Category Archives: Entertainment and Pop Culture

Culinary Crushes and Ginger & Lentil Soup

A lot of my friendships are based in a common love of food.

When my friend and I had our poster accepted to a research conference in Seattle, the number one priority was finding good places to eat. Actually making the poster? Way down the list.

When another friend called to tell me all of the hot, steamy details about her honeymoon, that meant telling me about a tasting menu served by a world-class chef.  (In turn, I rushed home from celebrating my first wedding anniversary to write her a lengthy email recounting every dish Nick and I ate at Charleston.)

So it’s not surprising that an enthusiasm for food is often a big attraction factor for me.  I have a serious crush on Andrew Knowlton, aka The BA Foodist. And I cannot be the only person who suddenly wanted to have a date night with Samuel L. Jackson after seeing the commercial where he consults Siri for mushroom risotto recipes, right?

My most recent culinary crush is Joy the Baker. She unapologetically celebrates peanut butter and pickle sandwiches and she puts bacon into baked goods. And she makes homemade cat toys. I love her. And so she tops the list of “People I Don’t Know but Kinda Secretly and Very Much Creepily Want as a BFF.”

Her recipe for Orange and Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Scones won me rave reviews after making them as favors for a friend’s baby shower. And the Brown Sugar Bacon Biscuits??  Oh my.  The downside is that I did not photograph either of them, so you’ll just have to go to her blog and look at her photos.  They’re prettier than mine would be anyway.

Fortunately, Joy also offers healthy recipes.  Recipes that are so healthy, they could wash away any hint of regret you have about eating buttery biscuits that are studded with brown sugar-coated bacon. But let’s be honest- there is no regret in eating such biscuits.

I made this Ginger & Lentil Soup a couple months ago, but just rediscovered it via the giant container in my freezer.  It’s delicious and easy, and I follow the recipe exactly, so just go check it out here.  I took pictures of this one.  They’re still not as pretty as Joy’s photos, but I took them, so you should look at them.

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Filed under Cooking, Entertainment and Pop Culture, Guilty Pleasures, My Crazy Mind

Random Moments of Happiness: Days 17-20

Yikes- I’m falling behind!  Here we go…

Day 17: Ladiez Night. With a “z”. Cocktails and food, followed by a wine-infused viewing of Lincoln. On a semi-related note, baby Bota boxes comfortably fit in purses….

It looks just like its mommy!

Day 18: Sleeping in. With my husband.  Usually I’m wide-awake several hours before Nick and get fidgety hanging out in bed. But thanks to the previous night’s cocktails and wine, that was not a problem. I cannot remember the last time I slept until 11.

Typical morning scene at our place

Day 19: Catching up with my old roomie. For three years after college, I shared an apartment with a friend from school. There were a lot of margaritas and reality dating shows. Sadly with leading busy lives in different states has drastically reduced our contact with each other. This dinner date was a year in the making. Seriously. Finally we managed to set and stick to a date with neither of us needing to reschedule. It seemed fitting that it was a Monday, as much of our margarita drinking occurred on Mondays while watching Average Joe or Joe Millionaire. Of course, we were drinking red wine instead of margaritas. Because we’re older and more mature now. Or maybe it was just because we weren’t at a Mexican restaurant.

Day 20: The Voice results show. All my favorites – Melanie, Cody, Amanda, Terry- got through. And I was surprised that I liked Dez and Cassadee’s performances as much as I did. At this point, I don’t think I’d feel too disappointed about any of them winning, but I really want to see more of Cody. He’s just so much fun to watch.



Filed under Animals, Entertainment and Pop Culture, Guilty Pleasures, Life

Random Moments of Happiness: Day 5

Dear Husband,

Please don’t read this. Trust me. You don’t want to.

Are you still reading? Seriously- stop. If you love me – if you love us – you will stop. You know I respect your musical tastes, knowledge, and talents. And yes, we bonded over some of our similarities, like being the weird kids in third grade who listened to the oldies station. I’d like to think that’s one of the reasons you married me. But you also married me despite my affinity for certain reality shows.

You know where this is going. It’s just going to make you angry. So stop reading.



To the rest of you,

Monday was kind of a crappy day. I mean, it was Monday, to begin with. And then I woke up with what was most likely the beginnings of a cold (and at this time I can tell you that yes, it was exactly that). I pushed myself through the day – lab meetings, classes, and prepping for lectures- and tried to push away worries about teaching on Tuesday while feeling sick.

