Friday, May 27, 2011

Flashback Friday - Reflections

Indulge me for a brief moment [errr... post. whichever you prefer] as I reflect on post graduate life. If you have been reading for a while, you will know that I graduated from college a year ago this month. If you haven't been reading for a while, I just told you everything that you need to know. This past year has been hard. I've struggled with my job. I've struggled with being away from my friends. I've struggled with more than I had bargained for.

But it is all good struggling.

It was necessary for me to grow up in many ways. Being flung into the real world is more shocking and unexpected than most people would like to admit. Perhaps the hardest bit to grasp onto is the whole "working forty hours plus some" a week. I've done the whole full time working thing before. But not like this. I always had it split up between multiple jobs. That way I could bounce from place to place and not feel like I was continually doing the same thing. I worked mostly with people in food service and I nannied. And I was good at both. I'm a people person. I know how to throw a huge smile on my face and actually care about others even if they are just walking through my Starbucks for five minutes.

The job I have now I am not very good at. Which was a slap in the face. I knew that I would have a lot to learn. But not this much. I knew I would struggle with enjoying a desk a job. But not this much. For months I would sit at my desk and feel weighted down by everything expected of me and all the things that I didn't understand at this job. My attitude was slipping.

But it was good to struggle.

I cannot say that I am perfect at my job now by any stretch of the imagination. But I am catching on. I have changed the way I view my work, and that helps with attitude.

I certainly still have rough days. But they are are getting better.

So what pictures would I attach to something as morose as this?

Summers will never be the same now that I am employed full time. As my mother said, "The only way you get summers back is to have kids and be a stay at home mom."

Thanks Mom.

So, since I will never swim on a swim team again:

Nor will I ever be this tan again [my sister will always be pale as a vampire though!]:

Here's to the glorious summers that I did enjoy! Complete with swimming at the pool 24/7 and riding my bike to 7/11.

Adult summers are going to be wonderful as well if I have anything to do with it.

Here's to adventures with friends on nights and weekends. Cold Sangria. Ice Cream downtown. Weddings.

Bring it on.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Apologies

Has May been ridiculously busy for anyone else? I feel like I lost my once sure footing these past couple of weeks in the busyness of my life. Between working a ton of extra hours with my job [apparently everyone wants to come to Annapolis in May] and house sitting/dog sitting for two straight weeks, I kind of feel like I am going a tad bit crazy. Thankfully things are starting to die down a little bit. June is still quite the roller coaster of terror, but it seems at this point that it is more manageable.

I have done a few very fun things this month around the craziness. Like go to Ring Dance.

Not familiar with "Ring Dance"? Let me enlighten you. I live near The United States Naval Academy. Midshipmen go the academy [at least that's what they are called once they are there, i'm pretty sure they don't come out of the womb being addressed that way. but what do i know...]. At the end of their junior year they recieve their class rings and are thrown a huge party. The Ring Dance. It's kind a huge deal, and apparently every Annapolitan girl dreams of someday attending the dance with a dashing young midshipman. It is a black tie affair. The mids wear their shiny dress uniform, and the girls who go wear ball gowns essentially.

A family that I have grown up with has a son that goes to the Naval Academy. He invited me. We went. It was fun. The hall that was used wouldn't have been my first choice for such a fancy event, but the event planners really knew what they were doing. It was elegant and tasteful as long sections of white cloth was hung from the ceilings while colored lights cast their glow upon the background. Chandeliers hung from the rafters, and the concrete was topped with a checkered dancing floor. It really was quite stunning.

Hugh picked me up beforehand, and we went to his roomate's girlfriends house where we consumed dinner and took pictures on the waterfront.

It was a fun night and a good break from life. I like dressing up. I will be sure to don the grey gown again for a trip to McDonalds.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Flashback Friday - In Honor of the Brother

This week was another birthday week. My dad turned 51 on Wednesday. My dog turned some age yesterday. My brother turns 19 today [i think he's 19, i can never be too sure]. Therefore, this Flashback Friday will be dedicated to the younger brother I never had.

The younger brother I never had is sensitive and outgoing at the same time. He wears popped collars and makes sure his khakis are always pressed with the perfect creases in the exact right place. He loves all things polo [the sport and the brand] and croquet. Sometimes he even indulges himself in some badminton. He is always seen sipping on Arnold Palmer or munching on Triscuits. His favorite book is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and he can quote about half of the novella. Painting is his favorite pastime followed closely by Civil War re-enactments. Life is never dull for the brother I never had.

