Sunday, 14 December 2014

Wineries in Hawkes Bay

There are 72 wineries in the area of Hawkes Bay on the Northern island of New Zealand. On our trip we visited several of them: Elephant Hill, Craggy Range, The Mission, Clearview, and Vidal.

James and I have only been wine tasting together once before in Uruguay so we were looking forward to trying some amazing wine. New Zealand has an excellent climate for many varieties of grapes and you’ve probably seen some of the options on wine menus in the states. I would encourage you to try them!

We bought a few bottles to take home with us and now our suitcases are pretty heavy. At Clearview, we loved the red dessert wine Sea Red. There are hardly any red dessert wines in the world so we had to take one home. It is sweet, as to be expected, but at 17% alcohol, once opened, the bottle will last a month. Our tasting expert suggested that we pour a bit in a flute, add a strawberry, and top it with sparkling wine. Yum!

Elephant Hill was also a great winery with spectacular views. We ate lunch here one day and the menu is creative and fantastic. (That will have to be a separate post). 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Sydney, Australia

James enjoys traveling and plans some amazing trips for us. We are traveling to Australia and New Zealand for the Christmas break (finals have been given and grades posted). The flight was 15 hours from L.A. but in business class (thank you Delta miles!) it doesn't seem so long.

Because Delta flies to Sydney and we like to use miles, we stopped over to see James' cousin and his wife (and also get over the jet lag a bit). 

We took a fun bus ride to Bondi Beach one morning and walked along the ocean. The surfers were amazing and the weather was to die for. 

Australians are very laid back and friendly. We were surprised at how raucous they can be, however. Haha! They love life and we saw tons of people walking around in bare feet. 

I've read about the Icebergs Club at Bondi Beach and have always wanted to eat there. James thought it was pretentious but I loved the atmosphere. We were able to get a lunch reservation and sipped champagne while overlooking the water! 

Monday, 8 December 2014

“Baby It’s Cold” Needs to Warm Up

In the spirit of Happy Holidays, I feel the need to post about the song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The song has been covered by everyone from Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton (love them) to Michael Buble. The premise of the tune (as you likely know) is that the singers are innocent lovers at his place and she is ready to go home. Although she tells him it is time for her to go, he wants her to stay. They go back and forth in a cute dialogue until he convinces her that it is too cold for her to go home. You know the chorus (sing if if you know it), “But babyyyyy it’s cooolddddd outsiiiiiide!”

After so many sexual assaults reported on campuses across the U.S. but not prosecuted by the alleged victims (usually on advice from the District Attorney), I have been thinking about the now popular Twitter hashtag: #nomeansno. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is one of those songs that may need to warm up to modern times (so to speak).

Look, I’m not completely unreasonable. The song is about snow and cold and romance. I understand that in the day and age when this song was written there was probably no way that a woman was going to stay over at a man’s house that she wasn’t married to anyway and maybe (possibly) he would force her to. I’m just a bit troubled that this is a song that we still hear in the grocery stores, at parties, on the radio, and our children and teens also hear it throughout every Christmas season.

Let’s consider the overall message. Imagine this exchange between your daughter and her boyfriend or a college Freshmen and her Junior holiday party date.

Her: I really can't stay.
Him: But it's cold outside.
Her: I've got to go.
Him: But it's cold outside.

Her: My mom is going to worry.
Him: Beautiful, what's your hurry?
Her: My dad is going to worry.
Him: Check out my awesome fireplace.

Her: Well maybe I’ll stay for one more.
Him: Play some Pandora and I’ll get the drinks.  

Her: Our classmates that live next door are going to gossip.
Him: Who cares? It’s bad out.
Her: What is in this drink?
Him: You aren’t going to be able to get a cab.

Her: I need to say no. No. No.
Him: Come here, a little closer.
Her: I said no.
Him: Why are you trying to hurt my pride?
Her: I really can’t stay.

The conversation goes on and on. He finally manipulates her into staying even though she didn’t want to. The other HIGHLY troubling part of this song is the line, “Say, what’s in this drink?” Did he drug her? That is what's implied here. It’s a bit too creepy for me to still think that it is just a cute song.

Maybe you think I’m overreacting. No problem. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and you are welcome to share it here. But please allow me one last parting thought: if you are with children or teens and this song comes on, why not create a teaching moment? “Have you listened to the words of this song? It might seem silly because it is just a holiday song but - she says she wants to go home and rather than convince her to stay, the right thing to do would be invite her back on another day. If she wants to go home, she should say goodnight and leave. No means no.”

In my younger years, I worked to please other people to an unhealthy extent. Our young ladies need to be confident in standing up for themselves when they are ready to go home (literally and figuratively).  

