Monday, May 16, 2011

Cooking a Whole Chicken


I've been threatening to blog about our whole-chicken cooking experience for quite some time. But there never seemed to be enough hours in each day. And although this week is a stressful one (read: we are moving MONDAY) I seem to not care as much about my work anymore as I only have three days left. Therefore I bring you: Cooking a Whole Chicken.

Back in March, Jaime at Fried Pink Tomato posted that Earthfare, a Whole-Foods-type local grocery, was giving out free dinner coupons for a whole chicken. If I like anything more than entertaining myself through learning how to cook (i.e. a whole freaking chicken) it's when materials for such activities are free. All one had to do was print out the coupon and spend $10 in the store. And that was not hard to do.

After work we explored Earthfare and found our coupon items: one whole chicken, one side of rustic mashed potatoes, and one bag of baby carrots. After our lovely 1.5 hour commute, we were ready to attempt to cook a whole chicken.

Having never cooked a whole chicken before (in my mind beer-can-chicken made in a frat kitchen in college and one made 1845-style over an open fire for a museum experiment somehow do not count) I googled and consulted with two websites: No Fear Entertaining and Lubbock Online. I decided to use a dutch oven, rustic-style. Meaning: I have no idea what I was doing. After reading both websites carefully, I combined the instructions as many of their points were contradictory. I did not rinse the chicken, as I've heard the splashing water will spray disease-ridden-chicken-juices everywhere. I did pat it dry, and season it with minced garlic and butter.

The Professor's job was simple. Put your hand up its butt and retrieved whatever ye may find. He did thus. Then we stuffed the poor, assaulted chicken with garlic and lemons. Following the Lubbock instructions, sort of, I cut up onions, potatoes, and turnips. I placed some oil and the onions in the dutch oven and cooked over the stove, adding the chicken, turning it and browning it a touch. Removing the chicken, I added all the veggies (save the carrots) to the dutch oven and placed the chicken on top. This way it won't stick to the bottom of the dutch oven.

Then came the fun part. I had to decide which way to cook the chicken and for how long. One website states breast up, another breast down (legs tucked under.) I started with the later, as this is how I'd been instructed by women far more competent than I in the past. Without really clear instructions as to cooking times and temperatures (more disagreement) I decided on 275-300 degrees until the internal temperature of the chicken reached 175-185. Half way though I added the carrots. This seemed to take hours, but the result was amazingly juicy and delicious. Also I got to stick a large wooden spoon up its butt every half hour to turn it, which enhanced the experience greatly.

Pulled out of the oven to be flipped over spoon-in-butt-style once more.

Let me tell you what it's like to marry and live with an animal bone specialist. It makes any meal involving bones into an educational experience. Asking The Professor to please cut the chicken, I did not realize what I was getting myself in to. I should have remembered he sits in a lab all day studying ancient versions of these same bones. As he cut opened the chicken and carved pieces for our dinner he remarked on this bone, and that bone, and butcher marks, ect. I smiled and added flour to the dutch oven (after removing all the veggies) to thicken it for gravy. All in all a very fun, educational, and successful cooking of a whole chicken.

The finished product.

Making gravy.
Finally time to eat!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Reading Sundresses and Smiles today, I saw a new opportunity of linking up and sharing photos. Two of my favorite things! Outside Voice is starting a photo-link each month with a different theme. Currently, the theme is trees, so please enjoy my attempt to find some of my tree photographs while technically at work.

While possibly not the more traditional tree photograph, this is one of my favorites, of a tree and of my time spent in London.

Here is your more traditional tree photograph. Taken on a rainy day on the island of Skye in Scotland.

From a botanical gardens in Northern England, I believe this was a fairy statue's foot gracing the gardens.

Finally, The Defunct Curator, complete with awkwardly-painted paintbrush mask (there is no photoshop here at work!) climbing a tree with the spires of Oxford in the background.

Let's Talk About My Hat

Lately there has been a lot of chat concerning hats, and for good reason. There has been a royal British wedding and then came the Kentucky Derby. Hats are everywhere. I'm glad. I've been saying for a while we should bring hats back into fashion in this country. Maybe I say this because I look awesome in hats and I wish to accomplish my own selfish goals of wearing more hats? Maybe.
I inherited a large collection of vintage hats, which I grew up wearing and still wear to this day. Only when I moved to England did I start appreciating contemporary hats and all they have to offer. They are, in their own right, throw-backs with a modern twist. And naturally I bought too many.

