Thursday, January 29, 2009

Google Reader?

What is Google Reader, and how do I use it? Yes, I am serious. I hear talk of this marvelous contraption, but I do not have (use?) it. Please bring me into 2009 (so I can spend even more time blog stalking).

UPDATE: Thanks to my amazing cousin, Amy, I am now a proud user of Google Reader. It is much easier to blog stalk through Reader than the Dashboard of Blogger. Thanks Amy (who introduced me to blogging... and more importantly, blog stalking)! :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Geographically Single

First, I just want to get this out of the way... is it REALLY only Wednesday!?!? Ugh.

Okay, I feel better. I keep thinking it is Thursday.

Sooooooooo, as I said in a previous post, Matt is getting transferred for work, and I am none too happy about it. First, he was going to Tifton... then it was Memphis... and now it's Tifton again. They both have their positives and negatives (mostly negatives, in my opinion). Memphis would have been for a shorter duration, but it's much further away. Tifton's project is behind schedule and the original schedule for completion was March 2010. However, he told his company he would go to Tifton, but he couldn't stay until the project was over (too long). He's going to go down there, kick some butt, get them back on track, and then hopefully come back home when they start getting some work around here (here’s to hoping Obama’s infrastructure stimulus plan works and we get funds here in Atlanta). So, he's set a time frame of a year, and in the meantime I will hope and pray he is back sooner.

Now, being the eternal optimist I am, I am doing my best to look at the bright side, and here are the good things I’ve come up with:
-Tifton is half way between Atlanta and Jacksonville (and on the way to anywhere in Florida we’d need to go… and we’ll be there a lot next year).
-He should be able to come home almost every weekend.
-It’s driving distance.
-Tifton has a Starbuck’s AND a Chick-fil-a.
-It’s near Wild Adventures (an amusement park in Valdosta), and I’ve never been. Weekend roadtrip?
-We should be able to attend several Gator games this year (as opposed to probably none if he were in Memphis).
-He still has a job.
-I can focus on my career Monday through Friday (not that I don’t already, but at least when I’m working late, I know I don’t have a handsome husband to go home to).
-And, as I pointed out in a previous post, I will probably eat leaner dinner fare and work out more.

So, there you have it. Am I any happier about it? Nope. But, I will put a smile on my face and make the best of it.

Penne with Roasted Eggplant Puree

I ♥ Giada deLaurentiis. I made this last night, and it was EASY, delicious and healthy.

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1" cubes (do not peel)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 cloves whole garlic
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb penne pasta (I used whole wheat... you could also use any tubular shaped pasta)
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan
1/4 c fresh mint leaves, torn
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper (easy clean up). In a large bowl, toss eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, EVOO, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on the baking sheet. Roast until golden (approximately 35 minutes).

In the meantime, toast pine nuts (5-8 minutes in the oven along with the veggies). Remove from pan to a bowl to cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain and put pasta into a large serving bowl.

Add the roasted vegetables, mint and EVOO to a food processor and pulse a few times until the contents are pureed but still have noticeable chunks of veggies.

Toss the sauce with the pasta and parmesan. Garnish with the pine nuts.

I am not much of a mint fan when it comes to savory foods, but let me assure you that you should not leave anything out of this recipe. The mint balances out the red pepper, which gives the dish a slight kick without being spicy. Buon Appetito!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Miss America, the "it" girl

I was so sick of hearing that phrase overused on Saturday night's telecast of Miss America, but that is one of my only complaints about the pageant. It really was a great show... the opening number was modern and fun, the girls looked like they were in their early 20s instead of their early 40s, Mario Lopez is a cheeseball but a great host, and the girls got the airtime they deserved. Clinton Kelly from What Not to Wear provided entertaining and sometimes slightly inappropriate commentary, which I enjoyed. I was pleasantly surprised with the top 15 - 11 of my top 15 made it into the finals and 3 of my "bubble choices" also made it in. I would have been right on target, but I went with Nebraska instead of Iowa as one of my bubble choices, and Iowa made it in (and all the way to 2nd runner up, which surprised me all night). By far, my biggest complaint of the night was the ridiculous exclusion of stunning Miss Oklahoma, Kelsey Cartwright!

