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Here I go again

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

I’m back, y’all.

I know, you forgot I was here. So did I.

Here are some updates.

  • I had pretty much just turned 25 when I last updated this blog. I am now creeping close to 27.
  • The beloved namesake Canary has left this world for the big, exciting, always-clean tank in the sky.
  • I’ve started grad school, part-time, which has left me utterly confused as to what I did with all my free time before.
  • No longer living “near” the city, I am now as IN the city as I could possibly get. More to come on this later.

Although the Canary fish has passed on, the URL still has another 17 months of hosting left. So, in the spirit of making the most of what we’ve got — here I go again!

When the DC Earthquake Hit…

Just for you, Rachael.

When the DC earthquake hit…

I was like:

But Rachael was just like:

Monday Nomday: Summer Farro Salad

Variations of “Foodie Friday” seem to be quite popular with blogs, so I decided to be slightly less cliche and have a Monday Nomday!

I was thinking over brunch yesterday morning about how sad Sundays can be. It’s a shame that a lot of people (myself included) waste time on Sunday thinking about how it’s almost Monday. So, Monday Nomday is a way for me to spend Sunday doing one of my favorite things — cooking! Whether I’m trying out a new recipe or recreating an old favorite, I’ll try to take pictures and then chronicle the results here on Monday Nomday.

July Foodzie Box! Hello, Farro.

As a present to myself for my 25th birthday, I signed up for a subscription to the Foodzie Tasting Box. Basically, each month the company sends you a new box, packed with some snacks and some recipe-worthy main ingredients. Everything is from small, domestic producers.

July Tasting Box: fennel shortbread cookies, dried cherries, farro, fleur de sal peanut brittle, truffle popcorn, extra virgin olive oil

I’ve never cooked with farro before and was excited to test it out, but the recipe in the box included kale, which I’m not a big fan of. Not having any idea what to expect from farro, I Googled it and decided to modify a couscous salad recipe that I like (similar to an Israeli salad). There are some similar recipes online, but a lot of them have less veggies and more oil. Healthier = good.

This is a great dish for a potluck or summer picnic — it can be prepared the day before (in fact, I think it tastes better after settling for a day), and is just fine to sit out for a couple hours without refrigeration!!

My favorite recipes are ones that I don’t have to be super picky about… if you like to cook your grains with onions or herbs, if you love a particular ingredient and want to add more, if you want to add a summer veggie… go for it. (I definitely doubled the garlic in my version here, and used mozzarella [extra, really] instead of feta because a) I hate feta and b) I had a bunch I wanted to use up.) I’m sure it will taste delicious however you make it!!

Summer Farro Salad

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups uncooked farro
1/2 cup diced fresh mozzarella cheese (or feta)
1/2 large English cucumber, sliced and quartered
1/2 pint cherry (or grape) tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
salt to taste

(Dressing)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry (or whatever sweet red wine is lying around and open)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or sesame oil, or a bit more honey)

chopped veggie deliciousness!

Put the farro, half the chopped garlic, and 2 cups of water in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil uncovered, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Then turn off the burner and keep it sitting covered for another 5-10 minutes (there should be no water left once it’s ready!). Spread out the cooked farro on a cookie sheet so it cools and doesn’t melt the cheese. ***Whatever cheese or grain you make the recipe with, make sure you do this. It makes everything keep its consistency much better.***

While the farro cools on the sheet, whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl. Then add all the veggies, cheese, and cooked/cooled farro. Use tongs to toss the salad together and get the dressing nice and mixed up.

And you’re done!

Best recipe ever: Lots of garlic, no feta, and I used up whatever cheese and veggies I had laying around!

3 things you really shouldn’t do when stuck at an airport

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on this topic, seeing as I am right now stuck at an airport with hundreds of other people also stuck at an airport. I’m not at LAX or ORD or IAD (and I’m also not usually someone who throws around airport codes like beads at Mardi Gras, but bear with me here). I’m in Burlington, Vermont (that’s BTV), at an “international” airport, which seems to refer to the couple of turboprops that fly across the border into Canada each day.

Here, there are supposedly 16 gates, but most of them appear to go out the same door to the same jetway.
There is one restaurant — outside of security.
There is one Hudson News store — outside of security.
In the terminal, there is a coffee stand and a Hudson News “hut” featuring a limited selection of snacks and a large selection of maple syrup gifts.

Today, I may starve, or I may try beef jerky for the first time.

Apparently there are weather delays all over the country — there’s a flight to Newark that’s been delayed for about 5 hours already — so the limited waiting area here is completely full and the air conditioning is not holding up its end of the bargain.

People are getting on people’s nerves.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, as you undoubtedly will someday, allow me to share a few words of advice:

Do not talk someone’s ear off

Social cues that indicate a person is not interested in talking to you anymore:
-She starts typing on her computer
-She gives you a nice smile and starts talking to someone else
-She answers a phone call and doesn’t make eye contact again once she is done
-She does not respond to your attention-grabbing tactics like “Oh wow, I can’t believe my sister posted THAT on Facebook!” or “HA HA, what a great movie that was!”