One such lovely is depicted above, on yours truly. I stumbled across it while perusing M&S and had to have it. Unfortunately it was very close timing to our big cross-Atlantic move and I was a bit worried about how it would emigrate to America. But, like always, I ignored these worries and bought the hat, enjoying it (and a pimms!) on the one remaining day of sun in Britain that I can remember.

Far too soon my new hat was boxed up, with the best of care, and shipped to New York to live in said box for a couple months until we could be reunited. And it felt good.

Another fantastic hat
However when packing for the 7 month temporary move to rural Georgia, I did not pack the hat. We would only be there a couple months. I would find a job in no time. Then the hat would be moved to our new location. It was coming up on winter anyway. All of these reasons failed me when, in early March, it became very warm in Georgia and for this northerner, very very sunny. I missed my hat. But, I was convinced I would soon be employed.

Very similar to my lovely British hat
 I then gave in and cheated on my hat. It had been months and no job. It was sunny. I was in San Antonio, it was 95 degrees of Texas heat and I needed a hat. Luckily I was in Texas where the hat still reigns and found a fantastic sun hat (photos to come). I thought surely my job search is hopeless and I will be lucky if I ever see my British hat again. While my new hat was a comfort, it was not my long lost colorful English hat and when the opportunity came last weekend for my mother to bring me some clothing to my sister's baby shower, I jumped on the opportunity to have the hat back in my life. This of course meant my mother had to wear my floppy love on the plane. The images in my mind from this adventure were just an added bonus.

So hat and head are reunited once again, hopefully never to part.

Punting at Oxford
Punting instructions
The Professor and The Defunct Curator enjoying an afternoon of punting-watching in Oxford.
Speaking of hats... Since our trip to Oxford last summer I've been in search of a woman's Oxford punting hat. It's similar to the man's hat but with a more feminine ribbon. While watching the punters (we did not ourselves punt) I fell, once again, in love with these straw, historic hats. Are you in search of a new summer hat?
Man's punting hat

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Let's Talk About My Bag

There is a lot of excitement and news and moving and packing and things to tell. But for just one moment, let's talk about my bag. My new bag. My beautiful handbag given to me by my sister, The HPP, over the weekend as a thank you.

While two people technically hosted this shower, myself and my sister's sister-in-law (say that ten times fast) one was really in name only, and that was not me. It appears my sister noticed this unbalanced hosting and provided me with an extra thank you gift. I was completely shocked, as well as happy she did so in private.

The Love of Sisters
Before revealing my beautiful bag, back-stories are necessary. I have yet to discuss Easter and the fabulous time The Professor and I had with the beautiful, 8-month pregnant HPP and her husband. During this time we went into small town Georgia (and when I say small town, I sincerely mean it is a village) and ducked into a cute shop featuring many, many Vera Bradley items.

Java Blue
 Up until last year I was not so much a Miss Bradley fan. However, my mother-in-law gave me the large duffel in Java Blue. I fell in love with Java Blue and received many more items at my three, (yes, count 'em) three bridal showers. So when we came across the Vera Bradley collections I did not turn away as in the past. And I fell in love, as many do I'm sure, with a new bag. I swooned and I'm awwww'ed and I sadly explained that we simply could not afford for me to frivolously purchase this bag, even though it was me personified into a handbag (don't judge.) So I walked away.

Fast forward to that evening when my sister put a plan in place. She called my mother-in-law and asked her the name of the store. Not knowing, my mother-in-law then drove to the shop and picked up a business card, telling my sister this info. The HPP then called the proprietor of said shop, described to her where this bag was (picture this, she had the woman stand at the front of the shop by the doors and told her about how many paces to go in which direction!) and send it to her, so she could wrap it and give it to me as a gift. What a fantastic sister this blessed little Defunct Curator has!

I opened it and could not believe it, there was the Boardwalk Handheld in the Sittin' in a Tree pattern! The photos do not do it justice. It glimmers and displays love birds, one of my FAVORITE design elements in anything. The silver pattern is taken from the original Sittin' in a Tree:

I'll admit, this pattern in its original colors is also quite amazing. Upon further searching I found this tea for two set, and MUST.HAVE.IT.

Unfortunately, I'm on a bit of a spending freeze until we get settled in D.C. But then, this beauty shall be mine!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Migration Woes

As I posted recently, I've been hired! Such a weight has been lifted and for a bit I felt free and celebratory. Now I'm overwhelmed again, but instead of self-loathing and job-searching I'm filled with apartment anxiety. In just a few shorts (read: 2.5!) weeks we will be moving to....drum roll please.....

Washington, D.C.


