Friday, April 29, 2011

Photography and Irony.

So, we all have this friend who generally does NOT take the best pictures ever. He's a good poet and a good person, but his camera skills usually leave something to be desired.

And we all make fun of him--in a good-natured way of course. Even HE has admitted that he's not the best photographer--and he's enlisted my boyfriend to take pictures at poetry events that we all attend.

Fast-foward to yesterday, when Nicole (who works with Andy Thomas, the guy whose book I am co-authoring) came over to snap a headshot of me for the back of the book. She took several pictures of me, and frankly, I didn't like any of them as much as I wanted to.

"You know, I don't love any of these..." I said to her, knowing she was probably getting more agitated by the second. But I'm vain. I can't help it.

We finally decided on becoming Facebook pals, and she went through my profile picture album in the hopes of finding something appropriate for the book. She finally did and called me. When she described the pose, I realized it was a photo that my friend--the so-called bad photographer--took of me on Monday Night Poetry and Music!

"We can give your friend credit for the photo. Just email me his name," said Nicole. So I did, rather gleefully.

Take that, Alanis Morisette. Irony isn't always about bullshit happening in life--sometimes it can be downright amusing and awesome!

Happy weekend, my readers!

The famed portrait. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever.

I got a basket of freshly-picked strawberries today from our local Boone Hall Farms.  I'm working on an article about the upcoming Strawberry Festival, and I picked these beauties up at the Boone Hall market.

They're delicious. Juicy and so red that the juice looked almost like blood when it dribbled onto my napkin and fingers. I'm thinking about dipping a few of the berries into a pool of dark chocolate, and maybe making a simple shortcake with the others. I've also heard they're great with balsamic vinegar.

What strawberry recipes do you have, readers? I'd love to have ideas!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Best Easter Ever.

 I had a great time celebrating in Litchfield over the weekend. It was crammed with family, friends, good food and gorgeous beach time. Stefan didn't get a sunburn either, thanks to SPF 50 'screen.

Some of the highlights:

1. We tried a couple of new restaurants. One of the best parts of living around tourism is constantly testing the new venues. We had Pastaria in Litchfield on Friday night (yummy NY style pizza) and Spuds in Murrells Inlet Saturday night! The view of the inlet was breathtaking. Then Sunday we tried out the Applewood Pancake House right down the street. BEST french toast EVER.

2. Alice was shopping at the thrift store on Saturday after breakfast, so we joined her. Stefan scored an awesome vintage camera, plus accessories, for a rock-bottom price. I found a book that I've been loving ever since. I read like a hundred pages of it on the beach. It's not literary, but it's a good summery read. I'm trying not to feel guilty for putting the classics aside while I savor it.

3. Uncle Philip was sharing stories that I've never heard before. Some were real, Southern Gothic tales about people from the past who were just plain remarkable. Since my uncle is also a writer, he retains these tales as fodder for his own stories. I really enjoyed listening at the kitchen table while we ate pastel-wrapped Hershey Kisses. Family time can be good.

4. I got to see almost all of my beach pals. Alice was there, John Myers made TWO appearances, and Jenn Merrell joined us for dinner on the inlet.

5. Mass on Sunday was remarkably good--thanks to the uber-young priest, I'm guessing, who claimed that his "favorite part of being a priest is sprinkling people with Holy water."

Can't wait until the next trip! Happy Easter to my readers!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eat Mor Chikin.

Isn't that what the cows on those Chick Fil A marketing posters insist that we do? Well, if they met me this spring, they'd be thoroughly pleased. I have eaten MORE CHICKEN than I ever thought possible! And naturally, Chick Fil A has been one of my staples.

I was pondering this moments ago, in the drive-thru, and when I got up to the window I actually struck up a conversation about it with the adolescent who served me my nuggets.

"Ulgh. I never thought I could get sick of Chick Fil A, but I have," I announced. "I gave up beef for Lent."

He looked at me like I was crazy.

"Why would you do THAT?" he exclaimed. "I wouldn't be able to LIVE without beef. I mean, what's the purpose of giving it up?!"

I didn't go into the whole spiel about Jesus and sacrifice. Why bother?

"There IS no purpose, apparently," I moaned. "Except to endure iron deficiency!"

