Recipe of the Week

This might sound kind of crazy since I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, but Andrew and I love the following recipe. I don't eat much red meat--maybe a handful of times a year--and I have gotten killer stomach aches the past 3 times I've had red meat. Hopefully I'm not losing my ability to digest red meat! It's not really good for you anyway, so I guess it wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen to me. As a substitute, we've found this recipe to be really fun and tasty! The spices and onions give it great flavor, you just can't expect it to have the texture of a regular burger.

(A modified version of a recipe I got from another blogger:)

1 small onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or 1 small hot pepper for spice lovers)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups cooked or canned black beans, mashed
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1/2 cup flour

(Feel free to thrown in whatever you'd like: brown rice, sunflower seeds, green peppers, etc.)

Set flour aside for coating.

Saute onion, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes in oil until onions are translucent. In a large bowl mash the beans with a fork. Stir in the onion mixture, corn, lentils, bread crumbs, cumin, salt, chili powder and parsley. Mix well. Divide and shape into patties. Coat in flour. Cook on a lightly oiled frying pan on medium high for about 5-10 minutes, or until brown.

Serve on a nice fluffy bun with some sliced cheese!

It's About Time I Show Back Up!

Wow. I am failing miserably on consistently posting lately, huh? I am so sorry for all you faithful readers who keep checking up on the blog to find nothing new!! I will try to work on this:)

A few weekends ago Andrew and I flew home to Florida for a childhood friend's wedding and a nice visit with friends and family. Here's a recap of the weekend:

Coffee date with Courtney, obviously. Lunch date with Becka, of course. Play some games with the little sister, couldn't skip that. Chat with Dad. Shop with Mom. Visit the big bro's abode to see what new changes have been made since my previous visit. Catch some rays (UV, not TBay DRays--I know, they're not the Devil Rays anymore). Bike ride to grandma's. Visit with extended family. Visit a lake to find an alligator for Andrew--success rate: 3 for 3 (Welcome to Florida). Go out to eat with family. Stop by TI to see Erin. Then rush back to work Monday morning and say goodbye to vacation.

So on this trip my dad and I planned to go out to eat. He loves sushi. I love Indian. Andrew, the tie breaker, loves sushi, tolerates Indian. Sushi it was!

This was my first time eating sushi. And by eating, I really mean cringing my nose and being really weirded out by it. My dad loves sushi and always suggests we get it, I finally caved.

This is me before tasting it. I was remarkably optimistic.

This is me after dissecting it a bit and taking a small bite. I mutilated it so much I had to switch to a fork.

Lastly, this is me trying to convince myself to eat the rest of it. I don't think I'm a sushi gal. Too much stuff going on. Keep it simple. I don't do condiments. I don't do multi-textures. Basically, I don't do sushi. Needless to say, it'll be a while before I muster up the courage to delve back into the luxurious world of sushi, but nevertheless, I tried something new!

Andrew and Dad loved it. Andrew said it was probably the best sushi he'd ever had! So I guess if I was going to try sushi, it's a good thing it was at least 1st rate sushi!:)

This is my little sister Kendall. She is growing so fast! Sadly for me she's only 11 and almost as tall as me!! I guess she'll be able to call me "Shrimp" or "Shorty" some day soon:)

Speaking of growing up. Getting older is so funny. Not only do I find myself meeting teenagers and thinking that dreaded phrase I hated hearing as a kid, "I remember when you were a baby!" But friends I met in middle school are now friends I've had for over 12 years.

One of these friends, Nick, got married last weekend. It's funny how you reflect on past "chapters" of life when someone opens a new one. My mom and I talked about remembering when I used to go bowling with him in 7th grade and she would drop me off at his old house. Or when he and I took a road trip in college to Alabama and I ran over an armadillo with his car. Or when he sent me a care package in college with toothpaste, deodorant, and a chocolate eclair donut that arrived looking more like roadkill than a chocolate treat (let alone anything edible)!

Or the year we dressed up like farmers for Halloween at youth group. Nick hid in the back of the picture because the pants he got from the thrift store (we all got our outfits there) were so tight that he never wanted a photo like that to show up and haunt him.

Or when we would meet up at Applebees on Christmas breaks when everyone would come home from college.

And now he's married! Time sure flies!

It was a beautiful wedding and reception at the Tradewinds Resort in St. Pete.

Amazingly, I grew up in Florida and attended many weddings in Florida, yet this was my first beach wedding!

Since Nick is a neighbor my mom was also invited to the wedding. It was so fun having her there.

Andrew and I before the reception. Or should I call him Rico Suave? At one point in the night we were in the reception tent and sitting at our table. My mom pointed out that it was really raining hard outside and you could hear it pounding on the tent roof. Rico Suave leaned towards me and whispered softly, "Oh, is that what that is? I thought it was just my heart racing." To which my mom, who overheard and I, who couldn't take him seriously looked at each other and died laughing. It was a classic Andrew moment.

