by Isabelle

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Second Chance

Yes, it is a little late to be posting. However, this was the only time I was able to allot for blogging (this relates to the subject of this post more than you can know at this point). Though I understand that most will not be reading this immediately after I click "publish", I hope my words will still be applicable in the future (whether it be soon or far off). Tonight, while at work, I was told by a waitress, whom I admire and respect greatly, that she intended to move and so that she can live. While I stood at the counter, thinking that this conversation would soon become too intellectual for a brief chat in the kitchen, a thought struck me. Here she is, in the middle of her life, just now realizing that life's obligations have withheld happiness from her. I suddenly realized that this was not told to me because of the sadness her absence would create (though it is immense), but for a larger purpose. I have to understand that though hard work can produce confidence in oneself, this is not equivalent to happiness. For many years, I have thought the opposite was true. For many years, I was wrong.

I realize that this entire post sounds cliched. Life = one large cliche. 
Become acquainted with this sad truth. 

Photo from here

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Cookies

Today, with the feeling that many items in our pantry needed to be decreased in amount or rid of altogether, I decided to make "Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink" Cookies. While accomplishing my initial goal, I was also able to create a unique (yet still delicious!) cookie. Though some errors were made (today I've been somewhat off and a few ingredient issues resulted) the final product was more delicious than I had at first thought possible. Sweet and salty mix-ins (my favorites: toffee bits, white chocolate chips, peanuts, and pretzels) created texture in variety in what would have been a plain cookie.
Lesson learned: Sometimes less really is not more

Photos from here

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Made homemade vanilla extract with my mother today
Yesterday was an indication of how quickly my moods can change given the current situation. I realized that I am too heavily invested in every moment of life, so that I respond to everyone's highs and lows as if they were my own. While considering this fact, I realized something else: I think too much. I think to an extent where I begin thinking about what I am thinking (yes, metacognition). I give every aspect of life equal consideration: both the good and the bad. While the positive moments create utter elation, the negatives do the same yet in the opposite direction. You would think this would create balance - to the point where I would reach a neutral state that lacks any feeling or emotion at all. However, as it is human to do so, I focus more of my attention on the negative aspects of life. While society seems to be telling me to remain positive, confusion is created when at the same time I am told to learn from my mistakes (therefore focusing on them).
I'm beginning to think ignorance actually is bliss.

Photo from here

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lemon Tea

Lemon Tea

Sitting down to share my thoughts, I am drinking aggressively from my mug of lemon tea. I state aggressively because that is exactly how I am consuming this - I cannot wait for my tongue to taste the next punch of this particular citrus flavor. While I would not consider this beverage to necessarily be considered tea, this is the closest definition I have found. Simply mix together lemon juice and sugar (or sugar substitute) to taste into a mug of warm water. While (as I'm sure you would be able to guess) coffee is my primary drink choice, this works nicely when I'm in the mood for something more...tangy. What do you drink for warmth and comfort? As you can see my current options are not many...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekend (& Movie) Review: The Graduate

Saturday night. This evening has been called "date night" and thought of as the most fun, relaxing, exciting, stimulating, (etc.) night of the week. However, for myself, I typically have two options each week: work or homework. Because of this, I would not associate Saturday night with the above descriptions. Two days ago I wasn't called into work, so I assumed the evening would pass simply as it had in prior weeks. However, as I settled onto the couch, prepared to complete papers and other work with little mental interest, I saw a red envelop peeking out beneath an issue of Southern Living. Realizing with sudden glee that I had The Graduate at home from Netflix, I placed it in the DVD player immediately.

The next 1 hour and 42 minutes produced sentiments of joy and bliss. I had never appreciated Dustin Hoffman's talent before this movie (personally, I believe his acting career decreased after his first film), but his awkwardness and later-gained confidence were appropriate for a recent college graduate. In addition, Simon & Garfunkel's dominance over the soundtrack was much appreciated, with songs such as the famous "Sound of Silence" and "Mrs. Robinson" (made famous by this film) playing continually throughout. Lastly, after discussing The Graduate with my mom the next day, I realized that the film was able to accomplish what The Tree of Life had only attempted. The cinematography implied more than the characters' dialogue could achieve. The artistic integrity of the movie was not pretentious. The Graduate seemed simple on the surface, and yet the complex emotions it created could not be placed.
Photo from here

Friday, March 23, 2012

This Weekend I'm...

