Wednesday, December 31, 2008

a tale of arts and crafts furniture...

I've been trying to determine what style of furniture I like lately.

I had a short love affair with Danish Modern style, and as much as I do adore it, it's cold and also very expensive to execute properly. I'll save that style for my NY loft someday.

I have fallen in love with the Arts and Crafts furniture lately sometimes (although different) also referred to as The Mission style. I love clean lines, organic elements, and timeless styling. I think the style best fits my personality.

The most popular colors used in this decorating scheme include very natural colors (such as beautiful muted greens) and neutral backgrounds. I love the dark wood, and I've always loved the time period. Here are some pictures.

This is a Morris chair named for the philosopher. It's very iconic for the style...
Wood everywhere....
Tiffany lamps are also very traditional for the style...

Here's an awful picture of a typical Arts and Crafts style dining room...

So be honest what do you think?

Friday, December 26, 2008


I feel simply fanciful!

I really hope you will read my previous post from less than 24 hours ago, all about my very "very" Christmas. But I have a second and would like to say hello again.

I think the reason I feel fanciful is because I'm wearing these delightfully fanciful striped tights. They aren't necessarily striped in the "I'm in first grade, and I like pink and purple" sort of way. They're a bit more sophisticated. They're grey and black striped, with an ever so fanciful bit of sparkle, or rather a shine. I'm wearing them with a very grown up grey wool skirt and a muted teal turtleneck. Occasionally I glance down at my legs and feet and see the tights and some very pretty patent leather Mary Jane shoes and thing to myself... fanciful indeed.

You want to know what else makes me feel fanciful? Christmas baking! I shall fulfill my need to bake over the weekend. Including my friend Liz's coffee {!} pecan {!} fudge {!!!} I shall also attempt this recipe for layered peppermint bark. And.... a whiskey soaked dark chocolate cake {!!!}

Tomorrow night Mr. Brandon and I will be celebrating 2 years together{!!!} We will be having a very nice dinner out. I will be purchasing something fanciful to wear. (Don't worry, there will be photos.) Seeing that 2 years is quite the dating accomplishment. (As far as I'm concerned.)

I plan to take advantage of some after Christmas sales today. I could really use some new (and potentially fanciful) clothing items. I found this sweater on sale at Anthropologie. Do you like it? I think it looks fun and handmade, like something you'd find in a rather exclusive boutique. One frequented mostly by artsy women who prefer to be cozy. I can completely envision myself wrapped up in this sweater. I just might order it!

I might also take my little sister out for a fanciful night together, to see the Zoo Lights. (Accompanied by some pizza of course!)

I'll let you return to whatever you were doing... I just wanted to type for a few minutes.
Have a very fanciful day! xoxo

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

This was a very "VERY" Christmas. Just wait until you read this post. You'd think that "very" is my favorite word. I had a very wonderful Christmas, read on...

Yesterday was slightly tiring but completely worth it. I sort of almost passed out during the Nativity liturgy... but I didn't. It was the hot, tired, hungry, thirsty combination. I think my sweet choir director might just hate me! (Sorry about that Margaret.)

The feast was fun. Exchanging presents and the Christmas greeting with friends was a very wonderful feeling. Sadly, although my blog might have indicated otherwise, I was not quite in the Christmas spirit until Dec. 24. It could have been my June Cleaver complex, or my insistence on never saying NO, or maybe the fact that this was the first Christmas I had a "real job." (Did I tell you guys I got a promotion, I'm now the "marketing and sales support assistant." I think it has a nice ring to it!) Basically I got completely stressed out, complete with a knot in my shoulders that felt like a baseball.

My sweet boyfriend made a very good point. He pointed out that since we were fasting we were on a journey, and it wasn't supposed to be particularly enjoyable. Fasting isn't always the easiest thing to do, and sometimes the extra services during a fast make my loathe my feet. But the tough part is over, now I've got 12 days to celebrate. The journey was definitely worth it! CHRIST IS BORN!

Quick overview of Christmas day:
My family woke up later than usual and opened the presents.
I got:
  • 2 very cool handmade (by my awesome mother) aprons. I can't wait to show you the pictures!
  • A very nice colander
  • A sweeper-vac for my apartment. It's super cute and dark blue. No you didn't miss anything I don't have an apartment yet. I'm currently saving money.
  • A really cool paint set from my siblings. It was a very cool and thoughtful gift!
  • Some trouser socks, I really needed them. We have a chilly office.
  • I also got a very nice jump start on a new apartment furniture fund. (I think I left something out.)
Then we had brunch. Ah glorious brunch! My strata was all I hoped it would be! And we had chocolate chip pie for dessert. Don't you love brunch for its ability to justify dessert with breakfast.

Then I used my beautiful food mill (from my boyfriend) to make some very buttery, very cheesy mashed potatoes to take to his house. We played with our new toys, my mom got this really cool digital die cut machine, we had lots of fun. Oh, how could I forget, we watched A Christmas Story on TBS. I adore that movie!

We went to Brandon's house and there were MORE presents. I got:
  • A really nice set of Calphalon knives from B's parents. I never thought I'd have such a nice set of knives!
  • Some lotion and smell good stuff from Victoria's Secret from B's sister Courtney. She was probably tired of me stealing her lotion every time I came over so she bought me some of my own.
  • And a very very cool motorized pepermill from B's sister Ashley and her husband James and lil' Justin.
A very good day! I'll give you more details later. I'm exhausted, and I have to work tomorrow. (It's a fair trade off, I'll be working the phones tomorrow while we have a skeleton crew in exchange for a day off on the 2nd of January... that's right I get a 4 day weekend next weekend. Wanna play?)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

dear friend. how i have missed you...

