summer summer

More fun summer activities and treats.

Went to brunch and my manfriend did his usual elaborate rearranging of breakfast plates to make this super stacked bacon bedecked creations.


I think there’s actually part of a pupusa under there too? I was busy stealing his side of hash browns to keep track too much.


My new FAVORITE place to eat has been Hutchins Garage. Maybe the first pizza place I’ve ever encountered where the crust is so sublime that the bites of plain crust are AS DELICIOUS AS THE BITES WITH CHEESE ON THEM.


I went with the fella and we were hungry and tired and ate this entire mushroom and caramelized shallot bedecked beauty. Mmm.


Another fun weekend activity was attending a food truck rodeo with my friend Lesli and her friend Genevieve (it’s funny we all work in health care and I have seen notes from both of them in my patients’ charts!)


First we split lobster tots (!) from Cousins Maine Lobster truck.


Then I got a taco assortment. These were on homemade corn tortillas (*swoon*) and were so tasty and inventive.


Left: fish taco with remoulade and mango salsa
Center: steak taco with cucumber salad and horseradish crema (!)
Right: cauliflower taco with romesco and queso fresco


Lesli got a jerk chicken plate. We all shared bites and she offered some of hers and I was like “Yeah a bite of plantain is all I need to be happy in this life.”


Another fun (slash crazy) weekend activity was a special someone’s birthday party. Any guess how old he was turning?😂


Can you EVEN with my cousin’s kiddo’s third birthday party truck?! Chase is complete obsessed with all thing trucks (and earnestly describes the difference between excavators and combine harvesters and cement mixers and fork lifts and….) so this was quite the creation. We spent a lot of time speculating what made the gravel pile… crushed Twix bars? Butterfingers?


Honestly it was a miracle it was still intact for the singing of Happy Birthday since EVERY CHILD THERE WANTED TO STICK THEIR FINGERS INTO IT.


I want you to picture an event where there are DOZENS of people ages three and under, all of whom were given a kazoo upon their arrival to the party. WHOA MAN.

More weekend fun things:

Tailgating (I never go to the actual football games but sitting outside and eating burgers and playing cornhole is fun)


Leisurely walks outside


Clothing swaps! Actually I am done hosting them for the foreseeable future since my last one had a whopping total of ONE WHOLE GUEST. But Lola thoroughly enjoyed the setting up process.



I was walking in the rose garden by Chapel Hill Community Center and found this wonderland of fairy houses.


Then a few weekends later I attended Centerfest, an art festival in downtown Durham…


The whole town looked artistic…


Including its “statues”


A bit later I myself was the artist, making the clever choice to participate in our corporate tie dyeing event without putting on gloves. I looked quite exotic for a few days there…


The tie dyed tshirts were for an event a few days later.

What, pray tell was that event?









It was the Durham Pride Parade 🙂 Just a blast!


Picking a favorite float was impossible.


Lotsa music too. I was so impressed with the endurance of these performers because it was approximately 90 degrees out there.


Later in the evening there was also a concert downtown for further Pride celebration. I met up with my friends and their two little girls. My friend explained to her five-year-old that rainbows were the symbol of Pride, so she could dress up in a rainbow outfit, and she very earnestly reported that she wanted to make her own piece of art to pin to her shirt.

I present: PRIDE CAT


Can you even?! She should start a whole merchandise line.


Somehow I finagled a work meeting where I got to gab with my favorite professor from grad school (in the guise of “consultation”) PLUS we hung out on the beautiful patio at Guglhupf and had coffee and a hot pretzel. YASSSSSSS.


Another work highlight was a meeting at Duke Integrative medicine, where I looked out the window and saw…



I immediately updated my mom and sister on our group chat (which honestly is probably 90% animal content).


When I fail to plan myself a proper lunch on a workday I often utilize Whole Foods’ hot bar. As below (plus a yogurt):


In other news I got a rather gruesome summer cold. I was so phlegmmy and gross I slept on the living room sofa so I could elevate my head more. And since my temperature regulation was out of whack I did so under my down comforter. Lola approved.


