nourishing the body

Image There is a play I love. It’s called “Melancholy Play” and it’s by Sarah Ruhl. Ms. Ruhl writes very whimsical things, beautiful things; things that I would like to collect in a wicker-basket of words and take on a picnic along a Northeastern beach.  Maybe we would eat lobster rolls.

In this play, the main character, Tilly suffers from constantly feeling melancholic. She falls in love with a woman who writes obituaries, and then she turns into an almond.

“Do you ever have the feeling, when you wake up in the morning, that you’re in love but you don’t know with what?

-Tilly, in Melancholy Play

I’ve recently boarded the almond train. I like almond butter, I like raw almonds,  I like almond milk.  They’re all quite versatile, and provide different yummy satisfactions.  And they’re good for you?!?!

Healthy food gets a bad rep. I think this is because healthy eating often seems boring, or like you aren’t “living your life to the fullest” when you turn down donuts in favors of a breakfast smoothie.  (Don’t get me wrong. I love donuts. My favorite is the ultra-unhealthy, saturated fat laden, vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.) But lets not neglect the breakfast smoothie. It’s over there, waving its little blueberry arms, yelling “HEY I TASTE GOOD TOO, OKAY?”

While one type of food nourishes the soul (microwave nachos, I’m looking at you), the other nourishes the body. Like almonds.

Nourishing the body is so important. I don't think eating healthy foods makes me boring.  No, like a nude photograph of David Bowie, it makes me feel alive. It even sometimes makes feel like a beach dancer with a hula-hoop and the enthusiasm to climb a coconut tree.  The taste of raw almond butter comforts me, and yet I don’t fall into a food coma shortly after indulging in its bliss.

I like almonds in Sarah Ruhl plays. I like them plain, and maybe with a bit of salt.

I like almond butter stirred into my oatmeal, making little tidal waves throughout the creamy oats.

And I really really love love love almond milk in my smoothies.

Espresso Breakfast Smoothie

½ cup greek yogurt

1½ cup ice

½ almond milk

1 tbs. cocoa powder or carob powder.

1 shot of espresso

1 large banana

1 tsp. vanilla paste

1 packet of stevia

(I use stevia because I use unsweetened chocolate, yogurt, and almond milk. If any of these ingredients are already sweet, you probably don't need the stevia at all. Or you could use honey. I like things sweet, because part of me is still a child who mixes Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kettle Corn and calls it dinner.)

Blend everything together in a VitaMix or blender. Taste and adjust if needed; smoothies are personal things! Some people like them icy, some prefer smooth.  This makes one medium sized drink, perfect for one.

Enjoy with David Bowie music and then go dance in a pair of knee high socks.

thursday night wine night, you will never die

When I graduated college, I had to graduate more than just the university.  I had to graduate a long list of things that one can only deem acceptable as a college student. These included triple helpings of cinnamon toast crunch for dinner, wearing mini-dresses in below freezing weather, and falling asleep fully dressed before your Jimmy Johns arrives. Part of this is because there are no Jimmy Johns that will deliver to my zip code, but the main reason is this: some things we must sadly pack into a cardboard box, label it college, and revisit it only on an alumni weekend or when we are in the middle of a mid-life crisis. Thursday night wine nights are not one of these things.

I loved Thursday night wine night more Jennifer Garner loves taking her kids to the park. I loved wearing my pajamas while clutching the stem of a plastic glass. I love the cackle of my roommate's drunken giggle as one of us reveals a secret. I even loved counting the bottles the next morning as they stood proudly on our coffee table; our trophies from the evening. Said wine night came about when I lived in "The Brothel" my sophomore year of college. The house was three stories tall, four if you included the scary-basement-we-always-avoided, and had eight bedrooms and three bathrooms. Eight of us lived there. Eight FEMALES. We named it, "The Brothel," under the circumstances that in Virginia over five women in a house is considered a "place of sexual business." Please, VA law, there was never any money exchanged. To my knowledge.