Let me introduce you to my old friend, Miss Dairy. I haven't seen her in ages, close to 40 days! My how I have missed her...
I hate to associate the Nativity of Our Lord with dairy products. But, it is a FEAST! A feast is the time to pull out all the stops, we have fasted for 40 days, and what better time to break a 40 day long fast than Christ's birth! And oh boy do we feast.

I started my Christmas cooking tonight. So far I have made egg salad for the Nativity celebration Wednesday night/ early Thursday morning. I thought about deviled eggs, but have you ever transported deviled eggs? I would rather just smush it all together and have egg salad! Plus, we'll have deli trays catered (with meat, cheese, and bread) so us [lacto/ovo/pesca] vegetarians will have something other than meat to eat with our bread!
I also prepared a very eggy/cheesy Cheese Strata for Christmas morning. It's a family tradition. It consists of cubed bread soaked overnight (or longer) in an egg, cheese, and milk mixture. This year I added some onions and minced parsley to try something new. I also dairy-ed it up a bit by using half and half. Oh and the butter, there's lots of butter cubed on the top of the strata before it goes into the oven. It tastes rich but almost has the texture of a souffle. I cannot explain how much I love this dish!

I also plan on making my ever present brunch staple... CHEESE GRITS! I'm sure my family will make some bacon, or country ham, or maybe sausage. I could use some smoked salmon with my brunch, maybe I'll pick some up tomorrow. And we'll have coffee, duh! I'll be having mine black.
And I can't forget the candy. We always get candy in our stockings, and yes we eat it with our breakfast. I really love those hazelnut rocher things. When I was a kid I thought their commercials were so elegant, and I insisted on trying them. I think I had pretty refined tastes for a kid! Later I would discover the joys of pure dark chocolate, but I still enjoy the rocher goodies. The love of these little chocolate hazelnut wonders would later result in my Nutella obsession...
See, from the looks of that commercial, you can understand my intense desire as a child to try these. Sheer elegance, in that gaudy 90's sort of way!
Tomorrow is a pretty long day. (Luckily I'll have the day off.) The services will start with the Royal Hours at 7:30 AM. Then there will be a Liturgy at 9:00 AM, but this isn't the big one, not yet. Then at 9:10 tomorrow night Orthros will begin, then around 10:30 the Nativity Liturgy will begin. It's going to be a pretty long day. But completely worth it. I can't wait!!! Talk to you soon, if I don't see you again before Thursday... Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

yes, 8 days, i am aware.

I haven't posted in 8 days. I've been so busy I didn't even feel guilty about it! My calendar is really ready to be retired for the year.... it's been getting a workout. I've even put several appointments in the "notes" section for 2009.

Bring on the weekend. It'll be the last one before Christmas, so I have quite a bit of baking to do!(Or homemade pasta making... do you think people would like fresh pasta for Christmas presents? Hmmmmm.) And parties to go to... quite a few parties. I do enjoy a nice party. Oh and those cards. I need to send them (or give them, have you seen the price of stamps these days?)

Happily most of my partying is going to happen in the days after Christmas. Which, as you know by now, is when Orthodox people do the celebrating. I've never quite had a year where my agenda is full from December 25 onward. I like it.

Gotta run! Hope the season's going well for you! Only one more week! Then we get to say it... we get to say CHRIST IS BORN!!!

(ps- for those of you who aren't Orthodox the response is: GLORIFY HIM!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

but would june cleaver do it?

I really didn't want to do it, but I work and I'm busy, and I just didn't have the time!

The thought's still there, right?

They'll love them, right?..... I'm probably too young to have June Cleaver inferiority issues!

Honestly, it isn't that big of a deal.... it's only ONLINE SHOPPING!!!

It was just hard for me. I realize they won't even know if it's from the Internet. I just feel like it's so impersonal. Honestly, I think my biggest hang-up is that June Cleaver wouldn't online shop!

Ok, that's a really silly reason. I can't really explain my semi-guilt for online shopping... If I could explain the things that go on in my silly little head then I'd be a very boring person!

Let the packages be shipped... only 15 more days!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

i'll keep this short...

You like pictures, don't you?
Lazy-Caitlyn just now uploaded a whole bunch of pictures from recent events (Halloween through Thanksgiving,) enjoy!

Abby had the girls over for a rather ghoulish Halloween dinner party. Such fun! She even enlisted her 17 year old sister and her friend to dress up in French maid outfits to serve us.
This was from Caleb's first trip back to the hospital. I'm happy to report, he spent Thanksgiving at home and that made us very very thankful!
I taught my friend Tracie how to knit on our lunchbreak one day.
Happy Thanksgiving! I'm very sad to inform you we didn't have time to make our Tofurkey. We'll have to save it for Christmas. Here is my fall squash gratin. It was OK, I was not blown away by it. It contains roasted acorn squash, butternut squash, and a gruyere sauce. This was just one case when I thought the parts were much better than the whole. Oh well, everyone else was kind about it.

