We got married on February 29–Leap day.   We got married after a long distance relationship that I described yesterday at lunch as ‘not dating.’  We didn’t really ever date in that traditional sense.  We knew each other for years – maybe 10 or 15 actually and had done loads of things together but mostly always in some sized group of friends.    In fact, we maybe only went on a handful of  what would strictly qualify as dates.   I don’t know if it is a result but our whole life is kind of now a date.  We do  most things together–because it’s fun.  I let him pay (‘The man pays’ he says) but in reality I just don’t want to carry my purse and why not? It’s fun to say thank you for things–makes life feel like a treat.   Makes all of life just a little sweeter.  It’s our ‘tradition.’  The more I thought about that idea of traditions the more I think that they are the things that make life a little bit sweeter.  If a tradition is simply a hateful chore you should probably think about changing that tradition.   It’s like letting go of a sour and negative friend.  It might hurt for a little bit but in the long run life is too short.tradicane

Traditions.    I vaguely remember thinking we wouldn’t ever have any when we first got married – no reason for that, just that I wasn’t clear-headed enough to see that we hadn’t had time to make them.  Time has passed and we now have some traditions that suit us.  This week we got to observe  one.  We went to dinner at Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen for dinner in honor of Bertha.  For each named Atlantic storm we head to Tibby’s to celebrate the hurricane (or tropical storm as it may be.)    So ‘God willin and da creek don’t rise‘ we head out to celebrate the wild weather with a hurricane cocktail for me and some luscious grits stuffed with andouille sausage, po’ boys and decadent beignets with powdered sugar on top.    It isn’t our only kind of unique tradition–we have a few others.  One being not cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving, which is another story for another day. So, what are your special / time honored /happy place traditions?  I’d love to hear!

Blog hop. Just a bit sad.

I haven’t blogged for nigh on (?) – start over.  I haven’t blogged for roughly (much better) a month.  No real reason exactly.  I’ve cooked a few new things.  I’ve been busy at work.  I’ve been drained.  Who even really knows.  But here I am trying to get my mojo back.  So, I’m trying what my friends have suggested and answering the blog hop questions.  What’s sad about that is that I just don’t really know too many bloggers who haven’t already been mentioned so I think this is a sad end to the hopping.   Most of the would be bloggers I know have slowly bailed over time.  It’s a commitment and more work than you might think.  So where do you go from here?  Let’s do this. bloghop

1. What am I writing or working on?  

For the blog?  Nothing.  Answering emails at work?  Myriad.  Projects at work?  Myriad.   Although,  I did wrap something up in early July that I think had a great deal to do with the loss of blogworthy mojo that I had.  For the last six months or so I tested cookbook recipes for a blogger come-lately new author.  Once a week I received a recipe in my inbox that I had to procure the ingredients for, cook exactly to the recipe, and review the recipe.  I couldn’t talk/post/instagram it. This was not good for my soul.  I thought it would be great.  I thought it would be motivating to the idea of maybe someday doing something similar.  It wasn’t.  I felt sucked dry and so immersed at doing a good job that I didn’t have anything left for my own creative juju.  I am pretty sure they wanted me to feel appreciated-but I didn’t.   I couldn’t share what I was doing and as a blogger that is an absolute downer.   They didn’t wrap up with a bang but piddled out with a whimper.   So, thankfully, it is finished and I am back to trolling Pinterest and reading blogs again.  For now, I am working on getting back what dribbled away.

2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?

The food blog.  What is the genre?   People who spend inordinate time thinking about food, cooking and/or eating food and then sharing it in hopes that someone thinks you are entertaining (at the very least) and hopefully inspired to cook and/or eat in a new way/place at the very best.  I like to add the spin of Orlando, travel and of course my favorite handhelds but also occasionally veer off into other things.  Our travel has been squidged out lately for some reason so I’ve got to get planning.   I know that would help.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I decided food would be my hobby maybe about 15 years ago.  I walked the tourist hot-spots of Seattle and tossed ideas around with my friend Linda.  I landed on food.  She landed on soap.  I’m not sure if she ever made a bar.   Food is an endless topic of discovery.  Every culture has food that is specific to them.  Chefs are the new hotness.  Travel = trying foods that don’t normally cross your doorstep.   There is low food (stuff like casseroles, Cheetos and tator tots)  and high foods like caviar, foie, duck fat and all that.  Foods that are quick. Food  that is long.  There is happy hour.  There are appetizers and desserts.   It is endlessly fascinating and in the end, life is delicious.  I think it must roll up into sharing is caring.