So, Monday night, I turned to NBC and The Voice for comfort. Yes, I watch The Voice… in spite of my husband’s clear disapproval. I try not to talk about it, kind of the way that when you have a friend whose political views clash with your own, you might avoid talking about the election. At first, you tried to engage in a healthy debate, but eventually you realize no one’s going to sway the other, and that’s okay because it really has nothing to do with your friendship. So you drop it.

I understand why, as a musician, Nick hates The Voice. There are semi-analogous things I encounter with psychology and research that get me all riled up. But I still think some of the people on that show are awesome performers. There are certainly moments when I cringe (how many Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift songs were included during the last round??) but I love Melanie Martinez and Michaela Paige. And I forgive Terry McDermott for singing a Journey song because his rendition of Maybe I’m Amazed last week was that good. (Really, Nick, if you are still reading, just please block all this from your mind.)

But, as I’m sure a billion other people are saying, the highlight of the night was Amanda Brown singing Dream On. Seeing a woman with such a powerful voice – the kind that typically seems reserved for R&B and pop genres – rock out like that totally made my day.
Can’t wait to see what she does next!

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Random Moments of Happiness: Day 1

Thursdays are typically the night that Nick and I get carryout and watch 30 Rock and Parks & Rec. No new NBC shows tonight, and Nick is busy prepping for a gig, but I was able to find something to make me laugh while I was grading papers.


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My Cat is on

No, we did not decide to auction off Bailey to the highest bidder.

Although I suspect he would go for thousands of dollars.  Who wouldn’t want a cranky eight-year-old Maine Coon mix with a love of 4am feedings and a need for tranquilizers before vet visits?

You can, however, now purchase your very own Matilda.  Matilda and 12 others, that is.

Nick’s album, matilda and 12 others is now available for download at as well as iTunes. You can also listen to this debut from Bertling Noise Laboratories in its entirety on bandcamp.  If you like it, you can also purchase it directly from bandcamp for $7 (or more, if you like).

As I said in my last round of shameless spouse promotion, I’m not someone who is going to force feed my husband’s music (or any music I love) down someone else’s throat (or in someone’s else’s ear, perhaps).  But I will say this.  I have been listening to this album regularly for about a month now.  And there are a lot of times when I’m driving in my car, and thirty seconds into the first track I’ve already forgotten that what I’m hearing came from the man who lives with me. And every time, I am blown away by the fact that every sound you hear was produced by one man.

If I had to describe the style, I would start by saying this: Nick is a child of the 80’s who grew up on his parent’s music.  And while the songs on his album are pretty eclectic, there is still this sense of cohesion, because it’s Nick’s take on three decade’s worth of musical influences.

It’s an album for people who enjoy – really enjoy – good music, and if you fall into that category, I hope you’ll take a moment to check this out.  Because good music deserves to be heard.  And people who love good music deserve a chance to hear it.


Filed under Entertainment and Pop Culture, Life, Love

Shameless Spouse Promotion

When I was fourteen, I dreamed of eventually owning a huge house- an estate, really – with lushly-landscaped gardens, a pool, and a separate little cottage I could make into an art studio.  And somehow, that seemed totally obtainable.  Oh, how things change.  Not only do I now have a better idea of what is realistic given my career aspirations, but I also just can’t imagine wanting to maintain such a large property.  My dream house now has these stringent criteria: more than one toilet; enough rooms that Nick and I can each have a designated area of our own; sufficient closet space; enough of a backyard to grow some vegetables and herbs, but not so much that there is a huge lawn that has to be mowed; and a place for the litter boxes that is not in a room that we frequent.  Okay, and a kick-ass kitchen.

When I was fourteen, I also dreamed of marrying a musician.  (An architect was the runner-up because, hey, that might come in handy when designing that dream house.)  But in contrast to the totally-reasonable expectation to take up residence in a historic estate, marrying a musician seemed pretty far out there.

It’s funny how things work out.

There are things that fourteen-year-old Sarah didn’t really anticipate about marrying a musician: it means a lot of spouse-less Friday and Saturday nights (which turns out not to be such a bad thing when you’re a graduate student), walking into the bedroom and finding not another woman, but a guitar, on your side of the bed (okay, this happened once), having to repeat more than half of what you say (thanks to your quiet voice and your husband’s hearing loss), and discovering guitar picks under the couch, in your shoe, or wherever else the cats batted them.