Now this was good... Brandon made crab macaroni and cheese with white truffle oil. Yes, the person who invented this recipe is my best friend. It's everything I love in one pan!!! Plus B found these really cool pasta trumpets. I'm a fan! (Just in case you weren't jealous of me before... I've got a man who can cook!)
Drumroll please...... PECAN PIE! Since my aunt, uncle, and beautiful cousin weren't able to join us for the holiday, I had to make my aunt's pecan pie. My aunt's recipe calls for substituting the 2T of vanilla for bourbon. And boy oh boy is it good! We actually used whiskey, George Dickel to be exact, it seemed appropriate. It's from the town where my aunt, uncle, and cousin live.
It was a very happy Thanksgiving. It included meals at my house, at Brandon's, and the traditional "after-party" at Andrea and Aaron's. Although this year no one camped out at Best Buy, since a few people had to work yesterday. Brandon and I also made the traditional Sonic run. He has been eating at Sonic on Thanksgiving for about 10 years.
It was a very good day!
Yesterday, I hung out here at the house I'm housesitting at and cooked. (How sad is it this, when Margaret asked me to housesit, she said: "you can cook all you want while you're here!" People know me all too well.) Yesterday I went and bought some veggies and made an "eat your vegetables" dinner for Brandon and me. We had to do something to make retribution for the massive amounts of saturated fat the day before, plus the fast resumed after our day of gluttony!
I made sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon, green beans cabernet with onions, and O'Brien's roasted potatoes, these are the cubed and roasted sweet and white potatoes they serve at Cafe Eclectic. Then for dessert, I probably negated it all! But here's a recipe for what I made. It's a pecan turtle bar. It's pretty easy to make it fasting friendly by substituting the butter. It tastes a whole lot like a heath bar!
Pecan Turtle Bar- From: Well Seasoned (The Les Passees cookbook from 1997, B got it for free at the Library book sale.) This recipe is from Mrs. Dorsey
Mathis Jr. (Margaret Jones)

2 Cups flour
2 1/3 sticks butter divided
1 1/2 Cups light brown sugar, firmly packed, divided
1 Cup pecan halves
1 Cup chocolate morsels

Combine flour, 1 stick of butter, and 1 cup brown sugar. This is easily
done in a food processor. Pat into a 9x13- inch aluminum pan. Cover with pecans.
Combine remaining butter and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan. Boil 1 full
minute. Pour over pecans. Bake 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees, until bubbly and
brown. remove from oven and scatter with chocolate morsels. Swirl slightly with
a knife. Cool and cut into bars or squares. Makes 3-4 dozen.
Well, I guess I didn't do a great job of keeping it short! Talk to you soon. PS- I apologize for the squished together paragraphs, I keep trying to space them out but blogger just squishes them back together.... sorry if this post is difficult to read.

Monday, November 24, 2008


So, many of my friends have been circulating this e-mail with a Christmas quiz. I mean everyone's doing it! I had almost 19 of them in my inbox this morning! I thought it'd be more fun to post it here. Enjoy... and feel free to copy it and answer the questions on your blog. I love to hear this sort of thing.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? paper- I usually have a theme to my wrapping... it's a very big deal for me to choose my signature motif each year.
2. Real tree or artificial? Fake ones are sad, but I hate the idea of cutting down ANOTHER tree for a pretty smell... one year my family bought a tree with the roots still on it and we planted it after the fact.
3. When do you put up the tree? I still live with the parents, so they decorate after Thanksgiving.
4. When do you take the tree down? My parents take it down before the stroke of midnight on Christmas... I'm Orthodox though, the party just started on Dec. 25. I'll be taking MINE down 12 days later.
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but I really love my Mudder's boiled custard. Pronounced "bowled custard." Mmmmmm!
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Probably my Samantha American Girl doll.
7. Do you have a Nativity scene? My parents have one, for some reason it's Native American, I honestly don't understand it!
8. Hardest person to buy for? My MOTHER! And maybe Abby, although she's taken to just sending me e-mails of the things she wants, it does make things easier.
9. Easiest person to buy for? Brandon, he's very outspoken about his interests. It makes things easy!
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don't know... maybe the fact that SOMEONE stole the rosemary bush I won last year at Andrea and Aaron's dirty Santa!
11. Email or Christmas cards? Cards, cards, cards! (Remember what I said about cutting down the trees, I make exceptions!) I love to pick out cards or make them... just another opportunity to express my sense of style!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? EASY! A Christmas Story... it's classic. Although I really do love Elf!
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Ugh, I don't want to talk about it! The answer is: when I have the money!!!
14.Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My mom ALWAYS makes a cheese strata for breakfast on Christmas morning. I eat that along with my stocking candy... healthy healthy!
17. Favorite Christmas song? "All I want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Cary... I'm not kidding. It was my phone's ringtone a few years ago. Brandon HATES it!
18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Stay home! All the Grandparents come to us. Such fun!
19. How many Christmas parties will you attend? I don't know. I already know of two, and a wrapping party. We shall see!
20. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? No. sorry.
21 . Angel on the tree top or a star? I think I'd have a star. The Angel would clash with all of the piggie ornaments I already own! And for the record, I do not like the theme tree! (My mom has an angels and harps tree, she's a harpist, I just don't like it!)
22. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? With my dad's family on Christmas eve night, and then with our immediate family on Christmas morning.
23 . Most annoying thing about this time of year? Two words: Shopping Mall!
24 . What I love most about Christmas? Um, food. Duh! But I also really love the "cozy." Everything about the holiday is cozy... I love the cozy!
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? My own apartment... But in reality, I would love to get a food mill, like the French ladies use.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

repeat after me... "it's tofurkey time!"

