Archive for June 2010

24 June 2010

Pre-vacation for one nerves

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: travel

OMG it’s time again for another “vacation for one!” Saturday morning I leave for San Francisco, where I will be visiting briefly before getting my first ever car solo rental car and driving up to Napa for several days.

I’m really excited but freaking out.

My mind is racing with crazy thoughts and ideas and concerns about things that could happen.

For example:

  • What if I get bored? I’m gone for a week!
  • What if I get lost in the car? The Garmin may fail me
  • What if American Airlines loses my luggage and I’m stuck with none of my stuff?
  • What if I can’t make it to all the wineries and restaurants and tourist spots I want to. Can I clone myself?
  • What if I don’t know what to do at these wineries and people think I’m crazy and a loser Midwest tourist?
  • What if Eclipse sucks?
  • What if I never want to leave?
  • How do I bring wine back with me? I love my juice!

As you can see, I have a very overactive imagination.

I think the biggest struggle I’ve had is narrowing down what I want to do. I’m so used to trips in big cities where there is a lot in one area (Nola, New York, LA, etc.) and now I have to drive everywhere, meaning it takes longer to get from place to place. How can I fit everything in?

And people have been SO amazing in sharing tips and recommendations that I want to do everything but know I can’t, and I feel weird about that.

Yeah I have control issues ;)

So despite these thoughts rattling in my brain, I’ve decided to turn them off and go in with a “here’s what I’d like to do” list and prioritize it so I know what’s the most important to me.

This will be a great exercise in trying to be spontaneous and NOT a huge planner.

Wish me luck!

PS – I will be blogging a bit while I’m gone so keep checking back for pictures!

What is everyone else up to this weekend?

22 June 2010

How I deal with anger

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

No, it’s not by screaming or breaking plates or even keying cars (anymore, kidding!). When I’m angry, I write.

I find that when I feel strong emotions like anger, stress or frustration, I need to find comfort in something to help me work through them.

When I get stressed, I eat. When I get frustrated, I work out (or cry) and when I’m angry, I write.

For me, writing is so much better than gorging on a pan of brownies or can of frosting. Side note, I have successfully kicked my frosting habit!

When I get angry, I can express myself better on paper than in person because I stutter or can’t enunciate how I feel. Then, my inability to communicate builds into frustration and tears and then I’m a pile of mess.

But when I write, I am clear, direct and gathered in my thoughts. I can state how I feel and why I feel that way and be bold enough to say things my tongue might not let me voice aloud. As a kid, I found comfort in volumes of journals that, while chaste and boring, let me say things I normally wouldn’t. And then, after writing how I felt, I could let some of that anger go.

Two years ago, Lauren allowed me to tell my story about a college love who broke my heart. Writing about it was painful but I found that saying what I needed to let me work through the residual hurt I felt and I finally let him go.

And recently, I did it again, but not for public reading. I’m sad and angry and I don’t know how to work through it because I feel lost and alone.

And finally, as I laid restless in bed (again), I got up and sat down to type out how I felt and wrote things I needed to say but couldn’t. And with tears down my face, I put it out there, hit “save draft” and then slept fairly peacefully.

I don’t know if my words will ever leave the draft, but being able to put it down and keep it private is enough to help me feel like I’ve let some of that anger go, for now.

What about you? How do you work through feelings of stress, frustration and anger? How do you handle it?

21 June 2010

Kitchen adventures: Asparagus tart with prosciutto and Parmesan

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food

This week’s kitchen lesson can be spelled out with K-I-S-S. Keep it simple stupid.

I have a tendency to make a big production about things. From travel to errands to recipes. I want it to be perfect and precise and, well a production.

So this week, I decided to keep it simple, finally!

Just because I’m cooking, that doesn’t mean I have to go crazy with recipes because having a good foundation is the best way to not only learn, but also move on to the next step.

So I decided to give it a try with a recipe from Maris, Asparagus tart with prosciutto and Parmesan. I love prosciutto (a lot) and asparagus’ season is coming to a close to this is timely and seasonal!

Close up – Food photography WIN!

Full pan – still delicious looking

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces prosciutto
  • 16 asparagus spears (about a pound; you can use more or less if desired), rinsed and thick stems removed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (if using a different brand of puff pastry, preheat according to directions on box). Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions (usually 40 minutes)

2. Once thawed, place the puff pastry on a floured surface and roll to fit the cookie sheet (traditionally 15″ long) and transfer the puff pastry to the sheet

3. Slice prosciutto into thin strips or lay full pieces and arrange on pastry. Line the asparagus on top of the prosciutto. Scatter the Parmesan cheese on top of the asparagus and drizzle with the olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and pepper

4. Bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry dough has puffed and brown and asparagus is roasted and cooked through

Verdict: There was a party in my mouth and the soundtrack was Gaga

Holy sh*tballs this was amazing. After last week’s disappointment, I was really nervous but this was so insanely delicious and easy to make. I am so glad I scattered the cheese the way I did because I got a variety of flavors in each bite. Some had Parmesan, some had prosciutto, Parmesan and asparagus and some just had prosciutto and asparagus and each bite was delicious. The salt added a lot but can be easily overdone so watch how much you put on.

