S’more cookies: the trial run

November 19, 2014

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My friends are doing Friendsgiving “Tapas-style” next weekend- meaning instead of turkey and mashed potato overload, we’re each supposed to bring a little appetizer or dessert. Driving around the other evening with my window down the autumn scent of fire wafted in and a little lightbulb told me “s’mores cookies.” I did some googling and found a recipe here – since the idea of baking marshmallows in the oven seemed a little precarious, I decided to do a trial run.

I swapped in chunks of Hershey’s bars instead of chocolate chips and halved actual marshmallows instead of using Mallow bits since I wanted it to be as close to what a real s’more tastes like as possible. While baking, my apartment smelled like heaven and straight out of the oven, the cookies were warm and gooey… but the cookie base itself was kind of off. I think I used too many graham cracker crumbs — the texture was almost a little grainy. And even though taste is all that really matters, I don’t love how they looked — a little too chunky and kind of dry. Though I did love the golden brown they took on, and the way the marshmallows kind of caramelized.

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My plan for next time: I think I’m going to add some honey, for a little more “graham cracker flavor” and moisture without having to use as many crumbs… and I might add an extra egg or at least half a yolk. I’m also kind of considering swapping out all of the white sugar and substituting in brown sugar… though I’m nervous about that since I’ve never done it before.

I know, I know – a whole lot of thinking for a simple cookie… but I have this little dream in my head of what “s’mores cookies” should taste like and today’s batch weren’t quite there yet. They were, however, pretty darn cute on the cookie sheet.

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movie madness

November 18, 2014

Because of some schedule shifts at work, Shaun’s had Mondays off lately (just like me!), and we’ve been taking advantage of our temporary same-unusual-day-off with lots of movies. In the summer, you hit the theater to escape the heat — in the winter, movies are helping us escape the cold. Here are the three most recent flicks we’ve seen. All are still in theaters now, if not 100% “new” :o) :

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NIGHTCRAWLER: Since the trailer implied this movie was (loosely) about TV news, we had to see it. As expected, it was more of a dramatic and salacious commentary on not just local TV, but on human nature and why we watch what we watch. It was also a chance to see Jake Gyllenhaal act as crazy as he’s been since probably Donnie Darko…whenever he pulled his too long hair into a ponytail, you knew it was on. Was it a good, interesting talker of a movie? Absolutely. Was it in any way indicative of what the world of TV news is like? Absolutely not. (Though I’ve never freelance photog’d in LA, so who knows.) Watch this one when you’re in the mood to think a little.

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GONE GIRL: Chances are you’ve already seen this if you’re going to seen this, but if you haven’t, set the date. This is one of those movies that I think was worth seeing in theaters. There was no crazy CG and it’s not like you need surround sound…but it was the kind of movie for which it was great to have 100% no distractions. Except popcorn. Lots of popcorn. This is my favorite movie that I’ve seen in a long time.

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INTERSTELLAR: We went to see this movie because a.) Matthew McConaughey, and b.) everyone at work raved about it and reviews for it were all great. Matthew McConaughey didn’t disappoint, and the graphics were amazing. There were some really cool moments, a lot of interesting themes to think about and again…Matthew McConaughey. Only complaint here: the movie was long, and it felt that way. Which I hate to say because again, there were some really great moments but… get ready for a sore bum.

Next up? The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1! I know, I know, we’re dorks…but Shaun and I have been kind of counting down for this one. I know we typically do “Monday movies” but this may turn into a midnight movie instead!

in defense of being totally lazy

November 17, 2014

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Lately weekends have been jam-packed with autumn activities, movie dates and to-do-list cross-offs. Today was different: I slept in two hours later than usual (heavenly), had a late long brunch with a friend, then spent a few hours playing (indoor) hide-and-seek and blowing bubbles with Shaun and his mini-me. I grabbed dinner to-go, caught up on Scandal and painted my nails. I picked up the magazines and catalogs I’d left in a pile for a couple weeks, and plan to top it all off with an early bedtime.

Good thing, because starting next weekend life gets very, very busy again. Almost every week has a big event booked and during those that don’t I have pies to bake, Christmas gifts to buy and vacation prep to do. A whirlwind, but probably my favorite months of the year.

