Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Have Made Fiii-yaaaahh!

I love that scene in Castaway.

You know the one - the one where Tom Hanks is running around with just a loincloth, dirt and charred marks streaked all over his body, waiving a blazing torch after cracking humanity's code for making fire.

I love it.

It's so primitive, so raw, so sincere. Here's a guy who is ready to do cartwheels on some god forsaken island because he managed to manipulate solid particles and gas and give birth to a flame without so much as a Zippo, a book of matches or a chef's torch.

Turns out Ikea has everything you need should you ever get trapped in that behemoth of a store in West Chester. Oh, the humanity. Picture it. Suburbanites throwing themselves against the glass doors, desperate to escape to the safe confines of their massive SUVs.

But I digress.

All you need to start a fire at Ikea is a wooden hanger, some rope, some other kitchen utensils and some decorative sea grass.

Does sea grass grow freely in Sweden?

Next time, leave the JUBLA pillar candles alone and pull a Tom Hanks.

The store will love you.

(Hat tip to one of my fave DIY blogs, Ikea Hacker, for sharing this nugget).

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Freshy Fresh

Most of me is anatomically proportionate.

Everything seems to fit my 5' 8" frame. My feet, my legs, my head. Yes, I have a rather large chest, but my carriage seems to hold it well. It all fits together just *so*, assembling a form with which I'm comfortable.

For all of my neat and tidy measurements, there is one affliction that is my cross to bear. This unfortunate dynamic normally rears its head around meal time, pointing out the ugly nature of my physical challenge, and is usually only sated by noshing on copious noms.

You see, my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

Oh, you may wave off my claim, having perhaps seen my eyes once before, and assuredly saying they're appropriately sized for the rest of my body. But, no, I must retort. My eyes are as big as beautiful, painted china saucers, and my stomach as small as warn leather pouch.

This predicament made itself known at lunch time last week when I decided to soothe the savage beast not with music, but the cornucopia of culinary goodness at Fresh Table.

Fresh Table is one of the newest stalls to take up space at Over-the-Rhine's beloved Findlay Market. It's so new that last week co-owner/chef Meredith Trombly told me they didn't have any information available online, however I googled and found the website linked above. I don't know that self promotion is Fresh Table's strong suit, but then again, people don't turn up at their glass cases for schlock, they turn up for the food.

And it is sooooo good.

So. Anyway. Eyes bigger than my stomach. That predicament. There I was, faced with dozens of tasty salads, pastas, veggies and other offerings, trying to decide what pound and a half of food to eat for lunch.

You know the average American eats 4.7 pounds of food a day, right?

I drooled over massive piles of meaty lasagna, two kinds of chicken salad, a savory bread pudding, prime rib, two kinds of potato cakes. In all, Meredith told me they aim to offer around 40 or 50 made-from-scratch dishes/entrees every day. The dishes are made as needed, and she says they haven't had a single dud recipe since they opened less than a month ago.

After wiping the saliva off my chin, I settled on half a pound of grilled veggies, half a pound of the curry chicken salad, and a quarter pound of a spicy Thai pasta.

The grilled veggies were tender but firm and full of that smoky, charred flavor people seek from a grill.

The curry chicken salad was better than my mom's (please don't tell her). Its flavors were very dynamic, sometimes spicy and sometimes deeply savory, punctuated by the sweetness of the many raisins.

The Thai pasta was probably my favorite. The noodles cooked to the perfect firmness, slippery with perhaps a bit too much oil but zippy thanks to a Thai pepper dressing, cilantro and a nice sweetness.

Each dish I enjoyed was $7.99 per pound - a price that another Findlay Market vendor remarked was too rich for his blood. For an everyday work day lunch, I'd probably agree, as I consider it a triumph if I can score lunch for six bucks or less.

Still, I could see Fresh Table being my go-to place when serving dinner to friends in the evening and needing a source of quick, gourmet offerings to round out a meal.

And I was pleased when Meredith told me she'll deliver to folks in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown Cincinnati, meaning I can even "order in" if feeling lazy.

Keep in mind, Fresh Table keeps the same hours as Findlay Market, so consider that as you make plans to swing by or have something delivered.

I'm glad Fresh Table has joined the neighborhood, and am also thrilled they'll help me slay the dragon when my eyes-are-bigger-than-my-stomach starts acting up.

