the double jogging stroller even though everyone in your party is at best overweight and at worst asking for the seat belt extender (I am sorry but I see this all the time and it boggles the mind)

Do not pull on the back of my seat.  Ever.

But especially when you are getting up or sitting down or adjusting your iPad cover or assisting your child with his Nintendo DS or whatever the kids are using these days.

Stand back from the luggage carousel

Do not stand against the carousel with everyone in your family.  Take a few steps back, allow yourself, and others, a wider field of vision so we can all see what is coming 'round the bend.  When you see your suitcase with the Christmas ribbon on the handle, you may step forward to claim it.   Until that happens, send one parent with the kiddos to get an ice cream or something.  They are super excited that they are in Florida, but it does not take 8 people to get suitcases.

So- what drives you bananas when you travel?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up


  • Last minute dinner at the hard-to-get-a-reservation California Grill, complete with fireworks from our table.   This was our approximate view, though I obviously did not take the pic
  • Dinner was just after a much needed haircut.   I was a happy girl
  • Afternoon Costco run (because we all need 92 boxes of tissues)


  • Trip to Cocoa Beach
  • Altercation at McDonalds about the size and temperature of a latte
  • Air popped popcorn and wine during the baseball game


  • Animal Kingdom for 2.5 hours to ride all the best rides before the crowds and heat were unbearable
  • Delicious dinner
  • Molasses cookies & Irish coffee & the Sunday crossword

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to: Maximize Drawer Space

Messiness makes me twitch.  I color code, I organize, I try to keep things clean and orderly.  This is not news to anyone.

One area where chaos really bugs me is in drawers and closets.   Figuring out what to wear can be hard enough on a good day.  Throw in a messy drawer or wrinkled shirts and you are setting yourself up for trouble.

My issue with shelves and drawers is stacking.  I used to keep my tank tops in a stack in my closet.  The problem with that is the maintenance.   If I wanted a tank top halfway down the stack, I made a mess trying to get to it.  And if I was not not careful, the entire stack fell down.  A similar issue arrises with shirts are stacked in a drawer.  You can't see what you have and start rummaging.  Your drawer turns into a disaster, you have to refold your shirts and put them back.   Consequently, when I was living with stacks, I kept wearing the same few shirts living on the top of each pile.  That's dumb.

Awhile ago I decided I need to re-think my top folding situation and came up with the following.   I did not invent this method; it simply works for me.  By folding the shirts into squares and lining them up like file folders, I can easily see what I have.   They are still organized, but are arranged in such a way that I can see a logo or pattern on the shirt easily.   (You eagle eyes will notice in the top photo that tank tops on the left side are organized by color, but t-shirts are not.  They are organized by neck shape and print vs. solid.   Just because that works for me and how I get dressed!)  Incidentally, I find I can fit more shirts in each drawer using this method!  Very efficient.

Here's how to do it!

Start with an unfolded shirt

 Fold the shirt in half vertically (sleeve to sleeve and shoulder to shoulder) and if there's a print on one side, keep that visible.  If the print is allover or centered this won't be an issue.

Tuck the arms in so you have a nice neat rectangle

Fold the shirt in half top to bottom

Fold in half again to form a nice neat smaller rectangle

Put the shirt away!

Note: When I stick a shirt in the drawer, I put it in with the collar side down and facing the back of the drawer.   This way, the print on the front of the shirt is visible.   Less important with this design, but helpful for traditional shirts with centered logos, as you can see from the row of shirts on the far right.   I can easily see what the patterns are on all of these shirts and they are not in a stack!   So easy

How do you keep your clothing organized?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Airplane Smell

Michael describes his travels on a new airplane earlier this week

Text Message #1: If what I read online is right, my plane is less than two weeks old and has Boeing sky interior!  I am pumped

Text Message #2: Beautiful plane- bins are huge so it speeds boarding.  Windows have the illusion of looking bigger

After picking him up at the airport, conversation in the car:

M: It was amazing!   It even smelled like new plane.   It was a 'new airplane' smell, which is different than a 'new car' smell.

Me: What, exactly, does that mean?

M: It smelled like I was inside a new computer!  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

This is what they eat in heaven

Not that there was any doubt, but I have the best sister in the world.   Thursday afternoon the doorbell rang.  I was not expecting a delivery; for once I was not ordering shoes!   [This should probably be noted on a calendar somewhere: Jules did not order shoes this week]  Despite not being done with work for the day, I got up from writing my 100th email of the day -not exaggerating- to investigate.   Everyone needs to stretch her legs, right?

On the doorstep I saw a box with the return address of Momofuku Milk Bar and a "Keep refrigerated" sticker on the outside.    Oh my gosh.    I opened the box, which held a smaller box, tied with a cute silver ribbon.   My suspicions had been confirmed.    BIRTHDAY CAKE TRUFFLES.   