Springtime Soba with Miso Sauce (Pictures and Recipe from Here)
... rejuvenating (myself)

Why is it that all of the greatest verbs in the English language begin with an "r"? Is it simply a coincidence? There's potential, but one of the most overused cliches of all time (a super cliche I suppose it should be deemed) is the quote "everything happens for a reason". But then again, I do hate to prove a point using a cliche. Nonetheless, this is my schedule for the weekend. Yes, the typical hoops must be jumped through in order to reach these blissful moments, but hopefully they are few.

Photo from here
Though I admit (often) that I love crazy prints, I have developed a new appreciation for simplicity. Strangely, food, clothes, anything looks better on a simplified palette. We see the object(s) for what they are, fresh, organic, unchanged. Though I will continue to intensify this appreciation, there is certainly no reason for me to cut from brightness and prints cold turkey. The image above exemplifies the perfect balance between complexity and simplicity.

That's logical.

P.S. Domino is coming back soon! (My countdown begun a long time ago...)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why Not Attempt for Better (If Not the Best?)

Band of Horses (exemplifies good music)
Never Shout Never (epitomizes mediocre music)

Because my iPod had died on my drive home today, I was forced to listen to the radio. Fumbling through channels on my way to NPR, I realized something: even stronger than my dislike of bad music is my hatred for mediocre music. Though this seems strange, it's actually logical. I can sometimes excuse bad music, because I know that if it is that terrible, then they must be conscious of their failure to produce a pleasing sound. However, when music is between the two extremes, I'm sure the players assume that they have achieved an ideal sound. Oh, how they are wrong. Very, very wrong. Can't this idea be transferred to life in general? If we aren't among the best, what is the reason for playing it safe in the middle? Through life, frustrations have occurred when realizing that I am mediocre in many, many areas. Why waste energy to continue in this state?
Failure > Mediocrity

Images 12

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Flavors of Summer (Oops...Spring!)

I know my praise of the current weather may seem to be in abundance lately, but really, how is it possible that we are experiencing temperatures of eighty degrees in March? This question is not one of complaint, but exactly the opposite. Few clouds hang in the sky today and its light blue color is refreshing (as opposed to its seemingly interminable gray during the preceding weeks). The beauty of nice weather not only lies in its appearance, but also its ability to bring people out of depressed states and outside. Getting all of my other obligations over with early shall allow me time to read outside and to also make this recipe for strawberry sorbet (two days ago I briefly described my family's new infatuation with our ice cream maker). 
Spring time and the livin's easy...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Here, I discussed my excitement for the upcoming release of The Shins' new album Port of Morrow. Well, today is March 20th, meaning that today is the day! I have been awaiting this day with great anticipation, and listening to many of their previous albums (Wincing the Night Away, Chutes Too Narrow, etc.) has me prepared. For the first time in awhile, I won't be downloading music for free.
Money well spent.

Read the album's reviews herehere, and here.

Photo from here

Monday, March 19, 2012

So Distracted!

Mmmmm...Gingersnap Sandwiches with Coconut Key Lime Ice Cream. Photos and recipe from here
In the midst of a currently twenty-two page paper, I find myself browsing the internet for new and exciting recipes. Coconut Key Lime ice cream is certainly appropriate for my family's new obsession with making our own (and ice cream sandwiches are the perfect reason for eating two cookies at once). While these recipes look tempting to make, I must refrain. It is eight o'clock on a Monday evening and I still have at least two and a half hours more of work to do.
Here's to hoping tonight is not an indication of what the rest of the week will be like...

P.S.: I made these and they rocked my WORLD.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A New Challenge...

Here, I described my fascination with trifle dishes. I'll admit, receiving one from my sister this year was one of the best birthday presents I have ever received. However, I have developed a new obsession - soufflĂ©s. From watching the successes on cooking shows and the (many) failures humorously documented in various movies, this dish is both raved about and feared. While I too, am scared of one sinking immediately after pulling it from the oven, this is a challenge I am willing to take on in my culinary pursuits. Now all I need is a soufflĂ© dish.
Details, details...

Photos and recipe from here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

This Weekend

Definitely making these this weekend! (Easy, and for once I have all the ingredients for something without making inconvenient trips to the store).

With my posts this week completely revolving around my excitement towards spring, it should come as no surprise that I will express the same emotion towards a weekend promising beautiful weather and warm temperatures. The next few days will involve tennis, baking, movies, sisterly bonding, tons of biking, and who knows what else?
I just need to get through school tomorrow. Anyone else doing anything (fun, interesting, relaxing, etc.) this weekend?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Taste of Innocence

Animal Crackers - nom, nom, nom...
Though I am feeling a combination of both extreme sickness and intense fatigue, this condition cannot stop me from writing about one of my favorite topics - baking. When you were younger, did you have a favorite sweet; one that reminded you of home, your family, friends, anything blissful and happy? For me, the smell that escaped from the kitchen as my mom made her famous chocolate chip cookies (which coincidentally contain about a cup of shortening and butter as well - only the best things can contain that much fat) was enough to motivate me to stop anything I was doing at the time, and head straight in that direction. Does anyone else have a favorite dessert?