If I make this place a regular habit, my stomach might just outgrow my eyes.

Oy. I don't know if that's a good thing.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Hall O' Death

The state of broadcast news is evolving at warp speed.

The industry has changed dramatically since I dove in head first eleven years ago.

Back then, there was no such thing as Twitter or Skype. These days, local and network newsrooms are relying on social media news to bring viewers the latest breaking developments from around the globe.

Just watch this clip.

Kudos to Fox 4 DFW for not taking themselves too seriously and spoofing social media.

As a former news producer and current social media superuser, I can't get enough of this clip.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pull Up A Seat

Talk about a flurry of a weekend.

Friday evening, the OtR set headed to Tostado's Grill for some karaoke and dirt cheap beer.

Loved hanging out with my pals at this fun spot. But a note for the guy who runs the karaoke: Dude, if you're gonna completely disregard my request, and give my song to someone more than an hour and a half after I request it, I'm gonna have to report you for being lame.

For reals.

Saturday started off with a smash, er, the replacement of my smashed car window. Such is live living in the big city. Note to city dwellers - check to see if "dealer glass" is cheaper than the replacement glass provided by the glass company. Glass from the Saab dealership was cheaper by more than two hundred bucks.


After the window replacement bit, I decided to treat myself and head on up to Lebanon, Ohio to buy an antique chair I spotted a week ago while exploring the northern regions with my pal Joe.

Behold, the beloved antique chair - complete with brand new caning - for a grand total of $17.

While cruising through the stalls at the Broadway Antique Mall, I found another chair I just had to have. A vintage/retro chair with (I believe) an oak frame, upholstered in a clean, turquoise vinyl, trimmed with silver studs on the back. You can just make out the studs on the right side of the chair in the picture below.

My bedroom is finished with linens in blue and cream, and I think this chair is a perfect, eclectic edition.

Saturday night was a trip to the West Side - a rare occasion  for this girl raised on the East Side (for those of you not from Cincinnati, you can read about this mythical dividing line here). We went to Maury's Tiny Cove for dinner, a joint that looks like it's half Regal Beagle and half throwback to my days of visiting Nana and Papa in Youngstown.

You can read the online reviews for yourself. They pour a nice (albeit warm) Manhattan and the cut of Prime Rib was amazingly thick and super delicious. I was happy to have soaked up this retro scene (complete with steer horns hanging on the walls) despite leaving my passport at home.

East Side for life, yo.

Sunday was a melange of activity - catching up with my best gal pal, Bluegrass Brit, over a trip to Neltner's Farm and Greenhouse in Camp Springs, Kentucky. Several of us ladies made the excursion up the AA Highway to enjoy a hayride, pick out pumpkins and admire crafts galore.

The hayride was a bit bumpy, and I wished I was wearing a sports bra, but all in all it was a great escape from city life.

Afterwards, we sipped on hefeweisen and noshed on copious amounts of gluttonous food at Newport's Hofbrauhaus - the perfect cure when one is walking with a touch of a hangover.

Sunday night involved a trip to the Mercedes dealership on Montgomery Road for a charity wine tasting supporting research to find a cure for epilepsy (shout out to my one of my besties, Julie, for the tix). Great sushi from Embers and a variety of delicious wines from several wineries including the well made local vintage Burnet Ridge.

Sadly, no take-home party favors involving a CLK 430, but I sure had my fingers crossed.

One final note.

I made a stop at the Rookwood Charming Charlie on Saturday afternoon after the excursion to Lebanon. This place is basically a "Claire's Boutique for Grownups" and could financially ruin anyone who craves nice accessories.


I scored the necklace and earrings featured in the picture below for a whopping $20. I love it because the balls look like either gray pearls or polished silver (matching my daily pieces).

So, there I was last night, noshing on delicious food and sipping fine wine, when this older British letch gentleman approached me. He leaned toward me, eyed my neck, and whispered, "I love your balls."

I was flattered/shocked/creeped out in one fell swoop.

But the comeback was obvious.

"Thanks. You should see my other balls. They're as big as watermelons."

Hope y'all have a great week,

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Friday, October 15, 2010

It Will Get Better

Pull up a seat, why don't you? I'm about to get really personal.