Lola also VERY MUCH APPROVED when a little lizard (a skink I think?) got into our living room. It involved a LOT of rearranging and tupperwares and things but I rescued him or her.


The lizard was probably just trying to be an early guest to my housewarming party?

Which was lots of fun! It got postponed (see sickness, above) but I ended up getting most of my fave crew members into my house and it really feels more warm and cozy now that it’s had my people bless it with their presence.

Snax involved:

  • Smitten kitchen’s miso soba noodle salad (SO good) with a variety of veggies on the side
  • Three bean salad
  • Deviled eggs
  • Extensive cheese plate
  • chips and salsa
  • lots of watermelon


I also had an unpictured dessert table buuuuuuuut…


I was totally shown up by my friend Shaylen who made WORMS AND DIRT SUNDAES! It’d been a minute since I’d had one of those- so fun! Also a bunch of my friends ended up bringing their kiddos to the party so it was a big hit with them.

Other fun things…

Outdoor concerts


Very “balanced”, “healthy” dinners with my boyfriend😂


This meal at Wooden Nickel involved:

  • Shisito peppers appetizer
  • Buffalo wing appetizer (the ones at Wooden Nickel are COLOSSAL and delish)
  • Burger with tater tots
  • Fish tacos

Should I post this picture of myself licking wing sauce off of my fingers on Linkedin, advertising my skills as a nutrition professional?!


Another day another tater tot adventure…


Brew for him, kombucha wine spritzer (!) for me, tots, and lobster sliders. Yesss.




summer cooking

I have always been curious about tomato pie so I made it. Mostly followed this recipe, except i used a premade pie crust as I am scared of/loathe making homemade pie crust, and I also roasted the tomatoes in a low oven for a bit after sliding, and subbed Greek yogurt for half the mayonnaise, both of which were recommended by some commenters. I was very happy with the results so I’d do it again! The fresh herbs were definitely a highlight!


Speaking of fresh herbs, I made some homemade pesto from leftover farmer’s market basil.

The fella and I had a pizza night and made some very tasty things.

The pie I designed involved pesto, sauteed mushrooms and cheese. The one the boy designed involved All The Things including pepperoni, hot peppers, more sauteed mushrooms, tomato sauce (he blends two different kinds haha), sauteed onions, a couple types of cheese, etc.


They were both good but the pesto one (because I slathered on an absurdly thick layer of pesto!) was quite special.


I had a housewarming party and my friend gave me TWO OTTOLENGHI COOKBOOKS! Along with the awesome cookbook stand pictured below. I started with a chilled red pepper soup with sour cream.


As many say about Ottolenghi recipes, the combination of herbs seems like it should make no sense. Sage, bay leaves, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, basil, and parsley?!

And yet once things start sauteeing it smells quite lovely.


And the finished product was DUH- LICIOUS. Especially with the sour cream on top- wacky sounding combination but so so good!


Since I’d bought parsley for that recipe, I made a parsley pesto with the leftovers (based on a Mark Bittman recipe- just parsley, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper).


Tossed that with shrimp, pasta and asparagus. Quite lovely!


More yummy summer food… I spent an evening at my cousin’s house, where her father and sister were both visiting from out of town. My cousin’s cat Hobbes, the regal chonk pictured below, cohosted. He particularly liked the nice sport coat my uncle wore and posed by it.


For dinner we had double starch and I didn’t hate it! Sausages, corn on the cob, and more pasta with more pesto! Yesss!


More tasty summer corn… I got this stuff at Food Lion and it was EXCELLENT! Who knew?!


Along with summer corn, I had summer tomatoes and summer basil ❤ And some sauteed marinated tempeh to go along.


Another meal at my cousin’s! I steamed the asparagus and drizzled them with olive oil and vinegar (would’ve been lemon juice but my cousin only had the stuff in the bottle). Then my uncle intervened and put several large chunks of butter atop haha!


Meal was rounded out by my uncle’s spaghetti carbonara ❤


latest tastes

Ah, another heart healthy Southern meal.