If a person is doing those things, you should not talk about your mortgage woes. You should not talk about your brother’s paternity test results. You should not talk about your son’s new car or HIS paternity situation. You should give that person some space and talk to your neighbor on the other side.

Do not paint your nails or make others jealous with food

While a 3-hour flight delay may seem like the perfect time for a manicure, nail polish (and nail polish remover) is a little stinky. Your fumes are adding to the headache brought on by lack of food and talkative seat neighbors.

And since I’m on the subject of food, your McDonalds fries, Subway bread, and fried chicken bucket smells are wafting through the air and making me want to grab it from you.

I don't really even like KFC that much...


Do not have phone sex

SERIOUSLY?! Do I REALLY have to say this? You are IN PUBLIC! I don’t care how quiet you think you’re being, that big metal pole (ha!) that you’re facing into is not soundproof. And whoever’s on the other end of the phone would probably be enjoying it more if he wasn’t hearing flight announcements in the background. (Talk about distracting.)

My saving graces right now are free WiFi, a politely friendly new seat neighbor, and a space by the outlets.

Any advice about the beef jerky?

quarter-century birthday, and the start of a country song

Today is my birthday… and it’s a big one — I’m a full quarter of a century old! (That’s 25 years, if you’re not so mathematically inclined.)

I still sleep like that.

Of course with a major birthday comes a minor crisis, so I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing this week. I spent time with a few old friends from college. I took a look back through the scrapbook my mom made for me after my high school graduation. I thought about life and love, about family and friends, about where I’ve been and where I want to go. I thought about writing a country song with that last phrase in it.

And, of course, I thought about my past birthdays.

1

I don’t actually remember this birthday. But from the pictures, it was awesome. I got to pull on the family dog’s ears and nobody yelled at me. I didn’t care that my dress was dirty or that my underwear was showing. There was a cake, and it was on my face. Now THAT is the life.

5

The first birthday I really have a memory of. I remember that my mom made me an Oreo cake — a big number 5, with Oreo cookies lining the edges. She made those cakes for every birthday until I turned 8 or so.

8

Who wouldn't want to be friends with the girl with the flat head?!

My family moved during the summer that I turned 8, just a few weeks before my birthday. I knew a few kids in my new town that I had met during a school visit, and of course one or two of the neighbors and kids from my Sunday School class. Although I was excited to make new friends, it was really scary and a little depressing to go to my birthday party where I couldn’t remember everyone’s name.

I also remember being really impressed by the fact that some of the girls were wearing bras. As an 8-year-old, this is an important differentiator, and if you wear one, you wanted everyone to know it. (You know you’re growing up when… you wear a tan bra under a white shirt because you DON’T want everyone to see it.) I needed nothing of the sort and my mother certainly had no intent of buying me one.

9

Another scarring birthday. I was at summer camp for a month, and my birthday was the second day. I hadn’t even had time to start missing my parents yet, but their “special” phone call for my birthday made me burst into tears. Of course, the next five years I spent my birthday at camp, I was more excited to open their presents to me (ILLEGAL CANDY!!!!) than to talk to them on the phone.

16 and 1 month

I couldn’t have cared less about turning 16, it was all about the driver’s license coming a month later. My dad was nice enough to take a picture of me with my license and the keys to my new car.

Things in the picture that I wish were not in the picture:
-Umbro lanyard with 6 “fun” keychains and 2 keys attached
-Braces
-My stomach, thanks to my cropped shirt and low-rise shorts
-Bad haircut and orangey-blonde highlights

Needless to say, this is not a picture I really enjoy looking back at, but I do still remember the pride of thinking “I HAVE MY LICENSE NOW!!!!!”.

19

I had just had foot surgery and was in a boot. I was also working on mastering the art of self-tanner and was orange. End of story.

21

Of course. I had spent hours picking out a great dress, perfecting my tan, and straightening my hair to go to one of College Park’s finest dive bars. My most clear memory from that night is the feeling that I got when the clock struck midnight on my birthday. After three years of hoping that bouncers would ignore the fact that I wasn’t actually a heavyset 30-year-old blonde like my ID suggested, the idea that I could actually legitimately get into a bar was just beyond comprehension (well, after the amount of alcohol I had consumed, pretty much everything was beyond comprehension). I went to a liquor store later that day and bought a bottle of Kentucky Gentleman, just because I could.

And here we are at 25. This summer has been great, and if it continues into my 25th year, I have a feeling this will be the (cliche for a reason) best year ever.

cats, cats everywhere

On Saturday, I visited the animal shelter with my friend J and played with (and fell in love with) some cats and dogs. If his landlord allowed it, he’d gladly bring home a dog. And I was very sorely tempted to get myself a kitty. I’d be able to take my very own adorable cat pictures instead of having to live vicariously through other people with crazy pets.

My two favorite kitty loves, Foots and Patches; and J's, Sandy.