Let's put aside the events and introspection and downtown nightlife adventure. Let me press pause on talking about life out-and-about, and instead tell you about another time in my life when I was shut in.

A time when I really felt I wanted to die.

Yeah, we're gonna get a little heavy here.

My story is not unique. Surely you've heard many tales about the young people taking their lives after coping with brutal bullying. Many students have similar cases of heartbreak, but my story is my own, and if it helps you put a face to a victim of bullying, then I am happy to share.

I'm also happy to tell anyone who may be struggling with their own times of trial.

It was 1990. I was in seventh grade. A decidedly dorky girl with "white girl afro" frizzy hair and the worst wardrobe this side of the Mississippi. It wasn't my mother's fault - she did her best to help me keep up with appearances and stock the closet with Esprit, Pasta, Guess? and every other brand coveted by the junior high set.

Unfortunately, every piece of clothing looked just a bit off on me. Red checked Esprit pants ended up looking like a Bob Evans tablecloth when I wore them. My black-with-white-polka-dots Guess? jeans? They were decidedly rodeo clown.

The point is, the world was not ready to embrace my personal brand of style, and I was too young to disregard what anybody thought.

I was an easy mark.

And so it began. Between my ill fitted fashion sense and my brainy tendencies (it seems junior high is not the best time to be heralded for checking out the most library books in a given year), I was earmarked a dork. A nerd. A geek. A loser.

Most of those monikers were ones I was comfortable carrying - something about that chant, "That's alright, that's okay. You will work for me one day," that I kept humming inside my head.

That's when the name calling became brutally mean.

Between seventh and eighth grade, someone decided to circulate the inaccurate and hurtful rumor that I was gay - a tough thing to be branded at 13, especially when it's not true. Especially when your school district is ill prepared or unwilling to handle the abuse.

In a two-grade school with about a thousand students, I was likely degraded, teased, insulted, and threatened by no less than 400 students a day.

A day.

With few exceptions, teachers did nothing to stop the abuse. In fact, one teacher called my mother to tell her I had a "problem," and informed my mother that she sent me to a male counselor to "talk about it."

This school district - one of the most affluent in Cincinnati - clearly did not have their shit together where student harassment was concerned.

It was my cross to bear.

Every day. Verbal abuse. Teenage monsters threatening the few friends I treasured. Cretins tripping me and yanking my books out of my arms. Wickedly cruel people defacing my locker.

Textbook tactics of harassment.

It has a way of grating on you after a while.

For all the abuse, I managed to keep things bottled up, even with my parents.

I distinctly remember sitting with them in the family room one weekend afternoon. I was wearing a navy blue Benetton sweatshirt we'd bought in Austria a couple years prior. My parents pleaded  with me to talk to them. They begged me to trust them and open up.

Home was the one place where I was safe. It was the one place I could go and never hear those words, never feel that pain. And that was the way I wanted to keep it.

I was so afraid that, by talking about it with my mom and dad, home would no longer be a place where I could forget about the harassment.

There were a few times where I honestly thought life was too hard to survive. Thankfully, my dad told me that, no matter what burdens life dished out, there's nothing - nothing - that's too difficult to survive.

I cling to those words in my adulthood.

And I know my father's right.

The tormenting harassment of my early years has actually done a few wonderful things for me. It's made me incredibly resilient where hearsay is concerned. These days, I can give a flying fish what others say or think about me.

I am also extremely compassionate and supportive of the GLBTQ community. While I am straight, I have personally experienced the abuse, harassment and discrimination that gay and lesbian folks experience.

Nobody, regardless of their race, religion, creed or orientation, deserves to be treated with anything less than acceptance and respect.

I often say I am grateful for everything I've experienced. It's a true statement.

I am grateful I weathered an extremely trying situation that cemented my confidence and gave me steel-like resilience.

And I am grateful I can live to say it will get better. No matter your challenge in life - whether it be constant harassment, grief, heartbreak or another trying time.

I promise this - it will get better.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Like To Dance

Ask my father about his memories of me as a baby, and "drama" is one of the first words he'll utter.

Pursue the conversation a little more, and he will tell you tales of a one and a half year old version of myself, holding on to my father's neck with one hand and grandly waving my other arm, all while dancing to the iconic and legendary "One Of These Nights," by The Eagles.

