Back to Reality

Monday, 26 March 2012

This was certainly one of the better jaunts to Bald Head Island. The weather was truly gorgeous (75 and sunny most days) and the company was fun. Hillary and Melissa wanted to climb the light house so we stopped by there one day to take a few photos and plan the ascent. 

Everything was in bloom and beyond these lovely, delicate pink flowers, the island was alive with fuchsia azalea and little purple blooms on rosemary. Signs of spring were every where.

I think mom and dad had a nice time too. Dad played 27 holes of golf each day and in the evenings before dinner, he'd venture back out onto the 6th hole to practice again. He's obsessed but again, the weather was perfect for it. Mom hung out with the girls and we enjoyed lounging on the beach, shopping, looking at houses on the island and eating. :)

Today's 660 assignment is in on time and class wasn't bad at all. Getting back to reality, however, is a wee bit painful. 

Livin' On the Edge

Friday, 23 March 2012

We are living on the very Eastern edge of the United States this week on a barrier island, Bald Head. The sun has been shining, the company has been amazing and the food/drink has not disappointed. We also found out there must be a nude beach on Baldy because we found this sign in the marina area (just kidding - but look at the little Green Anole hanging out on top).

As a gesture of thanks to my parents for inviting me and friends this week, I cooked a roast chicken dinner Tuesday evening with new potatoes and fresh corn on the cob. We scavenged Rosemary from the Bald Head Island club and used it to flavor the dish. I went with a recipe provided in Ruth Reichel's memoir which instructs the cook to separate the skin from the bird and place pats of butter, chopped garlic and Rosemary next to the meat. I added chopped celery, onions and more herbs to the cavities. 

I roasted the birds (they were both small) at 325 for an hour and a half, basting every 15 minutes. The meal turned out nicely and we served Clos Du Bois Chardonnay (always a safe bet for a rich white that has flavor and is dry but not too dry). 

Each day, it seems, is more beautiful than the previous. I have no idea how we lucked out with such gorgeous weather but the sun has been shining every afternoon and although the water is a bit icy, just walking along the beach, listening to the waves and hearing Laughing Gulls in the distance has been such a treat. Tomorrow we head back. 

I was able to transcribe six research interviews this week and conduct one. I've also finished a literature review for my next paper so this wasn't all fun and games but wow. I'm so thankful for the respite. Mom and I have also loved having the company of two of my good friends. We've laughed, danced, cooked, talked about success and failure and overall produced amazing memories.

Spring Break on Bald Head Island

Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Mom and dad go to Bald Head Island, NC several times a year to enjoy a little peace and quiet. I get to go with them sometimes and since I have "Spring Break" this year, they invited me to go along. 

They were also incredibly generous and allowed me to invite some of my best girl friends this time. Megan came over on Monday for a night and we enjoyed touring the island and showing her some of our favorite spots, including the boutique shop, Room Service (I can't find a website for the store or I'd link it). 

Megan had to go back to work but Hillary and Melissa arrived on the ferry late yesterday. I am so happy they are here. We celebrated their arrival with champagne on ice and great Havarti dill cheese and gouda. 

Around dusk, we like to take a nature drive in the golf cart to see if we can find deer, fox or anything like that. We did see a red fox trotting along the lagoon on the golf course but it was too far away to get a good picture. 

Surprisingly, I am getting a decent amount of school work done. I completed a literature review for my in-depth interview study and I'm half-way through transcription. Hope you are having a good week. The weather here has been wonderful.

Bit of Nature

Monday, 19 March 2012
Mom and I love to collaborate on arrangements for centerpieces and such. So, when we are on Bald Head Island, we appreciate aspects of nature. We like to go for drives on the golf course (in golf carts) with my dad at dusk to watch for heron, ibis, deer, fox and alligators. We also love to walk around the property and find items that bring a bit of the outdoors inside.

We used shells, a bit of driftwood and greenery with delicate berries for this arrangement which is on the buffet in the dining room.

We also noticed a sparse but elegant vignette in a Coastal Living magazine which included a Queen Palm leaf in a glass container. This is a nice contrast against the serene, white furniture, walls and wood blinds. 

We also found these tiny vases and glass ball to frame the kitchen window that looks out to the front drive way. We used a little palm leaf and greenery to define the space and blur the line between outside and inside. 

I even got into the act a bit by posing inside the ancient oak. We visited the Bald Head Island Conservatory shop today where the motto is, "Spend money, save turtles." The Lager Head turtles are important to the ecosystem here and come to lay eggs each summer. We have witnessed the tiny babies hatch and run for the sea in the moonlight. 

The "F Word"

Friday, 16 March 2012
We discussed Feminism with Dr. Erin Whiteside in our 615 class yesterday. She asked about our initial perceptions regarding Feminists before offering an academic definition of the concept.

