Apron Gala

Wednesday, 23 May 2012
I had such a fun time the other night with new friends. James invited me to the Apron Gala at The North Market in the Arena District of Columbus. It is a charity event that benefits the North Market. We looked through the silent auction items and enjoyed seeing people in specially-designed aprons.

The tickets included all-you-can-eat of the inventive food items from dozens of vendors and a nice selection of beer and wine.

Some of the things we tried (and I loved):

Charcuterie Platter, Specialty Cured Meats, Pate, Sausages, Cornichons and Fruit Preserves from Best of the Wurst

Shrimp Cocktail, Oyster Bar, Smoked Salmon from The Fish Guys (Amazing oysters on the half shell.)

Smoked Salmon & Creme Fraiche Cups from Clever Crow Pizza (I absolutely adore really good smoked salmon.)

Signature Cassoulet from North Market Poultry and Game (This dish made me long for Paris. My grandmother and I shared this dish at a lovely little restaurant.)

...and dessert:

Signature Buckeyes from Expressly Market Bakery and Bistro (To. Die. For.)

Chocolate Hazelnut Mini with Juniper from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

Above is a side picture of Jeni (the owner of Jeni Splendid Ice Cream)

Make Your Own S'mores from Omega Artisan Baking (James took one for the team and grilled the marshmallow for us.)

Attendees also received bamboo toast tongs from North Market Cookware and a reusable shopping bag from The Source by Wasserstrom. Swag!

Village Valuables

Saturday, 19 May 2012
My dream has always been to live in the German Village in Columbus. My mom used to work for a law firm in the area when I was younger and I remember meeting her at Katzinger's amazing deli and sharing fat, delicious Kosher pickles and amazing corned beef on rye.

Brewmasters (German immigrants) lived in the German Village back in the day, building interesting brick dwellings and today, the neighborhood oozes with historical architecture.

From Wikipedia: In 2011, German Village was named as one of America's Great Places in the category of neighborhoods by the American Planning Association. Their description of this great neighborhood includes but not limited to, "Unpretentious, renovated houses and cottages stand shoulder to shoulder. Small, meticulously maintained front yards front tree-lined streets with brick sidewalks and cultivated village planters. Small businesses and storefronts with eye-catching displays and the aroma of culinary delights draw in passing pedestrians. German Village has remained true to its mid-19th century history, architecture, and character despite periods of disinvestment, decline, and near ruin."

Today, I had a wonderful excuse to walk around and take in the brick roads and impressive bricked courtyards that most houses have. Each year village residents host "Village Valuables" and set up on the sidewalks and streets to hock antiques and other household items.

The weather was perfect for it and I enjoyed strolling, watching residents interact and dreaming about living there. Someone was selling this mannequin and the post its (placed strategically) read, $40, "firm." Ha!

I ended up with an odd assortment of a chef's knife set for my parents (never used), an antique, crystal wine chiller, a meat thermometer (?), leather sandals, and a red and white homemade hair flower by a very crafty woman and her granddaughter. 

When you go to the German Village, you just cannot miss stopping in Lindy's. It is one of my favorite places to eat in Columbus (the location is fabulous, service impeccable and food delicious). I ate brunch at the bar while reading three academic research articles. The Croque Madame has amazing flavor combination: ham, gruyere cheese, fried egg on brioche, hollandaise and fresh fruit. No, the dish is not in line with my diet but the day was wonderful! 

Mother's Day Brunch

Wednesday, 16 May 2012
We had a lovely brunch at M in Columbus. Dannen made reservations and we were seated at a nice table with a great server.

The chef prepared a special menu which included Champagne Punch: champagne, mango, lemongrass, fresh raspberries. We started with that and it was fresh and light.

We toasted mom for Mother's Day and I read part of a poem by George Collins:

Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,—
  Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
  But only one mother the wide world over.

I ordered the Smoked Salmon Benedict: soft poached eggs, toasted brioche, caviar, hollandaise, asparagus, salad. I like the hollandaise on the side and the caviar was salty and rich. 

Mom tried the Chicken & Waffles: buttermilk fried chicken, seared foie gras, fresh berries, local vanilla honey. The honey on the chicken was a gorgeous taste combination. Salty and sweet? Yes please.

The presentation was gorgeous. Dannen ordered French Toast: peanut butter cream, fresh banana, caramelized bacon, warm ohio maple syrup. I didn't get a picture of that because he was digging in quickly (Hey, that's what I would have done!).

Dad ordered Steak-N-Eggs: filet mignon, soft poached egg, short rib hash, smoked bacon jus, bearnaise. 

The meat was tender and delicious! Wow. I'm such a foodie.

First Year Completed

Sunday, 13 May 2012

My cohort is required to take a few classes the first year and one of them was 615, Qualitative methods. We all met to celebrate and turn in our final papers. I'll miss working with our professors next semester. While they never treated us like we were idiots (that was nice of them), they certainly challenged our thoughts and perceptions and helped us grow into more knowledgeable people. 

