Saturday, January 31, 2009

Peace at last?

I visited Lichterman Nature Center in east Memphis last November. If you decide to get a map and trek through the 65 acres of forest, there are moments you feel like you've been transported out of the city. The sound of honking cars recede, replaced only by the crunch of dead leaves underfoot. Otherwise, silence.

That is, until you hike far enough to the northern border of the property. A stark, ugly white building sitting amidst the trees reminds you that you're in Memphis, and it all comes back for sure when the bustling four-lane highway comes into view directly beyond that. Oh, well, it was nice while it lasted.

Potential birdie home
Dead...flower?  What is this?
Again, no clue what this is...
Peep out of the water

Man glasses

Man glasses

The title of this photo must be pronounced in a bass tone of voice.

Rister and I were shopping at Banana Republic, and I was thrilled and confused to find the man sign at the sunglasses booth? What? Anyway, this is Rister's interpretation of trying on sunglasses in a glamorous and manly manner (that last phrase also in bass).

Taken by my iPhone.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jesus is Lord starch pants

Jesus is Lord starch pants! $2.25 prepay!

I crack up at this every time I pass it on Madison Avenue on the way to the gym. I've tried to stop several times, but there are always big scary men loitering right in front...and I'm an admitted 'fraidy cat. Given, this is five minutes from my home, but I can't help it. Plus, it was a windy, cold day in Memphis, so they all stayed in.


Jesus is Lord starch pants

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Disneyworld - January 2009

I was too busy running around Disney like a rabid maniac, so there wasn't much time to take pictures.  Here's what I came back with...

george triptych
epcot quad
Magic Kingdom
Cinderella's Castle

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Earlier today I showed my niece a picture of her that I jazzed up in Photoshop a while back with some brushes I had downloaded.  I forgot about it until today, but I still think it's fun.  

I'm the bride to the right.  The pink dress to the left is Mom. Based on that info, it's pretty obvious I didn't take the picture. It was taken by our wedding photographer, Jennifer Miller, who is unfortunately now out of business.

The rock star in the center is Emma!

Emma with pink and white swirls

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Moon Montage

On the way home this afternoon around 4 I looked up to behold a huge, almost-full moon hanging in the sky like a Christmas ornament. Who told it that it could come out this early??

Moon Montage

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chocolate Raspberry Tarts

Chocolate raspberry tart VI
Chocolate raspberry tart I
Chocolate raspberry tart V

When I bought Nigella Lawson's cookbook, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, I was in Ireland vacationing with my friend, Renee. I didn't realize at the time that the recipes are - duh - on the metric scale. Every time I bake from this book I have to convert, and I worry just a little that I don't get it exactly right. Most things turn out tasting fine although they may not be as pretty as Nigella's pictures.

These tarts turned out OK although I had trouble getting them out of the tartlet pans. My solution? Eat straight out of the pan!!! I am not nearly sophisticated enough to be embarrassed about this.

For the tarts:
175 g (3/4 cup) plain flour, preferably italian 00
30 g (2 tbsp) cocoa powder
50 g (3.5 tbsp) caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
125 g (4.5 oz) unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp iced water

For the filling:
50 g (2 oz) white chocolate
250 g (8.75 oz) mascarpone
100 ml (1/2 cup) double cream (I substituted heavy cream)
Approximately 500 g (18 oz) raspberries
6 x 12 cm (4 in) tartlet tins with loose bottoms

Your best bet is to make the pastry in a food processor, so put the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt into the bowl and pulse to blend. Cut the butter into small pieces and pulse with the flour mixture until it looks crumbly. Beat the yolk and iced water together and add, down the funnel, to bind the pastry. When it starts to clump together, turn it out of the processor and work it together with your hands into two discs. Wrap them in clingfilm and rest the pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out one of the dough discs; it will be quite a dry pastry because of the cocoa, so don't be too heavy-handed with the flour on your rolling surface. Then, using a tart case as a guide, cut at least 3 rough squares or circles slightly bigger than the tin. Ease the pastry squares into the tins - don't worry if they break, just patch them as best you can - and cut off the excess pastry. Do this with all 6 tins, and then freee them for about 30 minutes or until they feel frozen. While the pastry's in the freezer, turn on the oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4 (about 350 degrees Fahrenheit), and slip in a baking sheet to heat up at the same time.

Put the tartlets straight into the oven on the baking sheet, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry feels cooked and dry. The freezing plus the fact that the individual area is small means that they shouldn't puff up, which in turn means we're doing without the beans and all that blind-baking palaver. While the pastry's cooking, you might melt the chocolate for the filling, either in the microwave or in a double boiler.

When the pastry cases are cool, slip them out of their tins and finish the filling. This is simple: you just beat the mascarpone and double cream together and fold in the melted, slightly cooked, white chocolate. Go gently with your whisking: you dn't want this too thick; however, a little extra unwhipped double cream stirred in at the end will thin it down if necessary. Fill the pastry cases with the cream, and then top with raspberries.

Makes 6.

Recipe from Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Chatto & Windus 2003. Please note that I roughly converted the ingredients from metric to US scale and any flaws are my fault.

Wow, did things get messy.
Heavy cream, white chocolate and mascarpone
Hershey's cocoa powder
Ghirardelli white chocolate

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Twilight Fog

41/365 Dec 24 2008

In the past week I have read the four books in the Twilight series. I finished the last one about two hours ago, and I feel like I'm waking up. Thank God there's nothing else to read, otherwise I'd continue to shirk all everyday duties I've been avoiding, including wearing something other than my jammies. It got to a point where my husband eyeballed the books in a grudging way (he thought I didn't notice), as if they were competition for my attention. Which they were, hands down. At a New Year's Eve party, I bluntly informed my friends that I'd much rather be at home reading book two than talking to them.


As it turns out, there IS something else to read. The author, Stephenie Meyer, was working on a companion book to Twilight entitled Midnight Sun. Supposedly, it is the same experience told from Edward's viewpoint rather than Bella's. Unfortunately, an unpublished, 250-page version of the manuscript got leaked on the Internet. On Mrs. Meyer's web site, she expressed profound disappointment that this happened but decided to post the absolute latest manuscript on her web site anyway. She initially decided against publishing the text, but her publicist later admitted (after hearing hundreds of protests from manic fans) that she will indeed publish a finished version. She mentioned on her site that she hopes her fans will not read the unpublished version.

Sigh. I'm debating whether or not to wait for the published version. I think I will wait for a variety of reasons*:

1. If I were Stephenie Meyer, I'd wish my fans wouldn't read the unpublished version as well. I do not know the author, obviously, but I feel sort of obligated (because I am one of the aforementioned manic fans).

2. I really need to go to the gym.

3. My husband is tired of looking at the cover of the book rather than my face.

4. I need to go to the grocery store so that my diet includes more than Kraft macaroni and cheese microwaveable packs.

Since this is all I've been doing for the past week, a couple of the books made it into my Flickr 365 day object project (see above). I'm not sure if the author has decided to continue the series or create a spinoff with Jacob and Nessie, but I sure hope she does!! Hey, if it comes down to it, I can read them on the tread mill and when George is on call. A totally manageable addiction.

*January 10, 2009 update: According to, Midnight Sun is officially on hold.  Therefore, I made the decision to read - and thoroughly enjoy - the partial draft posted on her web site.  If you are a fan of the books, I recommend it. If you are male and afraid to read the series because you think they're girly, I recommend it (it is from Edward's perspective).

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