Lastly, the late night rave in Ybor City. Okay, we were just at the reception. But those lights do look pretty psychedelic in this pic.


A Princess' Tale

Hello Friends. Sorry I've gone MIA again. I have had a big deadline at work and then I scooted on home to Florida for the weekend. I'm home hanging out with family and attending a friend's wedding. More details to come on my adventures in Florida, but here's a little thought for the day:

My weekend sorta feels like I'm in a movie with a similar premise to Princess Diary, but more extreme. Now don't get me wrong, I really like my apartment and stuff in Providence, but we'll Studio 23 just can't compare with a real grown up's place (like my mom's). I feel as though I just found out that I'm not actually a homeless orphan, but the daughter of the queen. I am currently living the life of luxury: Amazing water pressure. Opening a fridge with lots of food. Sleeping on the most comfy bed fit for a queen. Walking on soft cushioned carpet under my toes. Driving on leather seats with power door locks. Watching cable TV on a huge plasma, no less. Air conditioning in the house and the car. 10 ESPNs (for Andrew, of course). Everything is amazing! I feel so spoiled by simple luxuries I used to take for granted.

But before I waste too much of my pampering time on the computer, I've got to go and enjoy the riches awaiting me in the carpeted living room with palm trees and 90 degree weather peeking in the windows:)

Adios friends! I'll be back soon.


Our Nation's Capitol

Andrew and I made a little trip to D.C. a couple weekends ago to visit friends of mine from college and get out of Rhode Island for a weekend. Andrew hadn't been to D.C. since he was a kid so he was really excited to see the sights, the tourist attractions, and the urban neighborhoods. Here is a brief review of the weekend shenanigans:

The U.S. Capitol, a few blocks from Kelli's 'hood. Did I mention that Kelli lives in one of the most adorable neighborhoods in the U.S.? "The Hill" is absolutely gorgeous! Andrew and I loved it.

Washington Monument. The mall is pretty amazing, albeit a bit too touristy for me.

Me & the Prez. No we didn't actually get to see the president, but we did get to see two motorcades of important people! That's right, we were feet away from important people, we assume, twice!

We're not sure who they were because it all happens in a blur. Motorcycles fly down the street, wave their arms to get all traffic to stop, zoom forward to the next intersection and continue. A few more motorcycles or police cars come through, blaring their sirens and causing a diversion. Next, a string of about 5 black and gray SUVs fly by and then it's all over and you're left spinning around in a cloud of dust.
Exhibit A. Two black SUVs blowing by us. Andrew got a very nasty glare for snapping this photo. It must be understood that you don't photograph this event. Don't know. We were tourists 0:)

Next we ate lunch at a local place, The Breadline, that I had found on the Internet with great reviews. It was not a touristy place so we ate lunch with lots of local DC workers in suits! We felt pretty urban and proud. Well, minus the whole plaid shorts and polo get ups that made us stand out and scream, tourists!

After a brief refresher, we headed down the mall toward the monuments and memorials. I love seeing veterans at the memorials. The picture below is of a family with three generations--grandchildren, parents, and grandpa. They were pushing their grandfather in a wheelchair, decked out in WWII veteran gear, and posing for pictures with the WWII memorial in the background. I can only imagine the stories he's shared with them and the significance the memorial holds in his heart. How cool.

Next stop: Jefferson Memorial.

On our way we stopped at a park to watch the plans land at Reagan Airport. Every time we saw a green helicopter fly by we were convinced it was Marine One. Below is a brief clip of our siesta:

For some reason, Andrew and I made an ambitious plan to do DC in a day. This was our walking route:

View Larger Map

This was us at the end of the day, bleeding blisters and all. It wasn't until we got back to Rhode Island that we mapped it out and realized that we walked 10.3 miles that day!! Ouch, ouch on the feet!

No time to rest, the party will go on! Next stop, dinner with friends! We went out to dinner on Friday night with Kelli and her fiance Ken, Caroline and her boyfriend Shane, and Andrew and I in downtown D.C. Have I mentioned yet that D.C. is a pretty rockin' town?! It is. It's just great. Fun tourist attractions, national monuments, important people, the hope diamond, Abe, beautiful neighborhoods, great restaurants, and a pretty hip downtown. Dinner was great, although a Friday night dinner after everyone has worked all week was a little rough. I think we were already ready to fall asleep at the table:( BUT it's okay. We will take a rain check, rest up, and get ready for a party in June at Kelli's wedding.

Day #2: Neighborhood day. Visit Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and Kalorama. I really didn't think my body would be able to walk 5 more steps that day.

We started the day by taking the metro from one great neighborhood (The Hill) to another (Georgetown). Metro destination: Foggy Bottom. Yep, that's right, the metro stop is named, Foggy Bottom. It never gets old. It kicks me back to 3rd grade every time I read it or say it.

