Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Christmas Visit By Mr. Potato Head

As we drive to Orland, Florida and suffer from candy coma, classic Christmas tunes blare from the CD player.  Seeing as how the drive's supposed to be six hours but thanks to the traffic it'll be closer to eight, there's been tons of time for me to remember some of my favorite Christmas memories.

My all time favorite was when I was only four. I'm not so sure if my memory is just that good or if it has something to do with the fact that my dad videotapped that morning, but ayways, I'll share it with you.  It was the year Toy Story had come out, and all my little sister wanted was a Mr. Potato Head.  When we'd visited Santa that year, I of course had a very exstensive list complete with a puppy, a new dolly, crayons, and multiple Disney Princess movies. But still, all she wanted was a spud of her own.  So, when we ran to the living room to see if Santa had visited, little Becky's face was probably the cutest thing ever when she saw not only Mr. Potato Head but also Mrs. Potato Head, Spud Children, and Potato Pets!  We also got a golden retreiver, named Jingles, bikes, and a Barbie Jeep that year.  Still, Becky's prized present was still Mr. Potato Head.

Which brings me to Christmas 2011.  Every year Santa always gives us each a toy along with all our growny gifts.  Joseph got Monoploy, and I got Buzz Lightyear Operation.  But Becky, she got a new Mr. Potato Head.  Her original spud muffin has long been discarded.  But that certainly didn't stop my baby sister from tearing open the packaging yesterday and rearranging his face to her favorite expression (wide-eyed with his tongue out).  She may be 19-or a least she will be on December 30th- but nothing can come between Becky and her Mr. Potato Head.  I bet she'll even take hers back to Gaineville with her when she leaves in a few weeks.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Afternoons With My Grandmothers

Christmas Cookies With Ma
It's been a tradition for as long as I can remember that each year my sister and I bake Christmas Cookies with our grandmother, Ma.  When we were little, sprinkles would hide underneath Ma's cabinets until well after Easter, but over the years, we've become quite professional.  If you'd like to start a new tradition of your own, I'd definitely suggest cookie sugar baking!  They're simple, tasty, and fun!

Ingredients for Homemade Cookie Dough:
The Dough 
  • 1 lb. butter
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • 4 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 eggs 
Cream together the butter and sugar with your mixer.  Gradually add the four cups of flour.  Lastly add the two eggs.  Chill for eight hours.

After you've cut your dough into your favorite holiday shapes.  Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350ºF and enjoy!

Cutting Out the Cookies 
The Three Girls Elbow Deep in Icing 
Our Finished Product 
An Afternoon In Albany 
This afternoon, we loaded into my grandmother's Cadillac and made the 2½ hour drive to Albany, Georgia.  My great grandmother, Billie Berkshire, lives in an adorable assisted living facility down there, and we wanted to visit her before all the Christmas Craziness sets in.  She's truly the cutest little old lady ever.  She still wears makeup, fancy jewelry, holiday sweaters, and gets her hair down ever week.   She showed us her bedroom and miniature decorated tree before we settled down and gave her gifts.  We'd brought her some of our delicious homemade cookies, and when she opened the tin she exclaimed with glee that they were too pretty to eat.  She was so thoughtful.  When she found out Becky and I were coming, she insisted that one of her friends stop by the local Christian bookstore and pick us out something too.  She's so thoughtful, giving us matching stuffed reindeer.

As for lunch, she'd reserved the private dining room...yes, it's quite swanky there!  She was a little bossy to the head chef, telling him that we wanted mashed potatoes instead of the roasted ones on the menu, but seeing as how she'll be 97 in January, he just said "yes man."  After our magnificent meal (complete with specially ordered apple pie and ice cream), she showed us off to all of her friends.  My little brother, Joseph, wheeled her around as she pointed out the bingo room, the library, the garden, and the decorated doors of all her friends.

One of her best friends, Louise, is 105.  I'm pretty sure the only reason why Grandma Berkshire hangs out with her is because compared to her she's quite young and spry.  That reminds me...One of our running jokes we have about Grandma Berkshire is her age.  She constantly lies about it.  Usually, she'll tell people she's only 92, instead of her actual age of 96.   Doesn't she understand that by the time she's reached her age there really isn't much of a difference?  But today, when we asked her, she surprisingly answered truthfully.

 I hated having to leave her, but we had a long drive ahead of us and had to make it back in time for dinner.  As we were leaving, she told my grandmother, Ma, that us visiting made her Christmas.  I don't think she realized, but seeing her made mine too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top Ten Christmas Movies

 I've been watching quite a bit of ABC's 25 Days of Christmas but I don't always agree with their choices.  So, I decided to list my all time favorite holiday flicks. 
 If it was up to me, these top ten would be on constant repeat.

10) Eloise at Christmastime:  The precocious six-year-old Manhattanite of Kay Thompson's beloved Eloise books gets into the holiday spirit while playing cupid in this made-for-TV comedy.  Like much of the hotel staff, she's excited about the upcoming marriage of Rachel Peabody, the daughter of the hotel's owner, to handsome Brooks Oliver.  However, Eloise learns that Brook's motivations for marrying Rachel are not sincere, and so the youngster ties to sway Rachel away from her fiance and toward Bill, a good-hearted waiter in the hotel's restaurant.

9) A Little Drummer Boy:  Every time my dad watches this 1968 Christmas classic, he cries.  It's the beautiful story of an orphaned drummer boy.  He hates humanity but finds his life forever changed when he meets the three wise men on route to Bethlehem.  With its adorable animals and sweet storyline, this 30 minute movie is just perfect at helping me remember the real reason for the season.