Still, I have to admit, it turns out that at thirty years old, having a man write a song about you is pretty much just as awesome as you imagined it would be when you were a teenager.  Not to mention how cool it is to spend your life with someone whose talent and creativity never ceases to amaze you.  I mean, in the course of an afternoon, while I’m sitting in our living room studying, Nick will be downstairs in the basement of our apartment building, where he carved out an area of our storage space to set up his recording studio. And a couple hours later, he’ll come up and play something that he wrote and recorded in a couple hours.  As in a full song- with multiple instruments (all of which he played) and vocals and everything. Which brings me to my point for this whole rambling…

Nick knows a ridiculous amount about music, and has lots to say about it. I’ve been encouraging him for quite some time to consider writing a blog.  And as he has been working on and getting ready to complete a solo album over the last few months or so, he finally saw a good reason to start writing, and started his blog, overcompressed.  He’s starting to post entries about creating this album and has a link to the first song.  If you like 80’s music, you’ll probably like this song.

Nick’s endeavor is obviously quite a different focus than my blog: expect more music, more obscenities, fewer vegetarian recipes, and probably a comparable amount of cats.  However I’d like to think that a good number of people who stumble upon my blog have diverse enough interests that they might be intrigued by what Nick has to say as well.

For the record, I’m not the kind of wife who passes out flyers for her husband’s gigs or tries to convert people into fans.  Despite the fact that I referred to this as shameless spouse promotion, I’m really sharing this with you because I am so proud of him for putting this together and I just want people who might like it to have the opportunity to check it out.

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Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: Parks & Recreation and Fancy Hot Chocolate

Do you ever find yourself internalizing the voice of a character from a movie or television show so that when you’re thinking to yourself it’s in a voice completely distinct from your own?  (Please say yes, because otherwise I am concerned that I might have just confessed to hearing voices.)  For example, after I was watching Coupling regularly on Netflix Instant Viewing my thoughts were voiced in a British accent for days.  (This also occurred after any of the 20 times I’ve seen Love Actually.)  Even weirder?  Thinking in the voice of Riley after Nick and I had a marathon screening of The Boondocks.   The funny thing is that I am terrible when it comes to speaking out loud in different voices.  In my head I can hear them perfectly but when they come out of my mouth, it’s no good.  Imagine Joey Tribbiani’s Southern drawl that sounded more like a Jamaican accent.   It’s kind of like how I can picture myself doing a handstand, and I can even feel it, but when I attempt it, it doesn’t work out so well.  (So far, at least….)

Anyway, the reason I bring that up is that I seem to be thinking in Chris Traeger’s voice right now.  For those of you who don’t watch Parks & Rec (although you should), Chris Traeger is Rob Lowe’s excessively optimistic character who speaks very precisely and loves to use the word “literally.”

And the reason I bring that up is so you understand where I’m coming from when I say that Dagoba Xocolatl Drinking Chocolate is “literally THE best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.”  Seriously.  And it should be, since a 12-ounce can costs about $10.  (But that is 17 servings, so it’s still way cheaper than anything you’d get at Starbucks.)  It has cinnamon and chili in it, so it’s wonderfully rich and spicy.  Almost sexy, really.  If you rated hot chocolates in terms of sexiness, this would be the Johnny Depp of hot chocolate.*  With the weather finally getting chilly and hearing “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” on the radio for the first time this season, it felt like hot chocolate weather yesterday afternoon.

Do not even think of putting marshmallows in here.  If I find out that you bastardized this with marshmallows I will steal the rest of your can of drinking chocolate to protect it from further insult.  Kahlua or Bailey’s would be perfectly acceptable, however.  If it hadn’t been 2pm, and I wasn’t trying to work on a paper, I totally would have spiked it.

Back to Parks & Rec for a moment….  I cannot tell you how excited I am about Leslie and Ben getting back together.   I can tell you that it is way more excited than I should be about fictional characters.  One of the best lines from last week’s The Trial of Leslie Knope: when asked if she received benefits from dating her supervisor, Leslie’s response was that she received “adorable nicknames and amazing backrubs.”

*Feel free to insert whoever you want here.  The obvious universal ones that jumped out were Johnny Depp and George Clooney.  My personal favorites like Colin Firth and Alan Rickman just didn’t seem to fit….  Maybe if I was discussing tea….


Filed under Entertainment and Pop Culture, Food I Didn't Cook, My Crazy Mind