First stop, an amazing place I ate at before in Georgetown, La Madeleine. I don't do too well on an empty stomach so starting with a little food was imperative. And sitting. That was imperative as well.

Next stop, walk up and down M Street. What incredible facade!

Andrew got a Passport to National Parks as a kid, so we couldn't resist stopping at the Old Stone House to get a NPS stamp for his sweet little passport. Fortunately for us the Old Stone House gave us much more than we bargained for. We got to wander around the 18th Century dwelling and see period relics of furniture, kitchenware, etc. Furthermore, there was a cute little garden in back with many people lounging around relaxing. The perfect invitation for our beat up feet and sore legs! In this garden were amazing, beautiful white flowers the size of your head!

Did I mention that spring hadn't arrived yet in Rhode Island and that DC was an absolute treat?! Andrew seen below enjoying a break for his feet, the sweet scent of pollen, the luxury of UV rays, and the proximity to the giant white flowers.

Next stop--JFK's house. We saw a website that listed all of his prior residences, many of which were in Georgetown. This was the one he lived in last before the white house. For those of you who don't know, for some unknown reason, he is my absolute favorite past president. By a lot.

On our way out of dodge and in search of water (the temp was in the 90s) we saw a little league game in a field. Being exhausted, with sad little feet we welcomed another opportunity to sit. We lay in the grass, further increasing our sunburns from the previous day and watched the little kids play ball. It was cute, we weren't sure how the structure was set up, but one team definitely had less kids so some kids from one team played in the field for both teams. It's so nice at that stage before sports become too territorial or competitive.

Further down our walk we past this beautiful home. Tulips, a red door, and a poodle flag. What more could you want for the American Dream?

Unfortunately our brief stint with D.C. had to come to end. We went to church at Capitol Hill Baptist and then hit the road.

Little did we know the 7-hour drive would be 11 treacherous hours. Andrew would not be as happy if he knew the gloom that awaited us. This picture was taken to confirm our long sought after goal of taste-testing Starbucks vs. Dunkin' Donuts. That may sound crazy to some of you, but it's true. People in Rhode Island are obsessed with Dunkin' Donuts. I'd say there are probably 2 people for every one DD. They are everywhere!! Needless to say they love their DD fiercely. It's the only place to get coffee.

I've also noticed a slight shift in my allegiance. DD is less bitter, I believe. So we put them to the test. We have talked about this test for months trying to figure out when we'd be in the same town and when we could find a DD near a Starbucks. We found a corner in Shane's (Caroline's man) neighborhood and got in line at both!

Well, as was the theme of this day, both coffees let us down. They were both gross. Neither of which we'd recommend getting again. I think the people were just in a hurry and we couldn't figure out if they were comparable or not. Is an ice mocha the same thing as a ice latte mocha swirl? Who knows. All we know is that we have to do a re-do. Next time with plain coffee, plus cream and sugar to decide which coffee--the main base of these fru-fru drinks--is best.

That about sums up the weekend. A lot of walking, 90 degree temps, beautiful sights, great friends, touristy trips, lots of sitting! Oh, and don't believe AAA or Google maps that tell you it's between 6.5 and 7.5 hours from Providence to DC. Wrong! It took over 8 to get down and 11 to get back. Yuck!


Chocolate Cake

Sunday afternoon:
I needed some good resting and relaxing and Sunday afternoon was the perfect occasion. I sat on my computer for hours catching up on emails, reading, etc. While I sat lazily like a vegetable, sweet Andrew made me a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Andrew hates chocolate and hates chocolate cake. What a servant.

Unfortunately, we discovered that using a bar of unsweetened cooking chocolate doesn't properly substitute cocoa powder...just an FYI. The chocolate will not melt and disseminate throughout the cake. Instead, the chocolate will harden with the rest of the cake. Lesson learned the hard way. No one should have a "chocolate" cake that looks more like a chocolate chip cookie filled with specks of bitter, unsweetened chocolate. In the end, it turned out great. The icing completely redeemed it.

Andrew is a great help in the kitchen. He loves to cook and doesn't mind doing the dishes as long as he can listen to a ball game on his computer! At least one Chicago sport is on daily!! Bonus for me:)

Chocolate chip wanna-be cakes are out of the oven:

Time for icing the two layer cake!


We haven't quite gotten the visual appeal down pat;)

Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate!! A happy girl with cake and milk:D

And the recipe...love the frosting, don't know how the cake actually tastes;) Let me know if you try it and it's good! If I beat you to the punch I'll update you!