Dr. Palenchar, Iona, Rebecca and Rick

I've been reflecting on my first year and thought I'd blog a few of the things learned so I can look back at this after next year. Every moment hasn't been easy but I can confidently say I did the right thing by giving up my job in the industry and pursuing more knowledge in the field. Here's some of the takeaway from year one: 

The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. 

I am smart. 

My cohort has what it takes to get our PhDs. 

It is okay to ask for guidance and help.

I need to learn more about statistics, starting at an intermediate, practical level.

Surprisingly, I am thinking about being a quantitative researcher because I like testing and measuring variables rather than uncover the meaning and reasons behind human behavior. Mixed methods is preferable to me but we're encouraged to become more knowledgeable about one epistemology (branch of philosophy). 

Katie and I

This summer will be busy with teaching, an independent study, class and two encyclopedia entries that I've been commissioned to write for the field. On top of that, I'm conducting research on two quantitative studies and I'm excited to uncover the results. Thanks for reading this year and for your support. 

Fenced In

Monday, 7 May 2012
You may remember reading about the privacy fence I erected myself last year. I was so proud of transporting the panels, buying a high-powered drill, working with a level, putting in posts... and using girl power (Whitney and Hillary) to get the job done. (Hey, when you're a student you can't necessarily pay the $1,500 to have the guys at Lowe's do it.) It looked pretty good.

Then, we had major flooding and huge pieces of old trees floated down the hill and crashed into the fence. It was still standing but looked a bit worse-for wear. To add to the troubles, months later a ginormous tree from my neighbor's yard fell on it and smashed the panels.

Surprisingly, the posts were still standing. I rebuilt what I had left and hung the panels again. It looked terrible.

Well, this weekend, I was lucky enough to have my father in town to rebuild the fence. Before he arrived, I took down the old panels myself and sold them on Craigslist. It was hard work but doable. He squared up the posts, added cross bars and drilled in pickets one by one. It looks truly amazing and I'm so thankful for his hard work. I had a vision and he made it happen. How awesome is that? Thanks, Daddio! I'm so pleased.

A Swinging Time at Cherokee

Sunday, 6 May 2012
The Brad Walker Orchestra at Cherokee Country Club

Mom and dad came into town this weekend and we were invited to Cherokee Country Club for dinner and dancing by Brad of the Brad Walker Orchestra. He leads a "big band" and tries to keep the dinner/dance culture alive by encouraging young and old to get out on the dance floor. 

Mom and dad outside at Cherokee Country Club

The weather was lovely on Friday evening and I think mom and dad really enjoyed listening to live music and the food was delicious as well. Mom and I watched the couples move across the floor elegantly and decided it's never too late to learn how to ballroom, cha-cha and swing dance. I'm going to take lessons this summer! Wonder if that can count toward my PhD degree. Ha! 

We loved having a fun reason to don our heels and dresses

The band's female singer is Valerie Dukes. She is entertaining, beautiful and has a lovely alto voice. If you get a chance to see the band perform, go for it. The group certainly knows how to please a crowd.

Sunday Supper at Bistro

A friend and I had a lovely dinner at Bistro by the Tracks last Sunday evening. The Executive Chef Chester Miller, offers a three course Sunday Supper Menu that changes weekly and is inspired by his travels.

Our first course included the Blue Crab Stack (mango, avocado, tropical fruit vinaigrette, macadamia nuts) and Filet Bites (ricotta gnocchi, mushroom jus, spinach, crimini mushrooms). The gnocchi was to die for and wow - the addition of macadamia nuts to the crab dish gave an amazing flavor.

The main course was tasty as well. I ordered the Smoked Duck Pasta (linguini, wild mushrooms, pistachio sauce and spiced cherries. Todd had the Seared Pork Tenderloin (asian glaze, shitake capellini and pickled ginger). 

The dishes were artfully presented and the taste combinations creative. I liked the duck dish but the sauce was almost too thick for me. The pork was tender and perfectly prepared. 

Even though we had no room for dessert, the choices were interesting so of course we went for it. I ordered the Fudge Cake Sunday [sic] (sea salt caramel, vanilla ice cream and peanuts). Todd chose the Toasted Almond Creme Brule. They were both delicious! 

I love to eat great food and have only been to dinner at the Bistro one other time. Mom and I enjoyed a wine dinner there last year but the place is a must for Knoxville folks. The service is impeccable, the atmosphere can be romantic and the wine list is interesting. Great evening!

Curb Appeal

Thursday, 3 May 2012

My parents are coming into town this evening and to prepare for their visit, I did a bit of work outside to improve curb appeal. Above is the "before" picture. I dug up the rocks in the front beds, lined them with plastic again and edged them with slate rocks found on my property. (Do notice Lily the cat directing my actions from the front door.)

Here's the "after" picture:

My vision was to extend the flower bed so I could add an iron bench, table for aesthetic purposes and set out a potted geranium and Boston fern. I like how it turned out. The red mulch matches the paint color of the door. 

Now... back to school work. My major 615 research paper is due TODAY.