Yes, we did it. It was a slight impulse buy, but Brandon and I bought a Tofurkey. I'm very curious about what to think. It's stuffed with a rice stuffing and looks an awful lot like a turkey breast. To be honest, I was never a huge turkey fan, so we shall see if the tofu breed excites me any more.
I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving. I cannot think of a single aspect I do not love. I love the food (obviously) I love the smells, I love getting dressed up to eat with my own family, I love the Macy's parade, I love the way it looks when the table is decked out in candles and the food is piled high on everyone's plates, I love the way our yard looks from the kitchen windows. Perfect.
Last night we discussed what the traditional foods are in my family. We have the same stuff most years, but some years I like to try making something extra gourmet. I'm not sure what I'll make this year. I was thinking a fall squash gratin would be a good idea but I'm not sure yet.
The traditional family menu:
  • Turkey, Honeybaked Ham, and sometimes even venison. (No wonder I became a vegetarian.)

  • Sweet potatoes, in some form or fashion. Sometimes they've been baked with marsh-a-rellows (a Clare word meaning marshmallow.) My aunt makes them inside orange cups.

  • GLORIOUS Green bean casserole. I love the stuff! I despise cream of mushroom soup, but can stomach it in this instance.

  • Yeast rolls. Sometimes homemade, sometimes Sister Schubert's. And some years we have my mom's quick rolls, they're delish too.

  • Dressing. NO STUFFING! That's a disgrace. We like our stuffing cornbread style with apples, celery, and onions... to name a few of the fantastic ingredients. My mom makes cornbread all the time and for dressing purposes she freezes bits of day old cornbread throughout the year.

  • Cranberry sauce. Despite my many efforts to make a cranberry chutney or some sort of gourmet version, my mom likes the stuff in the can, she loves the ease of pre marked slices. :~) And don't tell anyone, but I don't hate it!

  • Pickles. We always have some sort of sweet pickle. I have no idea why.

  • Last year mom made macaroni and cheese and devilled eggs for Brandon and me, since there's a small break in the fast for American Orthodox Christians on Thanksgiving. Last year we had a brie with honey and walnuts appetizer to start the cheese fest. Sadly, the overeating after having eaten no dairy for a week or so made me sick last year. I promise I'll pace myself this year!

  • My mom makes ambrosia... ew.

  • PIE- I should write a post on the pie. My mom makes pumpkin, my aunt makes a (to die for) bourbon pecan pie, and sometimes if I'm nice mom also makes chocolate chip. If we go to my dad's family we have lemon icebox pie. YUM!

So, what traditions does your family have? I love this sort of thing. A few years ago I had a Thanksgiving potluck the week before Thanksgiving. It was so much fun. I supplied the Turkey and everyone brought sides and desserts. It was such a fun time to spend with friends and get to learn what their families eat.

Tell me, what're you eating next Thursday?

P.S. I apologize if every post for the next few weeks mentions Thanksgiving... I just love it so much!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

two days in a row?!... well blow me down!

I've never quite understood that expression. "Well, blow me down!" It's one of those expressions my mom uses. I think it means "I'm so surprised that the slightest gust of wind would make me fall over." I think that's what it means.

Well contain your excitement, I'm here to post a second day in a row!

Lets talk Christmas. It's coming upon me FAST! I now have 4 presents, and another one figured out, I just need the money to order it. I'm doing some crocheting this year. I'm making my little sister a pancho... Did I already tell you this? It's going to be cream colored and have brown and pink ribbons woven through it. I think it'll be cute. I know what you're thinking, panchos are kind of over, but I think if you're 9 years old it's ok.

Speaking of the hook, I can't wait to show you what I've made. I have already completed a scarf for Clare out of the softest chenille yarn, and a matching (albeit tiny) version for her Bitty Baby doll, Ginger. I should take a picture for you!

I planned on completing all of the Christmas shopping by this Saturday, the beginning of the Nativity fast, but we see how well that worked out! I plan to at least have a running list of what to buy for whom by then, but the funds that are necessary for shopping are not present in my bank account!

Just in case you need a refresher, the Nativity Fast is the fast we observe leading up to the Nativity of our Lord. It starts on November 15, and ends on Christmas. It's a little hard to get used to. I mean, everyone else around is eating fudge and going to Christmas parties, while we're eating lentil soup and going to church. [Wow, don't I do a great job at complaining?]

What I meant was this: we prepare for the Lord's birth in the 40 days before. And honestly as far as our fasts go, this is the most relaxed one. We celebrate for 12 days afterward, and boy do we celebrate. Last year was my first Orthodox Christmas, so it was a little weird. Whereas most of our protestant friends are packing up the tree by December 26 we are just starting to celebrate. I loved all of the extra services during the fast last year, the fasting and prayer makes the celebration all the more wonderful.

Nothing particularly culinary has happened since yesterday, sadly I've had no time to cook. Since yesterday was a regular fasting day, as well as tomorrow, and since the long fast begins on Saturday I'm eating all the yummy things I know I'll miss. Tonight OCF is going out to eat at Huey's. Bring on the cheese!!!

My little brother is having surgery tomorrow, we thought it would be today but of course nothing moves too fast in a hospital. His sprits are at an all time low, please continue to pray for him.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

which side of the hump (day) are you on?

Isn't Wednesday an interesting day? Even at 8:00 am I feel myself hopping on my sled and starting to slide down the other side of the work-week hill. If you think about it's a really ridiculous thought. My week isn't anywhere near being over on Wednesday at 8:00 am, but I guess the psychological release of looking at it that way helps me cope. Today I need all the coping mechanisms I can muster, this rain is making me feel blah.