This beast of a table was enjoyed with the manfriend on a lovely evening out in Durham. It began at The Pit, pictured above, where the service was iffy but the outdoor view was excellent.

His: burnt ends, fried brussels sprouts with bacon, fried okra with gravy
Hers: fried catfish with greens and more fried okra
Theirs: hush puppies, biscuits

Our destination for the evening was something that caused my heart to pitter patter with delight when I saw it as a coming event on Facebook:


A TRIBUTE TO AMY WINEHOUSE! My great love! Rest in Peace you poor thing.

The band was Remember Jones, a sassy and tireless lead singer with a kickin falsetto, a fabulous orchestra that involved two saxaphones (!)


We danced maniacally and had a ball.

Later that same weekend I experienced Eatscut, a sandwich place beloved by the manfriend, for the first time. We split a kimchi reuben (*swoon*) and some curly fries (yesss- note that he always gets things with extra ranch dressing hahahaha) and he had a brew and I had a rosemary lemonade (?!!)


More fun beverages… we went trampolining one day (!!!) at Defy Gravity, then took a wrong turn on the highway and opted to use the detour as an opportunity to visit the Umstead Hotel and enjoy fancy beverages looking out at the property and pond.

I got this gorgeous thing which was actually non alcoholic and involved hibiscus and fever tree tonic water. That is a candied hibiscus flower (!!) on top.


One evening we found ourselves without any real dinner inspiration, so we raided Trader Joe’s and made a meal of various nibbles.


The man is good at plating in a way that I decidedly am not and he assembled this adorable thing:

  • multigrain pita crackers
  • celery
  • pineapple
  • artichoke jalapeno dip
  • buffalo hummus


The meal was rounded out with Trader Joe’s soup dumplings (pictured above), coconut shrimp (pictured below) and a salad with a side of bread we picked up at Chopped.


Eating the dumplings was greatly enhanced by the use of my beautiful new chopsticks from my aunt and uncle. They have chopstick rests that are shaped like ducks! So precious! Furthermore the chopsticks rest atop their additional gift of the beautiful placemats!


More weekends, more fun with bae… we got brunch at Olio e Aceito. There was lots of stealing from one another’s plates… definite highlights were the cheesy jalapeno biscuit and the goat cheese grits oh my wooooooord. Oh and the homemade jam was a delight too!


A yummy Italian family style restaurant near the boy’s place- Pulcinella. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me when restaurants have bread bowls, especially when the bread is warm…


And especially especially when you get a sundried tomato infused olive oil dipping sauce for it. Yum yum yum!


This particular evening we split an unpictured grilled chicken salad (which is a regular order of ours because the chicken is seasoned and grilled really nicely, the salad is topped with a ton of provolone yesss, and the house dressing is crazy delicious) and we shared THESE CHONKY MEATBALLS OH YESSSS.


So I hope you have figured out by now I have been eating very very well with my boyf.

But I have also been eating well with my lady friends! My dear Love Fern, Andrea (we’ve been friends since we met at summer camp at the age of 14), was visiting briefly. She’s an opera singer in New York City (!) so it’s a treat when she comes back here.

Andrea, her sister Julia and I got dinner together and then hung out and took in the loveliness on the rooftop bar of the Durham Hotel. Cute sisters below:


I’ve gotten in some good family time, too- my aunt Jeanie came for a visit and we all converged for a dinner at my cousin’s house catered by Jeanie and me. It involved:

  • More pasta with Smitten Kitchen’s naked tomato sauce (<< that recipe is a winner, I’ve been recommending it to people and now my coworker loves it too!)
  • arugula salad with goat cheese (I honestly put on too much goat cheese lolol)
  • lovely fresh bread
  • wine
  • unpictured key lime pie


Jeanie was staying at my place.. the next morning I cooked us a lovely breakfast of toasties, eggs, and tomatoes…


… and we watched the Wimbledon men’s final. V NERVE WRACKING!


Finally, I had a girls’ night at a place I’ve been wanting to try for awhile- Dashi, the fancy ramen place in downtown Durham.