From my cultural experiences, I've found Feminism to carry a very negative connotation. Women who support feminist ideas are known as "man-haters," "dykes" and "bitches." Why? Feminists challenge the status quo and support the idea of equality. Are there Feminists that act out of anger and hate? Absolutely (!!) but I'd argue that not everyone has a fierce agenda. Women who are educated in theory and history sometimes feel strongly that it is worth their time and research to study social construction of gender and power imbalances.

Dr. Whiteside explained that she is an "activist researcher" which means she tries to make a difference with her research. Standard academic research hopes to gather and contribute knowledge to the field. I've never heard of "activist researchers" so this is an interesting idea. As a journalist, it's okay to sometimes make a difference but for the most part you report the news and allow your viewers to do with it what they will. In academia, it's okay if you have an agenda and want to influence others.

What about the field of Women Studies? Obviously, my concentration area is television news with a focus on use of social media but I've long been interested in the highs and lows of the playing field for men and women. However, I'm hesitant to even approach that area of study. Why? I imagine some of my male friends and family members immediately looking at me with suspicion and internal sighs. Is that my own bias playing in?

The TV news industry rewards assertiveness, fast-paced decision making, being able to "play with the men," and ignore any hinderances in order to keep going. I've had blinders on but when I question why I got out of the news business it has to do with pay (men still make more for the same work and experience and do not hold as many leadership positions) and the inflexible schedules (men get ahead because they are seen as 24-7 journalists, children duties fall to the woman). I could easily operate as a 24-7 journo in this stage of life but I didn't want to forever.

I do miss TV news, though. All industries have problems. I just don't understand why the idea of a pursuit of equality for women (Feminism) has to be looked at through a negative lens. There are extremists in every movement but I try to avoid them and stay open to useful, informed perspectives.

Disclaimer: Yes, there are male feminists and men (heterosexual and homosexual) who support feminist ideas. I've met a few of them! My mother's father always treated my brother and I the same when we were children. If we were in his workshop, he'd set us both up with a hammer and nails rather than sending me back inside to help grandma with cooking. I wanted to learn how to drive? He sat beside me patiently in his truck, and encouraged me, never giving the attitude that women are bad drivers (common stereotype). I appreciate and remember gestures like that.

"Waaaay Down in my Soul..."

Wednesday, 14 March 2012
I just need more good jazz in my life. Ray Charles on iTunes helps... Turn it up!

The Hellish Part

Tuesday, 13 March 2012
I need to vent to someone, so I'm thankful you're here. From reading past posts on my blog, I realize that I go through cycles. Live is hard, I'm overwhelmed, life is good, I'm caught up and loving my new adventure... and then... then roller coaster heads back down again...

This week, oh my goodness. Will I EVER get it all done - and will I perform my duties well enough that those who are counting on me will be pleased?

Disclaimer: By NO means do I think my life is any more difficult than yours or anyone else's. I realize that everyone has intense demands, hectic schedules and stressors that can be overwhelming. However, since I keep up a blog, I can occasionally use it to whine. My apologies to you and my gratification for reading. (Plus, any suggestions or advice you have is welcome.)

Not only do I have a full class load with assignments that include writing essays such as "Philosophy of Research Statement," conducting and transcribing a half dozen long interviews and non-participant observation, I also teach 20 students twice a week, have their assignments to grade and keep up with, personal research projects that require an immense amount of attention to detail and two different research studies for professors I'm assigned to with major papers due April 1st. Stupidly, I also agreed to take on an important and monumental project for Graduate Student Senate (I'm a PhD rep) where I've researched and written recommendations for a campus-wide Graduate Student Leave Policy. This is important for graduate students who might be having a baby (Hey, some of us are in our 30s!), suffered a severe injury or dealing with a chronic illness. A leave policy would help protect the student from getting kicked out and we're recommending they can at least have six weeks (unpaid) off to deal with whatever it is.

I went to a research meeting today and didn't act excited or on my game. I expressed concern about the work load. Not cool. Now, I feel horribly guilty and down. So, my to-do list feels even longer than it is. I want to jot it down in this space so later, when life is REALLY hard (professor trying to get tenure), I can remember how easy I had it...

TO-DO by April 1st:

Read 100 pages of academic articles (by Thursday)
Research and update law case citations in paper for AEJMC
Write PhD program plan (this is probably my most daunting task)
Write up recent observation study into a research paper
Conduct three long interviews for a different research study
Transcribe (type every word of) 10, 30 minute interviews
Watch for and document emerging themes from interviews
Start to write paper using interviews, needing a literature review...
Meet with research group to divide work
Write group qualitative study rough draft
Edit and review "notes" for a different AEJMC paper
Complete academic book review for class and submit
Date (???? hahahaha)
Keep up with friends so they don't give up and leave me for being seemingly self-absorbed
Research and write up privacy doctrine for AEJMC paper
Find someone to watch my cats for next week
Design advanced news writing assignments for students
Grade assignments
Shower ;)

Food Critics

Sunday, 11 March 2012
Food critics, in my world, are known as journalists. Most people in "the real world" would perceive them as very lucky people who get to eat fine meals and drink the best wine, whine about it on a media platform and get paid big bucks to do so. I'd like to conduct research about food critics and might eventually do so but that is not the point of this post.

