Saturday, January 31, 2009

American Tobacco and the new Durham PAC

One week ago - last Saturday afternoon - I went to see "Rent" with my friends Mariah & Rachel. I was really looking forward to this for a number of reasons.
1. Mariah & Rachel are cool & I like hanging out with them.
2. The actors who originated the roles of Mark & Roger in the original production of "Rent" were performing with this tour.
3. I finally got to check out Durham's new performing arts center - the largest PAC in the Carolinas! Wee!

The show was great. The performers totally blew us away and sounded even better in person than on the original cast recording. Very impressive. But the only thing that may have been even more impressive was the PAC. Mariah loved it & declared it her new favorite place to see shows. That's quite a compliment, considering she sees just about every touring production that rolls through Raleigh.

After the show, we walked over to the American Tobacco Historic District. It's basically some old, brick cigarette factories that have been converted into restaurants, office space, lofts, & even our local NPR studio. There's also a cool river-water feature-thingamy, some interesting sculptures, and a green lawn where concerts are performed in the summer.

I thought it was pretty cool, so when I found myself back in downtown Durham this week I decided to snap a few pics to share with you. Since it was the middle of the workday, there weren't as many people around, plus I intentionally avoided including people in these pics. Maybe I'm weird, but taking photos of people without their permission makes me uncomfortable. I almost overcame my nerves & took a photo of one of the police officers zooming around on a Segway, but I just couldn't do it.
Here's the old water tower & the lawn where people enjoy small concerts.

Here's part of the water feature.

The local campus of The Art Institute is located in this building.

Here's a reminder of the trolly system that used to bring workers to the tobacco warehouses.

I love this bike rack! Durham is the "Bull City", don't'cha know.

Right across the road from the American Tobacco Campus (and just south of the DPAC) is the new Durham Bulls ball park. It's not the same stadium featured in the movie "Bull Durham", but this new place has more seats & better bathrooms, so it's all good!

One thing has not changed: "Hit Bull, Win Steak".

Around about this time, my fingers were numb & my ears really hurt. As I walked the 2 blocks back to my car, I discovered that there's a bit of Civil War history in downtown Durham. I'll have to investigate this further for when my dad comes to town. He's a big Civil War buff.

So there ya go! Despite the freezing temps, this was kinda fun to do, so maybe I'll venture out & take more pics of local landmarks. And if you happen to have, say, a gnome sitting around the house that needs to see the world, just send it my way. I'll try to get it a good pic with some of the numerous bulls around town.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Goods - mostly of the baked variety

It's coming up on February, which means I've got a lot of cooking in my forecast - our elopement anniversary, Tim's birthday, Jennifer's return from California, and ... ummm, because I want to? Oh, and Millie's birthday! Hooray for more excuses to bake!

In honor of these occasions, I think I'll make some things from my new cookbooks, but I've also found some recipes on-line that caught my interest. I'm going to post links here just so I don't lose them. So I guess this post is really just for me. Unless, of course, you're also in the mood to cook.

Pink strawberry cake made from scratch with real strawberries (no Jello!)
Check comments for buttercream frosting recipe. I've been looking for a recipe like this for, oh, 4 months or so. Who knew is was so hard to make pink cake without food coloring?

Homemade perogies!
Because everybody loves perogies ... even if they don't know it yet.

Dorrie Greenspan's perfect party cake
So pretty! Perhaps I'm developing a thing for pink food.

Almond bundt cake
Originally found here. Tim loves all thing amaretto, so I might make this for his birthday.

The recipe that swept up a baking frenzy in the cooking world last summer ...
NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Changes & substitutions from The Kitchn

Michelle Obama's shortbread cookies

Edited 1/29/09 to add ...
I found more stuff I want to make!

Dulche de leche made simply in the oven.

Truffles 4 ways

Peanut butter fudge rice krispie treats
Just read that name again. Amazing, no? At it's easy to leave the chocolate off for people like george.

Big hearted cookies
'Cause V-Day is coming fast

Whipped Shortbread Cookies
I've eaten the tinned variety of these so many times. Time to do it from scratch!

Cherry chocolate chip cookies
Why have I never thought of this before? Brilliant!

Whisky soaked dark chocolate bundt cake
I feel a little light-headed just reading this recipe ... but in a good way

Sunday, January 25, 2009

You > pork

Hey, remember about 2 weeks ago when I made that post that said something about george & Derek coming to visit us? Well, they did indeed come here, stayed for nearly 5 days, & left a week ago.

George's first words upon laying eyes on my fur-baby: "Planetoid!" Yes, my cat is round. Very round. In a truly fabulous way.

A few things did not go the way I would have liked (Tim had to work extra after all, a show I wanted to see sold out, blahblahblah). Luckily we still managed to have a good time. We ate biscuits & lamb & Ethiopian food & sushi & pastries & eastern Carolina style BBQ & more biscuits. We saw a wacky Bollywood-Kung-Fu movie. We met the manager of a local theatrical troupe. We checked out some art - some of which we bought. We played Rock Band (george's version of "Rio" has forever changed that song for me). We found horrifically politically incorrect postcards (gotta love The South!). And we went to Trader Joe's. Twice.

Sadly, I was absolutely crap about taking photos. I've totally gotten out of the habit. Need to fix that. The few pics I managed to grab are very random & confusing ... in a kinda fabulous way. So I thought I'd share them anyway. Prepare to be befuddled.

This is the only pic I took of george ...

and this is the only pic I took of Derek

Alternate title of this post: "Greatness Is Within"

Substitute "pork" with "steak" and you'll have george's version of this button.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Snowy steps

Yesterday morning Millie went to the back door - as usual - and stared outside. She didn't seem terribly thrilled with the snow on Tuesday & Wednesday mornings, but I thought I'd give her another shot at it.

