Monday, July 4, 2011

when in Connecticut...

I just arrived in the burgeoning burg of Norfolk, CT yesterday. My quartet is here for six weeks playing in a music festival run by Yale and the Tokyo String Quartet. I've gotta admit... I haven't exactly been thrilled by this prospect. Don't get me wrong; I am excited to study with TSQ and all, but you need to understand. The town is soooo small. Before arrival I was informed that it used to have a bar. I thought, wow. You've got to be kidding me... a town so small it can't even support a bar!? Don't worry. We spotted one on the way in. Not that i'll be going there. Ever. On the other hand, if I get the sudden urge to buy useless old junk, I did see three antiques shops. So there is civilization here. But really folks, small SMALL town. And small, Small, SMALL festival. I think there will be less than thirty of us here all summer. If the people are cool, (and so far they seem to be) it should be fun. We're all staying in people's homes in the community. So far, I think I totally lucked out there. My hosts are these lovely Brits named Simon and Annette, their son Julian, and their dog Nigel. It doesn't get much more British than that. The best part is that they live in a lovely home, and I'm living in a large guest apartment out back! I have a living room and kitchen and large room, and while there is supposed to be someone in the other room here, they haven't yet shown up. I'm thinking they may be a member of one of the professional quartets coming later in the summer. That would be fantastic, because then I'd have the place to myself, really. So far, so good. There is one puzzling thing though, this sentence from the welcome letter given me by Simon: "we recommend keeping your doors unlocked. Also, keep the outside lights on. Beware the bear!" Hmmm. Should be an interesting summer.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Love Me Some Bandwagon

That's right, I'm jumping on. Before you read any further, however, I must ask you: "Are you a fan of delicious flavor"?** If so, then try this. It's from Mel over at Kitchen Cafe. Though normally I improvise a bit in the kitchen, I decided to make this one just as the directions said, seeing as how it looked easy and delicious. So. Blasted. Delicious. I would highly recommend it. I hope you all make it and love it as much as I did. Oh, and definitely make the extra sauce. You'll want to lick that tangy, gooey goodness out of the bowl.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

*Note: if you like extra sauce, double the sauce ingredients - pour half over the chicken and follow the baking directions in the recipe and pour the other half in a small saucepan. Cook the sauce on the stovetop at medium heat for 8-10 minutes until it simmers and thickens. Serve it on the side of the chicken.
*Serves 4-6

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and pour over chicken.

¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes so it is evenly coated with the sauce. Serve the chicken over rice.

**10 points if you can tell me what tv show this quote is from.

Thursday, April 28, 2011



Swimming in the sea,
Crazy three-pronged poison tongues;
Oceans freak me out.

Things You May Not Know About Me

1. I can never remember the rules for putting 's on the end of words that already end in s. Anyone? Anyone?

2. There's almost always a song (or two or three) in my head. Weirdly, the song that pops in there when nothing else does is "R.E.S.C.U.E., Rescue Aid Society" from that old Disney movie "The Rescuers." This has been happening for years, although I haven't seen the movie since I was a kid.

3. I can't choose a favorite book, movie, band, or song. I don't know why this is... I'm certainly opinionated about everything else. I know what I don't like. Does that count?

4. I have received two thank you notes in the past week from crazy unexpected sources. They're both hanging up on my fridge.

5. I have dated many, many engineers of different kinds. If someone comes up to me and starts flirting, I can almost guarantee that he is an engineer. This happened yet again a couple of weeks ago.

6. I can usually remember and even sometimes control my dreams. When I was a kid, I would watch a good movie or read a book I liked then go to sleep and continue the story. I have also had several random dreams come true within a month or two of dreaming them. I've never shown any other signs of prescience, though. I also have serial dreams. For instance, one summer I had lots of dreams that I was a spy. It was an exciting summer.

7. One of my favorite days ever was going to the Cherry Blossom Festival and National Kite Flying Festival in Washington D.C. with some friends. We flew kites all around the Washington Monument (with thousands of other people) then spent the day doing other things I love... looking at flowers, visiting monuments, and posing for pictures with statues. Yes, I may be nerdy, but I embrace that.

8. I want to go skydiving someday. Until then, I just found this place in Denver that does indoor skydiving, where you put on the suit, step into this crazy wind tunnel, and "fly" a few feet above the ground. I think this would probably be a good first step, because I am also a big fat chicken.