He gave me a sympathetic look as I drove out of sight. I never thought the kid who sells chicken for a living would understand, but life is funny. I think next year I'll go back to giving up vodka. It's healthier.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

LITCHFIELD! It Never Gets Old.

I love my beach house and I love Litchfield Beach. My friends make fun of me because I "plan beach trips" when I live right down the road from Folly.

But Litchfield is different. I've been going there since I was born, and every time I step foot into that house I feel incredibly fortunate. It's been the scene of both wholesome family moments, and secret rendezvous.

This weekend (Easter) is the first official beach trip of the year. Stefan and I are pumped. We're staying in the musty downstairs while my Uncle Philip and his gang are upstairs. But we have plans to thoroughly enjoy ourselves, including an evening with Alice at the Hot Fish Club. Heck yeah. I gotta buy sunscreen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Summer Travel Plans.

I haven't been on a proper vacation in a few years. Like, since I went to New York in 2008! Beyond that trip, all I've done is take lil' road trips around my region. Make no mistake--Stefan and I had a blast last summer touring our great state! We spent time in Litchfield (duh), Beaufort and the surrounding islands, upstate to see Alice, and even Atlanta.

This year I'm determined to take a real trip, actual suitcase and all. Unfortunately, the reason I haven't been many places lately is because of the financial woes of being a freelance writer. (See my last post!) But tonight I just  discovered cheap plane tickets to visit New Orleans--a place I've always wanted to go, but I've never been. Two of my friends, Jhesika and Jenny, live there. So lodging would be quite inexpensive. All in all, it's totally doable.

New Orleans Skyline

We're also thinking about driving down to Florida at some point. My pal Mariann lives down there, as well as a couple of Stefan's relatives. So, a trip to New Orleans and a trip to Florida may be in our plans. Not that plenty of weekends won't be spent in Litchfield, Beaufort and elsewhere in the Lowcountry--but that's standard!

What are the rest of you planning?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Tax Man Cometh.

Being a freelance writer can be hard. That's no secret. But when tax time rolls around, it can get even harder. I fortunately have an awesome accountant, my friend Heidi Stepzinski. We went to college together and she's always done a great job with my taxes. (Plus she charges me drinks and a lunch, which is hardly a fee when we're having a good time!!)

Back in grad school (and before that) tax time was fun. You'd get back mad cash and go on vacay. But nowadays, since I work mostly freelance and have to pay some of my own taxes, April can be very..daunting. Last year I owed a hefty sum, and this year is even heftier!

"Good Lord! More than last year?!" I asked Heidi when she told me the amount.

"Well, Denise, you MADE more than you did last year," she shrugged helplessly.


How do the rest of you handle taxes, if you own your own business? Do you pay them quarterly like a good citizen? Or wait til the end of the year and get slapped with a monster-bill?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some Tunes.

You know how you'll go through musical "lulls," where you want new bands to listen to but you aren't finding any? I'd been going through one for a while. It seemed like I wasn't finding any current bands that I liked. Stefan introduced me to the Clientele when we first started dating, and I LOVE them, but I eventually got thirsty for new tunes.

I've found some!

Last night, I fell totally in love with Fitz and the Tantrums, at their show at the Music Farm. It was wild.

And back in February, I discovered another up-and-coming band that I love--the Head and the Heart. (I actually saw them live when they opened for Dr. Dog!)  I can't wait to purchase their album on record store day this weekend! So yeah, so far 2011 is a good year, musically speaking.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Home Remedies...

Friends, the reason I've blogged so much today is that I've been at home with a terrible cold. So terrible, in fact, that I haven't been able to taste anything--not chocolate, not yummy Italian leftovers, nothing.
Not being able to taste my food has to be the worst part about colds. I can handle the constant nose-blowing, and the trippy, medicine-induced dreams. But give me my FOOD, damn it!

Everyone knows there's no medicine that can cure a cold. But today I've been rather adventurous with home remedies. It started innocently enough, asking my sister to bring me some classic OJ from Publix and sucking on zinc lozenges. Then things got a bit desperate.

By the time Stefan brought me Chick Fil A for dinner I was at the end of my rope. I was starving but unable to taste anything.

"Do you think I'd be able to taste raw garlic?" I asked him.

He was willing to go downstairs (we were eating in my room since I could hardly move) and dice up a clove for me. He returned with the garlic chunks, which I strategically placed on my chicken sandwich.

