Friday, March 28, 2008

So Much in 6 Words

I haven’t posted for a few days mostly because I haven’t had a whole lot of interesting topics to share. Not that my days have been boring. So much is going on around me that I have just been jumbled. Spring is coming! The weather is playing tricks. My brother is all over the media, so I am trying to keep track of his appearances to keep the family up to date. My good friends got married last weekend. On Monday, they found out they are having a baby boy! My company went through big layoffs and some good friends lost their jobs. It has been a whirlwind of things that have distracted me from the things I like to share on the blog. No craft projects this week. No baking. I did buy a new shirt, but I’m not sure that is blog worthy. I hope to get some time to get creative this weekend and get things back on track.

Evan’s mother, Jane, forwarded me an article about SMITH Magazine’s book, Not Quite What I Was Planning. This is a book of 6 word memoirs. The entire book is made up of submissions from people who shared their own life stories in 6 words. The inspiration for this book is described on their website:

Legend has it that Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Last year, SMITH Magazine re-ignited the recountre by asking our readers for their own six-word memoirs. They sent in short life stories in droves, from the bittersweet (“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends”) and poignant (“I still make coffee for two”) to the inspirational (“Business school? Bah! Pop music? Hurrah”) and hilarious (“I like big butts, can’t lie”).

It is amazing to me the amount of emotion and connection I feel with a 6 word synopsis of a stranger’s life. It really is a fun concept to play with and I think that it is great that you can write in your own to be included on the site and possibly in the next book. I was looking at these 6 word stories as a moment in time in a person’s life rather than a synopsis of its entirety. This made it a little easier to conceptualize my own. As I’ve been brainstorming, I have had a few different versions that describe how I currently feel. I imagine my 6 words will change, but here is what I have today:

Went there, moved here, what next?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dengue Fever

I am not one to find amazing new music, but every once in a while I come across a gem like this. I heard about this band while listening to National Public Radio (NPR) on my way home from work. Dengue Fever was started by two brother musicians from California. The lead singer, Chhom Nimol, is from Cambodia and met the two brothers after she had recently moved to L.A. Their new album, Venus on Earth, is comprised of all new songs inspired by Cambodian pop music and does include songs in English. I know I have an older album, but to be quite honest, I don’t know what album I have. Evan downloaded some songs for me and burned them to a CD. Since the lyrics are not in English, it is impossible for me to tell what songs they are and figure out what album they are from.

Dengue Fever’s sound is a tribute to Cambodian pop music that was popularized after American music was broadcast in the East during the Vietnam War. The outcome was a mixture of psychedelic rock and Cambodian folk music that was popular in the late sixties and early seventies. During the NPR interview they described how this music was literally killed off when the dictator, Pol Pot, came to rule in Cambodia. His regime literally executed the musicians who were part of this music movement in addition to others that were deemed to have influence from the West. I am not familiar with Cambodian history and did not know anything about Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge who took over the country in 1975. I, of course, had to get online and start researching to learn more about the inspiration that this California based rock band used to recreate this sound. The story of this music and this band is so intriguing. It’s amazing to me how much I do not know about world history. This was only 30 years ago. How do I not know this?

I think it is just so great when art inspires people to learn about the world. I am amazed how musicians and artists can adapt something so unfamiliar and bring it to a new place and it becomes new again. Thank you Dengue Fever!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Surprise On My Doorstep

I love getting packages in the mail. I buy a lot of things online, so it is not uncommon to have a box on my doorstep. Pre-planned packages are exciting, but the best packages are the ones that are unexpected. I got an expected package with an unexpected surprise inside yesterday.

Back story: About a week ago, my friend, Ann, sent me a link for Wire and Twine, a website that sells screen print shirts and other goodies. This particular site has a shirt dedicated to my brother’s most popular catch phrase, “FIERCE”. I absolutely loved the cleverness of the shirt and was excited to see my brother’s likeness. I tried to order one, but was having problems getting PayPal to work with the site. I sent a very desperate email explaining that I must have this shirt! Chris Glass wrote me back and offered to send a shirt for me and one for my brother. This I thought to be so incredibly generous.

Coincidence: Before I left my office yesterday (before I received my surprise) a co-worker came up to me to thank me for sending him the link to Wire and Twine site. He had bought two of the Project Runway inspired shirts for his wife who is a big fan. What goes around comes around these days, so I’m glad that I could at least spark some sales for the site seeing how generous they are.