8) White Christmas:  With its catchy tunes and beautiful costumes, no wonder I love White Christmas.  The storyline follows a successful song-and-dance team who becomes romantically involved with a sister act.  The double couple teams up to save a failing Vermont inn. Starring Bing Crosby and Danny Daye, it features the songs of Irving Berlin, including the title number "White Christmas."  It truly is a feel-good flick.

7) Rudolph:  When I first moved to Manhattan, this was the first movie I purchased all on my own.  By far it's one of my favorites.    This iconic claymation is the story of everyone's favorite red nose reindeer.  Along with Hirby the Elf and the misfit toys, they search to find a place that will accept them for what they really are.

6) The Polar Express:  On Christmas Eve, a doubting boy boards a magical train that's headed to the North Pole.  The 2004 computer-animated film is based on Chris Van Allsburg's book of the same name.  From the crazy conductor to St. Nicholas himself, Tom Hanks provides the voice for six distinct characters.  With its catchy songs and brilliant colors, it's certainly proved itself to be a modern classic.  But, it's the dance sequence of waiters who dispense hot chocolate on the train that ranks it as one of my most favorites.

5) Miracle of 34th Street:  After becoming Santa's replacement at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Kris Kringle is hired by the event's coordinator, Doris Walker, to play the part for the flagship New York City store on 34th Street.  While Fred Gailey, an attorney and neighbor of Doris,  is babysitting the young divorcee's six-year-old daughter Susan, he takes her to see Kris.  When Doris finds out she asks Kris to tell Susan that he isn't really Santa Claus, but Kris surprises here by  insisting that he is.  It's a family friendly film filled with just enough romance.  And it wouldn't be as good if he didn't have a happily ever after.  Plus, it's available for instant watch on Netflix.

4) It's a Wonderful Life:  An angel helps George, a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman, by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.  Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, the film has been named one of the most inspirational American films of all time.  It ends with a ringing bell of the tree, signifying that an angel has earned his wings.  George happily confirms this now realizing that while he did not get to follow his dreams of world travel, he truly has a wonderful life.

3) Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas:  ABC Family may play the 2000 Jim Carrey remake, but my favorite story of the grumpy green Grinch is the original.  It follows a hermit who hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville.  But thanks to a few words from Cindy Lou Who, he realizes the error of his ways.

2) Santa Claus is Comin' to Town:  After the truck that delivers letters to the North Pole breaks down, its mailman tells the story of how Santa Claus and several Christmas traditions came to be.  With lovable characters like Kris Kringle, the Burgermesiter, Topper the Penguin, and the Winter Warlock no wonder it's my absolute favorite animated holiday movie.  Whether you're 4 or 84, it's definitely worth watching. Plus, it's not too long.  So if you need a quick holiday fix, it's the perfect movie to watch.

1) The Santa Clause:  Hands down, The Santa Clause is the best Christmas move of all time!  Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, a man who inadvertently kills Santa on Christmas Eve and finds himself magically recruited to take his place.  I remember seeing this movie in theaters when I was a little girl, and now each time its on (or its two sequels), I always stop what I'm doing and watch it.  Truly, it's the best holiday movie out there.  If you haven't seen it, stop what you're doing this very minute, and check it out on YouTube.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Finished With Finals

Even though I've been back in Georgia for two days, I wasn't actually finished with my finals until noon today.  Sure, I'd taken my exams, but I still had a 1500 word essay due.  Of course, once my delta flight landed Saturday at 2:30, the procrastination officially began.  It wasn't a hard assignment, but I just couldn't bring myself to write it.  That is, until 6am this morning.  But you know what, I finished it with  23 minutes to spare.

The Family Christmas Party
Part of my reason for procrastination was our family's annual Christmas party.  Yesterday, we all gathered from far and wide and spent the afternoon celebrating the season.  Even though we only get together once of twice a year, it's always a wonderful catching up session.
My Mom Gave Us These Glasses as our Advent Gift
and We Decided We Had to Take A Kid Picture 
Cute Parent Pic 

Ma and Her Granddaughters 

All the Kids Listening to Matt Read
the Real Christmas Story, Luke 2:1-14
Time to Celebrate
Now that my semester's done, it's time to celebrate.  Becky and I are watching Disney's Once Upon A Christmas on VHS.  I love its previews; the movie's from 1999, so they all  say "now available to own on video"...seriously, too cute. And, I'm excited for an entire month of fun reading.  I'm in the middle of Candace Bushnell's Lipstick Jungle, and after that it's on to Super Sad True Love Story.  The Strand displayed it as one of best books of 2011, so I'm excited if my idea of a best book matches theirs.  The third novel by American writer Gary Shteyngart, it takes place in a near-futer dystopian New York where life is dominated by media and retail.  The son of a Russian immigrant, protagonist Lenny Abramov, a middle-aged, middle class, and otherwise unremarkable man whose mentality is still in the past century, falls madly in love with Eunice Park, a young Korean-American struggling with materialism and the pressures of her traditional Korean family.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Take on the Final BCS Ranking

In a metropolitan college like NYU, sports make take a back seat to academia and the arts, but that's certainly not the case for state school across the country.  So when my journalism professor challenged us to write a commentary, I certainly had no trouble picking my topic...college football.  Here's my script for Wednesday's live webcast.  