This was the point where I discovered that I really don’t care for traditional ramen noodles, nor the very very salty fish cake, nor the extremely abundant sort of damp chicken. I savored the soy sauce egg and broth then called it a day. Don’t worry, we went out for ice cream after 😀

Recently beloved podcasts

Do y’all podcast? Podcasts have been a huge part of my life since I started my job, which has historically involved traipsing around town going to home visits with my patients, whose houses were historically spaced rather far apart. Honestly my home visit requirement has lessened, but now I am just addicted to podcasts, so any time I am in the car for longer than 5 minutes I basically have to listen to one. So I thought I’d discuss my faves!

Previously I have expressed my love of My Favorite Murder here. Fun fact- I went and saw my gals live! Along with, oh, 10,000 other true crime obsessed young progressive white women (… they have a pretty homogenous fan base hahaha). I had the best time- I got a solo ticket and made two friends in my row!

Screen Shot 2019-08-17 at 8.12.40 PM

They have been on hiatus this summer, frankly driving me a bit insane by constantly posting what looks to be new episodes and then it turns out to be recycled content. Just take a proper hiatus and then come back with new stuff! Us binge listeners have no use for recap episodes.

Anyway, this seems as good a time as ever to discuss some of my post loved podcasts. Sorted into categories:

Mandatory Listening for American Citizens

in the dark

  • In the Dark. GUYS. This podcast is IMMACULATELY reported. Beautiful storytelling, compelling questions.
    Season 1 tells the story of a childhood abduction in the 80s that ended up being solved decades later and everything that happened in between, including an examination of the “stranger danger” epidemic that took over in the ensuing decades, the obsession with socially ostracizing sex offenders and its unintended consequences, the bafflingly enormous power of local sheriffs departments.
    But season 2… whoa. Season 2 tells the story of a black man from Mississippi who was accused of a horrible crime and has been tried SIX TIMES FOR IT. “But double jeopardy?” you ask. Yes, that exists, but only for people who have been acquitted for a crime. If, as in the case of Mr Flowers, higher level courts continue to overturn your conviction for the numerous constitutional violations committed by the local district attorney, that same district attorney is allowed to keep bringing you back in. Along with a look at the judicial system, jury selection, the complexities of a jury trial, the reporters look at the actual evidence in this particular case. And it is… stunning.
    Spoiler alert- season 2 is ongoing for the indefinite future due to some rather important folks called the US Supreme Court. Definitely wort a listen.
  • Serial, Season 3. Yes, season 1 took over the world. Season 2 was… whatever. My cousin liked it? No one else I know did. But season 3… Season 3 man!
    Season 3 of serial tells the story of a building… a courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Again, if you want to have your mind blown by the American judicial system (particularly the juvenile justice system… the reporting on this topic is by far the most devastating) this season is worth your time.
  • Breakdown- this podcast by the Atlanta Journal Constitution is several seasons, and each one examines a different court case. Are all bizarre and upsetting in different ways, and all demonstrate various breakdowns in the system that is supposed to get justice for victims of crimes, their families, and people who may be accused of a crime they did not commit.