Christmas last year was so much different than this year will likely be. I’d been dating Shaun for about six months, so we were still getting to know each other… but his family invited me into their home and since mine’s thousands of miles away, I said yes. His mom was so inviting and kind and gracious and seeing Shaun play Santa with his son was so sweet, and we finished the night by ordering pizza at midnight (I was shocked that Domino’s is open, too)…it was the perfect way to finish a year that had been full of change.

This year, I work nightside til 10:30 (which I volunteered to do in exchange for prime vacation time off)… which basically means “Christmas Day”=FaceTiming with my family in Chicago, then searching for stories full of holiday cheer. That means instead I’ll be peppering in the spirit of my favorite holiday as much as I can throughout the month. Starting with a peppermint mocha a day and some really ugly sweaters (bought this one at Target a couple weeks ago – couldn’t resist the pom pom balls).

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Anyway, back to how lazy I’ve been this weekend. I did get to hang out with our friend Liz who was in town visiting from Taos… we hit a couple bars and caught up. She just had the cutest baby in the world three months ago and I can’t wait to see her again so probably a little road trip is in order. I also finally decided on what to make for Friendsgiving next weekend and picked a twist on pumpkin pie that I can’t wait to try.

Right now, though…I have an episode of MTV’s Faking It to watch and some cuddly pajamas to sink into. I have about an hour of lazy left!

good news

November 12, 2014

In my line of work, a lot of days are spent covering stories that are, by nature, upsetting. We get to know people who are victims of tragedy, survivors of unimaginable experiences, and fighters through difficult circumstances. I’m lucky to work for a station that works to make sure every story we air is meaningful, so don’t get me wrong…I know the tough stuff is part of my job, and I am thankful to and honored by the people who let me into their homes and allow me to help them tell their stories.

That said, though… there is nothing like a “good news” day.

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There are a lot of times that I think to myself “I love my job.” But I haven’t felt that kind of feeling so intensely until a few days ago. We’d been covering a story about a missing 10-year-old girl whose parents believed she’d run away but who hadn’t been seen for 72 hours, meaning they had no idea what happened since she left. The community was worried. There were multiple law enforcement departments, search parties and a candlelight vigil.

We pledged to keep sharing her photo and her story every newscast until she was found. On the third day, we were parked outside the local police department, writing our story in the live truck. Preparing for another round of “brown hair, blue eyes, four foot five”…when an officer came out and knocked on my window.

“She’s home,” he said with a smile. Suddenly both my photographer and I, both who, in stories like this, can’t help but feel the concern the whole community is feeling, were overjoyed, excited and so happy to tell everyone at ten o’clock that she was safe and healthy at home with her parents. I typically love my job, but moments like that are when I love my job. We’d been getting so many comments from worried viewers, asking how they could help. The parents in our newsroom were especially affected, and even without having kids of my own I knew what a scary situation her being gone must have been for her parents. I was excited to help share the wave of relief- she’d simply been playing in trees and bushes within a few miles of her house! This was good news.

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The rest of the week was pretty great, too. I covered a watch party on election night, which are always full of energy and people excited about the future. I also covered the “Breaking Bad Fan Fest” which took place in Albuquerque- above, that’s me with kids who played the little boy in the “Peekaboo” episode. (Funny story, I recognized them but first they recognized me – they came up and said that they watch the news!! Little smarties.) Work is getting back to busy right now- November is always a busy month, and it can be tough to pitch good stories night after night — but looking back at moments like these remind me why I got into the business. I love my job.

the swing of things

November 10, 2014

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After a fun and active weekend with my mom, a hectic election night at work and a little catching up on errands and “life stuff,” I’m feeling back in the swing of things. And after living in Albuquerque for two years now, there actually is a “swing of things.”

Having moved seven times growing up and three times since college, I’ve gotten used to not having a “swing.” I feel like as soon as I’ve settled in somewhere, it’s been time to go again. And in New York, I don’t know that I ever would have “settled in.” I loved it there and it felt like home, and I did have a semblance of routine, but even with a stable work schedule and regular brunch & coffee shops, every day and night felt like an opportunity for spontaneity. And in NYC, it felt like if you didn’t say “yes!” to every night out and every opening party and every networking event, you were going to miss out and fall behind. In NY — and this is just how that particular city played into my personality — I never felt like I could relax or just breathe. I loved it, but that’s just how it was.