WHAT.THE.HECK.HAPPENED? Her face is exquisite, and she seems to have such a bright and unaffected personality, a good talent (from what I heard), and a kick butt swimsuit body. Some things are just unexplainable! We do the "Face of Miss America" (or insert other major pageant) on my favorite pageant messageboard, and she won handily. We have decided it's a curse, because our winner last year was also a surprising exclusion from the top 15. Next year, we'll have to vote for the least attractive girl instead. ;)

In any case, I really enjoyed watching the pageant. Even Matt kind of enjoyed it (as much as a heterosexual male who only has an interest in hot girls in swimsuits could). Our friend Trevor was over for the start of the pageant, and both were impressed with most of the girls. Trevor commented that they had nice figures in the opening number outfits (simple, fitted black 3/4 sleeve tops and jeans by Paige Premium Denim). Matt commented after the pageant that it actually kept him fairly entertained. He thought the caliber of the girls was good, that Mario Lopez was cheesy but a good host, and that the production was modern. Several of the ladies caught his attention in swimsuit, and he really liked Tennessee, Arkansas, and Georgia in evening gown. I thought they all had killer bodies, and I immediately wanted to go throw up my dinner and hit the gym. ;) I loved Georgia's gown... it was my hands down favorite. She looked amazing in red. I was so thrilled that Miss Florida, Sierra Minott, finished 4th RU! She is just a doll, and I really liked her talent - very entertaining. Miss Georgia, Chasity Hardman, finished 1st RU. I knew it would end up between her and Miss Indiana, Katie Stam, our new Miss America. Miss New York, Leigh Taylor Smith, was also a very pleasant surprise and finished 3rd RU. Matt really liked her (not hard to see why, she is beautiful). I knew Indiana was going to win when it came down to the final three with only Miss America left to announce (they do a top 7, but only announce 4th RU through winner, so three are left standing when they announce Miss America and the two left after they announce the winner are 6th and 7th place). Matt was rooting for California (gorgeous face), but after seeing the reality show, it was clear that the pageant was either Indiana's or Georgia's.

In the end, I am happy. I totally get the winner (not her evening gown choice, but everything else), and I think she will be a great Miss America. She is beautiful, decently talented (she sang and it wasn't bad, especially considering she had been horribly sick), and has a phenomenal figure. She had the best winning reaction since Ericka Dunlap (Miss Florida 2003) won Miss America. No one will look at her and question why she is Miss America. I think TLC has been a great partnership for the Miss America Organization, and I sincerely hope they continue to move forward and put on a quality production that showcases the contestants in a positive light and is interesting to non-pageant fans.

Congratulations Katie Stam, Miss America 2009!

Friday, January 23, 2009

There She Is...

...Miss America. There she is, your ideal. Oh, how I love Bert Parks singing that song. Somehow, pageants have yet to make it onto my blog. Probably because there hasn't been a big pageant since I began writing in August. For the record, I L-O-V-E PAGEANTS. I came about this obsession in an interesting way. I ALWAYS watched the big pageants on TV and sat in awe of the beautiful women in their beautiful gowns and all that they represented. When I was a junior in high school, I participated in our high school pageant, Miss Mandarin, and won. Don't get me wrong, I most certainly wanted to win, but I didn't really think I would. I didn't have any pageant experience, but I was comfortable on stage and in the interview room. So, I then went on to compete in the Miss Senior High Pageant and did not place. I didn't put much effort into it, but I had a great time and met some great girls, including the eventual winner of the pageant. She and I are still good friends to this day, and I actually helped coach her to a top 10 placement and preliminary evening gown and newcomer of the year award for Miss Florida (America) in 2004. In my freshman year of college, I participated in the Miss University of Florida/Miss Florida Gator Scholarship Pageant, which is a preliminary in the Miss America system. Once again, I didn't place, but I had a great time. I also decided I'd rather direct the pageants and be behind the scenes. The next year I was an assistant director and the following I was the executive director. The year I was an AD, Melissa Witek and Allison Kreiger took the titles of Miss Florida Gator and Miss University of Florida, respectively. I ended up becoming good friends with both of them. Melissa went on to win the Miss Florida USA pageant in the summer of 2004 and competed in Miss USA 2005, taking 4th Runner Up! It was my first national pageant, and my mom and I were thrilled to be there. It also introduced me to pageant message boards, which I have become somewhat addicted to. The following year, Allison won the title of Miss Florida (America) 2006. So, once again, I headed off to the national pageant. It was so thrilling, and even though Allison was robbed of a top 10 spot, she was amazing and it was so awesome to watch her fulfill a dream. Last year, the three of us went to Vegas for the Miss USA pageant and had an amazing time!