Last night, another Brothel lady and myself indulged in a long-overdue WINE NIGHT. The drink of choice was the same yesterday as it was four years ago: Walmart Brand Lucky Duck Cabernet Sauvignon.

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"I don't know how they do it," Clarissa said as she sipped from her crystal glass. She wore a multi-colored sweater and a pair of shiny, spandex dance tights. (Both items were hand-me-downs, because Clarissa 'hates to buy her own clothes.') "It doesn't even taste like wine. It tastes like juice."

She took a longer sip, like a mermaid inhaling after being out of the ocean for too long. Then grimaced.

"That didn't taste like juice." And we laughed.

We got deliciously tipsy, our legs dancing over one another's as we talked about sex and our dreams. Clarissa had made molasses crinkle cut cookies that sparkled with sugar and tasted like a cinnamon blanket.  The night was very similar to our college days TNWN, with the exception of the other seven beautiful ladies.

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There was Stevie, who would often spend TNWN either with her own bottle, either putting off or writing a paper.  Stevie now lives in Chicago, still roommates (lucky bitches), with the fiery-souled, Macki, who made me a green velvet cake on my 20th birthday, and then forced me to chug a 24-oz Smirnoff Ice. Macki and Clarissa were perhaps the most dedicated TNWN participants, so much that we labeled their constant togetherness a "bromance" and started to question their sexuality.  Also in Chicago is Kristen, or K-Hanes, who currently lives with her boyfriend Chris Palmer, who is the closest thing to being a Brothel member with male genitalia.  Even further across the United States is Kaitlyn, or K-benz, who is currently taking the Los Angeles world by storm. She, being the Brothel Lady that she is, recently discovered a way to open a wine bottle without (!!!) a wine key, a skill that unfortunately came after graduation. Then there was Catie, or C-Hatch, who is currently honeymooning with her recent life partner, Daniel, in Disneyworld . As they ride the spinning tea cups, I hope C-hatch temporarily envisions herself in a wine glass, spinning down a drunken memory lane of eating Chanello's and falling asleep on the couch.  Michelle, our dear Shellster, kept us all semi-in-check by offering her ears and her wit. She was the Maid-of-Honor at Catie's wedding a few weeks ago, and had everyone simultaneously crying and laughing, which I thought was only possible when experiences second hand embarrassment after watching Girls. Finally, Sarah, or S-kys, is now teaching math to middle schoolers, but who once taught us all that you didn't need a bedroom to me a member of the Brothel.

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I loved wine nights, not because I loved wine (though this did contribute nicely), but because it was a guaranteed time and place to be with a group of women who genuinely loved one another. We wore red snuggies and fell on the floor, we watched the cat dance across the wicker shelves and we kissed under the mistletoe.  College roommates like that aren't just college roommates. They're your bridesmaids and they're the ones who ink your address onto your wrist.   They will hold your hand and slap your ass.

Cheers, to the ladies of 1373.

Lisbon, Portugal

Some nights are made for afghan blankets, and some are made for nostalgia.  Thursday I spent the evening at my old stompground, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, to visit friends, pick up a rug, and see the Christmas Spectacular, "A Dickens of a Christmas."  Sentimentality, commence.  I'm one of those people who saved the napkin-my-used-to-be-best-friend-wrote-a kind-of note-on for me, so this visit had me gushing and hugging. My brief trip consisted of draft beers in festive dive bars, fir-scented garlands in a mansion, and a few rounds of Fluxx in ye olde common room.  So surreal to see the place blanketed in snow. Several people asked me about Portugal , and I found myself searching for the right words to describe that country. It's been over a month since I trekked across the pond with Alex into the playground that is Lisbon. I've neglected to write about it, most likely because I liked to keep it secret for a short bit.  More likely out of laziness.  The memories felt safe in my mind, but now I have to write about because I don't know how long they'll stay in my brain without proper documentation.

To put it simply: Portugal was freaking amazeballs. 

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Like, really amazeballs.