Albuquerque is completely different, especially after two years here with all of it spent in the same job where I am still learning and growing and more than half of it spent in an easy, happy, stable relationship. I work when I work, and when I don’t I spend most mornings meeting friends for coffee or relaxing in my apartment or running little errands, and my weekends tend to be the same: Sundays spent with Shaun and his family, with a break to bake some cookies or do some cleaning while Shaun & his son nap; Sunday nights going out for dinner then cozying up with a book or TV and a new nail polish. Mondays off are spent exploring- visiting beautiful new places in New Mexico or trying classes (the upside to having a Monday, not normal weekend days, off). Of course there are adventures and weekend trips, but I feel like I’ve spend probably the past five months like this, and it’s kind of comforting. Or I’m kind of becoming an old person. If that’s the case, I’m okay with it.

New Mexico is warm and beautiful and friendly, with lots of culture and opportunities to try new things. It’s also low-pressure and a place where you don’t feel guilty about relaxing… and it’s finally starting to feel like home.

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catching up

November 7, 2014

October sped by, so this past week I found myself “catching up” on a lot of things I missed. At the top of the list: spending some quality time with my mama bear!

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We haven’t seen each other since Shaun & I’s visit to Chicago this summer and won’t see each other again until Maui in January, so my mom surprised me with a weekend visit. We’ve always been super close- my mom is my best friend, as corn as cliche as that sounds – so the minute I heard she was coming I was thrilled. We got mani-pedis, did tons of shopping, and munched on delicious meals… our favorite, at Farino Alto.

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We gorged on a fresh chopped vegetable salad, a piping hot melanzane pizza (which you see above…sorry, I’m not a food photographer) and a butterscotch budino. I’d rather have a photo of that work of beauty, but we dug into it too fast. Imagine a think butterscotch pudding with hardened, salted caramel. Or just imagine you’re taking a bite of heaven.

We also made the gorgeous drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, where we walked around the plaza and hit the outlet malls. And, at the end of each night, we snuggled up on my couches with blankets, snacking on Halloween candy and chatting while watching bad crime dramas. It was perfect :o).

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Also on the note of “catching up”… I finally saw Gone Girl. I know there’s been plenty of talk about it already, but I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and see it’s an in-the-movie-theater must-see. The worst or best part of it is recognizing traits in the characters – almost all of whom are to be reviled – that you see in yourself or in people you know. (For better or for worse, the story chasers hit close to home).

And, finally, I deep-cleaned my apartment. It’s started to get C-O-L-D in New Mexico, and I want my space to be super cozy for the extra dose of time spent inside. Next up, sweaters and peppermint mochas!

protect and serve

October 29, 2014

Growing up, I was always taught that police officers and firefighters are “the good guys”. They save lives, they fix problems, and when you need them, they will help you. As an adult and a journalist working in a city where there’s a lot of attention on everything the police department does, things get a little more complicated. Police officers are humans — and sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they also do “the wrong thing” by choice– and we report on it when they do.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice released a findings report culminating from an investigation of the police department here in Albuquerque. It stated that the Albuquerque Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.” Since then, the city has been under negotiations with the Department of Justice to develop a consent decree laying out plans moving forward, and the department has been working to improve relationships with the community. It is an interesting time to be a journalist, and there are a lot of layers to the process.

The community is divided on a lot of police-related issues. But most people I talk to describe a willingness to have the community and police work together and support each other. When I think about that support, I often think to an event that shocked Albuquerque and brought people together. This weekend marked the one-year-anniversary of that event.

On October 26, 2013, a man named Christopher Chase armed himself with an AK47 and told people on the street to call police. When they arrived, he started shooting- eventually hitting three officers and a deputy before he crashed into a gas station and police shot and killed him. The deputy, in particular, suffered a shot to the leg that hit an artery, and she was saved because of quick work by others and a tourniquet. In the days, weeks and months that followed, that day stood as a reminder of the danger officers often face in the line of duty, and people used it as a reason to think about what officers go through, and how to help them. To honor that day, I talked with an officer on the front lines that day, the deputy who was shot, and a sergeant credited with saving lives.

I chose to tell the story without any track — to let their words explain what they felt that day, and what they feel now looking back on it. I’m glad that’s how I told this story- or, well, how I helped them tell it.

cheers to the weekend

October 27, 2014

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I’m technically off Sundays and Mondays, but even with work on Saturdays the normal “weekend” always feels like my “weekend,” while Mondays are more about cleaning, laundry, planning and errands. I try to pack in both fun and a lot of relaxation on Sundays- and yesterday totally did the trick.

