Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Apples

Basket of apples

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cooking with Spice

I love to cook. I'm all about experimenting with recipes and trying out new styles of cooking. I'm also really into spicy food. So my collection of herbs and spices is always growing, because I like to have whatever I need for anything that I might feel like making.

Of course, this means that I need to have a way of keeping it all organized so that I can find the cumin or pumpkin pie spice or whatever the spice of the day is quickly and easily. Enter kitchen spice racks. There are a couple of different types that I like. For some of the stuff that I don't use as often, and the backup jars of stuff that I use all the time, I like the spice racks that can be hidden away in drawers or cabinets.

For the stuff that I use more often, I like a smaller spice rack that can go on the counter. This one has a really cool mad scientist sort of vibe to it, and it's also really easy to see and grab exactly what you're looking for.

And for functional and decorative purposes, I also like a nice wall spice rack. They add a colorful touch to a kitchen, and they're easy to organize. I like to alphabetize my spices, because it makes it easy to find things...and because I'm a foodie dork.

What are your favorite spices to cook with? How do you organize them?

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm Ready for Fall TV

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of TiVo. All opinions are 100% mine.

I admit it. I'm a TV junkie. I watch so much different stuff - from sports to cheesy reality shows to dramas to documentaries. From Mad Men to Gossip Girl and everything in between. People who say that they don't own TVs or don't watch them are like aliens to me.

So obviously a good DVR is a must for someone like me, especially at the start of the Fall TV season when there are so many new shows to check out. That's why I was excited to hear about the new TiVo Premiere and TiVo Slide remote. It's got a lot of cool features that can help you make sure you'll never miss anything that you might want to see.

The one feature that's most exciting to me is TiVo Collections.  When you use that feature along with TiVo search, it can help you find full past seasons of shows from Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand or Blockbuster On Demand, as well as any upcoming episodes.  (You can also use TiVo Search to search for any current shows, movies, or even web videos.) I love this because I'm the type of person who will just decide to start watching a show and get caught up on multiple seasons all at once, marathon style.  I did that with season one of True Blood and seasons one and two of Mad Men, and now I'm hooked on both shows.  I'm considering starting on Sons of Anarchy now because I've heard so many good things about it, so if you watch it feel free to leave a comment and help convince me to go for it.

The TiVo Premiere also has a Fall TV Guru Guide, which sounds like it would be really helpful for keeping track of all of the new shows that are starting now.  I always have a hard time deciding which shows are going to be worth checking out, and which ones are going to end up getting the axe after two episodes.  I like the sound of some of the new "girl power" type shows for this fall, like the CW's Nikita and NBC's Chase, so a guide like this would probably help me figure out which one is worth a spot on my viewing schedule.     

One more cool thing is that there's a feature that's similar to IMDB that helps you search for everything that a particular actor has done.  My friends and I are always catching different actors in random guest-starring roles - guess that's what happens when you watch so much TV - or having those moments where you say "hey it's that guy from...wait, where is he from?"  So it would be great to have the ability to search that right at your fingertips.

Clearly this is something that I need in my life.  So I became a Facebook Fan of TiVo (a sure sign of your devotion to all forms of media) and I entered the "30 Slides in 30 Days" Sweepstakes.  They're giving away a TiVo Slide remote every day for 30 days.  The deadline to enter is 9/22 so you should definitely Enter to Win now!  You should also leave a comment and tell me what you're watching this season.  I'm always looking for new shows.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rain Chains

I was visiting my aunt the other day when that big rain storm came through. Luckily it wasn't too bad where she lives. I love being at her house when it rains because she has rain chains and I think they're so cool. If you're not familiar with rain chains, they're basically decorative chains or metal cups that hang and can take the place of a gutter spout. They look really pretty and when it rains many of them also sound nice too. Kinda like a wind chime sort of thing.

It's not really practical for me to do the rain chain thing where I live right now, but I'm definitely planning on it in the future. I think it's an unexpected nice touch to a garden, and I like that it lets you take something that's usually pretty unattractive like a gutter and turn it into something much more beautiful.