True Crime Junkies

small town dicks

  • My Favorite Murder- my favorite. That said my mom thinks they say the F word too much so if you object to that you’ll likely not care for this. I don’t mind it! I also bought their book, in which they also say the f word a lot.
  • Criminal. If you love Phoebe Judge’s soothing tones on NPR, there’s more of them in this very well produced podcast. Each episode is short (20-30 min) and gives you a little slice of someone’s life or the story of a place. For example, a story of a girl who met a cute but sketchy boy and somehow ended up using thousands of dollars counterfeit money in New York City bars; an academic look at how polygraphs work or fail to work and how we can actually tell if someone is lying; a behind the scenes examination of police dogs and their sometimes rather melodramatic relationships with their trainers.
  • Small Town Dicks. This podcast is SO well produced- it’s made by Yeardley Smith (aka the voice of Lisa Simpson) and her friend Zibby Allen and features two detectives from “Small Town America” (their location is kept secret) along with some of their peers on the police force and in the emergency dispatch world. If you feel that recently Americans have been somewhat unwillingly forced into pro-police and anti-police camps, this podcast is a really nice antidote. The detectives are really good storytellers and clearly have a lot of respect for the victims of the crimes, but also discuss at length how important it is for them to follow proper procedure and respect the constitutional rights of people accused of crimes. Be warned- some of the content is EXTREMELY upsetting- one of the regularly featured detectives works on crimes involving child sexual abuse.
  • Uncover: Escaping NXIVM- I will tell you the premise of this podcast and you will immediately know if it is for you (because I heard it and went YES I WANNA LISTEN TO THAT): A journalist goes to his hometown. There, he runs into an old friend, who he has known since preschool. As their kids play together on the playground, he asks her, “How have you been doing?” And she goes “Oh, all right, I actually just escaped a cult.” YEAH. And it’s THAT cult, the one in all the news, with the branding and the Seagrams heiresses and the craziness! Quite the story. I have to admit I felt a bit smug after listening to it because she talked about the initial marketing about self improvement that first drew her in to the organization and I went “… that sounds real stupid to me.” My constitutional aversion to self help I think has served me well in avoiding being recruited by a cult.
  • Dirty John. I feel like everyone knows about Dirty John right now? Since it was also made into a TV show? But just in case… I made my mom listen to this one with me 🙂 If you like listening to a con man get his comeuppance whoo boy.
  • I’ve listened to a gazillion true crime ones! Hard to narrow down. Dr Death had me shook and shed some alarming lights on how much doctors can get away with. The Teacher’s Pet, Broken Harts, Phoebe’s Fall are all about mysterious deaths. Believed is about the young women and men victimized by Larry Nassar, the Olympic doctor who turned out to be a serial sexual abuser, and is beautifully reported. The Shrink Next Door is about a deeply sketchy psychiatrist exploiting his patients but also about how weird and manipulatable (? Is that a word?) human beings are, especially when they are surrounded by ostentatious wealth. The Dropout has similar themes, about a woman who amassed literally billions of dollars from Silicon Valley investors whose groundbreaking technology turned out to be rubbish. All are good in their own ways and which you like will sort of depend on what stories you’re drawn to (and what kinds of accents you like?!)

Weird/interesting stories in history

slow burn

  • Slow Burn- Two seasons have come out so far and I’ve loved them both.
    Season 1 is a deep dive into Watergate. Random bit players (a melodramatic low level cabinet official’s wife potentially could have blown the story wide open years before most of America found out about it?!) tell the stories of weird little details behind Watergate you never knew. The parallels to now are, uh, hard to miss, and it makes for a compelling listen.
    Season 2 is a deep dive into the Clinton impeachment. I was a wee one when all this stuff was happening, with the result being that I thought subpoena was a bad word (I mean to be fair, I knew the president had done something bad involving sex and that the word subpoena rolls off the tongue in a dirty sounding way?) and didn’t know much else at all. This was illuminating. The episode on the feminist movement crashing and burning into Monica Lewinsky was fascinating. And somehow they got an interview with Linda Tripp?! Which is as wild as you’d expect.
  • What Really Happened- more deep dives, one per episode! This show is hit or mis with me; some are enthralling and some are a little slow. Not to be missed are the stories of Britney Spears’ financial conservatorship, Mohammed Ali talking down a disabled veteran from committing suicide by jumping off a roof, Meek Mills’ legal battles, the huge box office bomb John Carter, and Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton’s relationship.