CHOCOLATE (enough said)
and tell me this cake doesn't look simply, well, incroyable!

Photos 123

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Dreams...

What are your fondest memories of spring? Is it the blooming of flowers or enjoying a coffee...outside? Or is it wearing floral-inspired skirts and dresses? Whatever it may be, these dreams may soon become a reality. Though I acknowledge that I have discussed spring and other components of the season a lot recently, my excitement (as I'm sure is the same for yourself) cannot be contained. As I look out the window, images of biking later in the day appear. School, please end.
I need to get outside.

Photo from here

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oh Yes, it is Spring

During a typical Sunday family gathering (where coffee was the main drink option - no, this is not an insignificant detail), we discussed many things, among them the weather. My sister, mother and I shared our hopeful thoughts on the possibility of a continuation of the warm temperatures. However, my dad (who had previously discussed the state of slavery in the south post-Civil War - another depressing topic) stated that this is the Northeast and that we could not except the weather to stay this way. Pessimistic, no? Well, to make the best of the current blissful sixties (oh yes, I am a northern girl), I biked today with glee, debated over whether to wear jeans or shorts (I eventually went with jeans - the morning was chilly), and thought about all of the warm-weather desserts I will begin to create.

Spring, please don't go away.

Photos from here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thank You

A "Thank You" note from Roald Dahl to a young girl who had sent her "dream" to him in a bottle.

My mom continually tells me about a story she heard on NPR (a program I heard while with her). In it, a woman explains how one day she began to send "Thank You" notes and letters to all of the people she knew deserved them from her. She wrote them for both the small and significant effects these individuals had on her. And what resulted? Not only were the recipients of these cards grateful that she acknowledged their existence in her life, but they also felt proud of themselves for making a difference. In addition, the woman explained how the sender also experiences blissful emotions at the thought that their seemingly simple "thank you" could have such monumental positive effects on someone's life.
I suppose giving is better than receiving...

Photo by Pelayo Lacazette

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Don't Call Me a "Foodie", But...

It is said that we eat with our eyes...
While working out yesterday, I had an epiphany (these seem to happen in the strangest of situations). I was lifting weights to the calming voice of Ina Garten (in order to distract me from the tedious activity). I realized then, that while most listen to music while burning calories, I for some reason, listen to the instructions of bakers and cooks as they create the components of a wondrous meal. How can my infatuation be described? Simply as that, an infatuation, an obsession. How is it possible that something can nourish both our body and mind? Only a few things can achieve these states of bliss, food being one of them. Whether or not I shall pursue my passion as a career or continue to bake and cook primarily for friends and family, I do not know.
Only time will tell...

I greatly appreciate the artistic integrity of a well-plated meal...

Photos: 12

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So...The Weather?

Photographs from a recent Martha Stewart Living

Actually, this post will not be discussing awkward conversation starters. Rather, it will elaborate upon the recent changes we have experienced in temperatures. Yesterday morning, while walking outside to put my overly-stuffed bag in my car, I took one step out the door, soon realizing that any part of my body left uncovered (primarily my face) would be subject to mass amounts of pain brought on by extreme temperatures. To my sheer horror, the car's thermometer produced a reading of -7°F. Now I may sound melodramatic, because we in the northeast typically experience temperatures as low as -30°F, but this was a mild winter. Also consider the additional facts: it is March and the previous week consisted of relatively warm weather. Nonetheless, the current signals of spring inspire me to bike, wear a skirt, play tennis, etc. Isn't it funny that sixty degree weather can do such a thing?

Photos by Jennifer Causey

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Movie Review (The Tree of Life)

Immediately upon discovering the movies nominated for "Best Picture" this year, I made it a goal to watch each one before The Academy Awards. Because time did not allow me to accomplish this, I have continued my attempt to watch each film without the deadline. Which did I select to begin this process? The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick. Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn (a favorite actor of mine), and Jessica Chastain. From discussing The Tree of Life with friends, I was excited to see a beautifully-filmed, critically-acclaimed film. However to my dismay, within the first half-hour, I was experiencing something much different. I'll admit, I have grown tired of the quintessential American film, where both the subject matter and characters are sickeningly cookie-cutter. While The Tree of Life certainly did not fit these requirements (thankfully so), it took unique cinematography and plot to extreme levels of obscurity. A simple summations of my thoughts? This movie was pretentious, trying too hard at artistic beauty.