I've wanted to live here for many, many, many years and while a short internship a few years back was a great experience, it also taught me how much I want to live inside the beltway (as my commute at that time seemed even longer than now.) However, D.C. is expensive. VERY expensive when compared to the bill-free living of the cottage. Really, it's more expensive than anywhere I have ever lived before.

So now the apartment hunt begins. Any advice would be most welcome. It's proving difficult to find a two-bedroom place big enough for our pup and cats, not to mention our two U-Hauls (that's right) full of stuff.

While I can't wait to move, get on with my life, be ME again, ect... I'm also worried about starting a full time job (gulp) where I have to wear big-girl-pants and have vacation days and not jet off wherever I want to go whenever I want to go. What is that like?

So, expect some rantings concerning packing, moving, temporarily living with my Aunt who will undoubtedly have us do free labor for her, and the like.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Break Out That Landing Gear

One Sentence.

I've been hired!

The Defunct Curator Myself!

That is all. More information to follow.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Crazy For You

After a long weekend working dawn to dust towards a deadline, The Professor has a few days off, which means I get to enjoy the 1.5 hour slog to work all by my lonesome. One silver lining of our holding pattern and our commute is that we got to spend more time together than most couples, three hours a day in the car, then all our evenings (which granted, after we got out of the car, were short) together as well. Today was weird and made me realize how lucky I am to have a partner I desperately want to spend every waking moment with.

Well, that sounded crazy. But maybe that's what I am, crazy for him. When we were first together we lived over 1,000 miles apart and were lucky to see each other once a month for a few, fleeting days. We'd fall asleep on the phone. All I wanted was to be together. Then we got our chance, moved to England and never looked back.

When we're apart, this song reminds me of The Professor. It also makes me want to be swinging on a hammock near a body of water while drinking something delicious. With The Professor of course. I also love Adele and listened to this album on my lonely way to work this morning.

I think space apart is important but I also think we've had our fair share of time apart. We respect each others' needs for personal space. We both do our own thing. But we just really like spending time together. We've both said we could be that couple that could work together and maybe one day we will. As of now we newlyweds are just enjoying being completely and utterly in love with one another.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tell Me More, Tell Me More!

While making 59 (yes, exactly 59 because I said screw it to number 60) individual bingo cards today for The HPP’s baby shower (T-minus 6 days!) I stumbled upon a childhood favorite. Grease. Oh how I love you, young John Travolta and pre-“Let’s Get Physical” Olivia Newton John, and how your characters are so sexist (read, lesson: if your relationship is not working out because you and your love come from opposite cliques, change your entire identity, pick up everything he likes, including dressing slutty and smoking, and age yourself ten years by teasing your hair-although she did look hot) and yet I still praise your awesomeness.
But what is more awesome that John and Olivia is one of the best musical characters of our age: Rizzo. I LOVE Rizzo. I love her style, I love her attitude, and I love how everything is OK in the end for her, because she didn’t get knocked up that one time.
Rizzo shows up to school, badass, in shades and form-fitting black dress that leaves little to the imagination. She leads the Pink Ladies, but barely wears her jacket like the others, standing out with it slung around her Grease_Stockard-Channing_LaBamba-PL-Jacket.bmpshoulders. Talk about excellent examples, when I was a kid I wanted to BE her. I still put on her attitude from time to time when needed, as armor.

She most definitely stole the movie. Look at her amazing dancing dress. That is some hot stuff. I think a modern-day Rizzo would wear skin-tight jeans and red, red lipstick.

And what can I say about John Travolta. I forgot how much his bright, young, dimpled face made me smile. How could you turn this down? (Except for when he sort-of-attempts-to-date-rape-you-at-the-drive-in…)
That’s right Travolta, work those sad puppy dog eyes and ridiculous hair.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Box of Books!

Walking to work yesterday I noticed a Books and Baked Goods Sale outside my building. Books and baked goods? Yes please! And apparently I showed up to browse at exactly the right time, the end of the day, as the fundraisers wanted to push the books and announced, grab a box, fill it up, five bucks.

Awesome. At this point in the day, most of the books left were cheap paperbacks, bodice-rippers if you will. I avoid these and go for anything marked “novel” in order to fill my summer reading quota. I usually read memoirs and non-fiction, and I’ve already stacked my shelf with these, so I grabbed at some fiction.

SAM_4539Due to the chaos I simply picked up random books, hoping to get something good. Here is what I came home with:

A selection of Pierre Trudeau’s writings

The Voices of Robby Wilde, a non-fiction account of a man with schizophrenia.

Quickening, a novel set in 1985 Upstate New York (I’m excited about this one)

The Incantation of Frida K., not an actual biography of Frida Kahlo, but a treatise on memory at the end of life.

Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul, a memoir about Father Joe, a mentor to the author.

The Safety of Objects, the short stories of A.M. Homes

A Week in October, a novel in the form of an autobiography concerning unfaithful marriages.

Vinegar Hill, an Oprah Book Club book (which is not why I grabbed it) which chronicles the life of a family in the Midwest.

The Long Way Home, a non-fiction work about immigrants who fought for America during World War I.

I Could Tell You Stories, a collection of writings concerning memoirs and the act of writing memoirs.

Morality for Beautiful Girls, is apparently the third book in a series, ooops, but could still be good.

A Little Trouble With the Facts, a novel about gossip in New York City in 1999, very gossip-girl-like it seems.

A biography of Rudyard Kipling, I love Kipling, so I’m excited about this one.

Kill The Dead, seems to be a supernatural series, I grabbed it because I tried to find something for The Professor, but I doubt he’ll read this.

Making Toast, a memoir published this year about a family going through grief of losing one of their own.

Sandcastles, the only one I’m skeptical about because it looks like something my mother would read on the beach. But I won’t judge it by it’s cover. Or, I’ll give it to my mother next weekend when I see her!

The Rags of Time, the last novel in a series (ooops again) about an aging novelist living in New York.

A Pilates book!

Candace Bushnell’s Trading Up. I’ve read her books before and they’re good beach books. Quick and easy.

I also picked up some German novels and poetry books because I really miss reading in German.

Has anyone read any of these? Any suggestions with where I should start?


1: Loves of my life (human ones)

2: Tornadoes we've survived at the cottage

3: Number of known pets currently residing at my residence

4: Injuries I've sustained since being denied health care

5: Number of times we've lost electricity at the cottage (since January)

6: Months I've been married

7: Months since I've left England

8: Days until I visit my family again

9: Hours to fly between Atlanta and Manchester

10: Dollars I make an hour

11: Number of adult males I've seen wearing overalls in public this week

13: Countries I've visited (I think)

17: Pounds I've lost since actually trying

18: States in America I've been to (I think)

19: Pounds I gained after returning to America (the Holding Pattern is stressful, yo!)

20: Minutes it takes to walk from the car park to work

21: Interviews I've had in this current job search

22: Current number of boxes at my work station

23: The date of my wedding

24: Books I scored at the library book sale yesterday

25: The Professor's age

26: My age

31: Number of weeks my sister is pregnant

34: Boxes of tea currently in my house

110: Miles put on the car during the daily commute

112: Jobs applied for

150: Approximate phone calls made in connection to job applications

180: Days I have lived in Georgia

Unknown Number: Elephant figurines in the cottage

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A New Day

Thank you for allowing me a bit of hopelessness. It was a hole I dug myself into, but some days you just have to allow yourself to feel exhausted and finished. Thank you especially to T from DSS for all her sage advice. I know it will be OK and that we'll be settled soon, it's just the waiting I can't stand!

So fear not, I've come out of the sorrow pit and am trying to be positive once again. I'm busying myself with The High Power Pregger's baby shower (whatever will I call her when she's no longer pregnant!) The theme is Toy Story and here is what I have so far:

Guests will come in and choose a character badge (a circular badge with a print of one of the Toy Story characters on it) and pin it to themselves with a baby diaper pin. They won't know it, but whichever character they chose will determine what teams they'll be in for the first game, which I'm calling Potato Head Baby. I've printed out silhouettes of a potato head as well as packets of photos printed on regular paper of the future mommy and daddy. Some of them have them making funny faces, ect. Teams will have five minutes to cut up these photos and paste them to the potato head, making it sort of a "if they mated" game that Conan O'Brien used to play. But super-duper more mature (because you know, I'm all about maturity!)

We will also play a trivia game based on questions concerning The HPP's pregnancy (cravings, aliments, ect.) and baby bingo, which The HPP specifically requested. I've made it Toy Story themed by creating a Toy Story bingo board, which I'll share on here when it's completed.

Favors will be "Oh Baby It's the 80s" 1981 pop song mixed cd as both the future mommy and daddy were born in 1981 and the cover will be adorned with their baby photos. I found the Billboard top hits of 1981 and can't wait to pick and choose what to include. Any favorites from the list?

Other Toy Story touches include the fabulous Toy Story invitation, seen above, a cowgirl hat headband that I'm making my sister wear throughout, red and yellow decorations, cupcake toppers (possibly these!) and special gifts such as a Jessie-themed blanket I'm actually crocheting. Do you know how hard it is to crochet a cow-hide pattern?