Well this weekend was a blur, and it's turned into a blurry week. Friday we made the soup I mentioned. It was good, I changed it up a bit, but nothing worth recounting here. On Saturday... what did I do on Saturday? Ah yes I kind of did nothing. It was sort of blissful, sort of boring. I made (frozen, shame on me) spanikopita and a lovely brie for little Gabriel and Zoe's baptisms on Saturday night.

The brie deserves a paragraph to itself. I wanted to do something different. I thought about the ever popular brie with honey and walnuts and decided to do something different. I caramelized some onion, and added some roasted red peppers, garlic and rosemary. I piled the jewel toned mush on top of a warm wheel of brie. It was pretty good if I do say so myself... I think I'm allowed to like what I cooked, right? (Brandon gets angry at me for my constant negativity about my own food, it's hard for me to like what I cook.)

Sunday was another blur, we had church followed by a wedding shower for Gigi, followed by a very small nap, followed by young adults.

My brother is still in the hospital, he has a pleural effusion, a condition where fluid is gathering between his lungs and his chest wall. They're thinking he may have to have surgery to correct the problem, since a chest tube that was in his chest over the weekend did not completely correct the issue. He is very depressed right now. Please continue to pray for him.

I'll talk to you soon.

Friday, November 07, 2008

it's friday... thank you!

After a long and pretty eventful week it's Friday. Caleb is still in the hospital, he has a tube connected to his chest draining the excess fluid. It's painful, and quite frankly this sucks for him. He's mad, and rightly so. Please pray for him.

Pray for my wonderful parents as well. They've been putting in very long days and taking turns sleeping on a hideous vinyl sofa-like contraption. Tonight is dad's night to come home. This sucks for them too. My sweet sister has been coming home, at night too. She has been at the hospital continuously. This is tough for her too. She doesn't complain, but I have a feeling she would rather play with her best friend Ashton.

Tonight I'm taking Clare home with me after work. (Caleb's hospital is next door to my office.) I just reserved Kit Kidridge an American Girl at the RedBox for her. I've never used the RedBox before, but the deal is: $1.00 per day rentals you pick up from kiosks at various locations such as Wal-Marts and drugstores. How great is that? So we shall see how many days I end up keeping them. I haven't always been the best renter. (oops) I'll give you a full report on our RedBox experience.

I'm planning on cooking a white bean soup with escarole served along with some baked polenta. It should be pretty good. I glanced at a recipe, but I'm not planning on using it. I hate to use a recipe for a soup, soup is simple people! I gleaned inspiration for the soup, but I can guarantee Caitlyn's version will have a whole lot more soul!

I AM planning on using a recipe for some vegan gingerbread cookies tonight! I've been craving them lately and I love to dip a spicy, sweet, crisp gingerbread cookie into black coffee. Wow, my mouth is currently watering. I cannot wait for tonight!!!

Speaking of coffee. I just found Ruta Maya coffee at Costco. If you're a Costco person check this stuff out. It's the kind of coffee served at my beloved Cafe Eclectic. It's amazing. I liked it more than Starbucks coffee even when I worked there. (I still love my Bux, but I really like this coffee a whole lot!) Plus the costco bag is a steal compared to buying the whole beans at Cafe Eclectic. Mmmmmmmm.

New hobby alert! Caitlyn has given up the two needles for the hook. Wow, that sounds wierd. What I meant to say was, I have taken up crocheting! I love knitting, but it makes noise. I like to take my work with me to social settings, young adults group, etc. but I hate to disturb others. Crocheting is easier for me, and the results are more consistent. (For me that is, some people are awesome knitters, and I do not plan to abandon the art form forever, we're just taking a break from one another.) My mom taught me to crochet at the hospital the other night and I've almost completed a scarf for my sister. I love having something to do with my hands.

Oh, here's my theory about why I took up crocheting: Knitting has become a very hipster thing to do. And you know me, I like to think I'm unique, so being a hipster just won't do. Crochet is much more counter-culture, hehehe. That's right I just called a grandma hobby "counter-culture." Whatever... I like to think I'm on the cutting edge!

Bon weekend!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Please pray for my brother Caleb. He has developed pneumonia because of his surgery. He's currently in the hospital, and should be able to come home soon.

I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I am, once again, inspired by Laurin to write a favorites post. It's getting a little chilly. There are so many great perks associated with this time of year, but there are also some other exciting things I wanted to tell you about.
  1. My bamboo yarn and knitting needles. What's not to love about bamboo? It can be made into anything... including super soft olive green yarn. It has been a joy to knit with. I'll give you a full report on my little scarf when I complete it. I'm such a fair-weather knitter. I only get interested when it's chilly. Here's a funny story for those of you who know my buddy James. On Saturday night I babysat him and I was knitting, he looked at me and asked what I was doing and said "my Grandmommy does that too," (as many of you know his grandmother Corrine is a very accomplished knitter) so I responded by saying "yes she does, but she does a better job than I do." James looked at me very matter-of-factly and said, "yes, she is better." I just love children, you can't find honestly like that in adults!
  2. My microplane. It has been such a great tool to use. I thought it was limited to zest and nutmeg capabilities, but it makes Parmesan fall like snow! It's a beautiful thing.

