Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Simple Pleasures- Summer Nights

Today I'm over at Lady Scribes talking about the divine pleasure of a quiet summer evening. I hope you'll stop by and join me :)

Click here

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Simple Pleasures - Popcorn!

Okay, to many of you, that may sound like too simple of a simple pleasure. “Yeah, yeah, toss a bag in the microwave – what’s the big deal.” First of all – yuck! Don’t you dare equate microwave popcorn to real popcorn. That’s like comparing an iPod Touch to a Sony Walkman circa 1989. So wrong.
Anywho, for me, popcorn is so much more than that.  Growing up, there were two things that were not to be had in my home: junk food and superfluous piles of money. That meant that Friday nights would involve the family gathering around the old, wooden-box TV in the living room and watching whatever programming the networks deemed worthy that night.  Dad would get to work in the kitchen, popping up a gigantic bowl of oil-popped popcorn, topping with a drizzle of melted butter and a dash of salt, and divvying up the bounty between the five of us.
At something like 30 cents a bowl and only two ingredients, it flew under the radar with my health-food loving mom and budget conscious dad. And so, the tradition endured. 
Through the years, many things changed in our lives. Friends over for sleepovers, a shiny new VCR, my sister going off to college—but still there was the ever present Friday night treat.  
To this day, I can hardly go a week without raiding the pantry for the popping corn and oil. It is the embodiment of comfort food for me, a delicious constant that has followed me through all phases of my life.  It’s the perfect start to a weekend, a yummy end to a long day, and exactly the tradition that I plan to adhere to for a long time to come.
I know, I know—who has an ode to popcorn for a blog? Well…I do :) It’s a wonderful, simple pleasure that I can really sink my teeth into!

So what’s your simple pleasure food? What where your family’s weekend rituals?

As for today’s recipe . . . did you even have to ask??
Take any pan. Add enough oil to coat bottom of pan. Add 3 kernels of popcorn and cover with lid. Heat on medium high until the three kernels pop.  Immediately add enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan with a single layer. Cover with lid. As popcorn pops, shake the pan to evenly heat. Once popping has slowed to less than1 or 2 pops per second, remove from heat, pour in bowl, top with salt and ENJOY!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Starry Starry Night

For the next month, I'm going to be doing a series of blogs centering around simple pleasures :)  I hope you enjoy my first one:
Simple joys in life: Just look up
My whole life, with the notable exception of college, I have lived out in the boonies. I relish the distance between neighbors, the uncluttered roads and complete lack of traffic lights. I enjoy the sounds of nature, and more than anything, I adore the blanket of stars that are always so visible from my home.
To this day, I can clearly recall being roused by my father in the early morning hours in February of 1986, when Halley’s Comet last streaked by the Earth. We bundled up against the frigid night air and headed outside, the pebbly concrete walkway starkly cold against my bare feet.  My dad had a special handheld telescope for just that occasion, and we passed it between us, taking turns looking up into the inky darkness, speckled with a million pinpricks of light.
I was tired, and a bit groggy, and I don’t remember whether I actually saw the comet or not, but I remember my father’s excitement at sharing a once in a lifetime experience with us. I remember the vastness of the heavens stretching above us, and the instinctive knowledge that it was an important moment, to be remembered forever.
Throughout my childhood, our trusty old white telescope regularly made appearances on the back deck, pointed to the moon, to Saturn, to the North Star—whatever Dad could pick out.  We lived on a sprawling, treeless, 2 acre lot in the rolling hills of Kentucky. Our view of the heavens was unspoiled, unobstructed, and unlimited.  Orion’s Belt, The Big Dipper, The Little Dipper—these are the things I was taught to find, and to this day I still look for them.  After all these years, I never stopped looking up.
Every night, I take the dogs out right before bed, and as they wander around and take their time, so to do I. My view is much more obstructed than it once was, with towering pine trees on all sides, but directly above the driveway, I can still see it. The vast carpet of the heavens, like a handful of pixie dust scattered across the finest indigo velvet.  It draws me, a tugging deep in my soul that can’t be set aside.  And I don’t want to set it aside.  The stars that I see are the same that have been seen by my ancestors, the exact same ones that my friends and family around the world see, and the same ones that our descendents will see. 
I love the consistency of that. I love the common tie, one that has nothing to do with geography, or time, or privilege.  In this, the privilege is equal. 
So, as we all shake our heads in wonder as man puts one of the most advanced vehicles ever conceived on Mars—and records the experience in 3-D HD!—I just hope we don’t stay too glued to our computer screens and TVs.  Don’t forget to go outside and just… look up.

Feeling a bit whimsical today, can you tell?  :) Tell me—are you a fan of the night sky? Can you recognize any constellations? And dude - how cool was the engineering for the Curiosity??

Now, it's late and I haven't made this recipe yet, but holy cow, how perfect is this:
MOON PIES!!  I can't *wait* to try this :-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Confessions of an Olympic Game Addict

This past week, Dear Reader, I have reverted to the 8 year old little girl who I had no idea was still alive and well inside of me. The trigger? Well, it only took about 3 notes of the Olympic trumpet and drum music to catapult me back in time to when I was on my parents couch circa 1984, holding my Olympic-themed water glass and cheering on the athletes.
I don’t know what it is. It’s not like I wake up on Saturdays and think, ‘You know what? I’m in the mood for some men’s synchronized diving!’ I don’t surf through CNN, looking for pole-vaulting or rowing, and I sure as heck don’t wonder if there is a local pick-up game of water polo going on at the Y. 
Yet, those are exactly the things that have me eschewing my quickly-approaching deadline, glued to the TV from 8-midnight each night. I’ve become an armchair critic (HOW could you have missed that landing?? Geez!), an unrepentant sob-story addict (Grenada’s first Olympic medal ever?! *sniffle, sob*), and the ultimate lover of good sportsmanship and class (I’m looking at you, Sam Mikulak!)
I’ve bonded with these athletes, glorying in their triumphs and suffering with their losses. It makes me want to be a better person, to put a greater effort into everything I do. This ole body of mine is never going to see an Olympic arena, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t up the game in the things I am good at.  Gymnastics? That ship has totally sailed. Diving? I’m waaay to chicken to do mid-air flips. But writing? THERE is something I can do better. I can throw myself into it with the discipline and tenacity that these inspiring athletes have perfected in their journey to London. 
No matter what we do, we can apply the Olympic spirit in an effort to live a better life. These men and women are an inspiration, positive role models who we can all look up to. In an era of the media offering up the Kardashians and Snooki as celebrities, the Olympians have provided something else all together. I hope that a new generation of children has been inspired to achieve, and that the spirit will live on in the days, weeks and years following the conclusion of the Games. 
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get another box of tissues for the coming medal ceremony :-)

So tell me, have you caught Olympic fever this time around? What’s your favorite event?