P.S. My dad compared the film to a Pink Floyd concert. Yes, it was that trippy.

But Sean Penn was nonetheless amazing...

And yes, some shots were beautiful

Photos 123

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings

Can we learn more from an experience or place than a textbook?

Yes, it is a common sentiment among youth that our educational system is flawed. However, evidence to support this opinion from the perspective of students is lacking simply because it is not sought after. Why is the motivation to promote this belief absent? Is it possible that we have created a Utopian society and no flaws exist in our schools? Of course not. An idealistic culture is far from attainable. It is more likely that apathy towards work is the reason for this gathered notion. This is not to say that I do not empathize with these thoughts. As stated in this post, my character (who shares many of my frustrations) makes her own clear. While some appreciate an enclosed area dedicated to the development of our minds, this arrangement can often be overly-structured. Boredom is an understated way to define the humdrum activity of note-taking and "ughh" cannot begin to describe one's emotion when opening a textbook. Discussion-based learning and actually understanding as opposed to being briefly introduced to facts will inevitably increase students' participation in their education. 

Of course! Yes, coffee can serve as an intellectual stimulant!
No, I am not denouncing the methods of our schools (though it may appear as such). My purpose is to suggest alterations, because can't change produce beneficial results?

P.S. As I hope you have gathered from this post, I have a large essay due tomorrow. This rant is to serve as both a rebellion against the paper and a source of procrastination.

Photos from here

Friday, March 2, 2012

Let's Be Happy, Eh?

(This proposition is easier if one is outside)
Excerpts from a recent paper (my writing seems to have a reoccurring theme)...

 She lacked a clear understanding of the world, and yet was not discouraged by her personal deficiencies. Her own shortcomings were a direct result of her young age, and for this she carried no intentional fault. Nonetheless, frustrations occurred upon realizing her lacking capabilities in society. Shot down were her attempts of grasping a further understanding of why the clouds were blue, of why it rained.

  Adults were her superiors. This concept acknowledged by the entire human race (yet only enforced by the elder population) confused her all the more. How were leaders and their subordinates chosen? According to the current state of the world, age was the dominating factor – with the exception of many corporations, where CEO's appeared to be becoming younger and younger. How could this be considered a proper indication of one's intelligence? She understood the intentions of those who considered experiences to be the most effective and beneficial sources of knowledge, but the differences between those who were passive and those who actively took part in their education were significant enough to be taken note of. This was why she asked questions. She did not want her age to define her intelligence – not at four when she was beginning to read, not at seventy-four when she beginning to forget how to...

  ...To combat her growing conventional disposition, she began to evade reality. If it was only in her thoughts that she was truly happy, why should she be forced to remain in a state of discontent? Soon, she lived in her own world where physics did not apply, and adults could not determine whether or not her ideas made sense. Here, everything was reasonable, everything made sense. How was this possible? It was simple – nothing was impossible.
   In the real world, her thoughts were threads – weak and two-dimensional. Though they could be felt and perceived, they made little use of an individual's other senses. The thoughts that took place while in this alternate reality were nothing similar to her previous sort. They were more real and comprehensible than anything she had ever experienced. How though, could there be something she considered to be concrete somewhere others would deem not to exist?...

  ...She knew she was a writer, her enjoyment in the activity was too much to ignore. There were too many thoughts moving back and forth through her mind to dismiss this fact. Maybe her world wasn't real, she could accept that. However, what she would never understand was why people would go to such efforts to disprove her beliefs solely based upon what they had merely accepted to be true. This world carried too much confusion, too many people who denounced thoughts they used to passionately defend. She felt less intelligent than in her youth. However, she was not dismayed by this fact. She began to accept that if she were to ever reach a state of happiness, her pursuit of knowledge was to be forgotten. Ignorance created less confusion, less conflict. She began to write in order to warn those similar to her previous self of the depression that would result from their constant questioning. Before she had enough time to consciously take note of the words on the page, her story had been told.

Photo by Ruth Orkin

Thursday, March 1, 2012


While doing my typical rounds through local shops, I happened upon an amazing book over at WREN (check out their website here). Maps by Lena Corwin, contains countless illustrations of various large cities around the world. Though they are not detailed (Note: Do not use the map of Paris if you are looking for directions to the Louvre), the colors and design of each visual are so intricate that their lack of certain components can be ignored. This book inspires me to get out of the States.
Yes, the motivation is there, now only if I had the time...

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