  3. My Russian tea mix. I tried to make my own version after our first visit to Alektor Cafe, but they sell their own version, so Brandon got me some when we were there with Chase and Gigi. It tastes like Christmas, citrus-y, spicy, yummy!
  4. Salted caramel hot chocolate. Yes this is shameless advertising for my previous employer, Starbucks. It is the most amazing hot chocolate in the world. It tastes like a chocolate covered pretzel. It is so so so good, and very cozy!
  5. My pashmina. OK, it's not a real pashmina, it was from Target. But it's such great little comfort to have when I get cold (really cold) at work.
  6. Instant sweet potatoes. I just found these. They're just like the instant mashed white potatoes, but much better. They're almost a little too sweet so add some salt. I can't believe I've just listed two pre-packaged products. They're both THAT GOOD!

  7. My sweet little watercolors. I haven't had much time to paint since we came home, but it was just the thing I needed to flex my creative muscle. Next project, Christmas cards.
  8. My heating pad. I love the thing. It's my cure all. No matter what hurts, I swear it can fix it!
  9. "Ella's Story, The Duchess who Became a Saint" by: Maria Tobias. It's a children's book about St. Elizabeth the New Martyr. She is one of my favorite Saints. She is extra special to me because she was a convert to Orthodoxy, and she lived in the past 100 years. I think I'll write some more about her in the near future.

  10. OCF. We have been having such a great time at Orthodox Christian Fellowship recently. This past Thursday Fr. Mark Sutton from St. Seraphim OCA church came to speak to us about monasticism. Fr. Mark's daughter is a nun, and he showed us some beautiful photos of St. Paisius Serbian Monastery in Arizona where she lives. I love that there are monastics all over the world, a topic I hope to write more about in the future.

Well, I'm home sick (again) right now, so I've used a couple of these creature comforts/ favorite things today. Now I'm back to bed. Goodnight.

Monday, October 20, 2008

well, we're back...

We're home now and back to normal. This is a fact I would prefer to forget.

The rest of our trip was very nice. We just spent some time relaxing and having fun. We watched Bee Movie and The Namesake. It's always so nice to have absolutely NO PLANS!

We went to St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Church in Murfreesboro on Sunday morning. Chase and Gigi were able to come as well. It was such a nice parish, everyone was so kind!

Would you like a recipe?

On Saturday night I made my Enchilada Lasagna. It's a recipe that was born out of some exploding enchiladas one night. I scrapped the neat little rolled enchiladas and layered everything lasagna style. It's very casserole-ish, but always a crowd pleaser. My 9 year old sister even liked it! I wanted to take a picture but the three of us gobbled it up before I got a chance.

Please forgive but you know this is a Caitlyn recipe, and my mother taught me how to cook. As a result, I don't have exact measurements. Learn to cook like this and I promise it'll always taste better. You learn how to use your chef instincts much better this way and you won't be as stressed out when you sit down to eat, I promise!

Ingredients: Sour cream, milk, salsa, cilantro to taste, small corn tortillas, whole kernel canned corn (drained,) canned black beans (rinsed and drained,) onions (diced and sauteed,) and shredded cheese. Lots of cheese!

  • First I make a sauce, usually with sour cream thinned with a tiny bit of milk and mixed with some salsa. Sometimes I add cilantro, but it isn't necessary. This weekend we didn't have sour cream so I used white cheese dip warmed up in the microwave with the salsa and cilantro.
  • Then I cut strips of corn tortillas with a pizza cutter they're usually about 1 inch in width. These will serve as my lasagna noodles.
  • Then I layer however I want! Usually this consists of tortilla, sauce, corn, black beans, sauteed onions, and cheese.... Repeat. I think usually the lasagna ends up with about 3 layers. Just be sure to end with cheese, after all this is a lasagna.
  • Also, be sure to use the sauce liberally, otherwise it becomes too dry.
  • Then I bake it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. This all depends on how many layers you make. I just watch for the cheese and take it out when it starts browning.
  • This weekend we squeezed limes onto the our portions and it made the lasagna come alive! Doesn't lime make everything better?

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I think I've figured out why I blog. It's because I have a really bad memory, and I'm not terribly organized... The CaitlynCosm is basically my filing system.

On that note, on to part two of my travelogue:

Yesterday we made the trip to Nashville. We went just in time for a late lunch at San Antonio Taco Company. Meribeth recommended it to me a while back, and even though we pass it almost every time we go to Nashville, this was our first visit.

The ordering process is sort of intimidating. You have to fill out an order sheet, much like at sushi bars. It seems like one of those places where you should just get out of the way and let the regulars order. I had to ask too many questions before I could commit to my order sheet! Maybe I'm just paranoid about these places because I've seen the "Soup Nazi" Seinfeld episode one too many times.
Anyway, it was a very good taco. The tortillas were so good. They're soft and chewy, they reminded us of a thin version of a gyro sandwich. Brandon and I had guacamole tacos, and Clare just had a regular ground beef version. I think she liked it.

After lunch we took Clare to the Frist. After viewing the latest photography exhibit we went to Artquest, it's the Frist's children's area. I have to say it was pretty cool. It was a lot of fun for Clare, I'm convinced she's going to be a famous artist someday.

She made a rubbing with crayons. Then she made her own design and put it into the printing press and got a really cool print.

There was a clay section and we made clay creations. I made a tray of cinnamon rolls. (Honestly I didn't have any other inspiration other than food.)
Clare made a replica of the Lincoln Monument.
There was a watercolor section and we all painted. Clare doesn't like her creation so no picture. I made a picture of our lovely day at Sewanee...