Usually people put some sort of catch basin at the bottom of their rain chain. It looks nice, it protects the ground below from getting too waterlogged, and it allows you to collect the rain water which can be used for a bird bath or to water plants and things like that. This copper rain chain and catch basin is really pretty:

Nice, right? I'm looking forward to the next time it rains.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Multiple Sclerosis

A family member died of Multiple Sclerosis a few years ago, so every year I donate money to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This upcoming year I'm planning on doing the MS Walk as well.

For those of you who don't know MS is affects the central nervous system (i.e., the brain and spinal cord). It causes nerve degernation and affects one's ability to perform certain movements.

He had technically had multiple sclerosis for over 20 years, as he was diagnosed early on but he really suffered from the heavy Ms Symptoms until later years. These included depression, spasms and tremors, weakness and fatigue, loss of eyesight, and lots and lots of pain.

One thing that always confused me about him, was the fact that he didn't really seem to care about taking care of himself. He drank a lot, he smoked, he didn't eat well at all. This didn't really make sense to me. I know if I had a disease like multiple sclerosis I would want to prolong my life (and my quality of life) as long as possible. That includes abstaining from stuff that would hurt my body further (like alcohol!) and eating a healthy, low-fat, low-sugar, and low-sodium Ms Diet.

I don't know what really stopped him from taking care of himself... Maybe he felt like it was pointless to try to be healthy when he believed he was ill? Maybe he was depressed and didn't care anymore? Maybe he just wasn't disciplined enough to kick his bad habits and start new ones? Maybe he was in denial or just too stubborn to change his lifestyle any more than he had to? I don't know and I probably never will.

What I do know, is that he could have possibly prolonged the length of his life and improved the quality of his life, but he didn't. So I know that if I am ever put in a similar situation I will do whatever I have to do. In the meantime, I will continue donating to the National MS Society and spreading the word.

*Photos (and some facts) courtesy of

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music Monday: Florence and the Machine at the VMAs

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Going Victorian

I'm still having fun doing some fantasy decorating on the "stately manor" house that I'm sure to own someday very soon. Before I got onto this stately manor kick, I wrote about a cool mailbox that I saw and really liked. The only problem is that that mailbox was very modern and curvy and sleek. But I feel like if we're going in the manor house direction, then I should switch it up and look at some more Victorian mailboxes.

Luckily, when it comes to decorating I have really eccentric tastes, so I can switch gears easily. Of course, this is a blessing and a curse, because I love almost everything, so as a result I want to buy everything and have to be careful that my rooms stay on the eccentric side and don't cross the line into "potential hoarder" or "hot mess".

Anyway, mailboxes. Some of these Victorian wall mailbox options are really pretty.

This indoor letter holder is really intricate and unique. I do think there's something vaguely The Haunting-esque about it, but that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on the look that you're going for.

Then there are the Victorian pedestal mailboxes. Not only do these look really nice, but somehow I feel like it makes your mail seem more important. Maybe that's because the style of these mailboxes comes from a time when people still regularly wrote actual letters to each other. Some of them also have a slightly mysterious feel to me, as if they're going to contain secret spy messages or letters from a famous detective or something like that.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Foodie Friday: Sassy Stemware

So I have to confess something. I'm not a big wine lover. I know that most foodies are also into wine, but I've never really gotten there. I'm more of a cocktail person. I think that's partially because I've never taken the time to really learn much about wine, and I'm going to work on that.

Of course, not really loving wine hasn't stopped me from loving nice stemware and stemware racks. I think they just look cool and sophisticated.

I especially like this hanging wine glass rack. It has a restaurant feel and an industrial sort of look, and it's also a good way to maximize your space. And I've already written about my love for steel appliances and accessories in the kitchen.
Of course, even though most of these are meant for wine and wine bottles, I can still use them as bar glass racks for my barware, liquor bottles, and cocktail shakers and other accessories.