Ingredients for the cake:
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons best cocoa
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Ingredients for the icing:
- 3 ounces milk chocolate
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces sour cream
- 4 ounces of cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon hot water

Instructions for the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Then, using an electric mixer, add the butter.
- Whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, eggs and vanilla, then slowly add this cocoa mixture to the ingredients in the bowl, beating until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the batter into 2 8-inch pans buttered or lined with parchment or wax paper and bake for 20-30 minutes. When they are ready the cakes should start to shrink back from the edges of the tins. Leave for 10 minutes in their pans on racks, then turn out to cool.

Instructions for the icing:
- To make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or in a bowl over hot water.
- Let cool a little, then stir in the sour cream, cream cheese, vanilla and syrup.
- Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and a little hot water, blending until smooth.
- When the texture is thick enough to cover but supple enough to spread ice the cakes (add more sugar or water as required).

this cake
another option--"perfect chocolate cake"


A Special Aunt Remembered

Aunt Beth,

Look at you. You are so happy. Delighting in Kendall’s Christmas excitement. Enjoying everyone open presents. Smiling with little cares. Your dad who loves you so much is sitting behind you, your family around you. Who knew that the only photo I would be able to find of you on my computer would be this little corner of a picture? This little snippet in time of a happy moment with our family together? Who knew when this was taken on Christmas in 2002 that you would be taken from us just six years later? No one. No one saw the cancer coming. Cancers just work like that sometimes.

I mourn the loss of your life on so many levels. I mourn that you didn’t get to live the full life we all assumed you would live. I mourn that you aren’t going to be around to watch your nieces and nephew grow up—something you enjoyed so much. You were such a stable person in our family. You were the consistency that we needed when we didn’t even know we needed it. Every holiday, graduation, and memorable event you were there, with your camera documenting every move. I have the most incredible college graduation photos because you were there, because you cared. You waved at me from the stands and took candid ones of me with my friends. You wanted to be at all of these events whether we begged you to come or not because you wanted to be involved in our lives. You were never in a photo, but always behind the lens. You didn’t need to be the center of attention, you just needed to be present. You were so proud of us and you wanted to be a part of our lives. I was often too foolish and self-absorbed to appreciate you back. Can you forgive me? I forgive you for always pinching me when I was a kid and calling me a brat. I wasn’t trying to be a brat, it just hurt sometimes. I forgive you.

At first I wondered what your legacy would be. What would you be remembered by? But now I know. You cared selflessly for others and you treasured life. You supported your nieces and nephew more than we realized. You left behind an ambition for adventure. Whether you were experiencing an adventure in a novel or an adventure down under in Australia, you left no stone unturned. Your curiosity and vivacity inspires others. You left a library of books at your house and grandpa’s house is filled with collages and photos of his children and grandchildren that you created with love. You left behind a legacy of pictures. At every event, you documented life in great detail. Those photos don’t die with you. Your servant’s heart doesn’t die with you. And most of all, the family that you loved lives on for you. You inspire me to seize every day, to seize every moment. To care about others.

Too often we don’t realize how special someone is until they’re gone. May your life never be overlooked or forgotten. You fought an incredible fight against that cancer. Doctors didn’t think you would live as long as you did. You weren’t going to give up. Until your last few days you were still fighting to make it. You were never willing to accept that you were dying. It was amazing, yet hard to hear. I’ll never forget that I was standing outside in Washington D.C., between the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol building when my mom called to say you only had a few days left. What a juxtaposition of justice. Standing near the nation’s epitome of justice, it seemed so unjust for you to go. You wanted so badly to survive. It was too soon for you to go. You still had audio books waiting to download. Sights to see. Pictures to take. Family milestones to attend. You weren’t ready to go and we weren’t ready to say goodbye. I have to trust now in God’s perfect plan and timing. He knew when your first day was and when your last would be. I feel like it’s too soon, like life was ripped out of your grip, but He felt that it was the perfect timing and I have to trust in that.

If I could turn back the clocks, I would. I’d tell you more often that I loved you. I’d tell you that I needed you. I would tell you that I was proud of you. Now you’re gone. It’s too late. If I called your house, you wouldn’t answer. Your cell phone won’t ring. That hurts. It hurts when people are gone; especially if you didn’t value them enough while they were here. I’m so sorry I didn’t give you the love you deserved. You lived an incredible life with a short span. You will live on through your family. Through your friends. And through your pictures. Not the ones you are in, but the hundreds that you took. I will miss you at holidays, milestones, and memorable events. Who will be there to pick up the torch and carry on your legacy?

I love you and wish you knew how much I did.
You will always be missed.

Love, Kimberly

HAIRE, Cynthia "Beth" 55, passed away April 27, 2009, at home under the care of Hospice, after battling cancer for a year. She is survived by her mother of St. Petersburg, Elizabeth Lowe; her brother Jerry Haire; father Fred Haire of Tennessee; many aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, special friend and aunt Eloise Head of Fairhope, AL; and her friends at Baycare Health Systems, where she worked for 15 years. Memorial to be at a later date.