Showing posts from July, 2011

Tasty Thursday: The Best Cake Ever

This cake takes a long time to make, but it is SO worth it. I have made it a few times for special occasions. The first time I made it was for my mom's birthday several years delicious! A word of advice: some people don't like the dual frosting thing (whipped cream in layers and cream cheese on top). Personally, I like the whipped cream as my entire frosting, but that is just me! Also, give yourself plenty of time to make this one!


Try it. You won't be sorry. :)

Sort of Wordless Wednesday:

We didn't take any photos of Casey when he was really small, because we didn't think we would be able to keep him. I found this photo of a shepherd/chow mix on a web site this morning, and, if you just reversed the dark hair on the puppy's face to be around the mouth and the light hair to be on his head, this looks JUST LIKE Casey as a puppy!! I love it! Same look in the eyes (though Casey's were lighter) and everything! Adorable!!

What is so amazing to me: the ears. Casey had fur on his ears that was soooo soft. I mean, I have never felt anything like it. And his ears were floppy, just like this dogs. The hair on the ears here is exactly the same as Casey's.

There are several more photos of the same dog here: Daily Puppy.

Seeing these photos did not make me sad at all. In fact, it was the most healing moment in this entire grieving process. Just to know that there are such close look-a-likes out there makes me happy. And, to see that they are loved just as much as …

I am coming back...

...I just need a small break right now, especially after this weekend. I hope everyone is doing well.

Casey Alexander (Dec. 25, 1995-July 23, 2011)

Dear sweet Casey,

You were the best friend and dog I ever had. Thank you for letting me share 15 wonderful years with you. You were that "special dog" that came along in my life. You were a warrior--stoic, loyal, and loving to a fault.

I named you Casey--just because it fit. I named you Alexander, after Alexander the Great, because I wanted you to be noble and brave. And you were. You survived the elements of a storm at three months old, yelping until someone found you. And I was the person lucky enough to be the one who did find you. I picked you up out of a thorn bush in the woods, at night in the pouring rain, and carried your fluffy little body across a creek and into my house. I washed you. The next day, I walked you all over the neighborhood, made signs to try to find your owners--but no one came. You were mine and I loved you.

You loved to run like a deer and sit as regal as a Sphinx, even though you were not a cat (I can see your look now, even at the mention of a cat.…

Friday Post

Sorry, everyone. It has been a rough day with the dog. Not a lot of time to post today. Will try to update this weekend.

Tasty Thursday: Ina Garten's Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

Oh, yeah...this is so good...

You may just want to skip the post and go straight to the recipe...
Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

Anyway, not only is this recipe really good, but I also have really fond memories of eating the end product at my friend Carol's house. It was the last time we were able to get together, just the two of us, before she moved to Nashville with her soon-to-be husband.

Carol, as most of my friends are, is older than me. We met in a Modern British poetry class, back in the fall of 2003. We were the only students who would talk, and soon we started forming a study group together. She had come back to school to get an MA in English (she already had a PhD in Psychology and had taught and practiced for years). She was experiencing some life-changing events around the time I met her, and she fed her soul through diving into what she called "the life of the mind."

We became great friends, and now I find it hard to believe that our friendship has spanned near…

Travel Tuesday: The Shelley Memorial

Everything in today's post stems from my encounter, at age 20, with the movie The Saint. In this movie, in case you have never seen it, Val Kilmer plays "The Saint," or Simon Templar, a rogue extortionist and black market trader in information who goes by many names. He has found out that Emma, played by Elizabeth Shue, has developed a priceless formula for cold fusion, and he has set out to find and seduce her, so that he can have an opportunity to steal the information and sell it. He discovers that she studies and works at Oxford University, and then breaks into her apartment and discovers things about her. One important detail is that she loves the Shelley memorial that is at University College in Oxford. (She loves poetry and beautiful quotations, I immediately latched on to her character when I saw the movie. She was everything I wanted to be.)

Anyway, in the video below, Simon is on a mission to seduce Emma and has altered his appearance, playing a role …

Mystery Monday...not much murder and mayhem to report...

The subject for today's post is Huguette Clark. A reclusive heiress who recently died at the age of 104, her life is as big of a mystery today as it was while she was living it. The mystery: was she mentally ill? I do not make light of this at all, as I have seen some journalists do over the last few months. If she was indeed mentally ill or unfit to make decisions, as I suspect she was, then this is one more case of gross abuse of someone vulnerable to everyone around her.

