Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

Enjoying the last day of 2010.

As I sit here, warm and cozy at home, drinking hot tea with an orange cat in my lap and watching season two of Dexter, I find myself reflecting on the last year and feeling extremely grateful.

The major highlight of the year was getting married.  Our wedding on April 3 was the most fun night of my life and our honeymoon in Dubrovnik, Croatia, with day trips to Kortula, Montenegro and Bosnia, was the most enjoyable and memorable trip I have ever taken.  I am so lucky to be married to my favorite person.

Wedding Ceremony
Wedding Reception

First Dance


Our first dance was to Jason Robert Brown's "Grow Old with Me".  I love the song and often have a lyric or two running its way through my head.  It is also a nice summary of my hope for our life together.

Grow old with me
Stay as the days go past
Grow old with me
Some things are meant to last
If you'll agree, heaven might wait
we could delay, our expiration date

Grow old with me
Teach me the words to sing
when my last spring, has finally sprung
Stay for an hour, stay for a day
Stay till we shrink and get wrinkled and gray
Grow old with me, and we'll stay forever young

Grow old with me
Darling let's fossilize
With your blue eyes, and my silver tongue
Don't leave me flat, don't leave me cold
Don't leave me rusted and crusted with mold
Grow old with me, till my final fling is flung
Grow old with me, and we'll stay forever young 

Honeymoon in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Walking the Dubrovnik city walls.
On our way to Buza bar.
The view from Buza bar.
Mostar, Bosnia.
Wedding celebration our last night in Dubrovnik.

This year was full of many celebrations of life and love that I feel blessed to have been a part of - birthdays, weddings and "framily" holidays - but my heart was also heavy with the passing away of my aunt (September) and my uncle (March). 

I started a Project 365 on June 20, my 30th birthday, and I am proud to say that, at over halfway through, I haven't missed a day.  (Knock on wood.)  To see my photos to date, visit that blog at 30/365.

As I bid adieu to 2010, I welcome 2011 with open arms.  I am looking forward to ringing in the new year with close friends (a Hoover House reunion), good food, music and perhaps a game or two.  As for resolutions, I have always found myself setting goals throughout the year and I will try and document my successes and challenges here.

Happy New Year and Cheers to 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Favorite Mac and Cheese Recipe

Now I realize that the "best" mac and cheese recipe is up to great debate.  However, this is, by far, one of the best mac and cheese recipes I have ever cooked and eaten.  Seriously.

Here it is.  You're welcome. 
Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese recipe


Cheese: I have made it with a few different combinations of gruyere, swiss and cheddar.  One time I accidentally bought gouda instead of gruyere and it was still very tasty.  My preference is a half gruyere and half sharp cheddar combination. 

Mix ins: When adding the pasta to the sauce, that is the opportunity to mix in a delicious addition such as sauteed mushrooms or crispy, crumbled bacon.  I just realized that I have never tried the recipe with both mushrooms and bacon.  (Next time!)

Sharing: If bringing this dish to a potluck or to a friend, prepare the recipe but stop short of topping with the tomatoes and bread crumbs.  Let cool and cover.  Pack up the tomatoes and bread crumbs separately to top before baking at a later time.  Be sure to include the remaining directions if giving to a friend.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Recipe: Sundried Tomato Bruschetta

Sundried Tomato Bruschetta
This is a simple, tasty, healthy, two-bite appetizer.  I have made it for a number of get-togethers and it always goes fast.  Sundried tomatoes can be a bit pricey but one bottle is enough for 2 - 3 batches of this recipe.

6 roma tomatoes, seeded
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
Big bunch of basil
3-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil*
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Bit of salt and pepper
French bread (the long skinny loaf)
Shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

*You might want to use less olive oil if you are using sundried tomatoes packed in oil. 


1.  Chop garlic and put in a medium sized bowl.  The amount of garlic is based on your preference.  I always use more garlic than less.

2.  Chop tomatoes.  Add to bowl with garlic.

3.  Chop basil.  Add to bowl.

4.  Season with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Mix all ingredients together, cover and refrigerate.  Refrigerate for at least 30 - 45 minutes before assembling.

5.  Slice bread and lay out on a large baking sheet.  Toast under a broiler set to high.  They will only need a couple minutes per side.  Keep a close eye on the bread because it can go from not toasted to burnt quickly.  Let cool on baking sheet until ready to assemble.  Also, wait to taste test until after the flavors have had a chance to mingle. 

6. To assemble, pour a tablespoon of bruschetta onto each bread slice.* 

7. (Optional) Sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese.  (This might be the only time I would chose no cheese over cheese.)

*You can prepare the bruschetta and bread the day before but wait to assemble until you are ready to serve.  Another option is to put out the tomato mixture with a spoon and the bread on the side and let people assemble their own.

Sundried Tomato Bruschetta

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

what's in a name?

first name: emily
emily means industrious.
industrious means constantly, regularly, or habitually active or occupied.

last name: justice
justice means the quality of being just, impartial, or fair.

i feel a strong connection to my name.  it is me.  

getting married this year has deepened the relationship i have with my name and has encouraged me to explore the reasons for my not taking my partner's last name.  not that taking his name was ever on the table, but i still found myself in a number of conversations around name changing and the reasons people change their names, not just for marriage.  many people in my life understand our decision, have similar feelings on the topic and some even seemed relieved. ("you're not changing your name, are you?!?") 

what i find interesting are the assumptions people make and how we will sometimes bargain when faced with something that challenges our own perspective.  one statement i have heard a number of times is "well, you'll probably change your name once you have children."  there are a number of assumptions at work here.  one, they are assuming that i want to have children.  two, they are assuming that if i were to have children, they would automatically have my partner's last name.  whenever i have confronted these assumptions, i have yet to hear a convincing response to the simple question of "why?"

i don't want this to be misinterpreted in that i don't want women to ever change their last names. that decision is extremely personal and i respect that to my core. however, i hope that the decision is made thoughtfully and because they truly want to, not because of an antiquated norm.  

oh, and i do look forward to a time when it is common to ask both partners in a relationship if they plan on changing their name.