I got up early, got coffee and went for a quick little drive through the mountains before meeting up with Shaun and his family. We sipped lattes, ate banana bread and spent the morning together before I slipped home for an hour to whip up some chocolate-chip-M&M cookies (with the autumn-colored M&Ms only…I know, I’m a dork).

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Shaun had set up a tour of our local fire station for his mini-me, who loves firefighters, so when I brought the cookies back his son insisted we bring the cookies to “hungry firefighters” because “they are our friends”. So we did (after he snuck a few for himself… and I snuck one for me!). His mom ordered him the most adorable firefighter costume for Halloween, and the firemen loved it. It was a sweet afternoon.

Yesterday we also had time to squeeze in linner at Rosati’s. If you have one near you- especially if you don’t live near Chicago- you need to try it. It may look like your average sports pub or pizza joint on the outside but the pizza is amazing. I also happened to have my first job the summer before high school working at one in Illinois, so that might add to the effect for me…but when they opened one in New Mexico I knew we had to visit and see if it was still as good. It was!

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I spent the night enjoying a beautiful New Mexico sunset and munching on chips with salsa and guacamole, being 100% antisocial and unproductive. But I did catch up on Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Madam Secretary and Law & Order: SVU… so maybe a little productive.

Now, to spend the rest of the day doing some massive fall cleaning and organizing. My mom comes to visit this weekend so I need to get ready for that… and I want to get life in order before the holidays sneak up on me like they always do!

TGIF

October 24, 2014

It’s been a busy week and I need to watch How to Get Away with Murder now, so just some little bite-sized posts :o)

Loving: Fire in the airfire

The weather is finally getting cold enough that the scent of fire is fresh in the air. I love getting off work at 10:30pm, driving with the windows rolled down and instantly being transported to a camping trip or a cozy night by the fireplace. The picture above is actually from a backyard bonfire with friends a couple weeks ago. I have a fireplace in my apartment but haven’t put it to use yet- to be honest I’ve never set a fire myself… Hopefully I’ll have Shaun help me get it going this weekend. For now, I’ve been enjoying the smell of charred wood sneaking up through my neighbors’ chimneys!

 

Listening: The Suburbs, The Arcade Fire
This album is a few years old, but whenever fall creeps up I find myself listening to it again. I love the whole album. It’s perfect for mornings spent driving around town as colors change on trees and the air gets a little cooler.

Searching: the perfect sweater
No photo yet because I haven’t found it. I’m looking for a big, warm, chunky comfy sweater I can throw on and off all winter… one big enough that I can snuggle up in it, but small enough that it doesn’t make me look gigantic. The search begins.

Dreaming of: vacation
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I wrote about it earlier this week already, but I’m so excited. Whenever I get a little stressed at work or annoyed in life, I look at pics and feel better! Photo via.

Watching: koalas fighting

I love koalas, they’re my fave. Today Shaun sent me this link from Gawker and I’m not ashamed to say I watched all of them.

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October 23, 2014

Ever since high school, when my parents bought me my first point-and-shoot camera, I’ve been a shutterbug. Not a serious photographer, mind you, and my photos may not have been the most artistic — but I’ve loved taking them. I think I do a pretty good job of catching people in their element- mid-laugh, a moment past smile, or looking admiringly at someone they love or care about. So after I got my first big girl job, the first thing I saved up for was a really nice camera. And for me, a Canon 60D was/is what “really nice” meant/means.

Here’s the problem (and please excuse how silly this may sound): this camera is intimidating! There are too many things you can do with it and too much customizability and too much potential for really great pictures… to the point where it kind of stresses me out. So, since buying it, I’ve just kind of haphazardly snapped shots of this-and-that and… out of fear of “not getting the shot”, I’ve captured way more life moments on my camera phone. Which works, and all, but what’s the point of having a “really nice” camera with potential for really great pictures if you don’t use it?

Well, it just so happens that under my new work schedule, I have Mondays off… and no one else really does… so I 100% have time for “hobbies.” And I’m pretty sure amateur photography counts as a hobby! So my plan is to, this Monday, read the manual cover-to-cover and finally really learn my camera. So I can use it without fear, and just enjoy taking pictures and experimenting with different shots again!

In closing… if the most stressful thing in my life right now is “figuring out a camera” and my biggest fear is “missing the moment”… I think things are going pretty well. Cheers to now.