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5.22.2008

Mmm, Strawberry Season!



The strawberry man is back.

Aw hells yeah.

In May and June, the strawberry man parks in front of a nearby gas station and sells the most amazing, freshly-picked-that-day fruit. The first time I tasted one, I had a total food-gasm. Juicy, tangy, sweet, light as air, warm as sunlight.

We got two buckets last year - one for freezing (smoothies!) and one for baking. This year, we're doubling it. I've already frozen the two pictured above, and I'm anxious for more.

I'm thinking: Strawberry pie. Strawberry jam. Strawberry shortcake.



No. Not her. What's up with the sweater tied around her jeans? Strawberries = summer. Aren't long sleeves more than enough? I mean, does she have a circulation problem? Should I be concerned?


Sadly, not her either. Although I never realized (until now) what a peculiar combination of Holly Hobbie and Raggedy Ann she was. And what's she hiding under that muffin-top hat? A herd of Oompa Loompas? Personally, I hope she's dreaded like an Irish Bob Marley.


To celebrate the season, I thought I'd share the recipe for the world's best strawberry pie, received from a coworker via copious amounts of begging.

(By the way, I'm still looking for the world's best strawberry rhubarb pie. Do you -- or your grandmother -- have a favorite recipe you'd care to share?)




Lynn the Librarian's Strawberry Pie

1 qt. strawberries
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup water
1/2 - 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 9" baked pie crust (I use the single pie crust recipe from ye old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, but any HOMEMADE crust will do.)


Wash & stem berries.

Mix 3 cups of berries with powdered sugar and let stand one hour.

Cook remaining 1 cup berries with 1 cup water until soft. Rub through sieve; save liquid.

Mix granulated sugar & cornstarch with liquid from powdered sugar & strawberries. Add to sieved strawberry mix. Bring to boil & cook until clear and thick.

Arrange whole berries in pie shell. Pour hot glaze over & chill.

Eat & weep with joy.


*****


Oh, and it has been brought to my attention that I am missing a CRUCIAL BLUE-HAIRED CELEBRITY. Gwen Stefani!


Sorry, Gwen. Welcome to my menagerie.


I think I forgot about her because I prefer her platinum look. (Though the blue is still excellent, and the pink was also pretty great.) But what girl at my high school didn't want to be Gwen in the "Just A Girl" video? She was so wicked cool. She dated the cute bassist, had amazing abs, wrote kick-ass girl power lyrics, rocked some tall hair, and MADE HER OWN CLOTHES!

Gotta love a girl who can DIY. She really loved her Bedazzler.

Maybe I should get a Bedazzler.


"I'm in the lab all day/I Scrabble all night/I got a Bedazzler/So my outfit's tight."


Hmm. I wonder if Gwen -- or Adrock -- has a strawberry rhubarb pie recipe they'd like to share with us?

(OH MAN. WE SHOULD TOTALLY HAVE A PIE AND BEDAZZLER PARTY.)

5.18.2008

Lewis @ The Orange Peel 5/17/08



For the second weekend in a row, I got to see an amazing rock show. And this one was even better because it was my husband Jarrod's band, Lewis! Playing at THE ORANGE PEEL! For those of you who don't live in the Asheville area, The Orange Peel is only the coooolest club in town. And we aren't the only ones who think so - Rolling Stone recently named them one of the top five venues in the COUNTRY.

So. This was an awesome honor.

Lewis sounded AMAZING. Leslie and I totally got to be groupies, and it was SO MUCH FUN. Perhaps I'm a wee biased, but the turnout was great and the crowd had a blast. There was such a positive feeling in the air.

The night also featured my favorite new Jarrod drumming moment: Rocking out so hard his glasses flew off. That's nerd hardcore, dude.

We were happy to have so many of our friends join us, including the fabulous Brian and Kelly, who came up from Atlanta (yay!). Kelly took some great pictures:


Matt & Jarrod


Matt, Jarrod, & Jeff


Jarrod & Matt


Tyler, Matt, & Jeff('s hand)


Jarrod & Matt


Aren't they cute? Yeah. Not only are they incredible musicians, they're also way hot. I'm totally lucky.

If you missed the show, check out their MySpace. My favorite songs are "A Tear" and "Say Goodbye." Hope we see you there next time!

5.16.2008

Recommended Read: Before I Die


I'm a bit weirded out by this comment on Amazon: "It's unfortunate, and frankly a bit surprising to me that this lovely, heartbreaking, yet ultimately life affirming book has been relegated to the young adult sections of bookstores."