So, who wants to teach me about wine? I'll pay you in homemade mojitos and caipirinhas.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The NFL Season is Coming

Silhouette of football on tee

Gardening One Box at a Time

The other day I talked about how I'm experimenting with easy ways to get into gardening, because I'd like to be better at it but I want to start small so that I don't get overwhelmed with a whole garden full of plants that I don't know how to care for. One way to do that is with planters, because you can try out different plants and flowers but do it in a small and manageable space.

I've shopped for some regular planters but I've also been looking at window boxes. I think they make a nice addition to any garden, and they're also great if you don't have a lot of space to work with.

I've always liked the look of window flower boxes, because you can really make some cool visual statements by mixing colors (or going with just one bold color) or switching up different heights and styles of plants.

Another thing a window box can be great for is growing herbs. That's one thing that I do know a little bit about since I love to cook. Planters are really good for certain herbs, like mint, that have a tendency to grow like crazy and overwhelm a garden. But really you can grow just about any herb in a planter and it's really cool to be able to have a lot of different fresh herbs on hand for cooking.

It's also not a bad time to start with this project now. Since the seasons are changing, I can get a fresh start with seasonally appropriate plants. As soon as I figure out what those are. I have a little bit of research to do.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Music Monday: Jace Everett's "Bad Things" (The True Blood Theme)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

SWF seeking...?

I was thinking of moving to the city, but it's just really expensive to live there. (I mean, it's worth the money, but it's still a lot of money.) So I went on one of those roommate finder websites to see if I could find some cool people to live with - and more importantly split rent with!

I had never done an online roommate search so I wasn't exactly prepared for all the questions they were going to ask me about myself and my potential roommates. I expected the basics like smoker or non-smoker, but you can actually search by age, gender, sexual orientation, profession (choices include student, professional, retired or 'others'), and whether you have a pet or a child.*

That surprised me, because I thought you weren't allowed to ask questions like that (something about the Fair Housing Act not letting you discriminate). It's not a DATING site! Although there is the option to choose 'not disclosed' (for yourself) or 'doesn't matter' (for your potential roommates) on certain questions, some of it still seemed a little weird to me. but I guess because it's optional and since the goal of the sites are to bring togethe potential roommates and not necessarily tenants/landlords, then it might be a grey area.

I know that the federal law does not include sexual orientation, but many states - including New York - do protect against this kind of discrimination...  so I'm not completely sure what makes it okay to ask for this information on a website for roommates. Maybe because it's optional? Maybe because websites are protected as Internet 'forums'? I don't know.

But it all makes me wonder...

If you're going to live with someone, I guess there are some reasons why you'd want to know personal kinds of information about a potential roommate... If you have a young child, you might not want to live with a college student who parties all night long. (Or, if you're someone who parties all night long, you might not want to live with someone who has a young child.) Or if you're in a long distance relationship, your signficant other might get jealous if you were living with someone you could possibly be romantically become entangled with... so in that case the gender and sexual orientation of your potential roommates might actually matter.

I also know that certain religions don't allow living with members of the opposite sex (even if it's platonic) so it wouldn't necessarily be discrimination based on gender if you didn't want to share a bedroom or bathroom with someone who isn't your gender.

While technically it would be discrimination if someone specified "I want a straight, white roommate", it's not exactly the same as discriminating against a potential employee. It's more like "I'm a racist homophobic bigot and you don't want to live with me anyway." (And that wouldn't just apply to gay people either; I'm straight and white, but I wouldn't want to live with a racist homophobic bigot either!)

And theoretically, if you're welcoming a roommate into your home... you should have a right to be somewhat discerning about who you live with. It's not a public space.  Who you live with is a personal choice. It seems shitty to say it, but I don't want to live with someone if I disagree with their 'morals' (or really, if they would disagree with mine... or my lack thereof). But then... there's so much that goes into sharing a living space with someone. I wouldn't want to live with someone who eats lots of tuna fish or does drugs or never bathes or snores or breeds cats or listens to Celine Dion all day. I wish there was a website that would help me find a roommate using search criteria like that!

But when it comes to sexual orientation, I don't care who they're sleeping with as long as they do it in their room and not on the kitchen table where I eat breakfast!