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The film pictures are from Alex, and he is kind enough to let me share them here; the rest are from the iPhone.  I have a few digital photos, which will find their way to internet-land shortly, but for now these will do.  Day one consisted of jetlag and complete dependency on a Lonely Planet guidebook.   Said guidebook solved miracles, and jetlag was quickly remedied with two glasses of wine at lunch.  This was a mission of ours: we wanted to have two glasses of wine at lunch at least once. I was inspired by an episode of Gilmore Girls to add this task to our Portugal Bucket List. For those of you who have seen this show, Richard and Emily are arguing one evening and the topic of international travel arises.  Essentially, Emily is gonna pack her bags, sling them over her bony shoulders, and shout "BYEEEE" as she avoids letting the door hit her on the ass on the way out. It goes down something like this.

Emily: I'm going to go to Europe all on my own. And I'm going to order room service, and sleep in, and drink two glasses of wine at lunch.

Richard: Only prostitutes drink two glasses of wine at lunch!

And so that's how we became prostitutes. Totally worth a good Pinot Grigio.

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After two glasses of wine and two shots of espresso, we visited a restaurant called Guilty, where we ate salty pizza and drank sangria.  Rather than call a cab, we opted to walk home without any idea of how to get back to our hotel. A would-be disaster in many a foreign country, the high hills of Lisbon allowed us to pick out our hotel from the tip of a skatepark, and we walked back with a sense of discovery.

On Tuesday, our first full day, we ventured into Alfama to visit Feira da Ladra, the thieves market. There were all sorts of bizarre knick-knacks. There were all sorts of tourist traps. There were all sorts of black and white pictures of Portuguese people from how ever many years ago. I gleefully purchased a pair of gypsy pants (which Uncle David later hated on) and two tiny juice jars to serve as Alex and I's wine glasses for spontaneous sips along the water.

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Lunch was ham, cheese, and butter sandwiches Alex had prepped for us back at the hotel, along with a bottle of white wine. We ate on stone steps and watched the waves. There was a dog who decided to be our friend. A man tried to sell us weed, and then sunglasses. We declined. It was nice.

We heard rumor of a place called Principe Real, a neighborhood with a little park and several adorable little shops for browsing, including a patisserie with a large oil painting of Marie Antoinette and pistachio flavored macaroons.  Fortunately and unfortunately, we had a very vague idea of how to actually find said neighborhood, which meant an uphill adventure through the winding and colorful backstreets.  As useful as a guidebook is, it will never properly illustrate the gleam of Portuguese desserts through shop windows, the feel of the cobblestone underneath one's foot, or the delicate roar of a foreign melody dancing in a traveler's ears.  Neither will it satisfy the accomplishment of finding Principe Real all on own's one, AKA stumbled upon randomly after taking several wrong turns.

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Principe Real was Mt. Olympus, essentially. It sat on top of the city, allowing us to peer down at the glorious city lights below. We wandered, and then dined at Lost N Esplanada, a part restaurant/part gypsy camp overlooking the yellow windows of Lisbon. We sat on cushions, accompanied with iron lanterns and silk slippers on dark green walls. Tea lights hung from the ceiling. Fellow explorers lounged while they sipped their red wine.  Alex and I had our own little corner carved in the giant mountain of shops and restaurants, privately glancing over the city that we so barely knew. When we left, we somehow made it back to the main road in five minutes, despite our blatant intoxication. I made friends with the cab driver and tried to convince him Alex and I were brother and sister. I cannot remember if he believed me.

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Porto was next. Porto was beautiful. Porto was our private flat where we danced to Miley Cyrus like "cultured Americans" and perched on our balcony with cheap glasses filled with cheap wine.  There were sketchbooks on bed, and The Best Spongecake in the Universe in the sheets.

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We met Miguel number one, a Chai Latte gent with green eyes and a leather jacket. (News Flash: Portuguese men get a thumbs up.  If I knew the words, "I am a single and not looking for commitment" in Portuguese, I would have said them. Unfortunately, our guidebook had no such translation, although it DID have the phrase, "I have many diseases." I didn't need to use this, BTW.) Anyway, Porto was even better on day number two when we rented bicycles and sped along the coast up to the beach.  We opted to buy beer from a convenience store rather than the ritzy restaurant, and sat on the rocks rather than in chairs. You know what feels amazing? Getting saltwater splashed while holding a can of Superbock as you stand barefoot on the rocks.  There's a lot of ocean. I'm glad I get to see it from multiple angles.