Tonight I’d like to discuss the approaching BCS National Football Game.  On January 9th, No. 2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will once again take on the No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers in what some are calling “the football game of the century.”  Now, I know the Oklahoma State head coach, Mike Gundy, went on Sports Center after the Dec. 4th final ranking and questioned the appearance of two South Eastern Conference teams in the national championship.  He argues that until there’s a year without a team  from the conference ranking number one or two in regular season, all other leagues are simply be discredited when the voters are deciding on the big game matchup.  But, I’m sorry this year, there’s no questions the polls spoke the truth.  Obviously, LSU deserves to be there.  They had a pretty hard lineup playing against teams like Arkansas and Tennessee and still remained undefeated.  After they won the December 3rd SEC Championship against University of Georgia, there was pretty much no doubt on their place.  But as for the Crimson Tide, they defeated four ranked team this season, including Penn State, Arkansas, Florida and Auburn.  Sure, Alabama didn’t play for their conference title like the Oklahoma Cowboys, but that’s only because both LSU and Alabama make up the Western Division of the SEC.  Both Alabama and Oklahoma had one loss this season, so it wasn’t like voters could have chosen two team who were undefeated.  But the Cowboys lost to unranked Iowa State while the Crimson Tide was to No. 1 ranked LSU by three points in overtime.  Don’t get me wrong, Oklahoma State’s a good team; they finished the season at number three and they’ll take on Stanford at the January 2nd Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, but the polls chose correctly for the ultimate title...Alabama deserves another shoot at LSU.  And the January 9th, BCS Championship Game is gonna be a great matchup.  I know I’ll definitely be watching.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Soho Trees

Between the smell, the ornaments, and the presents underneath, most of us would agree a Christmas Tree is a staple for the holidays. But getting one in a big city like New York isn't an easy task.
 But as Ashley Thublin discovered, one company is making it a whole lot simpler. 
In fact, you don't even have to lift a finger.


Christmas Trees To-Go 
     It may not be the typical holiday tradition, but this year customers are able to place to-go orders for their Christmas trees.  
     Just like with Chinese take-out, Soho Trees offers a quick  and cheap delivery service for their busy customers.  
     "We offer a full service where as we'll actually pick out the tree for you right over the telephone," said Scott Lechner, Soho Trees Chief Operating Officers.  
     In a busy city like Manhattan, it's all about convenience.  Open 24/7 with 11 locations, they're willing to deliver at almost any time.  
    "We often deliver at unusual times like three o'clock int he morning in this crazy city of New York," Lechner said; "You get in touch and we'll get you a tree." 

Will it be right for you? 
     But will they pick out the right one for you?  Lechner says each tree is chosen with care.  They pick it out as if it were going in their home.  
     Whether you select it yourself or had your tree delivered, don't forget to ask for an extra inch to be cut off before you stick it in the stand.  And, give you tree about a gallon of water each day to make sure that fragrant evergreen scent lasts the whole month of December. 

To see NYC's 20 Best Holiday Attractions, click here.
More Than Just Trees 
     But Soho Trees is more than just greenery.  They're a one-stop shop for all your holiday needs.  From blow-up snowmen to stockings, wooden-reindeer, and singing puppies, they've got it all.  
     "We offer a full array of products that aren't available in most Christmas tree stands," said Lechner. 
     Santa visits every Sunday, and they even have a team of decorators and light experts.  
     As for their prices, wreaths range from 40-55 dollars, while box ornaments cost about 10.  On average, a seven foot tree cost about $140.  For more information, visit their website, SohoTrees.com 

And if you're in the mood for Step-By-Step
Instruction on Simple Christmas Crafts...
Click Here  Or Click Here


Happy Anniversary to My Blog!

Happy one year anniversary to my blog, Southerner in the City.  That's right, this day last year was my first ever post about keeping true to my Southern roots while embracing the Manhattan lifestyle.  Over 120 blurbs have been written with topics ranging from interning with Good Housekeeping to my lack of a love life.  Hopefully, I've suggested books you'd like to read and given you some good recipes and crafts too.  It's been tons of fun to write, but I'm just getting started.  Here's to another wonderful year!

My Friday was blissfully mundane.  I started class at my usual 8am time slot, then spent a few hours in my second home (a.k.a. the Journalism building) before my three hour Resource Center shift.  The Arts Collateral had its very own destressing event for Lafayette residents, so I got to spent an hour doing one of my favorite things...baking cupcakes.  As for this evening, I spent it wth my Brooklyn babies eating pizza and watching Harry Potter movies.  It may not seem so out of the ordinary, but for me it was just the tiny break I nereded a I gear upo for finals week.

Oh. One last thing, as I was going through my "archives," I noticed I never included my alltime favorite Christmas cookie recipe.  They're called Seven Layer Cookies, and for our family, no special event would be complete without them. They're quite tasty and super simple.


Ingredients 

1/4 lb. butter
1 c. crushed graham crackers
1 c. angel flakes coconut
1 pkg. Nestle chocolate chips (6 oz.)
1 pkg. Nestle butterscotch chips (6 oz.)
1 can sweetened condensed milk, NOT evaporated milk
1 c. walnuts meats, chopped

Melt butter in an 9 x 13 inch pan. Add layer by layer (do not mix) above ingredients in order listed.
Bake 32 minutes at 350 degrees in an aluminum pan OR 28 minutes at 350 degrees if a glass dish is used. Cut into bars when cool.  ENJOY!