Today we repeated our last Saturday. We had lunch at Alektor cafe again, but this time our friends Chase and Gigi were heading through Nashville. We're also planning on meeting them for church tomorrow. Our lunch was as delicious as last weekend, and I got some Christmas shopping done!Afterwards we went back to Gigi's cupcakes and I got a chocolate malt, lemon, Texas milk chocolate, and Scarlet's velvet cupcakes. I only actually ate the chocoalte malt this afternoon. It was very good. It was a chocolate cake with a malted chocolate icing. Then there were malt ball bits on the sides of the icing. The cutest detail was the tiny little straw peeking out from the top. It looked like a little milkshake masterpiece!
On our way back we stopped at Michael's craft store and I got some watercolors. I had so much fun painting yesterday and couldn't wait to do it again!
We've had a very fun past two days. Tomorrow's out last day. I'll let you know all about it!

My little brother is doing great. He's already standing (a day earlier than expected) and his back looks AWESOME!!! Here he is post-op. He's not the happiest camper at this point. He won't be eating for another few days, but soon he'll be the normal 17 year he used to be, but WITHOUT the not so awesome hump in his back.
One of the nurses asked him why he had surgery. He answered, "because I had a mountain on my back." Not anymore buddy. It's gone! Woohooo! Thanks for the prayers, please continue to remember him in your prayers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Today was my brother's surgery... and it went very very well! Thank you so much for all the prayers. The toughest part is yet to come. The eight hour surgery is nothing compared to the recovery. Please continue to pray for him.

I am with my sister at my aunt's home. Clare is staying here with her until my parents come home, but this weekend my aunt and uncle had to go out of town. As a result I got to come up to hang out with Clare, and Brandon was able to join!

We drove here last night and have been hanging out. This morning we made whole wheat chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and played chess. Then we decided to make the trip to Sewanee. We thought a picnic would be a wonderful idea since The University of the South is eye candy... it's like a really big dark chocolate bar of beauty.

Our picnic menu:

  • Salmon paninis with a mustard spread, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, and sauteed red onions.
  • Clare ate a turkey and cheese panini with onions.
  • I made a red kidney bean salad: It consisted of a can of red kidney beans drained and washed, 1/4 of an onion finely chopped, 5-10 minced green olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and crumbled blue cheese. I just mixed it all together and refrigerated it. Very nice!
  • Honeydew melon.

We ate our picnic on the campus and then went to explore the town. We went to a very sweet cafe called The Blue Chair Bakery and Coffee Shop. I got a 7 layer bar and their very yummy house blend coffee. Clare got a chair shaped sugar cookie made in the likeness of the famous blue chair with lemonade and Brandon got hot cocoa.

They also have a market/ restaurant adjacent to the cafe. It was a charming place, and today was a bit misty and it was a perfect place to spend some time up on the mountain. After we ate we spent some time exploring the town even more. They have plenty of cute shops and cafes, it's absolutely charming.

Then we headed to the campus to peruse. It is the most beautiful campus I know of. Their crowning beauty is the All Saints Chapel. (It's an Episcopalian church.) I'll let the photos do the talking.

We walked around for about an hour then we headed to a lookout to take in the very pretty views from the mountain. (Thanks Clare for the awesome photography!)

On our way home we stopped in another small town town, Cowan. It was also very quaint.

Now we're back, and a little tired! We just online ordered Papa John's Pizza... Isn't that the epitome of laziness?! I didn't even pick up the phone or stop my blogging, I just typed the numbers into the computer. Whatever, I don't care, I LOVE PJP! (And that garlic butter sauce... YUM!) I will make up for the laziness by making some banana bread per Laurin's recipe. I can't wait for breakfast tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Brother...

I have e-mailed several of you today, but my parents have now officially set up a blog for my brother's surgery. I would rather not publish the address on here, because it contains some personal info, but if you would like the link please drop me a line or post your e-mail address as a comment. Then I can e-mail you a link. (I'll delete your address from the comments as soon as I send you the link.)

Regardless of whether or not you read the blog, please remember Caleb in your prayers. He is 17 and this is a very very very serious surgery. Below is an excerpt from the "My Story" section on the blog. The blog is on, it's a neat website that enables families to keep in contact when going through illness and surgery such as Caleb's. This post was written by my dad from October 10th:

Our son, Caleb has a disease called Scheuermann's Kyphosis. We have
created this site to keep our friends and family updated on his progress.
Your prayers are greatly appreciated. We will be making journal entries during Caleb's surgery and his recovery, so check back often for updates.

In layman's terms, Scheuermann's Disease is a condition where the
patient has an abnormal forward curve in the spinal column. As the disease
progresses, the patient will begin to have a "hunchback" appearance. Eventually
the internal organs and spinal cord may be compromised and as in Caleb's case,
chronic pain may be experienced.

After trying various forms of treatment including bracing, we were told that Caleb needed surgery but that the amount of correction would be minimal. In other words, they could "help" to relieve the pain but basically he would need to learn to live with the condition. Caleb was scheduled to have the surgery in Memphis in August of this year.

As the time for the surgery approached, Trish and I continued our research, reading
everything we could find about Scheuermann's Disease on the Internet.
Eventually we came across a blog written by the mother of a young lady from
Michigan with Scheuermann's disease by the name of Molly. Molly's parents had
located a surgeon in North Carolina, Dr. Lloyd Hey, who believed he could
correct Molly's condition. In July of this year, Molly and her family traveled
to North Carolina for the surgery which was a total success!