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Lesson learned from our day in Porto: I will always run into the ocean, no matter how cold it is or how see-through my shirt will become.  I have pictures from this instance, but mama always said don't put your nudes online for free.

In the evening we witnessed live Fado.  Fado is Portuguese music, sung by Portuguese people, about how much they love Portugal.   While watching the red lips of our music artist, Alex and I dined on cod fritters, fava beans, and sheep's milk cheese from the Azoures. At one point in our lives, Alex and I ate Dairy Queen in a parking lot. I like our friendship.

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Alex jumped for joy the day we went to the Ocenario. It was my first Aquarium, and now I can never go to another one ever because I'm positive this is the best one that has ever existed.  There was a scary crab and a sneaky Octopus.  I liked the sunfish, because it was awkward and yet still demanded attention and I think I identified with that.  That night we were lazy and drank in the hotel room. I sang Alanis Morissette to our bidet, and we ate cheese and clementines and climbed onto the balcony, where we scared away pigeons.

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To end the trip we took a renegade tour of the city where we were able to say goodbye to each of these places. The sun was setting and we took pictures, and at the end of it all we drank ginjinha, a cherry liqueur that is the bee's knees of Portuguese booze.  Miguel number two, our two guide, thought Alex and I were the bee's knees of the tour group, and gave us the remainder of the bottle to chug on our own time.  We did so after drunkenly walking through the botanical gardens around 10/11 o'clock at night, while sitting on stone and overlooking the city (again, God bless the hilly geography of Portugal.) Miguel #2 also recommended that we skateboard down the hills on trashcans, but we neglected to do this. Next time.

SAPPY MOMENT WARNING. As lucky as I am to travel, I am even luckier to have had such a good companion, especially one who loves eating and drinking and walking as much as I do. Alex is a friend who constantly makes me feel like dancing. We have a rhythm and language. My Uncle David tells me that when the two of us are together, we tend to disappear into our own "Alex-and-Amanda" land. We are a little insane with one another, and always have been. We've eaten raw sugar cookie dough on the playground and recounted the story of "Kiki's Delivery Service" via Photobooth. We are the picture definition of weird-o's.  Below is 2009!

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Foreign travel is a B-L-E-S-S-I-N-G!!!!!!!!!!!! Having a friend who will run through the streets of life with you...is even better.  :)

Occasionally a quote will make me feel inspired, and also emotional

I have a difficult time with patience. Maybe it's a trait of being part of Gen Y or maybe it's because I played too much Oregon Trail growing up and am used to things happening instantly. Regardless of the reason, I find myself tapping my fingers at traffic lights and glaring at tea kettles when they should be boiling.  I am not a patient person. When I was working at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, I was randomly assigned a roommate named Kate. This turned out to be an amazing combination. I am 99% positive Kate is my female soulmate. Our room was decorated with scarves, tapesries, and self-illustrated drawings of mermaids. We bought a rug together and watched Gilmore Girls while applying makeup. We ate Chinese food and drank gas station ice coffee.  And occasionally, on calm nights, Kate would read excerpts from  Women Who Run With the Wolves aloud in the moments before we fell asleep.

Come the end of October, our contract ended and the mermaid room was packed up. Partially because of our evening reads, and partially because I was curious, I purchased my own copy.

(I strongly recommend it every woman and man out there. It's a gorgeous read. The prose embraces you, guides you across the room and allows you to sleepwalk into a safe while simultaneously scary territory. When I read it, I feel special and sacred. I want to kiss oranges and wrap myself in an afghan blanket.)