Me wanting a cat is newsworthy, because most of my life I’ve considered myself “not a cat person”. And there are a few reasons for that self-diagnosis:

1. Bad prior experiences (and/or karma)
I had two cats as a kid. The first, Taffy, was sickly. She had ringworm (and passed it along to me). Her fur pointed in every direction. Her tail was bent at a 90° angle — supposedly due to an “accident” — but I think it was probably just some sort of deformity. Despite my attempts to love her sickliness right out of her, Taffy died an early death. The second, Maxie, was normal at first. She loved playing with the plastic rings from milk cartons, was friendly, and generally a decent pet. But then we got a dog… and poor Maxie turned into a hermit. She lived under my parents’ bed and NEVER came out unless the dog was safely in his crate or obviously out of the house for hours at a time. We didn’t think it was fair to her, so we were able to find her a new home with one of my dad’s coworkers.

So there were no cats around during my formative teenage years. Maybe I was a cat hoarder in a previous life? I just seem to have bad cat karma.

2. I like animals that stay on the floor
Scarring memory from childhood: My friend Jessica’s bird flying onto my shoulder and taking a great big CHOMP out of my nose. I had a scabby nose for weeks, which is not (I repeat, NOT!) something positive for a middle school girl who wants nothing more than to just be attractive so she would stand a chance at being popular.

Even with my poor drawing skills, you can see how truly hideous the bird attack was.

And cats don’t stay on the floor. There is always the possibility of a swooping cat attack, bringing me back to the days of 7th grade, where my cat-scratched face would make me an outcast at work and turn my friends against me.

3. Legit medical problems, or maybe I’m a hypochondriac
Finally, I’ve considered myself to be allergic to cats ever since a sleepover at my cousin’s house after her bachelorette party a few years ago. I slept in her cat’s usual room, and despite my best attempts at self-medicating the next morning, the 2-hour drive home from Philadelphia was spent with one hand trying to hold my swollen eyes open, and the other in a box of tissues. There was also a cheesesteak involved. (Steering? Overrated.)

But on Saturday, I didn’t take any allergy medicine and after an entire hour not only being in a room with 20 cats, but HOLDING them… to my FACE… I was completely fine! No allergies.

I would love a furry friend. I miss having a pet to play with (and as much as I love my Canary fish, he is relatively dull when it comes to interaction). And my apartment is small, but it’s definitely big enough for a cat.

All that said….

-My apartment charges a ridiculous pet fee, plus monthly pet rent. (And my rent is expensive enough already.)
-I just put up awesome long drapes and don’t want them to get torn up/climbed/pulled down.
-Money, money, money. I want to be able to buy a cat good food, comfy litter, fun toys, and of course be able to handle any medical expenses. And I’m not sure if I’m quite there yet.

So, no furry friend for me right now, but I’m sure that will not be my last trip to the animal shelter. And if anyone ever needs a pet sitter, you know where to look!

on wine, fries… oh and also, hello!

Some of my friends know that I have recently been inspired to begin blogging.

“Why the hell would you do that?!” they ask in horror. “Don’t you already do things with the internet and people and stuff all day long at work?”

(Well no, they don’t really ask that. Because if they did, I would hug them and thank them for at least being minutely aware of what I do.)

So…

Why a blog? Well, I like to write. I used to write a lot but don’t get the chance much anymore. And occasionally I have a good story to tell. Sometimes even a great story. I love to cook, and I would love my own place to share food-related thoughts. I really enjoy reading blogs (on all topics: food, sports, general randomness), and last but certainly not least, I have met some incredibly fun bloggers recently.

I now think that all bloggers are cool and fun people who love guacamole, drink bottles of wine while watching questionably-rated content on TV, live at outdoor happy hours, chow down on fries/frites/potato objects whenever the opportunity arises, etc. etc. Can you blame me for wanting to be one of THOSE cool kids? I think not.

Romeo prefers to drink bourbon while watching Animal Planet.

I want to entertain myself, and if I entertain anyone else in the process…. so be it.

Who is this “myself“?

I am very close to being 25. (More on that next week.) I am gainfully employed at an advertising/marketing agency in Washington DC, where I work with some fantastic clients and incredibly talented and fun-loving coworkers. Previously, I had a slightly less exciting, but still great, job in marketing and sales. I love, love, love living in the DC area. There are so many restaurants, bars, experiences, and great outdoor areas, not to mention the insane people-watching.

I have a fish named Canary. I think it’s a fun contradiction. Kind of like me, or like life itself if you want to get deep about it.
“Wait, it’s a bird? Or a fish? Why is it named after a bird??”
I thought you’d never ask. It’s because Canary (my fish — still with me here?) is bright yellow. (There, the “blog name” question has been answered.)

I am a fantasy football champion, from the 2009 season. I love sports. Baseball and football are my favorites. In fact, I’m typing this while watching baseball, and yet still, somewhere in my mind there is a nagging feeling that something is amiss. (Do you know what it is? No? Come on, think harder. Or just skim your eyes over a little. There you go.) THE 2011 NFL SEASON. Will it happen? Will my fall and winter Sundays be filled with joy? It will happen!! Think positive!!

I have to be honest with you… That last comment may have made me sound like a very optimistic person, when in fact I am actually terrified of many things. My list of worries could likely provide plot lines for the next few Final Destination sequels, and maybe another Scary Movie too.

But for the time being, I am relaxed — my wine glass is full, there is a ballgame on TV, and I have successfully started a blog.