9. One of my goals is to see both Stonehenge and Carhenge. I am halfway there.

10. One of my most revealingly favorite quotes is from "Pride and Prejudice," "What do we live for but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn"? This describes most of my favorite interactions with the world around me. I take delight in all sorts of oddities. In case you couldn't tell from this blog. I also have a reputation as an instigator. I tend to bring out the crazy in my friends, small children, and animals. I am not actually sure how this happens. But I'm really glad it does, because I find it infinitely amusing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yo Ho Ho... and You Know the Rest

I've had quite the fun-filled day. I started it off with class (ba dum bum) and spent the next several hours contemplating a life of crime-- in this case, piracy. I just finished reading Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" for the first time in my life, and I absolutely loved it. It's fun, interesting, well-written, and full of characters I love, from Dr. Livesey to Jim Hawkins to Long John Silver himself.

I decided to celebrate the end of my imaginary sea voyage by going to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to see the traveling National Geographic exhibit- "The Whydah: From Slave Ship to Pirate Ship." Fan.Tast.Ic. It was quite informative in my current state of mind. I learned all about Sam Bellamy and his motley crew hijacking the slave ship in the West Indies, sailing north, and being shipwrecked by a terrible storm. I actually got to touch some of the pieces of eight (treasure) they recovered. Interesting note: this is the only pirate treasure they've ever recovered, probably because most pirates spent their money in drink and women before they could actually amass any wealth. That doubtless would have happened in this case too had the ship not sunk and killed all but two of its crew (who were captured and hung anyway). It was quite a sight to see the treasure all piled in chests.

After visiting the exhibit, I find myself in a moral quandary, which is this: I can absolutely understand the reasoning of pirates in the 1700s. I mean, come on. A regular seaman went to sea, had no rights, was repressed and treated horribly by his commanding officers, and may or may not have ever been payed the pittance he was promised. Conditions were horrible, and disease was rampant. Also, the governments first authorized "privateering," which was basically legalized piracy. It only became illegal when they formed political alliances or lost wars. Pirates grew from the ashes of the program, declaring their independence from any nation. Then take the slave trade. I don't even need to go into that, I'm sure. Those people were absolutely dehumanized, and it is disgusting on every level. Enter someone like Sam Bellamy. Now, I am absolutely aware that he was a thief and murderer. Obviously, I don't excuse this kind of behavior. However, if you signed up to be a pirate, you became a shareholder in the company. Every person on board was entitled to a share of the money. They were large crews, so they had to do much less work. They democratically elected their officers, and they were able to, ahem, remove them if they weren't living up to the code. Also, they voted on the rules from ship to ship and captain to captain. Anyone was entitled to everything, be they European, African, Native American, Jamaican, or any other -an. Bellamy's men actually called themselves "Robin Hood's men," identifying with the swashbuckling hero who stole from the rich and evil to feed the poor. And I have to say, I can't find any tears when it comes to them taking over a slave ship. I'm willing to bet that all on board were treated with a respect and humanity that was never going to be available to them through any other means of the day.

So, are you with me? Or am I just caught up in the romantic haze of sea voyages and Robin Hood?

Friday, April 15, 2011


Here are some of mine at the moment...

Books: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Mitford Series, Anne of Green Gables (all books in the series, except maybe "Windy Poplars"), Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, A Tale of Two Cities (and pretty much anything else by Dickens), Pride and Prejudice, Walter Cronkite's Autobiography

Travel Books: New York City- Free and Dirt Cheap, Way Off the Road by Bill Geist

Cookbooks, etc: Cooking Light Magazine, The Worldwide Ward Cookbook, Caprial Cooks for Friends, various cooking blogs already linked in my favorites to the side of this blog

Composers: Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler, Ives, Mendelssohn, Bach, Gershwin, Bartok, Copland, Piazzola

Old (and some newer) Movies: You Can't Take it With You, Pride and Prejudice (but ONLY the BBC version), Amazing Grace, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anchors Aweigh, Singing in the Rain, The Thin Man, North by Northwest, Rear Window, My Man Godfrey, How to Steal a Million, Tangled, nearly everything by Pixar

TV Shows: Psych, Burn Notice, Monk, Parks & Recreation, The Cosby Show, The Dick van Dyke Show, Arrested Development, Jeeves and Wooster, Poirot

Plays: A Man For All Seasons, Wicked, Charlie's Aunt, Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Noises Off

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Hi Everybody! In case you haven't heard from the rest of the worldwide web, my quartet has some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that our colleague, Xian Meng, is leaving us to pursue other interests. We will miss him terribly, but we wish him all the best. The good news is that Michelle Lie will be joining us as the Tesla Quartet's new second violinist in May, 2011. We're so excited to have her join us here, as she's a wonderful musician. If you'd like to know more about her, you can head on over to Anyway, it's been an exhaustive process trying to find someone new, but we feel like we've scored big time, so thanks for all your support during the last few months! Here's to the future!