**Note, because of the way most of these ingredients are packaged, I usually make two at a time.  If you're doing that, just buy an additional can of sweetened, condensed milk and have an extra stick of butter on hand.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Ode to Crate and Barrel

I've officially discovered my new favorite spot in the City. . .Crate and Barrel.  I know, I know it sounds a little silly, but seriously, I love everything about this store.  I was walking home from the gym last night and decided I'd take a quick look inside.  They had a cute Christmas plate in the window, so I just figured what the heck I could use another holiday decoration.  Walking through the doors was like entering a Sussie Homemaker paradise.  A few of my favorites finds include a spatula with cupcake imprints, a candy cane shaped pan, recycled sari garland, tons of ornaments, and so many plates.  Resisting the urge to buy it all was hard, and I ended up buying  the cutest Christmas cup.  Dancing elves and tiny snowflakes decorate its sides, but I think it was this super cute advertisement that sealed the deal.  When I left the store, my wallet may have been a little lighter but I had a wonderful red bag filled with precious presents to show for  it.  But, I'm a little scared I may be addicted.  After a full day of studying-I literally spent eight hours sitting in the same chair of Kimmel working on two paper-the only thing I wanted to do was eat a bowl of ice cream (even though it was 40º outside) and wander around Crate and Barrel.  Obviously, I knew their merchandise wouldn't have changed from yesterday, but I needed to see their bright and colorful decorations just the same.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Decorating the Dorm

My Sparkly Pink
 Christmas Tree

Today may only be December 2nd, but my seasonal celebrations have already begun.  On Thanksgiving morning, I turned on the Pandora Holiday Station, and it won't be changed until well after the New Year.   I've already watched Rudolph and drank the first gingerbread latte of the year.  Even when I was at work yesterday, the little boy I babysit was playing "What Child is This" and "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" on the piano.  Each day leading up to Christmas, I  also get to open an advent treat.  A few years ago, Momma started this tradition, and even though I may be living 1000 miles away, she makes sure I have a special surprise.  It's nothing too  big (yesterday I got cupcake shaped post-its and today Big Red), but unwrapping the trinkets sure do put a smile on my face.  And of course, I wouldn't be my momma's daughter unless my apartment looked like Santa's elves decorated it.  As soon as I got back from the airport Monday night, I set up a tiny tree, hung my stocking, and changed the plate rack to include candy canes.  I even made a pitstop at the Union Square Holiday Market after class today.  I found my baby sister the cutest birthday gift--hopefully she'll like it.  And tomorrow morning, I'll be heading over to SohoTrees; my next story will feature the local company and the whimsical way they do Christmas.  If you ask me, it really is the most wonderful time of the year!


Gingerbreads, Candy Canes, and Ornaments-How I Love My Plates 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tattnall Takes State

For my fellow Maconites, I'm sure you've realized that TSA won the 2011 Football State Championship.  Well, I was there from start to finish and made my very own broadcast story from the night's big game. 

For 30 years, Barney Hester has been the head football coach for Tattnall Square Academy. During his reign, the Trojans have won 10 state championships. And this Thanksgiving, Hester was hoping for an eleventh. Click here to see me follow the Trojans as they battle the Stratford Eagles for the golden trophy. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas-Macon, GA Style

Mary Poppins was the First Ornament I hung this Year 
Before hitting the TSA State Football Championship, we bought our Christmas trees yesterday afternoon.  After much debate, the family decided on two plump, 8-footers as the base for our decorating.  And today, as we watched SEC football, we've spent quite  bit of time sifting through the ornaments, adorning their branches.  My stepdad, Bryan, just declared the toy room tree is finished, but our Disney tree (yes, my family has an entire tree dedicated strictly to Mickey and the gang) still needs some work.


Like most people, Christmas is by far my favorite time of the year.  I love the lights, the smells, the gift-giving, the songs, the movies, the decorations...basically anything related to the holidays is bound to make me smile.  But, it's those silly family traditions that really set December apart in my mind.  All five of us  pile into my mom's Ford Explorer and make a trip to the local Chick-fil-A to buy peppermint chocolate chip milkshakes.  The South's famous chicken joint decorates the drive thru line with hundreds of brilliant lights that sparkle in time with a selected radio station's Christmas music.  Each year, we catch ourselves pulling into a parking spot to sip our shake and watch the light show.

My little sister heads back to Gainesville tomorrow, and I leave for NYC the day after that.  Obviously, I'll be sad to leave my family, but the great news in we'll both be back December 17th.  Only one journalism piece, two papers, and one final stand between me and Christmas Break.  Let the countdown begin.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Welcome to the South!

I knew I was officially heading home when  the main topic on my flight was college football.  That's right, cute old men were debating Alabama vs. Auburn, so of course I piped in with my very own "Roll Tide."  Southern accents rich with y'alls were blabbing about the SEC's top quarterbacks; it was just what I needed to get me in the holiday mood! 



Then, after I landed in Atlanta, my sweet daddy and baby brother (who's an absolute giant at 6'2") fixed my caffeine fix with a quick Starbucks run and grabbed my luggage-what gentlemen.  As to be expected, the traffic was horrendous and dinner time was quickly approaching, so we stopped off and ate at one of Georgia's best barbecue joints, OBs.  I absolutely loved the waitress; when I asked for tea, she automatically knew I wanted it sweet.  Seeing as how I'm a vegetarian, I can't really comment on their specialities, but their fried okra and crinkle fries were pretty tasty.  But the real kicker was their decorations.      

I finally pulled in the driveway around 8:30, and now I'm sitting in the living room, drinking Amaretto with my momma and sister...life is good.  Happy Turkey Day Y'all! 


Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Latest Package: Macy's Parade Exhibit

For the latest installment in my day-of-air conquest, I covered the opening day of a new exhibit celebrating the 85th Anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

So if you're in the mood for some pre-holiday fun, be sure to click here to see my take on the opening!

And don't worry, Thanksgiving may be in just a few short days, but this display isn't going anywhere.  The Children's Museum of Manhattan will be celebrating Turkey Day and its famous parade until January 16th.  It's absolutely perfect for little visitors.  There's even a design your own balloon crafts table.