The third chapter is entitled "Nosing Out the Facts: the Retrieval of Intuition as Initiation." It begins with a fairy tale, or urban legend. The Doll in Her Pocket: Vasalisa the Wise. In short, Vasalisa is a Cinderella-esque character, sent off into the woods by her wicked step-family.  They ask her to ask for fire from the witch Baba Yaga, secretly hoping that the old woman will eat Vasalisa and they will be rid of her forever. When Vasalisa arrives, Baba Yaga instructs the girl to perform several seemingly impossible tasks before giving her the fire.  At one point, Vasalisa wants to ask Baba Yaga a few questions. The old woman consents, but advises Vasalisa to be careful, for "too much knowledge can make a person too old too soon."

There's so much more to this story than just this little nugget of information, but I find it beautiful nonetheless. In her analysis of the story, Clarissa Pinkola Estés connects this to the idea of time. There is a time when we let things live, there is a time we let things grow, and there is a time when we must let things die.

"There is a certain amount we all should know at each age and at each stage of our lives." Clarissa Pinkola Estes. 

It is hard for one not to get addicted to knowledge. Experience is intoxicating. Learning is an emotional process. And sometimes I feel like I have to know what certain people will be and what will happen next.

"I realized I had just entered an interesting chapter in my life. I had outgrown the boys of my past and not quite grown into the men of my future." Carrie Bradshaw

Accepting these phases is difficult. The whole, "let live" and "let die." I tend to want things to grow quickly and live forever. Or for as long as I want them to.

“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” Lewis Carroll

I suppose like good produce, everything has a season. Good night, friends! Happy Christmastime.

Mixology license and a purple unitard

I PASSED! Pop the nine dollar champagne and open the Pringles, I have obtained my diploma and am now a legal mixologist.  I took the exam yesterday, and Friday the 13th proved to be a lucky and good day.   Twelve cocktails made in four minutes and thirty seconds!! Note: I am wearing a purple unitard. Let me explain. On Fridays at the Professional Bartending School, we have costume parties in order to create a "bar" vibe throughout the school.  Our theme for this weekend was Beach Party!!! but seeing as it was 30 degrees outside and I am the polar opposite of bikini ready, I opted for the role as "scuba diver." Goggles are not pictured, but they were there.

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And since MacBooks reverse everything, here's the actual proof.

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Afterwards, we drank Rumchata and Fireball in the tavern next door.  It was a good day.

I don't always whine, but when I do it's because there's not enough wine.

Good afternoon, friends.  How's your day been?  So far I have... 1. Made peanut butter and jelly oatmeal.

2. Gone to yoga and only fell twice.

3. Gotten super psyched multiple times because Kate Rozycki is coming in two hours. (!!!) 

I like fall holidays because I like opposites. Hot vs. cold.  Wet vs. dry.  The chill of a Virginia day in late November vs. the warm interior of my mother’s kitchen.  Yesterday, for example, I spent thirty minutes out by a creek (gloveless, and therefore making me feel pretty earthy for whatever reason) collecting twigs and sticks to create little nameplates for our Thanksgiving dinner table settings.  I strive for all of my interiors to look like an Anthropologie ad.   Though my fingers were red and the bottoms of my yoga pants were soaked, I was content knowing that I would soon be able to walk into my warm, cuddly house.  Coziness is totally worth the initial, swearword-inducing cold.  In fact, I think the chill only heightens the warmth.

…Speaking of which, you know what else heightens the warmth? Wine.

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Wine reminds me of my sophomore year of college. I lived in a disintegrating, though loved, three-story house with seven other girls. We called it “The Brothel.” On Thursday nights, we joined together in our onesies and with a few bottles of Walmart’s finest red (it’s called Lucky Duck, and amazing) and parked ourselves on the couch to watch Anchorman. Or Rock-a-Doodle. Or Shaft.  It was an open door policy on these “Thirsty Thursdays,” and while it would occasionally turn into a small party, the night usually ended with one of us crying and the rest asleep in a flannel lump.

Wine also reminds me of my most recent trip to Portugal, where every day Alex and I drank approximately a bottle and a half each.  (Sorry, Liver.) One night, we decided to give ourselves a “break” and polished off a bottle in the hotel room.  The evening peaked when I sang a rendition of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” to the bidet. I’d type out the lyrics for you, but they were rated-R and I’m pretty sure I don’t remember them correctly.

