Odds, Ends and In-betweens

I haven’t posted in a little while. I have been very busy with the new semester of school starting which has included me actually teaching an upper level research class. It is really fun to teach, but it certainly makes a busy time of year even busier.
Here are some other, non-work related things that have been filling my days:
1. A new haircut. I finally got my hair chopped after an extended period of growing it out. I like the results as it is a good haircut that I can either spend time on styling or not, and it still looks fine. When I don’t take the time to blow dry it just right, it an still look cool and messy, as exhibited below:

Hopefully, I won’t be lamenting longer hair by next week, but I probably will. I always think it is such a great idea to cut my hair off and then I soon after regret it and miss longer hair. Rash decisions to cut my hair off were regretted in notable haircuts of 5th grade, freshman year of high school, freshman year of college and post-law school. I am soon this will, at some point in time, be added to that list.

2. Lots of time with Knightley: My dog is the best, even when he looks cross with me as he does in this picture. When David is out of town, Knightley always sleeps on the bed beside me, but sometimes he doesn’t like when I insist that he move off my side of the bed.

3. Learning Spanish: One of the perks of working at an academic institution is the fact that you get to learn for free sometimes. Thanks to Georgetown’s online access to Rosetta Stone programs, I am learning Spanish (from Spain, not Latin America) for our trip to Spain in May. It is so much fun, even if I have problem rolling my r’s.

4. Planning trips: The good news is that learning Spanish will definitely be put to good use, as we have actually booked our tickets and accommodations for our trip to Spain in May I can hardly wait. However, fortunately, to tide me over, there are other great trips upcoming: New York City for President’s Day Weekend (finally!), Hilton Head in March with my family, Williamsburg in April for a conference where I am presenting, and then Spain in May. After that, the good times will roll on as I will be going to Texas in June to celebrate the arrival of Melissa and Jordan’s baby. Of course, the downside to the travel is that for most of those trips, Knightley won’t be able to go.

5. Experimenting with pan sauces: I love mastering new cooking techniques, and there is nothing like a good pan sauce to add something special to otherwise boring weeknight dinners. The best part about a good pan sauce is that it can be whipped up with the staples that you have in your pantry and fridge but it just makes the meal seem like something more special. Here is a particularly fantastic pan sauce, perfect for steaks, from Cook’s Illustrated:

Red Wine Pan Sauce with Mustard and Thyme
Makes about 1/2 cup, enough to sauce 4 steaks.
2 medium shallots , minced (about 1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons
brown sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine , such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 cup
low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon
balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 6 pieces
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
ground black pepper
Follow related recipe for Pan-Seared Steaks. To same skillet used to cook steaks (do not clean skillet or discard accumulated fat), add shallots and sugar off heat; using pan’s residual heat, cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are slightly softened and browned and sugar is melted, about 45 seconds. Return skillet to high heat, add wine, broth, and bay leaf; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits on pan bottom with wooden spoon. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar and mustard; cook at medium heat to blend flavors, about 1 minute longer. Off heat, whisk in butter until melted and sauce is thickened and glossy. Add thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf, spoon sauce over steaks and serve immediately.

6. Gilmore Girls episodes: David gave me the complete series for Christmas, and I cannot rest until I watch the whole thing from start to finish, all seven seasons. Yes, even the seventh season and that dreadful series finale that I like to pretend didn’t happen. Nope. In my ideal Gilmore Girls world, Lorelai ended up with Chris and Rory ended up with Logan. Period.

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