So that’s what, 12,000 words?


This past weekend, I took advantage of the beautiful sunny weather and braved the tourists to go downtown. I went to the National Mall to take some pictures and be lazy, but the wind was insane, so I quickly took my pictures and ran inside the Smithsonian Castle. In all reality, I should have expected the wind, since it’s characteristic of this time of year in D.C. I don’t know if it’s lake-effect wind coming off of the ocean or what, but it’s pretty fierce (thank you, Tyra Banks). I was especially excited to see some cherry trees blooming already. Can’t wait for the festival!

























I never liked Petri dishes anyway.


Dane is convinced that I’m a germaphobe. I don’t really buy into it, but I will concede that I do have a bit of fear against funky bacteria. But it’s not my fault.


When I was kid growing up in the back woods of Western North Carolina, trash disposal solutions were a bit more creative than those city folk who paid to have a truck come get their neatly-contained bags off the curb. The waste companies didn’t drive out to where we lived, so we had to take our trash to the landfills ourselves. “Eco-friendly” wasn’t a part of Southern culture at that point (and still really isn’t), so it was common for Southerners to burn their paper trash and take whatever couldn’t be burned to the dump. Since the landfill charges by weight, why take all that paper junk that could be disposed of for free? (If you consider yourself “green”, I know this has to be painful.)

When it came to spoiled food, we didn’t have a garbage disposal that connected to our septic tank (we had a well), so our other options were to put it in with the trash to be burned (can’t have a fire if your fuel is wet), the trash going to the landfill (why pay extra for the added weight), or you could just chuck the old, gross, stinky food out into the woods for the opossums, skunks, and raccoons to ingest. The culture chose option number three and hasn’t really looked back since. As a youngster growing up in the holler, it was my job to take the bowl/bucket/tin can of slop (if we were farmers, this would be the sow’s cue) out back to the woods and chuck it. This was the worst part of my week.

I detested the smell of pinto beans that had been leftovers for a week too long, the blue-green fuzz that was growing on anything with dairy in it, and the smell of any meat, real or fake, that had been neglected far past its shelf-life. It was a chore that I could handle by myself at that age, so my mom consistently left it up to me to dispose of all that muck. (I’d say she didn’t want to smell it either, but you don’t know my mother. She could handle it and then some, she just didn’t want to take time away from wiping down the fridge shelves to run outside.) I whined profusely, using any tactic possible to get out of having to hold that nastiness in front of me, risking the possibility that I might trip and end up wearing rancid food. But my mother, who comes from a long line of farmers and, despite her city ways, isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, wouldn’t budge. “Laura, just DO IT.” (Nike owes her some money, I believe.)

So fast-forward to 2011: I take Greek yogurt and blueberries to work with me one morning. I enjoy my food, put the lid on the Rubbermaid container, and place it in a bag with other miscellaneous items that I’m carrying around that day. I have errands to run after work, so I throw the bag in the back seat of my car and go about my day, forgetting that the very thing I fear most is coming to life in my precious car. Do I remember to grab the bag when I’m done for the day? No, of course not. That would be responsible of me. Fast-forward again to a couple of weeks later: I’m finally cleaning out my car before I take a trip home and what do I find? You bet your butt. I find a plastic container with more black dots on it than a Dalmatian. I immediately squeal, look around to see if anyone heard me, then take out the silverware also in the bag, tie the bag up really tight, and run over to the trash can in the parking lot to dispose of the nastiness, container and all. I never had to smell the stank or burn my retinas with its ugliness.



So yes, babe, I guess I am a germaphobe.




Yours in OCD splendor,


Wherein we disover the meaning of life.


Like many Americans, I love ice cream. There’s something about the texture, the creaminess, and the endless flavor combinations that I can’t get enough of. Growing up, my parents and I loved to go to the same Chinese restaurant and I would always end the meal with their mint chocolate chip ice cream. It was inexpensive, the ice cream and the restaurant in general, but it was just so good. So from then on, my favorite flavor was mint chocolate chip. I loved the refreshed feeling I got from the mint, and the chocolate, well, it’s chocolate. It was perfect then, and still is, as far as I’m concerned.

But as I grew older, I discovered more flavors in general, which translated into more ice cream flavors. I realized just how much I loved peaches: the fruit, artificial flavors, and of course, ice cream. Breyer’s and Edy’s both make great peach-flavored ice creams. I lived for Breyer’s strawberry as well–it’s just too perfect.

Then puberty hit (like a Panzer running into a brick wall) and I discovered the truly medicinal capabilities of any form of chocolate ice cream. Bad heartbreak? Rocky Road. Teenage friend drama? Turtle Tracks. Cramps from the depths of all hell? Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, which I still turn to on occasion for non-judgmental solace.

As a Southerner, vanilla ice cream is ubiquitous, making appearances more as “รก la mode” than a stand-alone flavor. I mean, there’s just not much to vanilla by itself, but throw it on top of some just-out-of-the-oven blackberry and/or peach cobbler? I can die a happy camper. Someone’s grandmother just made her famous apple pie from scratch, so what do you do? Cover it in vanilla goodness, of course. There’s something about those flavors that cause them to work better together than apart. It truly is a beautiful phenomenon.

More recently, as I’ve become a coffee aficionado, I’ve learned to make room for coffee ice cream in my life. Add some chocolate chunks and some strawberries? I’m done for. It’s also great to use in various recipes, adding a depth to the dish that is hard to put your finger on upon devouring the dessert, thanks to how well the coffee ice cream blends with the other ingredients. (Check out this recipe for Killer Coffee Dessert.) (It might be called “Killer” because if you eat too much, that’s exactly what it’s going to be.)


So, I’ve just got to know…