Sunday, July 31, 2011

an apple a day...

If it's ok...

I would like to have a moment of silence for my Blackberry Curve who has been a superb mobile device.

I have had a pretty good track record with cell phones. Three is my running total. The Blackberry Pearl was my first introduction to the smart phone. That little Pearl saved me from getting lost on multiple occasions and I’m convinced that brickbreaker is the only reason I survived my freshman year of college. Sadly, she was lost forever in a tragic accident involving a beginning of a lifelong friendship during a John Mayer concert. What turned into a celebration of said friendship post-concert at IHOP resulted in the Pearl being left in the IHOP restroom. Tear. My second Blackberry was the curve. She was great. Her keyboard had a special clicking noise and her blinking red led notification light was bright and brought me lots of joy when I was waiting for someone to reply to a super important text.

There comes a day though when it is time to move on. It doesn't mean that the last thing wasn't awesome and right for you at the time. It might just mean it's time to embrace a change. Before embracing the new though, it is important to celebrate the old. We are still talking about phones though, right? Just checking. We could go all willy nilly and say that idea could apply to friendships, relationships, moving to new places, etc. but we will just stick to phones for the sake of the next paragraph.

Here is the deal, (excuse the gpoy) I am super excited. I never understood the "Christmas in July" shtick until right. now. Well actually, yesterday but you get it.  I agree that Apple is a very trendy product and  makes the banana feel super left out, but it truly is one of the most remarkable brands and is able to produce products that are incredibly user friendly and fun. I explained to my mom "you can do or find pretty much anything which seems complicated but it is so easy!" Most of you have probably been a part of the apple family for a long time but I’m sure you remember your first happy apple feeling moment. That is kind of what is going on here.                                                                                                  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

wednesday whistle.

The Civil Wars - I've Got this Friend 

This song was part of their second live performance as a duo at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, Georgia. The show was recorded and is still available for free download here.
Also, they are going to be playing a show in Birmingham on October 7, 2011.
Any takers?

Hope you've had a wonderful Wednesday friends!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

a trip to the farm.

This weekend I was at a farm in Normady, Tennessee. The population of this quaint town: 150. That is 50 less people than were in my graduating class. My hometown is small (clearly not as small as Normady) and growing up, there were days I was convinced I lived in the most boring town in the continental U.S. or maybe the world. Dramatic? You betcha. Something changed along the way though. It wasn't until I moved away from home that I realized just how much I appreciate the unique character of a small town. Although living in a city seems to stimulate a big dream mentality, the low population, small town cultivates a way of life.

The town of Normady was no exception.

We canoed a small portion of the 284 mile Duck river. The river was quiet and pristine. As our red canoe glided across the water, I felt myself become a bit overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. Everything seemed to just capture so much life. Beauty. Everywhere. The green hills and hay barrels that framed the left side. The exposed roots of trees hanging over the bank. The canopy of trees that provided shade for small stretches of the river. It was lovely.

Meet baby Kusi. He is a Llama. Cute huh? And so friendly too, he let me pet and feed him. Bucket list item #57: Feed a Llama. Check.

The farm had three beautiful gardens that were also home to these beautiful flowers.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Help a Sista Out

Here is my friend Carolyn. She is a frequent visitor here. She is also an aspiring photographer that needs our help. 

Check this out:
 & then do these things...
  1. vote for her portfolio once a day.
  2. tell your friends.
  3. repeat.
Thank you friends!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

wednesday whistle

Peter Bradley Adams - The Longer I Run
His voice is great & so is the banjo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

glory in the sunshine state

I miss the Florida sunsets.

The coast of Florida is home to beautiful sunsets all the time but this one seemed to be particularly great. I was driving home by myself and couldn't help but try to take pictures as I drove. Eventually I decided it would be a real tragedy if I got into an accident because I was trying to capture this beauty. Accidents are ugly and this was the opposite of ugly. So I pulled the car over and got out. It was lovely. Peaceful. Inspiring.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

wednesday whistle

Why? Because I am an English junky who enjoys a good alliteration and appreciates good music.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

sweet and unexpected.

I had an unexpected visit from a best friend last weekend. Think about this, you are driving down the road to doctor's appointment, ice cold diet coke in the cup holder, America's top forty on the radio, and you just got three green lights in a row. All of the sudden, you hear this loud noise coming from the back left tire and your car starts to shake violently. Dun..dun...dun, flat tire. To make matters worse, the violent shaking caused the diet coke you were sipping to spill on your shirt and because you had to get out and assess the situation, you missed hearing the #1 song in America. While waiting on triple A to come your rescue, you call your doctor an explain that you won't be making it to the appointment because you ran into some unexpected car trouble. Bad day.

In this hypothetical flat tire extravaganza, unexpected = unfortunate, sad, and annoying.

On the other side of the spectrum...

Friend coming to visit unexpectedly = pure happiness. It was a weekend full of laughter, reminiscing, baking, sight seeing, and discovery. You get the point. It was awesome.  

Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays because there aren't any real expectations. No one has to cook a turkey and stuff it or buy a gift for someone. Unless of course, your mom hates hamburgers and her birthday is on the fourth of July. Then do it. Let's face it though, the expectations for this holiday are few. This fourth of July weekend was no exception and it was really great. It was complete with friends, minor league baseball, cornhole, fireworks, delicious food and apple pie.

Ohh, the apple pie. Carolyn and I were challenged via twitter by her brother and his new wife (remember this?) to an apple pie bake off. Determined to prove our baking skills and patriotism could outshine these newlyweds, we got to work. The competition proved to be pretty fierce. This was our pride and joy:


This apple pie was quite delicious. It oozed winners. However, our pie was in Alabama and their pie was in Florida so after we got a few trash talking tweets out of the way, we called it a draw.

This weekend truly was one for the books. It also came with the reminder of how blessed we are to live in a free nation that allows us to worship, to celebrate, to love, to bake, to enjoy friendships, and to appreciate the countless blessings of life.

The recipe for our pie: Barefoot Contessa

4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on top
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Perfect Pie Crust
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over the pie pan to extend about 1/2 inch over the rim. Don’t stretch the dough; if it’s too small, just put it back on the board and re-roll it.

Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1 inch over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the two together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, and cut four or five slits.

Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm.

Perfect Pie Crust
Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.