Encouraged by Molly's success, we contacted Dr. Hey who reviewed Caleb's X-rays. He believed that significant correction could be made and that he could eliminate Caleb's pain. He also suggested that we might want to contact Dr. Lawrence Lenke at
Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Lenke is one of the world’s foremost leaders in spinal deformity surgery. He is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in complex reconstructive spine surgery for children and adults. You can read more about Dr. Lenke at

We immediately contacted Dr. Lenke and in late August he saw Caleb in his
office in St. Louis. Dr. Lenke advised us that he believed he could make a very
significant correction to Caleb's condition through the use of a relatively new
technique called Vertebral Column Resection . Dr. Lenke explained to Caleb the
risks associated with this surgery including the possibility of paralysis. Caleb
is 17 years old and we believed it was important that he make the final decision
about surgery. His initial reaction, was "no way" but after some consideration,
he said "yes". This is not Caleb's first major surgery, so he understands that
this is not a walk in the park!

Since Dr. Lenke sees patients from around the world and because Caleb's surgery would require 8 to 10 hours, scheduling would be a challenge. His first available date was March 12, 2009. His assistant said there was a slight possibility of October 16, 2008 being available, but that date was contingent on the progress of another patient who was requiring multiple other words, October 16 was a long shot!

Today, we received a call from Kathy in Dr. Lenke's office. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for the October date, Caleb is scheduled for surgery on October 16, 2008! Our first series of prayers have been answered. Because Caleb's pain has
increased, it was growing more and more evident that he needs this surgery as
soon as possible.

Monday, October 13, 2008

let's go on a trip!

Grab your water bottle, put on your comfy clothes, pack up a few gingerbread molasses cookies ... We're going on a trip!
It's a beautiful time of year to go for a lovely 6 hour drive. Especially if your destination is the foothills of the very attractive Smoky Mountains. This past weekend Brandon and I went to Maryville, TN. The purpose of our trip? For Caitlyn to meet the Grandparents!

Of course you know us, we had to make some food related detours...
Stop #1: Gigi's Cup Cakes 1816 Broadway Suite A Nashville. We tried to visit this place back when we visited Nashville on Memorial day, but they were closed. As soon as we walked in I saw a good friend... LEAH!
Leah's currently in school in Nashville and bakes at Gigi's. How adorable is her flour covered apron? Not only does she work there, but she gets to stay in the back baking all day... sigh, I wish I could bake all day! I'll tell you all about the cupcakes in a minute. We actually stopped there before lunch. (Our lunch place opened at noon, but we arrived in town at 11:30 so we bought our cupcakes first.)

For lunch we went to Alektor Cafe 1807 Grand Ave. Alektor Cafe is connected to Door to Paradise Books. It's a very special place. It's a bookstore and cafe operated by an Orthodox Priest. In the town that is home to Lifeway Bookstore's home offices a Christian bookstore is nothing to get excited about... but an Orthodox Christian bookstore, now that's special!
They had some really great treasures, tons of great books, Icons, music, and jewelry. We heard about this place a while back and were so glad we made the detour.
At the cafe we both ate tuna melts with smoked mozzarella and drank Russian spice tea. The menu was full of Greek, Russian, and Middle Eastern food, there was no question that the restaurant was owned by Orthodox people!

It's so nice to eat in a place with Icons on the walls and liturgical chant playing in the background. Now for the cupcakes. They were delicious, and believe me, I know, I'm a cupcake connoisseur. Brandon got the Bailey's Irish Cream and I got the Texas Milk Chocolate, complete with a gum paste star on top! The cake's texture was moist and light but not too light, it had to hold up to that icing... oh baby that icing!

Check out that icing to cake ratio. It was perfect. I LOVE icing. This icing was perfect, not too sweet or heavy it was light, almost like a mousse. Yum! You've got to try this place next time you're stopping in Nashville. It's only a few minutes away from I-40, and well worth your time!

On Sunday we attended St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge. Brandon is a fan of Fr. Stephen's blog. It was a very nice parish.

I feel awful, I have no photos of Brandon's grandparents. They were perfectly delightful people and so much fun to hang out with. I'm so glad I got to meet them.
On our way home we stopped at Jackson's in Nashville's Hillsborough Village. My cousin recommended it when we were there together this summer. They just have really good food in a non-pretentious atmosphere. We were just watching a food show and they described a new trend called "fooding." It means high quality gourmet food for affordable prices in a casual atmosphere. Here one of my friends, Clotilde from the Chocolate and Zucchini Blog (I say friend, but we haven't met) describes French "fooding," but I digress...

Jackson's is just really good food. I had the sesame seared wasabi Caesar salad. It was very good. They have great sandwiches too, my cousin liked their croque monsieur. Brandon also really liked the french fries (he feels about as strongly about gourmet french fries as I do about cupcakes.) They also have this wonderful invention, the cookie dough egg roll. We didn't get it this time but it's rich decadent and amazing!

That's the trip in a nutshell... or a blogpost. As usual it appears as though it revolved around food, I promise it didn't.

We'll be doing it all again soon, I'm heading to my aunt and uncle's home near East TN. The reason why is a long story but it's all because my brother is having back surgery.
He has a condition that causes him to lean forward, and it causes lots of pain. This surgery, though terribly serious, should remove his pain. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated. My parents are probably going to publish a blog to keep friends and family posted. I'll let you know. Please remember Caleb in your prayers, he's 17 years old and will undergo surgery this Thursday and will be in the hospital for quite a while.

Goodbye friends, I'll talk to you soon.