It was not even my birthday!   Now, we all know I have an obsession with desserts and most items loaded with sugar.  These truffles, however, are on another level.  For those of you keeping score, this does, in fact, mean that I ate two of my favorite desserts - EVER- in less than one week: Magic Cookies & Momofuku Milk Bar Truffles.

Have you ever had a birthday cake truffle?   If you have not, try to plan a trip to New York in the immediate future.  Then make time to go the store and buy some.   Or, have them shipped to your home.   Better yet, have your sister send them to you!  Enjoy with a latte or a glass of milk and you will be a happy camper.    Here's why:  

These truffles are made with a vanilla cake base and sprinkles (think Funfetti cake mix) and coated with a white chocolate glaze.  Then!    They are dipped into a layer of cake crumbs.   Are you serious?    Yes, my friends.   I am.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to: Write the perfect thank you note

After spending time last week talking about gift giving, thank you notes seemed to be an appropriate follow up topic

I am a big believer in thank you notes.   (My sister would joke that their importance is discussed in the Book of Jules, and she would be right if such a book existed)  Thank yous do not have to be fancy or long and flowery.  Simply thank the person who gave you the gift, and do so sincerely.   That is all that matters.

Perhaps most importantly, send a personalized note.   Do not use a generic message, or use a card that has been printed off the computer 50 times with the exact same sentiment.   It's pretty simple when you think about it : mention the gift and the giver, actually say "Thank you" and explain how you'll use the gift.  Also, try not to repeat yourself.   No need to say thank you in each paragraph and sign off "Thanks again"   They get the point :)

A sample of how I structure my notes is below.   It's not particularly original, but it fits all my criteria above.  I find that when I keep it simple, it's much more likely to get done!   The thought of writing 25 unique thank you notes would send Emily Post herself for the rum bottle.  Knowing you have a template you can follow while you knock these babies out makes it seem attainable, and keeps the rum bottle full(er). No one is literally going to 'compare notes.' If it follows the same structure, a note can easily be personalized with a sentence or two.

Thank You Trifecta

I - Appreciate the people (if possible, before you appreciate the item)
II- Highlight a personal detail.  This is not a photocopied note, even though I use the same format!
III- Thank them, and specify how you will use the gift

Dear Bill and Linda,
(I) Our wedding made us realize not just how lucky we are to have each other, but also how fortunate we are to have such loving family and friends.  We are so glad that you were able to come to our wedding and be a part of our special day.   (II) It makes us laugh to see you dancing up a storm (Linda wearing heels, of course!) in our wedding photos.  
(III) Thank you so much for the Kitchen Aid Mixer.  You know how much we love to cook and bake, so it will definitely be used frequently.
Love,  Michael & Jules

Here's another example if that's not your style... or if you want to mix and match!

Dear Bill and Linda,
(III) What a beautiful vase!   Right now it's doing a great job showing off a bouquet of daisies.  You know that Michael and I always keep fresh flowers in our kitchen, so it will be used regularly.   
(II) We were both sorry that you couldn't come to the wedding, but I know your Mediterranean Cruise was fantastic. We plan on being in Chicago this Christmas and would love to see you and hear about your travels.
(I) Again, thank you for the vase and lovely note you sent.  

Love from both of us,

What do you think? 

Am I smart to have an easily modified template?   Crazy for caring so much about thank you notes?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Working from home has a lot of perks.   I get to work in my pajamas (I don't actually do that....) I don't have to 'get ready' in the morning by doing my hair or my makeup.   I do not have to pack lunch ahead of time.  I do not have to wear shoes.  I can throw in a load of laundry at lunch time.  I can sign for a package if UPS comes.

This particular situation is not one of those perks.   In the last 7 days our internet has gone out twice.    Not just at my house. . . . the entire neighborhood.   My work is 100% online.    I answer hundreds of emails each day, I make and receive calls on a Voice Over IP phone, and I monitor an online chat feature.   My meetings are done through video chat.  When the internet goes down, I go down with it.

Last Tuesday when it happened for the first time, Michael told the internet folks "My wife works from home and is in sales.  Every minute she is off line is money out of her pocket"   This was not untrue.  It took approximately 6 hours for the internet to be restored.   Meanwhile, I headed to McDonald's, bought a $2 iced coffee and used their WiFi.

This afternoon I was away from my desk eating lunch.  My neighbor called to see if I had internet.  I did not.   ^*&%#@$!    Which means...... I went to McDonald's again.  Have you ever sat in a McDonald's for an entire afternoon?   It is not recommended.  I mean, today I decided I deserved a snack size McFlurry (delicious) so that was fun.  But sitting in a [Mc]booth while other people talk loudly all around me and enjoy their fries is not my idea of a good time.   I do not expect them to be quiet; this is McDonald's, not the library.  