And as for my next piece, I'm quite excited to say that I'll be covering the GISA Football State Championship game this upcoming Friday.  We're supposed to do a story on what best represents our hometown, and I can't think of anything better.  So, for all you Tattnall fans, I'll be in need of some great interviews!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Night at the Museum

In conjunction with Faculty Fellows in Residents Week, I took a group of Lafayette students to the Museum of Moving Images this past Friday.  Only one word can describe their new exhibit,  Jim Henson's Fantastic World....AWESOME!  The floor featured over 120 artifacts, like drawings, storyboards, and props.  Fifteen iconic puppets (including Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, and Bert and Ernie )were also on display.  It sure did make me miss the good ol' days when my biggest dilemma was deciding on whether to watch Barney or Sesame Street.

The second floor is devoted to movies.  Everything from editing to acting has its own special section here. One seven minute exhibit really grabbed my attention;  it's a movie mashup that combines scenes from all of Hollywood's best feature films.  


Overall, I'd say it's a great museum with a balance of hands-on activities and exhibits that will interest youngsters and adults alike.  So if you find yourself in Astoria with nothing to do, be sure to check the museum out.  Tickets will only cost you $5 for children, $7.50 for students, and $10 for adults.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reporting on the Real Quidditch World Cup

For my journalism piece this week, I followed the NYU Quidditch team and their race to  the World cup.  More than 5000 people spent the day at Randall's Island cheering on their favorite of the 93 teams.  Although the NYU Nundus, lost 3 of their  4 games, it was an absolutely perfect way to spend my Saturday.  The only downfall was the  amount of time I had to spend editing.  Literally, I had almost two hours of B-Roll; trying to compress it to just four minutes was quite a challenge. 
 Click here to see my final results! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Only 43 More Days Until Christmas

This semester's been the quickest yet.  It seems like professors just passed out the syllabus and already they're prepping us for finals.  It's weird to think that Thanksgiving's just around the corner  Then before you know it, the cornucopia will be back in the attic, and candy canes will cover every square inch of the tree.

Even though Halloween was just last week (and today's high was definitely 70º F), Starbucks has officially switched their menu to feature Christmas blends.  Ordering my usual Pumpkin Spice Latte this morning felt a little strange, especially when it was served in a cup adorned with reindeer and snowflakes.

Even Facebook postings already speak of "Jingle Bells" blaring from the loud speaker.

I Can't Believe Today's Really November 10th
One Brooklyn brownstone even has Santa's Official Count Down To Christmas Clock.  As we were walking to Tae Know Do this afternoon, the little boy I babysit starting listing all the presents he receive this year.  

And that’s when I had a slight panic attack....usually I’m so prepared and love finding the perfect gift for every single person on my list.  And as of yet, my only holiday-related-purchase was a cute pair of socks for my baby sister.  I scoured the Urban Outfitters website, and I think I’m on to something for Joseph, my 16 year old brother, but as for my parents, the juries still out.  As per usual, my lack of funds is keeping me from purchasing the perfect present:  two tickets for the Disney Cruise.  Perhaps, they’ll settle for yet another NYU sweatshirt?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Bobst Atrium

The moto for my Journalism as Literature class is "Read to Best to Be the Best."  It's one of my favorite classes I've taken at NYU; every week we literally just sit around in a circle for three hours and discuss the literary elements of the 20 or so pages we were assigned for that week.  I know, I'm such a nerd.  But finally, we got to put all the skills we've learned to the test.  For our assignment, our professor asked us to imagine that we are writing a magazine feature about some of New York's most interesting and unusual architectural spaces.  We plan to devote 500 words to a description of the NYU Bobst Library atrium.  Here's my finished piece, but don't let the small word count full you; writing it actually took me a couple of hours:

     Situated on Washington Square South between LaGuardia Place and Schwartz Pedestrian Plaza stands a 12 story, terra-cotta colored building.  Designed by Phillip Johnson and Richard Frost, the Elemer Holmes Bobst Library was completed in 1972.  But today, it is one of the largest academic libraries in the US, housing more than 3.3 million volumes.

     After making one’s way through the swarm of smokers, six swipe stations greet every Bobst visitor.  The library’s atrium is roughly 40 yards by 35 yards.  To the right is the granite book return/check-in service desk, and to the left is the Mamdouhas Bobst Gallery, where New York University treasures are on display.  Eight elevator doors line the back wall.  Above them, are the stairs, which have a very distinct look about them:  every two floors make the collar of a v-neck, with a flattened edge that serves as a bridge.  In total, there are five doubled layers that make up the second through eleventh floors; the twelfth floor has it’s own balcony.

     After two students jumped from the open-air crosswalks inside the library, falling to the stereogram patterned marble floor below, NYU installed plastic, plexiglass on each level to prevent further suicides.

     When someone turns their back to the elevators and looks up, six oversized study rooms are above.  Wall to wall windows let in the light as students cram for upcoming quizzes.

     To see the atrium from a different perspective, one should make their way to the farthest right elevator. Press the up button, and the twelfth floor’s the only stop available.  The doors to the elevator open.  Look over the edge of the railing.  Peer past the metal cross atop each spike, and look towards the atrium’s floor.  It creates an optical allusion that resembles the pricks of a fence post.

     After one’s had their fill of the dreary scene, they should make their way back to the ground floor.  Walk towards either the far left or far right corner, back towards the security desk.  A set of stairs will take them to the lower levels.  Here, in the Bobst basement, Steven Stanzak lived from September 2003 to April 2004.  After finding out that his NYU scholarship, four jobs, and private loans would cover his tuition but not his housing costs, the Bobst Boy (as he’s been nicknamed) refused to drop out or transfer to a cheaper university, choosing instead to live amongst the stacks.  Eventually however, the Washington Square News ran a piece on him, and the dean said he could no longer live there.  However, he was  provided with free NYU housing for the remanding weeks of the semester.