So, now pageant season is back upon us. Miss America is Saturday night at 8:00 pm Eastern on TLC. I wait with bated breath to find out who the judges will choose. I have my favorites - Florida, Georgia, District of Columbia, Oklahoma and Indiana, but there are so many other amazing girls competing this year. I've been following via pictures and reviews on the message boards, but I can't wait to watch tomorrow night and see what these girls are made of.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I am alive. Slightly worse for the wear, but alive. Last Wednesday, I headed down to Sunny Florida for work. As I was parking my car at the airport, my mom called informing me that my brother had been in a 4-wheeler accident the night before and broke his femur in several places. He was at his hunting camp in South Georgia, trying to get in his last deer of the season, and I'm sure you can imagine what happens at night with a bunch of 20-somethings in the woods. He was taken by ambulence to Jasper, GA... then to Brunswick, GA... and finally to Shands Jacksonville where he had surgery to insert a rod and screws into his femur. I'm wondering if that will set off the metal detectors at the airport! :) He was quite lucky to be at such an awesome (read: University of Florida) hospital, and his doctor was one of only five Orthopedic Traumaticians in the region. As he was being wheeled into surgery, he saw someone in the hall wearing Gator gear, and held up is hand in a fist and said, "Go Gators!" Haha, that's my brother... love it! He is expected to make a full recovery, but he is pretty much out of commission at present. I spent most of the weekend at his house trying to help out Christine (who is almost 7 months preggo) and playing with my nephew.

The work trip was good and took me from Ft. Lauderdale to Jupiter to Bradenton to Orlando. I was already planning to stay the weekend in Jacksonville, so it sort of worked out well. I certainly would have rather been able to spend time with my brother without him being all laid up, but sometimes things happen for a reason. Saturday was supposed to be James' third birthday party, but circumstances as they were, Christine had to cancel. So, I took James on a date to the movies to see The Tale of Despereaux. It was a very cute movie, but the best part was watching him and the cute things he would whisper to me during the movie. At one point he looked up at me and said, "Kristin, I love you." Melt my heart, why don't you! (Note: sometimes I am Aunt Kristin and sometimes I am just Kristin... funny kid.) It was great to be home and see the family, even if it was short-lived.

Meanwhile, all of this is going on and Matt has been notified that he will be transferred for work. Now, the economy being what it is, I'm not going anywhere... especially to Memphis, TN or Tifton, GA. What, you've never heard of Tifton? It's that oasis off I-75 in south Georgia between Perry and Valdosta. Never heard of them either? Well, you're not missing too much, but Valdosta does have an amusement park and is one of the larger cities in Georgia outside of metro Atlanta. I remember when Tifton used to have signs reading "turfgrass capital of the world" and "high speed internet capital of the world." I don't know who bestowed upon them these awards, but maybe they were bluffing, because the signs are gone. In any case, it looks like Matt is going to be working in Tifton Monday through Friday. It's certainly not ideal, but it could be worse. We're trying to be positive about it. I figure I'm going to lose weight, because I'm going to start going to the gym more after work and going back to my pre-husband diet of much leaner dinner fare. He'll probably lose weight too, because he'll go back to his bachelor diet of Lean Cuisines, sandwiches, and soup! :)

For those of you who pray out there, please add my brother to your prayer list... not only for speedy healing but for a reality check on priorities (he's an amazing guy, but sometimes I wonder what he's thinking). Also, if you want to pray for Matt and me, we'll take it! We've done long distance before, and I know we'll be fine. I just certainly didn't imagine this for our first year of married life (or ever, really).

Also, if anyone wants a Walker Hound, my brother has a litter of six puppies. I'll post pictures when I get home. I think he already has homes for three of them, and the only requirement is that you give them a good home! They are adorable. I know nothing about the breed except that they are hunting dogs and freakin' adorable puppies!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I ♥ Eddie Ross!

This weekend, Jenn and I headed to the Scott Antique Market, which is held monthly at the Atlanta Expo Center, to meet the fabulous Eddie Ross and his very handsome partner, Jaithan Kochar. For those of you who don't know (and shame on you... his blog is on my blog list... go, now), Eddie is of Top Design (Season 2) fame. He has also worked for magazines and TV shows, including the incomparable Martha Stewart. Eddie's philosophy is that you do not have to pay a buttload (yes, that is a technical term) of money for beautiful furniture and accessories if you're willing to get creative. Shopping for antiques is very new to me, so I decided I should learn from the best.

We spent a few hours touring the expo center and getting great advice from Eddie on how to use items in unexpected ways. For example, to me, this big green glass jug is just that... a big green glass jug. To Eddie, this could make a beautiful statement lamp by corking it, adding the light fixture, and a beautiful oversized shade.


We also learned a lot about antique china, including this awesome transferware.