The point is to introduce you to Ruth Reichl's book Garlic and Sapphires. This is not a new book and was, in fact, published in 1995. No matter. This is one of the best books I've read about food since Julia Child's memoir, My Life in France. Order a copy on Amazon, iTunes, Kindle...whatever. Used books are cheap these days!

Reichel moves to New York City from LA with her husband and young son to become THE food critic for The New York Times. Along the way she stumbles onto amazing food at to-die-for restaurants but also falls head first into horrible places with poor service and food that isn't fit to eat. She writes in a funny narrative and the best part of the book is when you imagine her disguises and how they come about. Reichel must attempt to conceal her identity along the way because restaurant managers are watching for her.

So far, I've learned much about raw oysters (how to tell if they are fresh), to cook a steak when it is room temperature rather than cold, that it is perfectly fine to send luke-warm soup back to the kitchen and that the sommelier is usually delighted to come to the table and discuss wine choices... you just have to ask the waiter to send him/her over...

Reichel also includes recipes throughout the book that help to establish New York food: New York Cheesecake, mussels, hash browns, baked Rhubarb and various other lovely dishes. As did Julie in her blog and book, Julie and Julia, I would love to commit to cooking through each recipe and offer a review of sorts as Reichel does. I haven't decided if I have the time for this project yet, but at least I already have a volunteer who says he'll act as taste-tester. As Reichel teaches the reader in her book, as a food critic you always need a partner in crime.

Hope you had a lovely weekend.

P.S. If you haven't seen Julie and Julia, the movie is fantastic but the book was even better.

Fancy Food and Drink

Tuesday, 6 March 2012
I received an invitation to the Knoxville Museum of Art L'Amour du Vin 2012 fundraiser Saturday night. The venue was transformed into a romantic, low-lit space for wine tasting, bidding on fun trips and a five course meal. Guests were handed a glass of champagne when coming down the stairs into the main hall while jazz music played. Couples left with a gift bag of Riedel crystal stemware. It was a fun evening!

From KMA's website

We tasted several wines and my picks (sorry, all red) included:

2006 Paulo Scavino Barolo DOCG
2008 J. Lohr Tower Road Petite Syrah
2007 Bonaccorsi Nielsen Vineyard Pinot Noir
2010 Siduri Parsons' Vineyard Pinot Noir
*2008 Martinelli Lolita Ranch Pinot Noir

*This was my favorite and apparently a former L'Amour duVin featured vintner

From KMA's website

Here's the glorious menu:

Blackberry Farm Charcuterie (very nice, the turnips, surprisingly were amazing on this platter)

Scallop tartar (to die for), preserved lemon, fennel pollen, fried capers, radish and citrus paired with 2010 Rudd, Sauvignon Blanc, Mt. Veeder

Herb and olive poached sturgeon, baby beets, arugula puree, paddlefish roe, pickled ramps and bulls blood greens (my favorite course) paired with 2009 Edge Hill, Bacigalupi Vineyard, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

Braised Eden Farms pork cheeks, creamy grits with green and red tomato relish (strange texture on the cheeks, really loved the green and red tomato relish) paired with 2008 Rudd, Samantha's Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville (Samantha was there to introduce her wine and invite Knoxville guests to the winery for Rudd hospitality, a nice touch...)

Lamb T-bone, faro verde, sweet and sour collard greens, pearl onions, red wine jus (I love lamb but this was served almost completely rare, could've used a bit more time on the heat but the collard greens were perfect and faro verde has a delicious taste) paired with 2005 Rudd, Estate Red, Oakville

Blackberry Farm Blue Cheesecake, house made strawberry preserves, graham crackers and Blackberry Farm Blue Cheese (This dessert was a hit with others at my table but I'm not a fan of strong blue cheese. I did enjoy the strawberry preserves, especially with the dessert wine) paired with 2010 Edge Hill, Semillon, Napa Valley.

From KMA's website

I'd really like to spend (lots of) time at Blackberry Farm. The dishes were inventive, fresh and full of flavor. I've never been to BF to dine but I hope to remedy that this year. Their chef, Joseph Lenn (executive chef of the Barn) is up for The People's Best News Chef award on

Hope number two after this event (which is really more of a dream) is to get to Napa Valley sometime this year and wine taste. Hey, we need to have goals, right?