Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pandora Radio

Today's Share: Chris sent this to me earlier in the week & I'm hooked. Pandora Radio builds a playlist/radio station from a song you choose -- much like the Genius mode on iTunes. I'm sure there are other programs that do something similar, but this is working great for me.

I needed music that wouldn't have me distracted and singing along. I typed in Brandi Carlile (I have a thing for her voice) & the Brandi Carlile station (that plays all sorts of artists in the same mood, including her) has been a constant background while I'm working. Finally, music I can work to!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recipe Rursday: Jalapeno Corn Bread

Jalapeno Corn Bread (Jiffy-Style)
  • 1 pkg. "JIFFY" Corn Muffin Mix (Don't judge, people. 2 boxes for $1 at Stop&Shop)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 C buttermilk (I used what we had - 2%)
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 4 jalapeno peppers - cored, seeded & diced
  • 1 small red pepper, diced (skipped this)
  • 4 T margarine or butter, diced
Preheat oven to 400F, grease 10" cast iron skillet and preheat skillet in oven. Combine egg yolks, buttermilk and sour cream; mix well. Add muffin mix and diced peppers; mix until moist. Whip egg whites to stiff peaks (masterfully whipped by Chris' arm, since we don't have an electric mixing device) and fold them & butter pieces into batter. Pour mixture into heated skillet. Bake 25-30 minutes.

This was a great dish. My only complaint was that it had too much moisture in the center of the bread. I'm guessing I could have baked it longer, or using buttermilk instead of 2% would've made the mix more thick (and easier to set). Or maybe it was not being able to whip the egg whites stiff enough. I was overruled by 2 people & told not to change a thing, but I'd change it up anyway. I'm stubborn like that.

To Do List

Busy, busy week. Another completed grant proposal to submit tomorrow (yea!). I can't believe how much work I've done, since we moved into the new place. Good vibes, most definitely. Mike coming into town tomorrow (yea!). Package to pack up and send out, neither of us have been to the grocery store in 2 weeks, and appointments to schedule (med. clinic, haircut, and plumber). Ack!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Food Stamp Prog. in RI (follow-up)

Following up on this post, here's an update from the Projo NewsBlog:

RI promises streamlined food stamp program, Mon, Feb 23, 2009, By Paul Davis.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- State officials will soon make it easier to get food stamps. The changes, announced today, include hiring nine more workers to help with a surge in demand. Other changes include a streamlined application process with a one-year service span. Currently, recipients must reapply every six months.

Also, the state Department of Health and Human Services will reach out to workers who have recently lost jobs. About 20,000 people receiving unemployment benefits will get notices of the program. More than 90,000 people now get help through the food stamp program.

The measures will help individuals and families obtain nutritional meals and increase federal dollars coming into Rhode Island's economy, acting Secretary Gary D. Alexander said."Rhode Island is working hard to ease access to food assistance for recently unemployed individuals, elderly populations, and individuals with disabilities," he said. "Program simplification is the quickest way to serve those most in need."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lone Bird

Lone Bird, view from our office. Taken 2/11/09.
(with PhotoBlast actions)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Heart Bokeh

Today's Share: I keep coming back to isphotography's page, to drool over her prints. So pretty.
My favorite (left) seems to be out of print or missing from the listing, but you can see it in her 5x7 sale ad - soft lights strung through the street. I'm guessing...created with a heart shaped lens cover to make the heart bokeh.

Update: My fav (Looking for Love) is once again in-print. I just love the tones in it. But, to be fair, they're all gorgeous.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Evening Snow

Providence. Taken, 2/18/09.
My parents are in FL sitting outside right now. Here, it snowed last night. Again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recipe Rursday: Artichoke & Pepper Bake

An easy tasty bake, from a few weekends ago. Taken 2/6/09.

Artichoke & Roasted Red Pepper Dip (Appetizer),
from's Southern food site.
  • 1 C grated Parmesan
  • 1 C mayonnaise (less & the light mayo work fine)
  • 12-14 oz. artichoke hearts, drained, not marinated (I used a giant jar from BJs)
  • 1/8 t. garlic powder
  • 1/8 t. onion powder
  • 1/4 C minced roasted red pepper (I doubled the peppers)
Combine all ingredients (in food processor); spread in a pie plate or shallow baking dish. Bake at 350F for 30 min. Other options: Serve cold or heat in the oven for 10 min at 350F. Do not reheat in the microwave (dip might separate). Serve with crackers or scoops. If you use the giant jar of artichoke hearts, this makes quite a large dip - perfect for a small party. I think Brian & Chris finished off the left overs at breakfast. The clean dish spoke for itself.