So it turns out that me trying to keep it simple gave me a great recipe for this week and the urge to make it again when I have guests. I wonder when company is coming over? :)

Are you able to keep it simple in the kitchen? Do you love prosciutto or asparagus?

20 June 2010

Weekend recap: Concerts, cleaning and random acts of online dating

By: Jessica B.

Happy Sunday and Happy Father’s Day everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and got to celebrate with your special guys.

The official countdown to San Fran/Napa has begun for me but before I start freaking out about the trip, I had a busy/productive weekend so that distracted me.

Incentive to clean

Seriously, visitors coming to town is the best incentive to clean. It makes me actually do it and be efficient, rather than dawdle and think I’ll do it another weekend. No! I have to do it then and it has to be spotless! I even spot clean the next morning after making breakfast. Who am I? Well, this weekend I had a visitor coming into town for Father’s Day and my bathroom, kitchen and living room were nightmares.

So I dedicated Friday (post storms) to cleaning…up after the storms and my apartment. Yes, it took time and yes, some of the dirt and amount of hair collected was scary, but it looks GORGEOUS after. The sight of a clean apartment is one of my favorite things.

Of course, if company had not been coming into town, the apartment would likely still be a pigsty :)

The Eagles, Keith Urban, Dixie Chicks!

Saturday my visitor and I also went to check out a concert marathon at Solider Field, including of Keith Urban, Dixie Chicks and The Eagles. I’ve never been to Soldier Field before, so me and my camera were ready!

I was felt horribly underdressed because I wasn’t sporting sunburn (Saturday was amazing weather in Chicago) and cowboy boots. Now I want a pair! But thousands of people turned out to hit the Miller/Bud Light and dance.

Keith Urban was good and even sang in the crowd! It’s also a fact that women love Keith Urban. Thousand were going CRAZY for him. I’m surprised he survived that crowd with his shirt.

I was pretty excited to see the Dixie Chicks and they didn’t disappoint. They even played Train’s Hey Soul Sister, which got me dancing around.

I’m not too familiar with The Eagles either but I recognized a ton of songs, thanks to growing up with their music. I remembered a lot more than I thought I would.

All and all, it was a gorgeous night to see outside and enjoy some music!

Random acts of online dating

Post concert, I decided to do some pre-vacation laundry, which meant that I was still awake but tired at 1 a.m. with my laundry done and a restless mind. So I started wandering around online and when I woke up this morning, I was a member of OkCupid.

No joke, I signed up for internet dating while tired and barely remembered doing it! I filled out the profile and everything! I’m still planning on going back to Match but this is free and probably a good way to ease back into it. So far, it’s…interesting.

How was everyone else’s weekend? Do you always clean before company comes over? Or are you seeing any concerts this summer?

17 June 2010

TV shows I’m watching this summer

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: television

As just about everyone knows, I love TV and my DVR, especially  because the latter lets me save up my trashy shows and enjoy them in a Friday night or Saturday  morning marathon. Heaven.

But it’s summer, which means the “good” TV is done and I have to reset the DVR for limited time programming. No joke, after Glee ended, the emptiness of my DVR made a tear trickle down my face. Okay that’s only half true.

I bet that my DVR thinks that it’s going to get a break but that b*tch is still going to be working. For real.

So I poured through Entertainment Weekly and a few other sources and put together a list of my summer TV schedule. Some shows haven’t aired yet but knowing that they will be in the DVR soon is good enough for me.

Here’s what I’ll be watching this summer:

Mad Men

Hated season 1 but have been addicted from season 2 through now. Amazing costumes and storytelling. Plus Don Draper is hot

The Closer

I love this show. It’s smart, funny and dramatic without graphic violence

Jersey Shore

Do I need to say any more? Train wreck hello!

Top Chef DC

I am obsessed with this show. I’ve watched every season and I still watch reruns. I wish I was that talented with food

The Millionaire Matchmaker

I just found Patti on Twitter and this is another show that I laugh and cringe watching. Plus, her advice is pretty dead on

Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List

Sure, she can be a bit much but she can always make me laugh

Rescue Me

No joke, this show is a little f*cked up but it has the best theme song out there and the most honest guy-talk I’ve ever seen. Plus it’s hilarious

Shows I’m curious to check out:

The Good Guys

This got a lot of good reviews so I’m going to add this in the DVR and check it out. I need to get some new shows to watch

Covert Affairs

Reminds me of Alias but less complicated. And I love Christopher Gorham from Ugly Betty!

So that’s just a quick list of  what I have my eye on this summer. I’m sure I’m missing things though so if you have a great summer TV show recommendation, let me know!

My DVR will not appreciate it, but I will :)

Anyone have big weekend plans?