Wait. Why is it unfortunate it's in the young adult section?

"I don't believe I care for the implication, at all!" says Lady Huffington-Snodburry, my Victorian-era alter ego.


Lady Huffington-Snodburry


Ugh. I could go off on this particular subject for days, but I'd rather not. So I'm skipping ahead to the happy stuff.

Yay! Happy stuff!

Er, though it won't SOUND happy because, frankly, Jenny Downham's Before I Die doesn't SOUND happy either. But it is. Really.

As you've guessed from the title, this novel is about a dying girl. Awful, right? Well. I'd like to state for the record that I'm NOT normally attracted to books about dying people. I read enough of those in high school. I read for pleasure now. And dying people? Not so pleasurable.

But Tessa's story is about life, not death. You see, she creates a list of things to do before she dies--

Wait. This is starting to sound like The Bucket List.

Ohmystars, I assure you it's NOT. I suppose the biggest difference between this and the hundreds of Hallmark drabble like it is the perspective. Tessa wants sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And she gets it all within the first few chapters. And then what? Well, that's what the story is really about.

The point of view is fascinating. It's told in first person present tense. And you know she's going to die. In the present tense. So how does THAT work? There were so many ways for this book to cheese out, but I LOVED the way Downham handled it.

I finished this in one sitting. Bet you will too.


Read this if you like: Realistic, narrator-driven fiction. Or if you need a good cry.

If you like this, read: Looking for Alaska by John Green and How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

5.10.2008

Radiohead in Charlotte 5/9/08

Photos courtesy of Crystal Floyd. Thanks!


"Have fun at The Radio Heads."

That's what Jarrod's coworker said to him before he left work on Friday. Cute!

So My Favorite Band In The Whole Wide World came to Charlotte this weekend. I mean, I'm the kind of fan who, when Radiohead announced they were giving away their new album FOR FREE, happily shelled out $70 for the special Discbox instead (regular CD, bonus CD, artwork, & vinyl).

And I only have one sticker - a rare thing in Asheville - decorating the back of my car: the Radiohead bear.

So driving a couple hours to see them? No problem. You know I had to be there.

This was my second Radiohead show, and it was as fantastic as the first. (I hope there will be a third, a fourth, a fifth...) They outdid themselves with the stage setup this time - gorgeous colorful lighting and beautiful live video feed - all very moody and atomospheric, all very Radiohead.




And the sound. Was. Incredible.

I'm sorry to get all weird and New Age-y, but I literally felt the music enter my body. It reminded me of that wonderful Kurt Vonnegut quote: "The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music."




Oh, how I love thee, Thom Yorke.

As usual, the band was good to their fans. It was quite a setlist:

All I Need
There There
Airbag
15 Step
Nude
Sail to the Moon
Weird Fishes/ Arpeggi
Myxomatosis (Yay! I really wanted this one.)
Idioteque (This one too.)
Morning Bell
Videotape
Optimistic (What a great surprise. Wasn't expecting this.)
Where I End and You Begin
You and Whose Army?
Everything In Its Right Place
Bangers + Mash
Bodysnatchers (Ooo, pretty rainbow lights!)

FIRST ENCORE:
Go Slowly
Talk Show Host
Exit Music (For A Film)
Planet Telex
House of Cards

SECOND ENCORE:
Paranoid Android (Soooo good.)
Reckoner


That's TWENTY-FOUR SONGS! And it's not like their songs are short.

Okay, enough geeking out. I'll just leave you with one more tiny list.


Four cool things observed during the show:


- Lightning
- Thom Yorke playing drums (during "Bangers + Mash")
- A butterfly
- Tibetan flags on stage


*****

Speaking of Tibet: Have you read this article ("A Monk's Struggle" by Pico Iyer) about the Dalai Lama? Fascinating.

5.07.2008

Last Weekend + Blue Hair Update



Last weekend, Jarrod and I found a store I've heard rumors about - a bulk Amish foods store in Mars Hill. And check out our haul! We went in for a treat or two and wound up with more than we could carry. Super cheap organic bulk food, plus lots of Amish goodies (pumpkin butter & fig jam & cheeses) and dried fruit (mangoes & papayas & strawberries). YUM! We'll definitely be going back.