So it’s more than safe to say that wine holds a special place in my heart. It’s my preferred drink, and one that connects me to a plethora of fond memories.  Wine is celebratory, casual, and fancy all at once. It’s the perfect beverage for these cold-yet-warm holidays. However, this year I thought I’d bring out wine’s Spanish side and make some Autumnal Sangria.

Did you know such a thing existed? I didn’t until I randomly stumbled upon a recipe while scrolling through Food Gawker.  And since Mish (my mother) put me in charge of providing the mixed drinks for the big day tomorrow, I decided to add Pomegranate-Pinot Noir Sangria and Spiced Apple Sangria to the menu.   The Pomegranate sangria I got from Josie, over at Pink Parsley.  The Spiced Apple will be a Cozy Caravan original, so we’ll see how that turns out.  The concoction includes:

-Pinot Grigio

-Cold apple cider

-Brinley's Spiced Rum

-Ginger beer

-Cinnamon, cloves, allspice

-APPLES.

I don't think there's much that can go wrong with this combination. If something does, I'll just polish it off myself in a failed-mixologist shame. Kidding. Kinda.

I’ll give you a little sneak peak of our typical holiday.  It is, like Brothel Wine Night, an open door policy, so whoever needs a place is invited. This draws in quite the eclectic crowd, so we end up with a dining room full of opposites. (Ehh? See what I did there?) Once Kate arrives, we'll don our aprons and get to work.  I’m making the drinks a day in advance so there’s time for the flavors to dance. And with a low of 23 in the forecast, I predict these cocktails to enrich  and enliven this already delicious day.

Who knows? We might even throw on our onesies.

The beginning, paired with green tea and a clementine

Oh, my. My current view: an overstuffed high school bedroom, a half-full (we’re off to a good start) mug of green tea, and one empty blog. If you are reading this, new friend, my gratitude is insurmountable. Cheers to the beginning!

Hi. My name is Amanda. I'm 23 years old, I have a penchant for writing and collecting nail polish, and I have a B.A. in Media Art.

I am, by no means, a graphic designer, which is what, in my opinion, media arts implies. My PhotoShop classes taught me how to paste my face on Hermione Granger's body, and that was good enough for me.  I studied media art in college because I, A) Liked the television industry and wanted to write scripts, B) Had a desire to familiarize myself with video and production equipment, and C) I wanted to be best friends with Amy Poehler. (Amy, if by some supernatural miracle you are reading this, I am not a creep. Drinks this week??)

Despite this, I was entranced by the the long lists of wonderful, creative classes in the course catalog and yearned to add more to my collegiate repertoire. I ended up also declaring a major in Theatre, which rewarded me with a fat Wadsworth Anthology and a plethora of gay drinking buddies. To add to that, and because I'm a masochist, I also picked up a third major in Creative Writing. I felt like a rockstar.  That is, until I graduated.

I am now living with my parents. I didn't immediately following college.  I had a four-month contract performing with the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire as an explosive-loving pirate.  I further distracted myself by jetting off to Portugal for a week with my best friend, Alex.  These last few months have consisted of comedic performing, walking, contemplating the definition of success, walking, perfecting an Irish accent, learning a bit of Portuguese, contemplating the definition of success, drinking a lot of wine, falling in like, thinking, and learning. The Renn Faire and European adventure have now ended, and I’m back in NoVA. My daily activities include watching Gilmore Girls while I sift through five-bedrooms worth of junk and maintain a metaphorical staring contest with my diploma.

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So, what to do? Many college graduates without a strong sense of direction go running to grad school or the Peace Corps.  Not quite yet. For now, I think I will write.  And for the first time in long time, I will be writing for myself.  And for you too, lovely reader, if you decide to stick around. I promise, a recipe for something delicious and unhealthy will pop up every so often, as will as various creative ramblings and some (hopefully) humorous stories recounting my life’s misadventures.

Here goes nothing!