In this image, the transferware is the white with the blue images (but I believe it comes in various colors, including red and black). It was a process created in England in the mid-eighteenth century to make beautiful china available to the masses. The process starts with an engraved copper plate which prints the pattern on a piece of tissue paper which is then placed on the plate to transfer the wet ink. The ceramic is then fired at a low temperature in a kiln to fix the pattern. As you can see from the picture above, the prices vary depending on the piece (or maybe you can't, but the plates in the forefront of the image are $5/piece and the bowls to the right of them are $75/piece).

When Matt and I have a house (hopefully this year), I would love to head back down there to pick up some beautiful plates to use as wall hangings.

There was also this great fabric guy who had all sorts of beautiful fabrics at highly discounted prices. I fell in LOVE with this.

But, someone bought the entire bolt at......... $100/yard! WHOA! The guy told me it would retail for more like $1,000/yard. As much as I loved it, that's just a bit out of my price range. However, I have been looking for something like this for a throw pillow or two for our couch. I love the brown/aqua combo.

This is just a brief summary of the trip, but suffice it to say that I really learned a lot. I don't consider myself very creative (especially when it comes to design), so I need a lot of inspiration, and Eddie was certainly able to provide that. Go check out his blog... he has some really great ideas! I will definitely be making more trips to antique and flea markets and will be following Eddie as he becomes the next big thing since Martha!

Me, Eddie & Jenn (& Madelyn)

Friday, January 9, 2009

We are the champions, my friend.

I've paid my dues
Time after time
I've done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I've made a few
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I've come through
We are the champions, my friend
And, we'll keep on fighting 'til the end
We are the champions, WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS...
No time for losers, 'cause we are the CHAMPIONS... of the world!

Ah, gotta love a good Queen song. And, this...

Thursday, January 8, 2009


C'mon Gators, Get Up and Go!

(I'm dying here... ahhhhhhhhhhh!)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Yes, I realize Christmas is over, but tomorrow is the National Championship game, and my beloved Florida Gators are taking on the crimson and cream of the Oklahoma Sooners. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GATORS! I think I am going to be extrememly unproductive at work tomorrow... just a guess.

After tomorrow, it becomes the saddest time of the year, because college football is on hiatus for 8 months. But, the flip side is that it is also the most productive time of the year for me, because my Satudays are free. :)

Oh, preseason voters, how you underestimated us.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Year of Food and Fun

Matt and I love food... anything and everything to do with it from watching every good food show on TV (addicted to Gordon Ramsey, Top Chef, Anthony Bourdain, and too many Food Network programs), cooking it (mostly me, but he's a pro on the grill and is quite capable in the kitchen), and of course, EATING it. So, what better way to spend the coming and arrival of the new year than with food? Nothing, of course.

On New Year's Eve, we went to Redfish in Grant Park, which was awesome. We had the scallop appetizer, which included two very large seared scallops on a bed of creamed corn with peppers. Delish! I had the NOLA salad and crawfish cake as my entree and Matt had the three pepper catfish with red beans and rice and blue cheese grits. Again, delish and the portions were big! He brought home a whole filet of catfish. Before we left, we popped into the bar to use the restroom and check the score of the Peach Bowl. We struck up a convo with who turned out to be the executive chef and spent pretty close to two hours talking to him. He brought us dessert, and we talked about everything from food to restaurant ownership to politics and the economy. He was great. All you Atlantans head over to Redfish and tell Chef Gregg hi.

Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day in the kitchen. I made guacamole (recipe to follow) and served that with salsa and chips and crackers and pepper cheese for bowl game snacks. We had Matt, Jenny and Trevor over for dinner and I made roasted chicken, black eyed peas (for good luck, of course), and Jenny brought a nice salad. I also made red velvet cupcakes from scratch, and I was pleased with the result. Here are some pictures of our feast and my guacamole tutorial. :)

What New Year's resolution? (PS - I don't have one except to keep eating!) :)

Oh, how I adore a good bloody Mary.

Roasted chicken with onions, garlic and herbs (adapted from Good Things Catered )

black eyed peas - Southern tradition for New Year's Day

Kristin's Guac

2 ripe avacados
1 lime
a couple cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
handful of cilantro
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and cored
Optional: seeded and diced jalapeno, diced onion

Halve the avacados and remove the pit. Use a paring knife to losen the flesh from the skin and squeeze or scoop into a bowl. Add the juice of the lime and the garlic and mash with a fork. Add the tomato (finely diced) and cilantro (coarsley chopped) and stir. Taste and add salt as needed. Garnish with diced tomato and cilantro.

Serve with corn chips. Enjoy!