Back to the box: When I got my package yesterday I was so excited. I ripped open the box to find not only the two “FIERCE” shirts, but also two of the “Ladies Hair” shirts. It just so happens that, the hair shirt was the next on my list of favorites. This is awesome! Another bonus, that I didn’t realize before is that the shirts are American Apparel, which are my brother’s favorite. The prints are just awesome and I’m so thankful to Wire and Twine. These shirts are hotness!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Evan is ¼ Irish, which is only one of the reasons that St. Patrick’s Day is his favorite holiday. There is not much celebration for St. Patty’s here in Arkansas, so we planned to have friends over for a late lunch on Sunday. Evan got up early and started his pot boiling on the grill outside. He spent the day laboring over his corned beef and cabbage, which turned out spectacular. He boiled the beef from 10am-2pm and added potatoes, carrots and cabbage at the end of the boil. I had a frozen pizza ready to go for the non-Irish, but everyone ended up eating the corned beef. We served Irish coffee, Guinness, and Smithwicks. Irish Car Bombs were consumed after lunch (not by me). I made a "Pot of Gold" for dessert. I used the caldron that I bought for Halloween as my pot and filled it with mini yellow cupcakes. It turned out cute, but we ended up having a delicious grasshopper pie that my friend, Cheri, brought over. Lucky Evan got to take the "Pot of Gold" to work today.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Girls Night

Last night I went to a “Girls Night Out” at a local restaurant in Fayetteville called Theo’s. It was a small group of six girls that I know from work and through my Bunko group. I had never been to this restaurant before, but had heard good things. It was quite swanky for what I’ve come to expect from Arkansas dining. The hostesses and servers were dressed in fashionable black outfits that I know were not purchased locally. Hair was something to be desired (most in blah ponytails) so my search for a good hair stylists continues with no new leads. The bar was a mixture of cocktail tables and luxurious leather chairs and the dining area had a glass window that allowed you to see some of the Chef’s preparation. The food and cocktails were spectacular!! For Happy Hour, I had a Raspberry Mojito and seasoned fries. My girlfriend, Cheri, got a cheese plate with a creamy Muenster (that had a fancier name) and another cheese that I had never heard of. Both were delish. After my Mojito, I wasn’t very hungry, but I ordered a Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese salad in a Parmesan Bowl and two French Martinis. I think that the French Martini is going to be my new drink of choice. I don’t even know what is in one, but I love them! The salad was one of the best salads I’ve ever had at a restaurant. The goat cheese was amazing and the dressing was perfect. I enjoyed two delicious bites before I realized that there were finely diced red onions (which I normally do not eat) and now I have to rethink my dislike for raw onions. The Parmesan bowl was a very impressive addition to the presentation of the salad. I was thinking that it is quite “green” to be able to eat the bowl. Theo must be thinking sustainability. I am so thankful for my friend, Karen, who put this together. It was a night of good food, good cocktails and great company.

And, lucky for me I had a very handsome chauffeur to drive me home. Thanks, Evan.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sorry Excuses

This is the saddest picture I have taken in a long time. I have to (for my sanity) present some excuses:

1) We have been busy with parties and get-togethers, watching Project Runway repeats and all of Christian’s TV appearances. These are obligations that I must tend to. 2) I have been spending a lot of time stalking my brother online, searching for interviews and articles to send to family and friends. How else would my Internet-challenged loved ones keep on track? 3) I am trying to get my new part time gig as a Pampered Chef sales consultant up and running in addition to my full time job. I have to make money to live fabulously.

I feel a little better, but it’s time to stop making excuses. This beautiful birthday gift that I anticipate will bring much joy to my life is sitting with things piled upon it in the corner of our junk room. It almost brings a tear to my eye. I haven’t bought one yard of fabric and only have white thread. I could make a list a mile long of all the things that I “need” to do, but I’ve got to start prioritizing. If I hope to get a job in one of my brother’s sweat shops, I need to at least learn how to thread this thing. I will achieve this, this weekend. I will.

At least I can boast that Evan is eating well this week. I have tried two new recipes so far and it’s only Wednesday. Usually, I make an effort to cook once a week. If Evan doesn’t make something, the rest of the week is FFY (Fend For Yourself). Tonight is the premiere of my second favorite show, Top Chef, so I hope that my cooking motivation will continue to be inspired. If Bravo would put together a “Clean House” competition reality show, maybe I would get it together in that department. Tim Gunn could still host and his tag line could be something like, “Ask yourself, would Nina eat off this floor? Make It Clean!”

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sugary Sunday

Lately, I have been in the mood for desserts. I think that the desserts were the only thing I ate at our party on Wednesday. This may be a small part of the reason that my hangover lasted until yesterday. My favorite thing we served was the “Turtle” Pretzels. I can’t remember where I found these online, but there are a bunch of sites out there that describe how to make them. These are the easiest thing I have allowed myself to serve at a party. Here’s what you do:

Take a bunch of mini pretzels and place a Rolo candy on top of each one on a baking sheet covered with wax/parchment paper. Be careful if you are trying to use the store brand of chocolate caramel candies, because they didn’t work well for me. You bake these at 350 for 3-5 minutes or until the candies start to look soft. You don’t want them to melt all the way. When you pull them out of the oven, immediately push a pecan onto the top of the Rolo to mush the chocolate down. I stuck the whole baking sheet in the freezer for a couple minutes so they would set and then stored them in an air tight container. Delish!