Next week: Chris' go at Asparagus, Artichoke, & Shiitake Risotto.

Ice Skating, Continued

Another crazy face for the books from Chris... Below are a bunch of photos from ice skating in downtown Providence, this past Saturday. Danielle & Trey's relaxing visit involved homemade dinners, ice skating ($7/person with a coupon, nice), and a drink at Tazza. Danielle showed up wanting to be crafty and with no prodding at all, she was working on her first scrapbook page. Crazy! I'm lucky to call her a good friend and so glad she & Trey drove up for the weekend.
taken 2/14/09.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Food Stamp Concerns in RI

A fellow staff member at Street Sights today mentioned that she's covering an interesting story in Providence -- that local advocates are requesting an increase in the number of RI government employees hired to oversee the distribution of food stamps, as well as the removal or revision of the current assets-test used to determine eligibility. I'll post a link to the issue, if we cover this story in next month's Street Sights. ***Channel 10 (NBC) was present at this morning's protest. Click here for the Channel 10 video.

Also, the February issue of Street Sights, including our first report on the tent city in Providence, is now available online. You can find it here (be patient, it takes a while to fully load) or at the main website for Street Sights.

Trey & Danielle

Bank of America Skating Center. Providence, 2/14/09.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ice Skating & a Broken Toe (not from ice skating)

Yesterday Danielle, Trey (who are in town visiting from nyc), and Chris and I went ice skating in downtown Providence. Someone should've slapped us, the whole thing was too cute. More pics to come.

Foot update: Late last night I smashed my foot on the corner of the couch. Ouch. No, really, ouch! Today, after the whole foot turned purple, I had it x-rayed. Diagnosis: broken toe - fracture at the metatarsal-phalangeal joint. Ugh. "Don't bend your foot or you will re-fracture it with every step...elevate, use ice to reduce swelling, and don't go back to yoga for 6 weeks." Are you kidding me? Once again, I am reminded of my relationship to Mr. Glass.

Latest on the toe.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day gifts

  1. Free Downloadable Art at Indie Fixx.
  2. 50%-off coupon for ice-skating in Providence.
  3. Downloadable fortune cookies at Design. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
  4. Quick visual game, posted by How About an Orange.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Skylight & Musings about Friends

Skylight, 2/5/09.

This week, especially, after having a relaxing (lovely) dinner with Ben & Saida on Wednesday, I'm reminded of the fact that spending time with friends can actually be a mini-vacation from the stresses of the everyday. Good friends tend to speak your language (so that not everything out of your mouth requires qualification or tiptoeing). They tend to be people who laugh when they actually think something is funny, smile when they mean it, and treat you like an adult if there's a problem. And good friends let you sound off, or can sound off to you about their lives, without regretting it later.

I haven't seen Danielle in over a year, but I know we'll pick up this weekend right where we left off, without any pretenses. Given the daily (minor, but exhausting) dramas that have been stalking both Chris & I, as of late, I'm looking forward to a break--where I get to catch up with an old friend and neither Chris nor I have to meet anyone's expectations.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another Share

Sharing: photo of spaghetti head (from Dooce)

Recipe Rursday: Guiness Cupcakes

Last weekend, I made a ridiculous number of Guinness cupcakes--and yes, I think the Guinness really adds something. These aren't super sweet cupcakes, which is my preference for desserts. I've included the cream cheese icing details, though I used store-bought. Next time, I'll cut the recipe in half, since this makes 24 cupcakes. Luckily I had two trays!Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes, published by CHOW (makes 24)
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness stout
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

[ For the frosting: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened;1/3 C. heavy cream; 1 lbs. confectioners’ sugar;Cocoa powder, for dusting]

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Guinness, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, and baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet Guinness mixture.
  4. Butter 24 muffin tins and divide the batter among the muffin tins.
  5. Bake 25 minutes, until risen and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out of the tins.
[To Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar. Top each cupcake with a heap of frosting and dust with cocoa.]
** For more recipes: RedPepperFlakes Recipe Archives.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Zen Habits on the topic of decluttering a room -- a methodical approach. Check it out here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Three of Us In a Boat