Luckily, the outage lasted just 3.5 hours today, and my neighbor was kind enough to text me with an update.   So help me if this happens again in the near future.   Not only will money be out of my pocket, it surely won't be going toward paying my next internet bill!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Magic Cookies

Ever since I was old enough to use the stove, I have made (literally) hundreds of types of cookies.   Thankfully, I have had more hits than misses.  One of my standbys is, not surprisingly, chocolate chip.   Nothing too fancy, the Nestle Toll House recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag is easy and delicious.    Until recently, they were my chocolate chip recipe of choice.  

Until I stumbled across these fantastically wonderful rounds of bliss via Pinterest.   Originally from The New York Times, I have made these cookies twice and they are a-ma-zing.    I decided to post them on this here blog so I could always find the recipe and ingredients... even when I am not at home with my recipe binder.

These are the best cookies I have ever made in my life.    That is a lot of cookies.   I would perhaps even say they are the best in the world.  Hence my use of the word MAGIC.  The catch?  This recipe is an exercise in patience.  You have to wait (days!) between mixing and baking and eating.  If I can wait, anyone can wait.   Let me explain.

The Magic

This recipe uses both bread flour and cake flour, but not all purpose flour.  Bread flour has gluten, which baking experts can talk about if you're interested.  Cake flour is more powdery and light.  Together, they work wonders.

Room Temperature Ingredients
Butter takes 30-45 minutes to reach this state.   Do not leave it out all day and let it get mushy or melted
Eggs are also 30-45 min, but I sometimes use this trick: place eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water for 5-10 minutes.

Quality Chocolate
60% cacao chips.   I have not yet found discs (original recipe suggestion) but Ghirardelli's chips are ginormous and work in a similar fashion.   My local Publix carries large Nestle's dark chocolate chips for less money than Ghirardelli, which are also quality.  DO NOT BUY REGULAR CHOCOLATE CHIPS PLEASE

Chilling the Dough
Fridge time lets the dough rest (like when you bake bread) and also lets the butter and eggs mix into the dry ingredients completely.  Different folks say different amounts of time is best.   The first time I made these cookies I waited about 48 hours.   They were amazing.   This time, 72.  Also amazing.   Significantly so?  Not in my opinion.   I have heard 24 hours is fine.  Bottom line: You do no have to wait 3 days!

Ice Cream Scoop
But Jules!  You are talking about cookies, not ice cream.  Yes, but an ice cream scoop yields the perfect size dough ball.  And it's consistent.   You will thank me later.   (If you do not have an ice cream scoop (to which I say SNAP!  How do you live?) you may use a 1/3 cup until you are able to buy the most essential kitchen utensil known to mankind).   These are not tiny cookies. They are not supposed to be! Enjoy.

Sea Salt
Sprinkle this on top of the cookie balls before baking.   Do not be shy.  You will love the sweet/salty euphoria you experience later.

Do Not Over Bake
I repeat. Do Not Over Bake.  They will keep cooking as they cool.  They will be soft and delicious but you will not be eating raw dough.

The Recipe

I have a digital kitchen scale because I am a nerd.   I weigh everything, but good old fashioned measuring cups will be just fine.

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (8 ½ oz.) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 ½ oz.) bread flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt, such as kosher
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8 oz.) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks-- preferably about 60% cacao content (Ghirardelli)
Sea salt or kosher salt for garnishing
Milk!  (to drink when they're ready)

Day 1

Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.  (Set aside!  More waiting.  Geez)

Cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy.  This will take 3 to 5 minutes when using a stand mixer with paddle attachment.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. As with any cookie recipe, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula periodically, so everything mixes together well. Reduce the mixer speed to low.   Slowly add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds.  (If you don't go slowly, you will end up with a mess of flour all over the kitchen and you'll have to remeasure it, and wait even longer!)  Once the dough is, well, dough, add the chocolate chips.  Make sure they are all mixed in and distributed relatively evenly in there.

If you are using a stand mixer with a metal bowl, put the dough in a glass bowl for chilling.  Press plastic wrap against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. The dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.    It can also be frozen in an airtight container if you are really want to wait forever.

Day 2 (and maybe 3) 

Wait!   Let the dough chill in the refrigerator.   Make sure your husband does not sneak any tastes. 

Bake Day!

YAY it is time to bake and eat
About 30 - 45 minutes before you want to bake, remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly.   Even on my Florida in July counters (we keep it 77 during the day!) this took more than half an hour.   Once the dough is malleable, preheat oven to 350°F.  Also during this time, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.  (I love Silpat!)  Using a standard-size ice cream scoop, scoop out 6 balls of dough.  Place them on the lined baking sheet, evenly spaced. 