She didn't get far.

But she tried. And trying is good.

Today's high should be in the 50s & all of the snow will be gone, but before it does, I would like to post this little video for george. Yes, it's juuuuuust for yoooou! It features Ingrid Michaelson and it's cute so you'll have to watch it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snow-bama Day!

Yes, snow! And not just a light dusting like what we usually get. I think we got about 4 inches! The news said this was the biggest snow storm in 7 years, so that meant the whole area shut down. Schools closed, trash did not get picked up, and Tim even got to stay home from work. As I mentioned before, we watched some of the TV coverage of National Obama Day. Tim was a bit disappointed that he had no chance to drive in the snow, but he changed his mind after he spent a few minutes brushing the snow off of his car. Even Millie thought she might want to venture out there, but as soon as a few snow flakes landed on her head, she thought better of it.

In the afternoon I told Mom about the winter wonderland that was right outside our door. Mom LOVES snow, so she told me to build a snowman in her honor. The snow turned out to be pretty dry & crumbly, but I did the best I could. He's not even 2 feet tall, but he's all for you, Mom!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I choose not to talk about politics here on the ol' blog, but I don't consider today to be a really "political" day. Rather, it's a historic day. And thanks to a freak snow storm, I was able to experience this day with Tim. We sat on the couch, curled up under our fluffy red blanket, watched the inaugural address, and allowed the emotions of the moment to wash over us. A few tears were definitely shed. It was very special.

A few hours have gone by since then & now I'm just waiting for the parade to start. And that, my friends, is an issue on which I can speak from personal experience. Ya see, way back in 1993 I was in the inaugural parade for President Bill Clinton. My high school band was chosen to represent the state of Oklahoma in the parade. We showed up a couple of days early which gave us plenty of opportunity to visit museums (the National Gallery kicks ass!) and pick up some commemorative buttons. The Bill & Al button is nice, but the button of Bill & Hill is definitely my favorite.

January 20, 1993 was a looooooong day. Full of a loooooooot of waiting on a bus. I have no idea how many hours we sat there in full uniform, starving & desperately needing to pee. I remember that I played Tetris for the first time that day on a friend's GameBoy. And I remember that we heard the inaugural address of the bus radio. Eventually they finally let us out of the bus & that's when we saw Carl Lewis, the Olympic athlete, because he was walking in the parade, too. When we finally started marching, we discovered that, unfortunately, some horses were allowed to march ahead of us & that the roads weren't, um, properly cleaned up behind them. But of course the thing I remember most was the moment when we finally marched in front of the presidential viewing stand. Forgive me, but I didn't play my picollo with proper gusto at that moment, but I think I can be forgiven. It was worth it. Unfortunately, Bill was posing for a photo with some Boy Scouts so I didn't get a great view of him, but I certainly saw Hillary. She was waving like mad! She seemed absolutely thrilled to be there. It was great. I'm sure the people who are in DC today have a pretty good idea of how she must have felt.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Company's comin'!

Good things happenin' 'round here! Let's break it down, shall we?

1. Went to a great party at Dave & Megan's house on Saturday. Played a lot of Rock Band. Laughed a lot. Enjoyed ourselves without getting drunk! Wee!

2. A friend noticed that I've lost weight. Pretty darn encouraging. Now if only I could get properly back on the wagon. I've only worked out once this week.

3. I bought tickets to see "Rent" with a couple friends. I'm excited to finally see a show at the brand spankin' new Durham Performing Arts Center. It's the biggest performing arts center in the Carolinas. And since I bought our tickets in person (and NOT through MicketTaster), I saved us $18! Woot! I love saving money.

4. Tim has been a bit stressed at work because he was told there was a bug in his code that was causing the sound in the game to shut down. After a few days of banging his head against a wall, he discovered the problem! So now he can fix it and, with any luck at all, he won't have to stay late for the rest of the week. And it's especially important that Tim doesn't stay too late at work because ...

5. Derek & george are coming to town! They arrive tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. Yes, that soon! We haven't even gotten a chance to properly miss each other yet. I suspect the the main reason why they're coming right away is because george is jealous that Derek has met Millie & she hasn't. Yup, it's aaaaaaaall about the cat. Whatever the reason, it should be fun. We're going to eat Ethiopian food & see a show featuring giant puppets and shop at Trader Joe's and other stuff. It'll be good.

Must run. Gotta check a few items off my to-do list before Tim gets home. EEEEE!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


The Xmas break is officially over & we're back in North Carolina. Usually this is the week when I sit around the house & mope. After spending 2 action-packed weeks surrounded by friends and family, it was always hard to return to an empty house in a town where I barely knew anyone. After Tim's first day back at work, he would come home in the evening and find me still in my robe, curled up on the couch, with streaks from dried tears (or possibly fresh ones) running down my face. The first week of the year had become the worst week of the year.

But this year is different. Late Monday night, I found myself back in the same house in the same town, an 18-hour drive away from so many people I love. And yet I've been smiling contentedly ever since I got back. I think the difference this year is that I didn't return to an empty house. Rather, I returned to a cuddly little lump of love named Millie who was thrilled to welcome me home.

Millie is a pretty laid back cat and doesn't seem to show much emotion, but it's clear that she is just as relieved to see me as I am to see her. Since I got home late Monday night, she has rarely left my side. If I'm sitting, she's on my lap. If I'm lying down, she's curled up next to me. Sometimes when I step out of view, she emits a panic-y meow which only stops when she sees me again. Yes, she's a bit clingy and needy at the moment, but honestly, I missed her so much that I'm happy to spend so much time with her now. Her soft purr makes me feel - more than anything else - that I am home. And it feels really good to be home.