Afterwards, we drove into downtown Asheville with the vague idea of buying some art. Our walls have been looking bare lately. Nothing sparked our interest, but I DID find a pretty necklace at Woolworth Walk. It was made by Honeybee Handmade Jewelry, and it has blue and green and teal beads on crocheted copper wire. It matches my hair! You can sort of see it in this picture:



This is the first picture of myself on this blog. It looks like one of those restaurant reviewer pictures in the newspaper, although I'd be a pretty terrible reviewer with my blue hair. Couldn't exactly be sneaky.


So speaking of BLUE HAIR, an update:

- I LOVE IT! So, so happy. I've decided to keep it for (at least) the summer. Probably longer.

- I have to remember to pick up fallen hair in the bathroom. If I leave any in the shower or sink, they leave little blue trails behind when swept up!

- My hair grows fast. I already have considerable roots. Poo.

- Midnight blue fades to blue-blue which fades to peacock blue. But all of the colors match my new necklace! Ha ha!


And I have a few more celebrities to add to my Blue-Haired Menagerie:




Aquamarine! A mother and daughter duo reminded me about her at work. Which made me happy, because that movie was totally a guilty pleasure. Tween movies always are. Shh, don't tell.




Cia Soro from the Swedish ex-band Whale. One of my husband's favorites. (The band AND the girl.) You may remember their single "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe" from the mid '90s. And if you don't, you think I just made that name up.




Matthew Lillard in SLC Punk! Dude, I loved this movie. I watched it like four times in the theater and played the soundtrack to DEATH. Would I still like the film today? Who knows, but I do still love his hair. How could I have forgotten Stevo?


Time to bake some cookies. Let me know if I'm missing someone...

5.01.2008

In Which You Learn The Real Reason I Read So Many Books & I Create Another List


Let's get superficial. What do the above novels have in common? I mean, besides being: (A) Awesome, (B) Books I Own, and (C) Awesome.

Think about it for a moment. Give up?

CUTE BOYS.

Oh, yeah. I said it.

As my very good-natured husband will attest, the first thing I do when reading a book jacket is determine if there will be kissing. What? I say, holding the latest Oprah pick. No kissing?

WHAT IS THE POINT OF A BOOK WITHOUT KISSING??

None. Zero. Zip. That's what.

Okay. Obviously, that's not completely true, but still - the love story is the major factor I consider when choosing my next reading material. And I'm not talking about bodice-ripping, nipple-tweaking romance, I'm talking about TRUE LOVE.

And what is true love without a beautiful boy? A really, really beautiful hot boy? A really, really beautiful hot boy who hopefully has a lot of page time?

So, without further ado, please allow me to present:


STEPHANIE'S TOP TEN HOTTEST HOTTIES IN LITERATURE

(That's right. Hottest hotties.)


Runner Up Hottie - Gogu (Wildwood Dancing)



I sooo wanted to put Gogu in my Top Ten, but as he's actually a frog, it seemed unfair to the other candidates to be ranked with an amphibian. But trust me, Gogu? TOTALLY HOT. If you have any interest in fairy tale retellings, and if you like cute boys (who may or may not happen to have suction cup toes), read this book! One of my absolute all-time favorites.


#10 - Robbie Turner (Atonement)


I'd like to say the fact that Robbie Turner is on my list has NOTHING TO DO with James McAvoy, but that's probably not true. Still, the fact remains that Ian McEwan (one of only two male authors on this list, hmm) created an amazing romantic novel with a tortured, passionate boy who never, ever, ever stops lusting after his True Love. Even when her family is crazy and sends him to jail. Even when the Germans are trying to kill him in the trenches. Even when . . . well, I don't want to ruin the surprise, now do I?


#9 - Shrimp (Gingerbread series)


Shrimp is a pint-sized artist, spiky-haired surfer, owner of a mini Nestle Crunch bar tattoo, and the love of Cyd Charisse's life. Too bad they just can't seem to make it work. Shrimp is probably the most flawed boy on my list - he refuses to play nice with her brother and he flies away frequently and without notice - but Shrimp always comes back. He keeps trying. Like the main character, he's grown and matured throughout the series and that, my friends, is hot. Soul Mate City.


#8 - Stephen Colly (I Capture the Castle)


Stephen, Stephen, Stephen! Your passionate declarations to Cassandra on pp. 251-253 had me weeping. WEEPING. No boy in literature has ever done that to me before or since. I would give you much a higher ranking had only your feelings been reciprocated. I'm so sorry.


#7 - Remus Lupin (Harry Potter series)


I realize it's much cooler to be in love with Sirius Black or, I don't know, HARRY, but alas, it's the werewolf in the shabby clothing who stole my heart. He's just so nice. And I don't see nice often enough. He's the first person who shows genuine kindness towards Neville Longbottom (not from guilt or obligation), and he's the first person Harry learns was friends with his parents.