4. How does my writing process work?

Um, I just go.  I try to write just like I talk.  So, if you can hear my voice in your head as you read along I’ve done my job.  (Granted I hate hearing my recorded voice so I can’t tell you what that means.)  I try to be a bit funny.  I write fairly quickly.  I have my own KZ Manual of Style that includes em-dashes far more than commas.    I re-read.  I find a fun photo or three which I edit in Pic Monkey.  I post.  Z reads eventually and tells me my grammar is weird or simply likes my post on Facebook.   Sometimes I have to go back and fix things and usually I hope people missed the terrible errors when they do happen.

So, that’s it.  A blog.  A blog hop if you want.  Sort of.  We’re all busy people.  I have a few other friends and colleagues who have loads to say and a few people I wish would say more.   I’d love to hear it if you have any comments or a wish list of cooking or if you just want to go out for dinner.  We’re game.

EverydayKarin – she’s funny, wry and endearing

Prone To Wander – he’s funny and wry and endearing

OneThreadThatWinds - she’s crafty but crazy busy

Stacey Thacker – she’s a blogger who’s a mom – and you know what that means

And there you have it - she’s a blogger who’s a mom – but not like that, well, sometimes.

Trader Joe’s

Over my birthday holiday weekend Trader Joe‘s (TJ’s) opened in Orlando.  I’ve heard lot of people discuss it – you’d have to be crazy to head over there – and all that.  Last Sunday, around noon, I asked Z if he wanted to go to Trader Joe’s with me.  He politely declined.  Since it is about a half hour door to door, I packed a cooler with ice in the trunk and headed over. It’s easy to find and only about five minutes from probably what amount to my three favorite restaurants in Orlando-Cask & Larder, Tibby’s and Four Rivers.  So, going over there will likely be combined with the occasional dinner out and won’t be a ‘weekly’ type event.  Driving up the street I could see the lineup of cars and decided to park about a half block away in the non-workday parking lot of the Civic Center.   That served well as I would stay out of the fray and also be forced to limit myself to what I could carry by myself in the 90+ degree heat back to my car.  I’ve only been in one other TJ’s during opening weekend so I have only that to judge by.  This store was busy but not as busy as the Sarasota store opening weekend and the wine section was about 1/3 the size.  You can judge that however you like.tjwinterpark

I eased my cart inside braving the mixed crowd of Winter Park locals, Orlando hippies (I’ve never seen much of them before -maybe they are college kids from UCF and I’m just getting old?), regular old hipsters and me.  I navigated through the dry goods aisles picking up na’an, pretzel loaves, and coffee and then the outer edges for cheeses, meats and prepared stuff like Wine Country Chicken Salad before hitting the center aisle that is what I’ve never shopped before on longer drives to the Sarasota store-the frozen stuff.  Many people want to compare TJ’s to something.  It isn’t like anyplace that you regularly shop–except just maybe slightly like Aldi.  I only say that for the chaos and sort of self defined mayhem in the stores.  That and they mostly sell private labelled products.  At TJ’s though, they tend to be organic and internationally and otherwise ‘inspired’ type stuff.  People who shop there seem to have their favorite items that they just don’t want to live without.  Ours have always tended to be things I would best classify as snack foods – pita crackers & pub cheese, halloumi cheese, sea salt caramels, powerberries – with a few staples thrown in for the relatively modest prices on organic products – olive oil, thai chile & lime cashews, spicy pecans and coffee beans.   I made this first local trip about trying new things and items that we could actually make for dinner.  I tried a handful of new items out of the freezer sections like shredded vegetable nests (B+), poutine with cheese curds  gravy (B) and spinach with paneer (don’t ask).  I tried some new chicken sausages with Korean spices and bought a handful of different cheeses.  All in all it was what I expected.  The customers were actually quite a bit more polite than my expectations called for and I can see that there is a demand for it which gives me some hope for my developing neighborhood (WAY) across town.

Z and I were out to dinner the other night (Tibby’s to celebrate the 4th of July/Hurricane Arthur departure weekend) and decided to make a quick stop in.  It wasn’t as busy the second go round and I was floored to see many absolutely empty shelves and coolers.   Looks like they had a little trouble keeping up with this fierce new demand they have created.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.  I was also excited to see a drop in under the TJ’s sign in the lot.  Shake Shack is coming too.  That’s another story.