Brian came to visit this past weekend. I love it when he visits. He and Chris have been friends for so long, he feels more like family than anything else. The first time Brian visited us in Providence, he bullied us into trying sashimi for the first time. In honor of this great feat (and our subsequent addiction), we took him out for sushi. I requested that the server bring it in a boat -- because, if you have the option to eat out of a boat, why would you choose otherwise? I mean, really.This picture of Brian paddling home reminds me of the song, "Three of Us in a Boat," by Jackopierce. I may be only one of two or three people who remember this song, but I always loved the silliness of it: There's three of us in a boat/And it don't look like this boat's gonna float/There's three of us in a boat/and it won't float.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Street Sights, February Issue

This past Wednesday, the February edition of Street Sights came back from the printer and it is out on the streets of Providence. For me, it was the first issue released since I started working for the group and it was exciting to see the stacks and stacks of papers, counted out and bundled up for distribution day. Watching the paper go through every step of production revealed an impressive amount of work behind the scenes, month after month. I watched the group brainstorm for story ideas, submit first drafts of articles, second drafts, line up reporters & photographers for key events throughout the month, edit articles, debate layout issues, and edit and edit. The week before going to press, I was given the opportunity to write a short piece about the tent city in Providence (now self-named Hope City). It is so nice to be involved with this group.

The paper is distributed through local libraries, coffee shops, meal sites, shelters, churches, government buildings, and mailed out to subscribers. Street Sights reaches all kinds of people, who may or may not have ties to homelessness. The paper covers news, offers opinions, and space for advocates to promote change, while other parts of the paper give homeless individuals room for expression and artistic creations, without judgment. People are doing great work, everywhere I turn. My favorite part of the paper is "Faces of Homelessness," where individuals describe their experiences in shelters, or their snippets from their life-stories, and successes or talents are celebrated. I see this section as an active form of respect, but also as breaking through vicious stereotypes about homelessness and homeless people.

Moving Update

Mom requested an update, so here's an overview of the move: The big move went well. A few years back, while living in the Bronx, Chris & I had bought inexpensive, but high-quality (and very heavy) wooden dressers at a furniture thrift store. We also inherited an old heavy tv & a big cushy couch (thank you Ian & Tim!). We've moved them all ourselves, but, as we are no longer twenty-somethings, we hired professionals.

But as you might know, movers can be pricey, especially when charging by the hour. So, we made an effort to cut back on hours of the big move, by hauling boxes over in Baby Yaris the day prior. Sure enough, Chris bulldozed 1/2 the house and definitely saved us a few hundred dollars. On moving day, the movers themselves were great, hustling those heavy wooden dressers right up to the top floor of the new place. Mind you, two of them were twenty-somethings.

We've only been here for 7 days, but it feels like we've been settled in for a while. I unpacked like a crazy person this past week and just about every room has been set up, with the exception of the office (craft-room?)--a room we didn't have before. The walls are still bare, but that will change soon. Somehow, it has felt like home since day 1. The biggest perk so far has been being warm & not having to turn on the heat during the day. Moreover, our first out-of-town guest is in for the weekend and we even lit a fire in the fireplace (which felt ridiculously luxurious). Cat loves this new perk. Amy does too.
Cat's new favorite spot, taken 2/6/09.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Recipe Rursday: Easy Tree Bark

The recipe is actually called Crispy Chocolate Rice Bark, but Easy Tree Bark sounds funnier. Apparently this qualifies as a Weight Watchers recipe, in case you're looking to drop pounds (I've given up & decided that these are my winter cheeks). Plus, Easy Tree Bark only uses 2 ingredients:
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups (4 oz) crisp rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies®
Instructions (adapted from the WW site):
1. Sprinkle a large baking sheet with drops of water, then cover with wax paper. Set aside.
2. ...Place half the chocolate in a large glass bowl and microwave on high in 15-second increments, stirring after each, until melted. [A]dd the remaining chips to the melted chocolate and stir until all is fully melted.
3. Stir in the cereal until evenly coated, then pour onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading the mixture a little thicker than 1/4 inch with an offset metal spatula or a rubber spatula. Set aside to cool at room temperature until crispy, about 4 to 6 hours (or leave covered with parchment paper on the counter over night). Slice the bark into small rectangles.I'm not a big sweet tooth, so these are perfect for me - crispy & not too sweet!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Costs of Consumption

In the Business Ethics class I taught last spring, I spent a bit of time talking about Walmart's "incredibly low prices". On the surface, low prices seem to be a way to meet the needs of the working class and those in poverty, who might struggle to buy milk, healthy food, or winter clothes for their family. Why would anyone, then, have a complaint about low costs or want to rein corporations, like Walmart? Isn't getting more for less money always the preferable choice?