     In total, it’s estimated that more than 6,500 people visit the library each day.  Whether they’re a student cramming for a midterm or a hopeful high schooler on a tour, it’s impossible to go through the revolving doors at Bobst and not be amazed by its grandiose appearance.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

My CORA and I All Dressed Up 
Happy Halloween to one and all.  Funny thing...I actually forgot today was the big day.  I saw the cutest little girl dressed up as Strawberry Shortcake this morning, and only then did I realize today's actually Halloween, not yesterday.  Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that I have class until 10:30pm tonight and wore my housewife costume last night.  It's officially, my ghoulish games are officially over for Halloween 2011.

As for last night Frank Sinatra blared, and  168 people sampled my homemade pumpkin, coconut, and apple pies.  For the most part, reviews were positive; I think they were just surprised our desserts weren't store bought.  I had two excuses for spending all of Saturday baking 1) I was on duty and couldn't leave Laf and 2) I was simply getting into character for my Halloween costume.  But honestly, I just love baking.  Sometimes, I do wonder what my life would have been like if I'd been born 50 years earlier; I think it's safe to say that I would have made an excellent housewife.

The Lafayette Staff, All Dressed Up in Our Costumes 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mad About Pie

In celebration of Halloween, Lafayette Residence Hall will be hosting our first ever Haunted Hallways extravaganza tonight.  Residents will be able to trick-or-treat from floor to floor, and each RAs room will be passing out goodies.  Because my CORA and I were on duty/call all weekend long, we decided to make our dessert.  Obviously, I haven't been able to dress up this year, so I decided weeks ago that our floor theme was to be Mad Men because I have this adorable 1960s housewife dress that I actually want to wear.  So, to compliment our theme, we spent hours making three types of pie yesterday...Pumpkin, Apple, and Coconut.  Sure, it was quite time consuming, but we sure had fun.  I just hope everyone likes them.  Now, we only had $65 for the entire event, so we had to get a little creative in our purchasing.  In total, we were able to make six pies and still stay under budget.

Of course, my first stop on my recipe hunt was Paula Deen's website.  We slightly modified her directions and made our own version of Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients (per pie)
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
15 oz. of canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
1 cup half-and-half
 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 piece pre-made pie dough

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350º F. 

For the filling, a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer.  Add the pumpkin and beat until combined.  Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined.  Add the eggs (mixed with the yolks), half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined.  Finally, add the vanilla and cinnamon, and beat until incorporated. 

Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for an hour, and until the center is set.  Let the pie cool to room temperature and cut into slices.  

Next, we made cooks.com "Mom's Easy Apple Pie."  I must admit, the name was a little deceiving; although quite tasty, the apple pie was certainly the most time consuming.

Ingredients:

Pillsbury ready made pie crust
6-7 apples (I used 2 granny smith, 2 gala, and 2 red)
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. flour

Directions:
Peel and cut your 6 apples; mix your sugar in with the apples.  Blend cinnamon and flour into a bowl.  Add the cinnamon-flour blend to your apples and sugar mixture.  Place the pie crust into the bottom of your pan.  Add in the filling and dot with butter.  Cover it with the top pie crust layer.  Brush with milk, and sprinkle sugar on top.

Bake at 375°F for 50 minutes or until done.

To give a little variety to our all fall menu, we ended the afternoon by baking two Coconut Pies.

Ingredients:

3eggs
1 3/4cups milk
1/4cup butter, melted
1 1/2teaspoons vanilla
1cup flaked or shredded coconut
3/4cup sugar
Ready-made pie crust

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350º and lay your ready-made pie crust in the pan.

In large bowl, stir together all ingredients until blended. Pour into pie plate.  Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown and knife inserted in the center comes out clean.



Saturday, October 29, 2011

New York City Pop-Up Shops

For my journalism class this week, our professor assigned us our very first day-of-air piece.  After we sent him an email, we literally had until 10pm that night to find a story, shoot it, write it, edit it, and get it on the web.  The exercise's purpose was to show us what it's like to be an actual reporter with quick deadlines.  Because I'm on call/duty all weekend (so I won't be able to leave Laf late Sunday night), I knew my only day to produce a package was Friday.  So, here you have it.  I finished the exercise and even had 4 1/2 hours to spare. Hope you enjoy my spooktacular story!

Anchor Intro:  This October, additional Halloween retailers have been popping up across New York City. Ashley Thublin has the story for us now.

I just realized the video isn't always uploading so here's the link if you're having trouble and would like to view it! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Finished Products

As much as I absolutely love my major (and trust me I do), this semester I've spent more time in the Journalism Department than I have in my own apartment.  When I  knew all  the security guards on a first name basis that probably should have been my cue, but nonetheless I continuously find myself on the  7th floor of the Cooper Square building at all hours of the day.  Here a few of the projects I've been working on.  It's only been a few weeks since I first picked up a camera, but at least I'd like to think I'm improving. 

Resurrection of the Knitting Needle-As the weather begins to cool down, there's a new knitting circle that's open to more than just grey-haired grannies.  Ashley Thublin has the story for us now.  


Sometimes, it says "Content Offline" when I click on the play button.  If you too are having that problem click here


Oyster Shucking-Competitors from across the globe made their way to Manhattan this  past September to battle for the title of World's Fastest Shucker at the Ninth Annual Oyster Frenzy.  Ashley Thublin has the story for us now.  

video

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hello Again John Steinbeck

So, I'm officially deciding that I like John Steinbeck.  As an eighth grader, I remember reading The Pearl and absolutely hating it.  Seriously, the short text took me weeks to get through.  But now, I finally feel like I'm old enough to understand what makes Steinbeck so great.