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Solo Tent Camping - An Idea

Have I told you about my strange obsession with solo tent camping? I love to camp (in my Coleman tent - a gift from my brother years ago) at state or national parks and I'm just fine with doing it by myself. There's something invigorating about pulling up to a camp site and setting up a tent and building a fire to the soundtrack of nature. 

Most recently I camped at Big Ridge State Park just North of Knoxville. It was one of the last warm days of the year and I reserved a lovely spot by the lake. Of course I failed to take pictures until after the sun went down so they didn't turn out perfectly but I was able to capture some of the serenity of the campground. 

Camping in the late fall is wonderful (at least in East Tennessee) because the weather is still sort of mild but most people have gone back to school and work after the summer break. 

I have an idea for a book, actually. It springs from reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Tracks by Robyn Davidson. Although I'm going to need a full-time job come May when I finish my dissertation, I would love to spend part of the year camping in national parks on the Eastern side of the U.S. and write about it. The idea would be for me to mostly solo camp but when friends and family wanted to join me, they'd be more than welcome. I'd also give myself some time in hotel rooms just to heal. Sleeping on the ground is not that easy. 

What would be the point of the book? I think sleeping in the wilderness, cooking on a fire, and remaining somewhat unplugged for a bit might give a person some quiet time. Quiet time can be useful for reflection, writing, reading, planning, and just being. 

While the book idea isn't that feasible, I hope to spend some time camping next season and will blog about it along the way.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

James decided that he wanted to host both sets of parents as well as my brother (and his girlfriend Haylee) for Thanksgiving. I thought that was a lovely idea so we started preparing last week. My mother helped me set the table and created a gorgeous centerpiece of peach and ivory roses with greenery and berries. 

I set up our buffet as a bar with adult beverages, smoked almonds, salted cashews, and dill pickles. I added pickled okra as a nod to our time in the south. They are delicious.

Mom and dad came over early to help get the sides started. I put the turkey into the oven around 9 a.m. so we could eat at 1 p.m. It was a 16 lb turkey and I cooked it in a Reynold's oven bag with celery, fresh rosemary (that I grow at home), and onion slices. When you use an oven bag, don't forget to put one tablespoon of flour in before the bird and shake it around. This prevents the bag from bursting. The instructions also ask you to brush oil on the bird before putting it into the bag (I added onions, celery, and fresh rosemary to the cavity as well).

Mom snapped this shot of James and I in the dining area. Our dining and living areas join as one large space so our fireplace helps to heat up the room. It was cozy. 

At parties and holidays, I like to put out raw vegetables for people to snack on before the meal. This is so just in case people only go for gravy and dressing, at least they get a bit of fat-free, crisp nutrition (Who am I kidding?). The ranch dip is great and can be made in a healthy manner: non-fat, plain Greek yogurt with a packet of dry ranch powder dressing.

Thank goodness that my mom knows how to make delicious pies (including the crust)! She uses the finest ingredients and somehow she always gets them to come out of the oven perfectly. Mom brought a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie. 

She ALSO baked chocolate crinkle cookies. Amazing. They are topped with a bit of powdered sugar. James loves cookies so mom was quite popular today.

James' mother Cathe (pictured below with James) is also a great cook. She brought potatoes that she fried in the oven in cast iron skillets as well as two types of delicious cranberry relish. Cathe was also our entertainment. She is so funny and very complimentary which makes the chef(s) feel fabulous! 

Of course about the time that the food started coming out of the oven and off of the stove, I stopped taking pictures. Such a bummer because my brother and his lovely girlfriend as well as James' father were all there and I didn't get any shots of them. This was certainly a fun day filled with family, food, and football. Much love to you and yours! 

Professional website

I've designed a space for posts regarding my profession including media research, journalism college courses, and happenings in news. Please visit the site D'Arcy on News

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Next Step

It is time for me to take my own advice and start a blog/website that is professionally oriented and discusses my research, teaching strategies, and media thoughts. I would also like to open my own social media accounts to coincide with a professional stance regarding media.

The teachers of the Media Writing labs at the University of Tennessee had a recent meeting with Dr. Jim Stovall and he reminded us that people in the academic industry are working specifically on blogs or websites designed to showcase research, teaching styles, or a topic of some sort. For instance: Am I trying to get a job? Am I trying to highlight my research? My website should center on that.

I've recently applied to several academic jobs and went through a couple of initial interviews. I'm just wondering who we know that has constructed a sort of online resume/CV that works in the academic job application process. If you have examples, please post here. The greenhorns need to know.