I don't know what is going on with my sweet tooth, because this morning I was craving something sugary, too. I pulled out a recipe I learned at a Pampered Chef party and it hit the spot. I baked a cherry cream cheese ring on my Pampered Chef pizza stone. Here is the recipe:

1 cup of cherry pie filling
½ cup (4 oz.) softened cream cheese
1 pkg refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white lightly beaten
1 tbsp slivered almonds

Mix together cherry pie filling and soften cream cheese. Lay out crescent rolls on a pizza stone or pan so that the wide edges are in the middle and the pointed edges hang off the sides of the round pan. Spoon the filling mixture around the ring and fold over the edges to create a "ring". (This is the same process that I use for my Chicken and Broccoli Wreath.) I brush the egg white on the top of the crescent rolls and sprinkle almonds on the top. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


What an exciting night it was. Do you have any idea how hard it was to keep that a secret? I don’t do secrets, ask anyone. The party turned out spectacular. We had 24 guests to share the moment with. Everyone screamed and toasted champagne when the winner, MY BROTHER, was announced. It felt like New Years Eve. I’ll have to watch the show again without guests so I can catch all the little moments. There was so much cheering and laughing that I’m sure I missed some things. I can’t believe how much air time I got! I thought maybe a glimpse from the front row, but there were a ton of of shots. Every time my face flashed on the screen the group went wild. It was so much fun. One of my friends said that she had gotten her hair done right before the show and overheard two women talking in the salon and say something to the affect of, “I heard Christian’s sister lives here in Arkansas and is having a big party tonight, wish I was invited.” Isn’t that crazy?

We had the whole living room set up to look like the fashion week tent. We hung white bed sheets from the ceiling fan and down the wall, brought out all of our folding chairs and even painted a wooden runway. I made goodie bags for all of our guests. In the goodie bags was a photocopy of the TRESemme add in Elle Magazine, (I didn't invest in a copy for everyone) a travel sized TRESemme hair spray, a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups, a package of Kleenex with a sticker “Hold for Ricky” and an autographed photo of my little brother (curtsey of Brad Walsh). People went crazy for those goodie bags.

The pictures didn’t turn out very good, but we were so crazy with party prep we weren’t worried about good pictures. Sorry.

I will post more about the party later this week. I have more pictures and some great easy recipes that I want to share.

Thank you all for the amazing messages the past week. I really do appreciate all the kind words for my brother and me. It makes my day to get messages from his admirers.

Monday, March 3, 2008

My Favorite Designer

The anticipation is killing me! With only two days left until the finale of Project Runway, I’m already feeling a little sad that it’s going to be over. What will I do with my Wednesday nights? Thank goodness for Top Chef to fill my void, but it won’t be the same. I have lived a plane ride away from my little brother for the last 4 years and watching the show was a way for me to see him, see what he is doing and get to know more about his adult life. When I left for college, he was just starting high school and just learning about his artistic abilities. From the time he was little we knew he was going to be a successful artist, but had no idea it all would happen so quickly and develop into such an amazing form. I don’t want to get too sappy because he will read this and kill me, but I’m so incredibly proud that I can hardly contain myself. It has been so fun to hear from old friends, past acquaintances and people that I’ve met only a few times. Everyone is so excited to know someone who knows him or tell me about their memory of him when he was the little brother tag along. Now when I go to visit him in NYC, I’m the tag along and I love every second of it. I don’t know how much sleep I will get in the next two nights because party plans are running through my head. I’ve prepared and revised the menu multiple times and I think Evan has reached his tolerance level for the furniture rearranging. It will come and go in a flash. While you are watching on Wednesday, keep an eye out for me in the front row at the Bryant Park show. I tried to keep a smile the whole time so if the camera caught me I wouldn’t be picking my nose. We’ll see how that worked out.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Soda Can Tin Stars

Party preparation has begun! I’ve spent all day today cleaning and rearranging. My kittens haven’t enjoyed it as much as I have. They don’t like the vacuum. I don’t want to post too many details about my party plan so that my guests will be surprised. But I did want to share these because they are so darn cute. My party theme colors are black, white and silver. These stars made out of a soda can are the perfect silver accent. I got this idea from a post on craft during the holiday. These little stars were surprisingly very easy to make. I simply cut off the top and bottom of my can with tin snips. (I drink a lot of diet coke, so I had plenty of materials to work with.) After my can could lay flat, I traced a star shape in permanent maker. I could fit two stars on one can and the star cut out is easy straight lines. After my shapes were cut out, I used a ruler to fold at each point. Be careful because the points are sharp. These will be the perfect decoration on my table.

Project Runway Finale Count Down: 4 Days