Book Review:  Cannery Row by John Steinbeck 

For starters, I read Cannery Row.  While the setting for this novel is somewhat bleak--an impoverished and ofttimes depressed coastal town in California--the characters are brought to life by everyday exchanges and emotions the reader can relate to.  It's a book without much of a plot, but there's no denying it captures the feeling and people of Monterey.  The "story" of Canner Row follows the adventures of Mack and the boys, a group of unemployed but resourceful men.  They inhabit a converted fish-meal shack on the edge of a vacant cleverly named Palace Flophouse.  Sprinkled throughout are also interactions with the local grocer, Lee Chong, and Cannery Row's marine biologist, Doc.  The book follows Mack and his friend as they try to do something nice for Doc.  Eventually, they hit on the idea that they should throw a party in his honor; and immediately the entire town rallies around the idea.  If you're trying to ease back into Steinbeck, I'd certainly say this is a great book for getting reacquainted.  Plus, the chapters are super short. 

My Rating:  ****

Book Review:  Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck 


After finishing Cannery Row, I quickly found out a sequel had been written...Sweet Thursday.  Again, Steinbeck follows the quirky characters of Monterrey, but he also introduces us to Fauna, the new headmistress of the local brothel, and to Hazel, a bum whose mother must have wanted a daughter.  Additionally, a love interest for Doc's been written in; however, she's not exactly the kind of girl you'd take home to meet your parents, but you can't help but love her.  Sure, I've read some reviews that say Sweet Thursday isn't as good as its prequel, but I completely disagree.  I absolutely loved it.  Maybe it's the time period (following WWII), or maybe it's the romance.  But, I think it all works together and creates an absolutely wonderful read. 

My Rating:  *****

Saturday, October 8, 2011

To Many Hours With Final Cut

These past couple of days have truly been a whirlwind.  I not only spent the weekend in Georgia but come Monday night found out my Journalism assignment had to be completely finished (including Final Cut edits) by Wednesday at noon.  I was on call Tuesday night and had a French exam too...basically my first full night of sleep for the week was Thursday!  Multiple, daily trips to Starbucks for a Venti Pumpkin Spice latte is the only way I made it through.

It all started Sunday night.  I'd spent an absolutely wonderful weekend back home in Georgia.  During my four days of Southern  bliss I ate way to much food, watched football, heard my little brother play in the halftime show, and shopped for Christmas presents.  Despite the not so convient timing, just getting to love on my mom made the whole thing worth it.  Anyways, my plane landed in JFK around midnight, but I didn't actually get to sleep until 1:30.  And, I had to set my alarm for 4:30am to finish a script for one of my classes.

Come Monday night, I'd originally thought I'd have a pretty early evening.  After my class finished at 10pm, my plan was to go straight to bed, but he told us that our assignment had to be ready for grading my Wednesday at noon, so obviously that through a giant wrench in my plans.  I didn't leave the journalism building until 11:30pm; then I came  home and spent a few more hours editing on Final Cut Express.

Tuesday, I actually got to sleep in until 6:30am!  After a normal day of classes, I rushed back to Lafayette by 5pm because I was on call.  We had our first fire drill of the semester, so rounds ran later than usual.  In total, I spent eight hours on Tuesday tweeking my assignment.  But, I still had to study for my French midterm.  Around 1am I finally cracked open my textbook and practiced the conjugations for avoir (to have) and etre (to be).

My wakeup call for Wednesday came bright and early...5:00am to be exact.  I wanted to get my last bit of studying in before the big test.  After completing my Examen One, I realized that I'd yet to write my history paper.  Once again, it was going to be another  sleepless night.

Come Thursday at noon, I'd finally finished all my assignments for the week!  I took a nap in the middle of the day, and actually got to bed at a decent hour that night.  Now, I have a four day weekend- thanks for that random Fall Break NYU.  Sure, I'll have to spending some time editing another piece, and I'll want to get a jumpstart on midterm studying.  But most importantly, I just plan on relaxing.

If you'd like, take a look at the final results to my premier piece.  No judgement now; it was after all my first time editing with Final Cut.

video



Monday, September 26, 2011

Is This Really My Life?

These past few days have been one amazing adventure after another.  I've been meaning to post blog entries every evening, but I keep finding myself falling asleep before I can complete them.  So I just decided to stick them all together and create one massive "I really can't believe my life's been so great" posting:


It all started Friday morning.  I was supposed to have an 8am French class, but thanks to my broken alarm clock, that was a no go.  Instead, I spent the extra time primping and preparing for my upcoming story.  My original plan for the week was to shoot a profile on the Big Gay Ice Cream franchise.  They'd just left the food truck business behind for a stationary alternative, and I thought a Q-and-A with the owners might be fun.  Originally, they said sure no problem, but after they found out I was going to be filming their store, I was turned away.  Basically, it was Thursday night, and I was scrambling for a story.  Thankfully, my professor emailed the class the AP daybook just as I was in the middle of my panic attack.  I saw that he official opening of "Education Nation Experience" was to be held on Friday morning at Rockefeller Center.  The tiny snippet describing the event promised children, so I figured closeups would be plentiful.  Anyways, come Friday morning, I waltz over to where other cameras are set up.  Mind you now, I'm definitely the only student there.  Everyone else is national news (not even the local stations) and here I am with my baby canon camera.  But, I set up my tripod and act like I belong.  The real excitement though happened after the speeches were made, and the ribbon was cut...Ann Curry (the co-hot of The Today Show) was one of the speakers at the event.  She gave a heartwarming talk about her father teaching elementary school, and she stressed the importance of every child having access to the internet regardless of their parent's pay check.  All of it was quite sweet.  So, I just sauntered over to the stage when everyone else was packing up and started asking her clarifying questions.  Here I am, a 20 year old NYU student interviewing Ann Curry.  I'm sure she was thinking "Who is this little twit?", but she answered all my questions and was very nice about it.  Even after her personal assistant said it was time to go she made sure all my questions were answered.  After that, I took the 6 train down to Grand Central Station where I filmed a sneak-peek of the World's Oyster Shucking Competition.