Sprinkle lightly [but not too lightly!] with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes.  In my General Electric typical oven, the ideal time was about 16 minutes.  Transfer the entire baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, so that air can circulate all around the cookies while they cool.   Then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.   Don't move them too fast or else the dough will be soft and fall through the cracks of your cooling racks.  Trust me.   Wait!

Repeat with remaining dough.

Yield: About 24 (5-inch) cookies.   I ended up with 20 the first time, and 24 the second time.  This was using a 'regular' ice cream scoop (level, not heaping) and eating no dough from the bowl.   I am such a witch.  

NOTE These cookies taste amazing on bake day, but perhaps even better the next day.   That was new for me.  I always thought cookies tasted best right out of the oven.  Don't get me wrong, these are fantastic day of, but the next day- oh my gosh.  Pour yourself some milk and try not to drool all over yourself, or your new cookies.

Now, start baking, friends!  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How to: Give the Perfect Wedding Gift

To continue my unsolicited advice posts for a second week, I will focus on a common theme for this time of year.   WEDDINGS!   I feel like I have been involved in a wedding in some capacity every summer for the past 5 years and assume this will continue for the foreseeable future.  I am an expert, I tell you!   (Not really)

Anyway- when you are invited to a wedding, you are supposed to give a gift.   Even if you can't make it, proper etiquette -which is admittedly ignored frequently- states that a gift should be sent.

What to give?   That depends.

My personal choice is to send everyone the same type of gift and not worry about registries.   Registries kind of bug me.    They are a great option for those who need some guidance, or for couples that need a lot of stuff.   But I do not like stuff.  Or clutter.   (I have a sign on my fridge: Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.    I try to live with that in mind; less is more!   (In case you're curious, we did have a registry when we got engaged because our guests would have been confused without one.  We included only items we needed and did not yet have.   Such as a complete set of dishes.  We did not have a quesadilla maker, but who needs that, really?))  I also don't really like sifting through other people's wish lists.  For me, it's easier to do my own thing, so I tend to not shop registries.

Now, if you are a registry person, I do have a bit of advice.    Take a look at the couple's registry.   If they have received 10 out of 12 sets of dishes, and the remaining 2 sets is the amount you were wanting to spend anyway, go ahead and complete that item.   Or find something that is, by itself, a wonderful gift.   A beautiful vase.   A fluffy blanket.  A board game.    A set of nesting mixing bowls.  For the love of all things holy, do not decide to be the first guest to give them the first silverware place setting and leave the other 11 on the list.  Especially if it's the week before the wedding.   Upon returning from their honeymoon, the newlyweds will end up running to the store to complete the dishes and wonder what the hell they're going to do with only 1 salad fork.  Don't be that person.

Speaking of what not to do.    Please do not look at the couple's registry and find an item they like, and then go somewhere else to buy a similar item.  I was going to share this story in detail but it takes too long.   I got 3 immersion blenders at my bridal shower.  Why?  Because 2 people noticed the on the registry but did not buy it from the registry.  They found a similar item elsewhere  So no one else knew an immersion blender had been purchased.   At least I got the one I wanted, but of course the 2 others were superfluous to me, and did not contain gift receipts.  I am not trying to seem ungrateful, really I am not.  But if you are going to use the registry.... use the registry.

For those of you wondering, my go-to wedding gift is a set of spices from Penzey's.    It is clutter free in that the spices will, in theory, get used up.   I don't have to know a couple's personal style of decorating,  nor do I have to worry that Aunt Mae bought all the wine glasses I was going to send and now I have to create a hodgepodge gift out of measuring cups, coasters and barware so I won't look stingy.

Everyone has to eat.   Even people who don't cook (I am raising my hand) still have to eat.   A set of basic spices is often a welcome gift.   Even if you have cumin in your pantry, who knows when you bought it?  Penzey's offers gift boxes and crates in a variety of price points as well as a wide selection of spices.   The grill box!   The baking box!   The starter kit!  The wedding crate!   If you know a little something about the happy couple, you can adjust your box.   Totally clueless?  The wedding boxes are all pretty great.  Wouldn't it be nice to start off your life together with potent, fragrant flavorings and aromas?  I think so.

So, full disclosure.   If you invite me to your wedding, you will probably get some nice spices.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

God Bless America, My Home Sweet Home

America did not exist.  Four centuries of work, bloodshed, loneliness, and fear created this land.  We built America, and the process made us Americans, a new breed, routed in all races.

These three sentences, written by John Steinbeck, are also the beginning of one of my favorite attractions at EPCOT:  The American Adventure.   They seem appropriate as we, as a nation, celebrate 236 years of independence.