Externalizing Costs: We could talk about the impact companies like Walmart have on local businesses, or the ethical problem of price gouging, or even the effect a corporation's size has on our choices (products barred or products carried). Instead, the behind-the-scenes process of "externalizing costs" seems to be the real problem, partially because we claim no responsibility for the damage it might do, but we support the process in our buying practices. When a company "externalizes the cost of a product," it means that the company does not charge us for the materials and labor that goes into the production of the product. Instead, we are charged less because the company passes the costs off to others, while passing the savings on to us. The company externalizes the costs by pursing cheap labor at the manufacturing level or in-store through its employees, denying benefits to employees or factory workers, or prioritizing the pursuit of profit over considerations of impact on the consumer, the workers, the environment, etc). While there's more to the story, of course, this is one of the points raised in the video, The Story of Stuff. I found it to be worth watching.

The video isn't offering easy answers or conspiracy theories about the government (if you listen closely), but it is describing a process and marketplace invisible to us as consumers. So, regardless of the ethical imperative one might draw from this description -- that we ought to consume less and more thoughtfully -- at the very least, we should consider the impact our buying has on something as simple as our own happiness, or on the lives of workers who make and sell the products we consume. Watch the entire video here, at

Consuming Less: For those who do see an ethical imperative here or believe that consuming less is a better and more socially responsible way of living, you are in great company. The topic of consumption & stuff has been on my mind a lot lately, because we've spent the last month packing our things (into an absurd # of boxes) and now are slowly unpacking. The questions for us are 1) what can I get rid of, 2) where have I fallen into the trap of getting rid of things that work fine, only to unnecessarily replace them with new things, and 3) how can I stop this cycle?

Chris and I have been regularly making trips to the local Salvation Army, where our sellable donations are offered at discounted prices in their family stores. Profits from the sales contribute to social services and employment opportunities they offer to the community. Donations that cannot be sold because of wear or age, should be donated to churches or shelters that can pass on the donations quickly and directly to those in need.

There are other options as well (suggestions from my friend Rich):
(1) Freecycle - A community-based forum (organized by city) within the Yahoo forums. Post something on freecycle and it'll be gone in no time. And it may be more dependable than Craigslist.
(2) Craig's List - On craigslist you can either sell or give something away (see: Free section). You can either post your item(s) & schedule a pick-up time, or indicate that it is currently curbside and someone will probably come to you and haul it away. Rich suggests watching from the window, I suggest therapy for Rich.
(3) Recycling Electronics: This may take a Google search, but most cities have recycling programs for electronics. In RI, we have Rhode Island Electronics Recycling, and for Ink Cartridges, Ipods, and Cell Phones this site will allow help you mail them in for free recycling: Recycling For Charities.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Crazy Generous

These past two weeks I have seen a striking amount of generosity from the people around me. Elizabeth, who coordinates Street Sights, has welcomed me onto the staff and been generous with opportunities to help me find my fit. And the kind of work that I've been doing is the kind I would love to do for the rest of my life. I couldn't be happier or more excited about it. She's been a gift.

The people who I have met in the past few weeks, at Street Sights, at Tent City, at St. John's, and at the Coalition, are continually giving their possessions, food, time, and mental focus, to the people around them. I have repeatedly had homeless individuals sharing and giving me food, offering full meals, and offering chairs to sit or time to chat. Everyone I have met has been talented and kind. Not people who have talents but hoard them, trying to figure out how to make the most money possible with their skills, but people who are good at something or have something to give, simply give of themselves. I keep running into people who are not trying to change the world or appear socially progressive, but people giving out of impulse and fighting to improve the concrete conditions of their neighbors' lives. And across the board, the people who I have met in the last two weeks have been some of the least self-involved people I've met since in Providence.

On top of this, the friends we have here, and in some cases, people I barely know, couldn't have been more supportive and generous about our move to a new apartment. Chris' colleagues, and many of our friends, offered to help move boxes or heavy furniture and even help with packing (after driving up from Newport!). We were offered a break with extra tickets to a basketball game, a wonderful friend (also my new yoga partner) made food for us while our kitchen is packed up, and the well-wishes have been non-stop.

To be honest, I've found these last few weeks overwhelming because of the generosity I've seen and received. This kindness is the inspiring kind and it changes your day-to-day lives. Out of nowhere, overwhelming, and drawing forth gratitude. Thank you.