The brother I do have would scoff at the above paragraph filled with nonsense. Bryan is a writer along the lines of H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, and Stephen King [although he thinks Stephen King is trash]. I read a chapter of his novel once. I haven't slept a full night since. Bryan works at Great Harvest Bread Bakery as one of the lead bakers. He works the ovens, makes scones and muffins, and is generally a very trusted employee. We benefit from his perks as he brings home fresh bread almost every day! So much for a low carb diet. Bryan heads to Saint Marys Honor College in the fall. Out of all the children in our family to go to college thus far, Bryan is the only one who has been accepted to an Honor's College [i should have applied to Cornell when i got the chance]. He's a smart one.

In honor of Bryan, I have decided to post some lovely pictures of him from his 13 year old days.
Definitely the ladies man. Even back then you could tell that he was becoming a brooding author filled with dark tales and intricate plot twists.

And to round things off a bit [he wasn't 13 forever, despite what people have told you] here are a few pictures from his 14 year old days with his neighborfriend Keaton. They were quite the pair.
At this point I was still taller than at least Keaton. Now he is 6 feet 3 inches or something. I am still 5 feet and 1 1/2 inches tall. Oye. Or shall I say 5 feet, 1 1/2 inches short.

Here is Bryan in the present [this was taken at Christmastime on our quarterly Outback Steakhouse trip with the other neighborfriends]. He has become quite the handsome young man if I do say so myself. I'm also biased. Please affirm me!

The happiest of birthdays to you, Bryan!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Surprise to Say the Least

So, if you read this little blog regularly, you may remember a post wherein I won tickets to see Amos Lee perform in DC. Well... the same radio station gave me more free tickets on Friday to see Amos again! And I am not kidding. The best part, I get to go to a barbecue before the concert where I will get free hamburgers, natty bohs and some face time with the artists at the concert. Let me just say, I am seriously stoked. Majorly stoked. 

So tomorrow, despite the sad rainy forecast, I will be headed into Baltimore for some time with Amos Lee, Eric Hutchinson, Mason Jennings, Bobby Long and Josh Ritter. If it were sunny out tomorrow, I would totally rock the outfit below. 

Maybe I'll do it anyways.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Summer of Concerts

Whoa mama. Going to concerts is like getting hooked on some illicit drug. You just can't stop! I have some wonderful concerts lined up this summer, and I am starting to get pretty stoked.

Yes indeed. I get to see Paul Simon at the end of May! I have been listening to Paul Simon and Simon and Garfunkel since I was a kid. In highschool one of my nicknames became Julio after an older woman in my spanish class at the community college refused to call me Julia. Did she think I was a boy? I have no idea [maybe it was because I cut my hair super short and wore shapeless clothing. kidding]. All I know is that I consider Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard essentially a ballad written for me. Which would mean that I am up to no good at all. Bummer.

I have heard from various sources that since Paul Simon is getting to be up there in years [70 years to be exact in October], his voice isn't quite what it used to be. I've been thinking that it is honestly more about the experience, however. To see Paul Simon in person is going to be fantastic. There is no way around it.

Other concerts for the summer include Mumford and Sons and Matt and Kim. Hopefully I'll also score some tickets to see Death Cab for Cutie. STOKED!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cheesecake Galore

Birthdays. For family. They happen. They tend to happen often in my home as my family is large-ish. We are hoping for an even larger family, but there are no nieces or nephews in the works yet. I am crossing my fingers for sooner rather than later, but I am also not really in charge of that. Drat.

The lovely sister in law had a birthday recently, and she is also cute as a button. Therefore I have pictures. [i don't take pictures at my ugly family members birthdays. i don't wish to inflict those memories upon the world] She had a little get together with some friends and family that involved copious amounts of food and cheesecake.

Recognize the cupcakes from my last post? The bridal shower was directly before Mary's party. So the girls just brought them along.

Obviously enthused.

See? Only cute. The brother behind her though? Maybe not his best angle. Maybe he should just stop blinking in pictures.

Not going to lie, I kind of wish I had photoshop so I could photoshop Beau out of the background. Maybe I'll have to invest in it someday. Mary is pretty darn cute though!

They did a "top your own cheesecake" bar with cheesecakes from Trader Joes. It was a pretty brilliant idea, and I know the guests chowed down on their fair share of cheesy goodness. Also, we have a tradition in our family where the birthday cake is shoved in a box so we can place a fragrance candle on top in lieu of a regular birthday candles. It is better for the environment and also saves us money on buying candles.