Saturday morning, I decided my footage from the 9th Annual Oyster Frenzy Preview turned out so good that I'd turn it into my story for the week.  So again, I took the 6th train to Grand Central and set up shop.   Twenty-eight competitors from across the globe came to Manhattan's Oyster Bar for a chance at the $3,000 prize.  In two minutes, they had to shuck as many oysters as they possibly could.  Following each round, top chefs held cooking demonstrations, and New York City's own Naked Cowboy would serenade the audience.  But the professional shuckers weren't the only ones competing.  Spectators raced to see who could eat 12 oysters the fastest.  This years winner slurped down his dozen in less than 10 seconds.

With the smell of sea salt covering my clothes, I left the restaurant around 3:00pm and headed back to Lafayette for the day's top festivity...The Alabama vs. Arkansas Game.  Because NYU's lacking in the football department, tailgating isn't really a Saturday tradition on our campus.  But, with it being the first real SEC matchup for Alabama this season, I felt like it needed to be celebrated.  Plus, one of my fellow Southern Laf RA's is a Razorback fan, so I wanted to be there to rub it in his face with they lost.  For my game day cuisine, I paired a few of my mom's favorite recipes along with my own specialties.  And if you ask me, I'd say we ate quite well:  100 pigs in a blanket, chocolate-chip  dip, Roll Tide cupcakes, chicken wings and spinach artichoke dip.  Adorned in my crimson and white U of A dress, I cheered for the elephants just as loud as if I were actually at the game.  The game's final score stood at 38-14; it was a good day for any Alabama fan.  
Just Some of Our Food
On Sunday morning, I had my first building wide event.  For the Arts Collateral's September event, we planned a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.  I'd never been there before, and I must admit I was rather impressed.  Works by Picasso, Monet, and Cezanne hung on the walls, but it was the special exhibits that really caught my attention.  The winner of the 2010 Hugo Boss Prize covered his entire space with 100,000 $1 bills.  If you haven't seen it, please make a special trip!
Money, Money Money...Money!
Following my museum visit, I edited some video footage then made my way back to Lafayette for our third floor event.  We've been feeling a little bad about all the junk food we'v been feeding our residents, so instead of your typical sweet, we made 100 smoothies.  Of course they weren't all finished, so I probably drank 5 or 6 banana-strawberry soy smoothies while my Co-RA downed 10 whole milk variations.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Le Basket


For my first journalism assignment of the semester, my professor wanted us to visit a restaurant or cafe around campus and shoot 20-30 scenes that we think best represent it.  After a quick Q-and-A amongst some of the Laf RAs, I decided upon Le Basket.  Nestled on the corner of Broadway and Third, it seems like just your typical NYC deli, but customers say it's their outdoor seating and abundant Four Loko that keep them coming back.  Despite looking like a complete creepster (you figured I had my camera, a tripod, a boom mike, huge headphones, and a ridiculously long extension cord), the owner graciously let me film inside the bodega-esque store Friday afternoon.  The salad bar, the sandwich line, the coffee station, and the chip rack were among the still options I shoot.  Interviews were a little hard to come by, but Marty McFresh's (yes that's his real name) was definitely usable.  Sure, he may have been promoting Four Loko (not so much Le Basket), but every time I watch it I can't help but smile.  Plus, since he actually spoke it complete sentences, it should be a super simple edit.

But, it was the footage I got Saturday night that showed what makes Le Basket a frequent hangout amongst NYUers.  With Broadway as their backdrop, twenty somethings perched themselves around the outside metal tables.  As night faded into morning, more 24oz. pop tabs were pulled, and more interviews were conducted.  The general consensus revealed that Le Basket is a great place to hangout when you're broke.

I just showed my professor the material from my Le Basket adventure.  After a quick tutorial in Final Cut, it looks like I'll be editing my raw footage to actually create a package.  So, be sure to check back sometime next week for a finalized version.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First Floor Program


Last night the 11th Floor held our first floor event, Sunday Sundaes.  And, I'm pretty excited to say 32 people showed up.  Granted five were RAs, but that doesn't discredit the programs success. My CO-RA and I decided the only way to insure people would come was with free food, so we spend our Saturday afternoon making homemade (I guess it'd actually be dormmade) ice cream.  To showcase my Southern roots, we of course followed the Paula Deen recipe I've become some familiar with.  To represent Michael's home state of Minnesota, we made an "Ice Cream" playlist filled with popular songs from Midwestern bands.

Because our floor houses 69 residents, we had to make two batches of vanilla ice cream.  My roommates didn't quite understand the noise coming from the ice cream maker; one just thought I'd left the blinder on for too long.  But both agreed the annoying crunching of ice and rock salt was well worth the results.

To make our sundae party more authentic, we purchased hot fudge syrup, caramel sauce, strawberry drippings, whipped cream, and chocolate sprinkles.  And for all our lactose intolerant/vegan visitors, Oreo cookies were available.

Our total cost for the program was $45.  Not to shabby if you consider we had to buy eggs, sugar, milk, 4 cans of evaporated milk, 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and 28 pounds of ice.  We're thinking next week's event wont be quite has complicated; perhaps just a visit to Happy Dumplings will suffice.