I can't say I actually tasted the garlic, but I may have sort of...sensed it.

Once I finished up my garlicy meal Stefan had another brilliant plan.

"I got this HORRIBLE sinus infection once, and nothing was helping. Finally, one day I downed a glass of vinegar! And my infection was gone!"

"A glass of vinegar?" I repeated skeptically.

"Yes. Do you have any?"

Quicker than you can utter the words "easter egg dye," Stefan charged downstairs, found the vinegar, and brought me a yummy glassful. I eyeballed it.

"I guess I'll try it. I can't taste anything anyhow!"

Turns out, you don't have to taste vinegar to know it's in your mouth--it burns like hell. Stefan kept encouraging me to drink big gulps, but I could only muster tiny sips. The glass is still beside me as I type this blog.

Has anyone else tried home remedies for colds and other stuff? How did it work for you? Are you sticking to Nyquil or what?

A Package for ME?!

There's nothing better than getting a package in the mail, and my friend Jhesika just sent me one with all kinds of goodies! I got two bottles of her homemade bath oil (just in the nick of time, after I walked myself ragged around the Riverbanks Zoo yesterday) and sweets from a New Orleans shop called Bittersweet Confections, where Jhes concocts lots of treats for customers in the Big Easy. Check out their website if you're in New Orleans! (Jenny, this means you..they have stuff besides chocolate. )

This Place is a ZOO!

Stefan and I made the trek to Columbia yesterday, to enjoy a day at the Riverbanks Zoo with my childhood friend Kristi, her hubby Dan, and their adorable baby Dylan! We had a blast. I saw a lot of awesome animals, but of course, I'm always partial to the giraffes. They remind me of myself--tall, peaceful, and somewhat awkward. <3

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kid Cereal.

I went grocery shopping tonight, and I bought a box of Cocoa Puffs. Yep, you read that right. I've always had a secret obsession with kiddie cereal. Especially chocolatey ones. Especially ones with birds as the mascot.

Cereal has always been one of my favorite foods. Back when we lived at my grandma's house, the only "not good for you" food she would buy us was cereal--usually Cocoa Krispies. I'd devour a bowl as my nightly snack (usually while I read The Babysitters Club or something). It was a treat.

But it's not like I eat sugary stuff all the time. Nowadays I typically buy very grown up cereals, like Cheerios. Made with grains and stuff. But today I decided to be a rebel and buy this. I've already eaten a bowl, and it's awesome--kinda like being ten.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Full Circle.

I bought this little notebook to keep in my purse, at the Columbia Museum of Art's gift shop during the "Who Shot Rock 'n Roll" exhibit. The funny thing is, this notebook is the exact same one I had back in 2007--it's my old notebook's twin.

Since I bought it, I've noticed some other stuff in my life "coming full circle." It seems lately that life has a sort of circular pattern to it--particularly in autumn or spring, when the seasons change. I think about visiting old friends...revisiting old haunts....

I got a phone call last week from my old friend Bill, from the college days. Since I was having a tough week at that point, I took the call as a good sign. Then, I got a call from another friend I seldom talk to these days...and another! It was like all these people from my past were reaching out to me.

Plus, I've been listening to old Smashing Pumpkins records (Siamese Dream, anyone?) and lying out in the sun, trying to reconnect with myself--the self that renews her attitude and her vision every spring.

My little notebook knows the mistakes I made back in 2007--but she also knows the strides forward I will make in 2011.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Leapin' Lizards!

This Spring, a family of lizards has taken residence on our mailbox. I keep seeing them every time I check the mail in the morning. They'll tentatively poke their heads out, curious but cautious. Yesterday I caught one on camera.

See its head poking out? Shy lizard.

I hope they decide to hang around for a while.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ready, Set, Curl.

As the weather heats up, my curls get..curlier. I can't say I spent much time straightening my hair this Winter though. I just could not be bothered! Luckily, my friend,  Jhesika Menes, sent me this awesome picture. She said it "reminded her of me."

It inspired me to hunt down the article, which I found, and love. If you have curly hair it's a great read. I sort of wish it had been in a magazine for younger girls though--they're the ones who need to hear it.

"Curl Power" by Meredith Maran for Ladies' Home Journal