We'd sway to that harmonious melody, my young self invoking every essence of Saturday Night Fever, complete with miniature disco moves.

I have apparently had a flair for the dramatic since birth.

This drama that bubbles beneath my surface, it adores feather boas and bumpin' music with dramatic bass. It seeks out everything that is high flying, sparkling and sensational. I am a natural when it comes to costumes, wigs and false eyelashes.

And of course, I absolutely adore dancing.

My dramatic diva self is going to get a dose of the good life Thursday evening when Mixx Ultra Lounge in Over-the-Rhine flings open the doors to Stereo, which is being billed as "Cincinnati's most unique dance party."

The 60's inspired pop-art event focuses on diversity and artistic expression, inviting anyone of any community to join in and hit the dance floor with aplomb.

Guests can expect to see over-the-top art installations, wild lights and pop art surrounding the space. Mixx owner Julian Rodgers says he's creating this dance party to help champion the community's diversity and inspire a crowd from every segment of Cincinnati.

Mixx is not charging a cover for the evening, but will serve up cocktails and lite bites including butterfly shrimp, OTR fries, quesadillas and sushi. And renowned mixologist Molly Wellmann will tend the bar, pouring up three craft cocktails for the occasion.

"Mixx Ultra Lounge was created in 2008 to bring people from every walk of life and race together," Rodgers says. "No angle of this event has been overlooked or underdone. I hope that this party ignites everyone's spirit and can bring the city a little closer together.”

You can join the fun crowd at Stereo @ Mixx Ultra Lounge - 1203 Main St., from 10 pm to 2:30 am.

Who knows. I might be the girl in the wig.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

Endless Quest for Company

This is something I needed to see.

I am sure it will strike a chord with many of you, too.

Hat tip to @jenlkessler for sharing this on Twitter.

Thanks to my many friends (IRL and the virtual variety) I mostly feel alone - and not lonely.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Now & Later

Can you really wait for something wonderful?

Are you patient enough to wait for bountiful blessings, or are you willing to reap half of your rewards in exchange for instant gratification?

Whether we are talking professional aspirations, personal goals or romantic conquests, the idea of waiting can be sticky business.

Just look at this video.

The now famous "Marshmallow Experiment" originated as a test by Walter Mischel at Stanford University, and later discussed by Daniel Goleman.

The 1960s test compared a group of four-year-olds. Each were given a marshmallow with the promise they would receive another if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first.

Some kids had the ability to wait - others did not. Researchers followed those children into adolescence and discovered that those kids who could wait were better adjusted and more dependable. They also scored higher SAT scores.

So, what does this mean to you and me?

The "deferred gratification" link I posted above includes a comment that good impulse control may be good for educational achievement and life success.

This is totally along the lines of that rhyme my mom used to say.

Good things come to those who wait.

With the way my life has gone, I imagine that will be engraved on my headstone.

I wait. I wait for everything. I take that whole patience-is-a-virtue thing to an extreme. And I'm okay with that.

Because this waiting game brings on two things: the opportunity to savor the here-and-now, and the chance to anticipate something.

Isn't waiting half the fun of Christmas/Halloween/a birthday/graduation/whatever?

The waiting turns into excitement and anxiousness and an eager burning to receive whatever it is you're expecting.

Whether that be a kiss, a ring, a job offer, an experience or a meal.

For now, I wait.

I savor the bounty presented before me and I know that I will get twice as many marshmallows in the end.
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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Today would have been my niece Maeve's third birthday.

We lost Maeve to a battle with Noonan Syndrome when she was seven months old. I have not experienced anything else that has made a bigger impact on my life. The grief, heartache, sadness and crushing disappointment of losing Maeve made an indelible mark on my heart and soul, and I live each moment striving to appreciate and revel in my own gift of life.

Three years ago, we were given an amazing gift. Maeve. I have no idea what or where she is now, and that is why I think of her as a little star.

I "bought" a star and named it after Maeve when we observed the first anniversary of her passing. Today, the words to a traditional nursery rhyme mean more to me than most folks.

Thinking about the spark that was Maeve's life helps me wade through my own dark times.

Oh, Maeve. I do, indeed, wonder what you are.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky!


*Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!*

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.


Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.


In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.


As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark,—
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

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