I really don't know what to make of this woman. For a great overview (what we know if it, anyway) of her life, see this New York Times article. She grew up in a wealthy home and, though devastated by the loss of her older sister, she seemed to be fairly socially active. After her brief marriage during her twenties, however, she lived in seclusion, rarely being seen by anyone.
Here are the basics of what happened from her marriage and after (from NYT article):

In 1928, at 22, she married William MacDonald G…

Irene M. Rector, my 2nd great grandmother

This is Irene M. Rector, at age 16, and she is the mother of my great grandmother who is pictured in the wedding dress (post a couple below this one). In this photo, she is wearing the tiara I am wearing (in that same post below).

Fandom Friday: HARRY POTTER!! :)

Well, yeah...

No, I haven't seen the movie yet. I absolutely hate crowds, so I will be waiting a few days...but that is okay. I know what happens. :)

In any case, I had to dedicate this "Fandom Friday" to Harry Potter, because it is the right thing to do. :)

It is only because of the series that I even know what the word "fandom" means. I had no idea about the crazy fan universe in place around this series. Then, about five years ago I was typing in all kinds of searches for HP related things, and soon I am jumping into the universe of fanfiction, HP conferences, podcasts, web sites--you name it.

Once I discovered Snapecast, I was in love. If you love Snape, and if you have never heard of Snapecast, then you absolutely must check it out! Granted, it is for the "mature" audience, for Snape fans can become a bit overzealous at times. However, that is also the reason Snapecast is so funny! The hosts are hilarious and the content is really good--but, again,…

Playing Dress Up:

Image, I did something tonight that I have ALWAYS wanted to do, but I just never have. So, my grandmother is in the hospital and my dad's oldest sister came up to help. She knows that I am really into studying our family's history and trying to figure out where we came from originally.

Well, two weeks ago, I found out that my fifth great grandfather was Eugenio Antonio Sierra, a Spanish doctor in Pensacola. Anyway, it solved a lot of mysteries, including: 1) where so many people in my dad's family get those gorgeous dark looks; and, 2) where the name Irene originated in our family. Well, it turns out that Eugenio had a daughter named Irene (my fourth great grandmother) and the name has been passed down since then.

So, back to my aunt:

Well, when I went out to the hospital this afternoon, she presented me with a small box of jewelry and other items that belonged to the Neville/Morrison/Sierra women. I brought them home to photograph and catalog, before giving them back …

Thank you to LMGM for letting me know!

LMGM's blog post about people ripping off our stuff.

He notified me that my material is on that site, too.

You rock, LMGM. I am adding you to my link list! And, thanks, again.

PS: Love the title of that post.

Tasty Thursday: Seven Layers of Sin Bars

Seriously, this is the best dessert. I love it! My mom found the recipe and made it for us a couple of years ago. So, I made it for our office Christmas food sharing, and it is now a demanded request! You won't regret it...(so easy, too)

Seven Layers of Sin Bars

1 stick butter, melted

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup flaked coconut

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Baker’s Joy/Cooking spray

First, spray the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan with Baker’s Joy (or other cooking spray to prevent sticking). Pour melted butter in the bottom of the pan. Then, sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over the butter. The third layer will be chocolate chips, followed by butterscotch chips. The fifth layer will be the chopped pecans, the sixth will be flaked coconut. For the seventh layer, pour the milk over the top. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Who knew Library of Congress would have photos of my family members??

This is my great grandfather, Herman J. Galloway. I love this photo because you can see a picture on his desk in the background...that photo is the same one we have of my grandmother and her twin sister.

(Source: Library of Congress)

This next photo shows my uncle Ugo Carusi. The photo of the two of us is HERE (you will have to scroll down). In this photo, he is the one standing (seated is Atty. Gen. Sargent)...

(Source: Library of Congress)


I am soooooo happy right now!! They did it! We got Snape as Headmaster of Hogwarts!!!

Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem Monday

Not that this is news, but today's post will probably be a bit eclectic...mainly because I am still exhausted and also because Blogger is acting up a bit for some reason! Anyway, today's topic of discussion: vampire fiction.

1. Novels about vampires and paranormal creatures usually address a combination of (or all three) today's key words.
2. I am taking on the role of contributing reviewer to SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!! I have admired their site for some time, so I was so happy when they offered me the chance to join their staff as a book review contributor. What better excuse to read?