Kidding. They just didn't have any in the house.

They did hire a strolling guitar player for their party which added very nicely to the ambience.
 Also kidding. He didn't even know how to strum that thing.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


My life has been filled with a lot of cakes lately. This is due to wedding showers, weddings, birthdays, and grandparents visiting. Any situation, really, calls for cake. The relaxation theme in my life since I have graduated from college has been baking. It is a way I can be creative and also try something new without venturing out my house when I don't want to be social. Perfection.

The first cake arrived not with a bang or huge fanfare, instead it arrived in my mouth by way of a wedding shower. The bride to be was recently wed in Florida, thus the theme was tropical. One of her friends offered to make a cake for the party with a beach theme, and santo monos did it turn it out pretty!

Thoughtfully thinking of those who have wished portion control into their lives, our baker friend also made a slew of cupcakes.

The next cake entered my mouth by way of another wedding shower. A friend from school happens to live about forty-five minutes away from me here in Maryland. Her wedding is scheduled for June, so some of her dear friends threw her a surprise wedding shower last month to celebrate. 

The cake eating has just continued! The next few are my fault, however. Like I said, baking is relaxing to me, thus I have taken it up on a regular basis. My grandfather and his seasonal girlfriend recently came through town on their way back from Florida [are you question the "seasonal" part of this last sentence? totally true. she is seasonal because they don't see each other during the summer when they live in new york. they simply live with each other when winter comes around every year. it's weird. i realize this.]. I recognized this as a perfect opportunity to make some huge creation and force my family to come together for a meal.

So I made this beast of a cake. It was a chocolate buttermilk cake with toasted marshmallow filling and  raspberry swiss meringue buttercream topped with chocolate ganache. It was massive. I baked the layers in two cookie pans and then cut the layers in half and stacked them. The cake was literally bigger than my head. And while I don't have an overly large head [it is in fact smaller than average], that is still quite a large cake. And of course my family commented on the fact that we would never be able to consume such a large dessert.

It was eaten in a day.

And folks, that is what occurs when you have twelve people in your house for lunch.

Find the recipe here!

My next creation was baked the next week when my grandmother was in town to visit. Not wanting her to feel left out by the whole cake thing, I attempted to make a meringue cake with marscapone and creme de cocoa filling topped with dark chocolate ganache. Slowly and surely I am starting to realize that I cannot physically make a cake without including ganache. I think my hips are starting to realize that it's a problem. 

It looks funny, and it also sounds like an odd combination. Yet, this was an exceptional dessert. Find the recipe here from my favorite cake blog. Seriously, her recipes are phenomenal. And while my cakes almost never turn out quite as beautiful and amazing as hers, I can also say that I have never had any formal training. That's my excuse, and I am absolutely sticking with it. They have all been tasty though. Every single dessert that I have attempted from Rosie have given me another reason to live [i'd probably still live if it weren't for her cakes, there just wouldn't be as many sugar induced hallucinations if it weren't for her]. This sounds like an odd combination for a cake, but you should at least try it.

Aside from the fact that I look incredibly exhausted in the above picture [i was, i had been making cake and pasta for about six hours], the meringue cake just was not as humongous as the cake before. Ah well, I fed my family homemade pasta to lessen their appetites for the cake.

Anyone else been baking recently? Any great recipes you want to share?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Patron Saint of a Cute Little Baby

Sometimes I cannot be around small children for an extended amount of time. Perhaps my patience level just isn't where it should be [i know that it isn't]. Perhaps things shorter than me intimidate me. Whatever the reason is, it has unfortunately become my mindset.

However, if you hand me a baby I quickly become a very pleased individual.

Recently one of my friends in Massachusetts gave birth a beautiful baby boy whom she named Eliot James. This boy is going to grow up and do great things with a name like that!

I was immeasurably blessed to visit the momma and baby two days after he was born! She didn't know that I was planning on visiting either, which made it that much sweeter.

Don't you just love how little their hands and feet are! All the details are perfect, but miniscule.

Eliot James is the third born in his family. I have a very soft spot for third children, as I am one. If more kids come along, then the third child can be pushed to the background. I am the third child of six. So kind of in the middle, kind of not. I feel for Eliot. When Abi announced her pregnancy I gave her a really soft blanket for Eliot. Someone has to get that boy presents too! In turn she named me his patron saint. I am really enjoying that title!

Julia, the Patron Saint of Eliot James. Has a good ring to it.