Tonks totally knew where it was at.


#6 - Joe Kavalier (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay)


Tortured artists! What is it with girls and tortured artists? I don't know, but I totally fell for this one. This book was so amazing and epic and cool, and I dreamed of Joe for like six months afterwards. No exaggeration. Wish I could give more details here, but it's been a few years since I've read it. About time I read it again.


#5 - Jamie Fraser - and Fergus! (Outlander series)


That gravestone says "Clan Fraser" if you can't read it. Creepy, yes, but also the most appropriate picture I could find. So three words best describe James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser: Loyalty. Passion. Kilt.

Who cares if he can't hum a tune, or if he's a wee bit overprotective? He's JAMIE. And when the bad guys have kidnapped you and are threatening rape and death, you'd better believe he's going to find you. And destroy the bad guys. Violently.

And, I'm cheating here, but I have to mention Fergus too. When he reappears inside the brothel in Voyager, he's described like some kind of handsome, wild French pirate. Hello. Who cares if he only has one hand? He clearly only needs one to get down to business.


#4 - Jesse de Silva (Mediator series)


So before you accuse me of creating this post just to get another picture of Gael Garcia Bernal on my blog, hear me out. I once read that Meg Cabot based Jesse de Silva, looks-wise, on Gael. And to this I'd like to say - HOLLYWOOD. HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

Jesse is the hot ghost who has been haunting Carmel, CA for the last 150 years. Suze is the mediator who can see and talk to ghosts. They fall in love, but naturally, it's a little hard to date a ghost who no one else can see. Who also happens to live in your bedroom. The romantic tension in this series is sooo good, and I can't be the only girl who faints with delight every time Jesse says, "Querida."


#3 - Michael Moscovitz (Princess Diaries series)


Meg Cabot has this romantic hero thing down pat. Jesse and Michael flip back and forth in my mind as favorite, but since I just finished Princess Mia (the last two in this series have been SO GOOD), Michael Moscovitz takes the edge today. Smart (he's building a robotic surgical arm in Japan), nerdy (loves Star Wars and Buffy), and rock and roll (he had a band for several years called Skinner Box), Michael is a Super-Hottie.

Robert Schwartzman/Carmine (Jason's younger brother), lead singer of uber-cool band Rooney, played him in the movie. I totally approve of this, even though the plot is way different from the books.


#2 - Edward Cullen (Twilight series)

Sorry. No pictures. I've seen a few from the movie, and I'm quite skeptical. I mean, I'm sorry. Cedric Diggory is NOT Edward Cullen. I would have liked to have been present for the casting session.

CASTING DIRECTOR: "We think you'll like this next one, Stephanie. He's been ranked as the most attractive person on the planet for the last three years and counting."

ME: "Yes, but does his skin glitter?"

(But if you're curious, check out the Twilight footage here. I'm still totally seeing it, despite my reservations.)

Anyway. Onto the REAL EDWARD. The most beautiful hundred-year-old boy with marble cold skin ever (sorry, Jesse). Who happens to be a vampire. Who thirsts for the blood of one girl.

Just one.

And THAT'S why he's hot. If he Edward wanted a piece of everyone, he'd be just another Anne Rice wannabe. But there's only one girl in the last century who has ever challenged his morality. Bella Swan. And what girl wouldn't risk her neck - pun most definitely intended - for immortality with Edward Cullen?


#1 - Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)


Who else?

I mean, really. Come on.

There's not even much I can say here other than this:
OH MY GOD MR DARCY IS SO FREAKING HOT AND HE'S ALL STUFFY AND UPTIGHT AND RUDE BUT HE'S REALLY NOT HE'S JUST SHY. AND HOT. TOTALLY HOT. DID I MENTION HOW HOT MR DARCY IS???

I could have filled this whole countdown with Men of Austen, so here are my other favorites: Mr. Knightley (Emma), Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey), and Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility).

Col. Brandon = the Remus Lupin of Jane Austen, FYI.

But back to Mr. Darcy. AHHHHH!! Squeeeeal! Mr. Darcy Mr. Darcy Mr. Darcy!

YES!!!!!!!!!

-----

So. Now that I've embarrassed myself -- but not really, because I'd totally do it again, just to have an excuse to spend another evening thinking about The Cute Boys of Literature -- who are your favorites?
 


2009 Stephanie Perkins. All rights reserved.