In any case, I tried to think about the vampire books I have read over the years (and there have been many)...wondering what it is about vampires that draws so many people. There are plenty of critical discussions about all of this, but I don't feel like going into them. :)

My first exposure to vampires came through my mom. She loves scary movies and especially Chri…

Fandom Friday: Steampunk

So, Fridays I am planning to look at some fun web sites/stories/etc. dedicated to "fan culture." Today, we are venturing into the world of steampunk.

For a quick overview, check out: "What is Steampunk?. Another fun resource: The Steampunk Tribune.

I have to say that I don't know a ton about the steampunk movement myself, but I find it fascinating...mainly because it combines a strange mixture of the Victorian era and today. I read "Reclaiming the Machine," an article by Rebecca Onion in the first issue of the Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies (this article is free online and of excellent quality). In any case, the article is fascinating and gave me a whole new appreciation for a cultural/literary movement. Up until this point, I really was only drawn in by the pretty brass and clockwork gears.

Chances are, you have encountered aspects of steampunk at certain points. (And the soon-to-be-released movie Cowboys and Aliens can be categorized as steampunk in…

Wish I could see this...

Glamour of the Gods Exhibit.

The story behind all of this is amazing.

Taste Test Thursday


So, on Thursdays I am going to share a favorite recipe or food related information. Today, I thought I would just post a link to one of my absolute favorite dishes EVER:

Jamie Oliver's Perfect Roast Chicken.

Trust me: if you like chicken, you will love this recipe. And it is really easy to make.

I had an opportunity to eat at his restaurant in Oxford, while I was there with the UA at Oxford program a couple of years ago. It was amazing.

The faculty and I went out one evening during the last week of our trip, and we ended up at Jamie's Italian. From the outside, it doesn't look particularly lovely, but the food was fantastic that one of the first things I did when I returned to the states was to buy one of his cookbooks.

I also appreciate that he is trying to do something good for US children and families, teaching so many people about fresh food and good eating habits. A good meal, with really fresh ingredients, is a healing thing. It nourishes and it ma…

Hello to those of you in Morocco!!

I see some of the blog viewers today are from Morocco! So happy to have you here! I have always wanted to visit your country, and maybe one day I will have the opportunity. Peace and love to you. :)

Travel Tuesdays

Welcome to "Travel Tuesdays"...ah, yes. Alliteration is so unique. As I said, however, I need something to keep me posting on the blog, so this is day two of choosing topics that I don't mind writing about each week.

Now...about travel:

Compared to some people I have traveled quite a bit. Compared to others, not at all. During my life, I have been up and down the East coast, visiting New York City, Washington, D. C., and several other places. I have spent considerable time in the Midwest and attended events and interviews in Chicago and Indianapolis. I have been in Florida and around the Southeast countless times, and tracked down Anne Rice's home in New Orleans (I didn't get to see her, but I did see her dog). I have flown in and out of Texas several times. But, as far as my experiences in the United States...well, that is it. I have never been out West (but I want to go), Canada, Alaska, or Hawaii.

As far as going outside of the United States, I have spent con…

Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem Monday

I am going to forgo the obvious and NOT talk about the Casey Anthony trial...because everyone else is talking about it and I really just don't see the point of adding my voice to the circus. So, I thought that I would talk about one of my favorite mystery series today.

In general, I don't read a lot of mysteries. When I do, I need a series and I need an author capable of creating really appealing characters (well, appealing to me, anyway). There are a few series like this that I have come across, but my favorite happens to be Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily series.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this series! I can't recommend it enough! Emily is smart and complex...just believable in general. Her love interest, Colin, is amazing as but not stifling. He is alpha without being demeaning. I love him. Even more than Nathaniel Bonner from Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness...and that is saying something. :)

Anyway, the series takes place in Victorian England (well, for the mo…

Changing things up a bit!

So, I have decided that I need to keep myself posting every is like therapy for me! So, because I love to read and write and talk about popular culture/movies/songs etc, I am designating different days to discuss different topics. I will still post my rants and thoughts and things in separate posts...but, just so that I know for sure that I will post regularly, I am deciding to take different days to discuss different things! :)

Sooo...Mondays will be "Murder, Mystery, Mayhem" centric. :)

Hopefully, this will keep me inspired until I feel the need to change things up again!