*Information on search criteria came from and which are the only two sites I checked out. I can't speak for any other sites.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Foodie Friday: Cooking with Stainless Steel

I know this is a little late and it's technically Foodie Saturday now. Sorry!

I love stainless steel kitchen stuff. I just think it looks modern and cool. My fantasy kitchen would be full of stainless steel appliances, but in the meantime, there are a lot of smaller kitchen items that I can shop for to get the look. Right now I'm really liking Blomus stainless steel kitchen accessories.

I love this cheese slicer. This would get a lot of use in my kitchen because I'm one of those people who believe that cheese, like Nutella, improves almost every dish. (Okay, well, they probably wouldn't work together. Choose one or the other to be safe.)

I also really like this towel clip. I'd probably need more than one because I always make a huge mess when I'm cooking or baking.

And of course, you've also got to have a stainless steel egg lifter. I didn't realize until this moment that I do, in fact, need an egg lifter, but now I'm totally convinced that I do.

I'm also a really big tea lover, so I basically want all of the Blomus stainless steel tea accessories.

Stainless steel tea glasses are a fun alternative to regular mugs:

This teapot is adorable:

And I love these tea sticks:

And finally some Blomus stainless steel salad bowls - practical and good for counter top decorative purposes.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Stately Manor Needs a Garden

I was having a little bit of fun the other day writing about what I would do if I had one of those huge stately manor type mansions that every family on every soap opera seems to have. I've talked mailboxes and fancy address plaques, but one thing I didn't really cover was the garden. What's a stately manor without some well-manicured gardens, right?

So I've been doing a little fantasy shopping for some decorative items for my many lovely gardens. Like this sun and moon sundial:

And this Whitehall patio furniture:

And what fancy estate would be complete without an old-school door knocker? Makes it much easier to imagine a butler answering the door:

And to round out the garden decor, I really like these nature hooks. You can use them to hang plants, lanterns, bird feeders, hanging bird baths, wind chimes, or whatever else you can think of. Of course when I say "you", I mean my fantasy gardener, because I'm definitely going to need one to keep all of these stately gardens looking nice.

I think someone should just go ahead and give me a stately manor now that I've got all of these amazing decorating plans all laid out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Fall is Coming

Gramercy Park in Autumn

Scrub a dub dub....

This may be a little known fact here in the blogosphere, but I wasn't always the talented and popular (and humble) blogger I am today. I worked a series of lousy jobs over the years... many of them in the medical field (which is odd, considering that I'm totally squeamish). Now, that's not to say that I did anything medical... I typically worked the office: reception, billing, filing, whatever... but there was always the possibility that I would cross-paths with something... 'medical-ish'.

I've worked for veterinarians, chiropractors, pediatricians, orthopedists and even an acupuncturist. Each job was vastly different, but one thing was always the same: the outfit. Yep, I had to wear scrubs! Even though I wasn't coming even remotely close to touching a patient. And did I mention that they made me buy my own scrubs? They didn't even provide them for me. To make matters worse, they didn't let me re-use the scrubs from my previous jobs. That's right... every time I started a new job, I had to buy a new pair of womens scrubs.

So strangely enough I've become an expert at buying scrubs for women. So for those of you who work in this industry... here are a few tips:

Just because it's your job to take care of others doesn't mean that you should forget about yourself. Get a pair that's comfortable! Make sure you size them properly... most scrub bottoms come with a drawstring waist, but if they're really too big that drawstring won't help you. Nothing is worse than having to constantly pull up your pants while you're trying to look professional and treat patients. Darker colors are always more slimming and flattering. However, if you're very pale (like I am) you'll look totally washed out and sickly in too dark of a pair. You don't want to look sicker than your patients, because then no one will trust you to take care of them. Even though working in the medical industry isn't exactly a glamorous position, that's no reason you can't look good. The better you look, the better you'll feel and the better you will do your job. It's true.

*All scrubs photos courtesy of Blue Sky Scrubs. (If you buy your scrubs from them, they send a free hat to a cancer patient for every purchase of scrubs, as part of their Project Blue Sky.)