Podcasts that didn’t do it for me

  • Tell Me Something I Don’t Know- I’m sick of white men who think they are funnier than they are. Someone
  • Last Podcast on the Left- More white men annoying me! The My Favorite Murder gals recommended this one for true crime lovers but I didn’t enjoy it.
  • Wonderful- Aaaaaand more white men annoying me. This man and his wife discuss things they find wonderful (Four square! Using the phrase “no worries!” Things that should be really sweet and delightful!) but the man is a deeply irritating conversation dominator and I just get mad on his wife’s behalf.
  • Missing and Murdered- ugh, there’s all this reporting about some truly upsetting events, but you don’t find anything out. Maddening.
  • Cover Up- ditto above! I need some kind of beginning, middle and end to my true crime stories. And the Chappaquiddick thing is something I’ve always been fascinated by so I was disappointed not to get more information. Like, of course none of the important people are talking… but it doesn’t make for a good podcast!
  • Zealot- As discussed above, I love a good cult podcast. And this one has promise… it has fun musical segues between topics. However, the sound quality is poor and the storytelling is meandering. Alas.

summer cookin

This is one of the more beautiful things I’ve made this summer.


It is also QUITE easy! It’s a very simple dip, but it’s the toppings that make it… none of them are optional!

I tried this at the farmer’s market and came home and made it within about a week? It was so so delicious in addition to being gorgey.


The same day I made the recipe above, I got to have a fine piece of man in my kitchen frying me chicken in his grandma’s cast iron skillet!


There was also tomato (farmer’s market) and basil (my plant) salad, a summer must.


The meal also involved yummy bread and arugula salad. (The chicken takes rather awhile so that was added to the table later)


Another tasty meal with the manfriend… why had no one told me how amazing the combination of shrimp, old bay, beer and butter is?! OH MY GOODNESS.


Whilst making that, he made a dirty rice dish jazzed up with some chorizo (fun fact my manfriend won a fitness competition at his local gym. Nutrition classes were taught by a dietitian- whoop whoop!- and he learned so much and sometimes I learn stuff from him which I love! Including the existence of reduced sodium rice n bean mix! Though that maybe gets canceled out by added chorizo hahaha)


I added the fruit and veggie components to the meal:

  • more tomato basil salad (this time with basil from his deck!)
  • broiled radicchio with balsamic and olive oil and garlic and some honey to counteract the bitterness… oh my GOOOOOOOODness this was from the farmer’s market and just wonderful)
  • watermelon


Another collaborative meal…


He started by cooking a skillet of sausage (because… that’s what he does hahaha)


And tossed that with cooked kale and garlic.


Meanwhile I had gotten a zucchini grown by a coworker so he cooked that up with looooooots of olive oil and onions and garlic.


Meanwhile I was making Smitten Kitchen’s naked tomato sauce which is WORTH YOUR TIME. Very easy and very delicious!


A final collaborative meal with the manfriend… he started the meal by making this, of course…


I started the meal by slicing these…


And we produced the plate below along with our fruit…

  • Toast made by frying bread in huge quantities of butter. Bread that has been smeared with mayo. OH LAWD.
  • Eggs fried in, you guessed it, a bunch of butter
  • Sprouts, which he always has, which I find so endearing
  • Trader Joe’s Everything but the bagel seasoning, which he refers to as “Everything”
  • Hots auce


Another meal I made for my good friend who just started a new job. The meal involved:

  • Trader Joe’s corn, burrata and basil ravioli (mmm)
  • Salad with roasted beets, arugula, goat cheese, roasted hazelnuts, olive oil, and balsamic reduction


And for dessert we went halfsies on two cupcakes from Small Cakes: chocolate peanut butter and blackberry bourbon (<< which was DEFINITELY THE WINNER AND SO DELICIOUS).

Please admire Shaylen’s amazing Little Mermaid shirt too.


As for meals I have had by myself they are rather less exciting but still tasty:

  • Salad: butter lettuce blend, farmer’s market sungold tomatoes (so wonderful), dressing
  • two veggie hot dogs (v small) with trader joe’s sauerkraut
  • chickpea pasta (meh, won’t get it again) with homemade pepper jack cheese sauce



  • Leftover pancakes thawed from the freezer
  • Peaches!
  • hard boiled eggs with homemade pesto


A concoction of:

  • frozen shrimp, thawed, seasoned with Trader Joe’s chile lime seasoning and sauteed
  • fresh farmer’s market corn
  • fresh farmer’s market tomatoes
  • green pepper
  • and then once all that got cooked up all yummy I finished it with diced avocado