Food Celebrations: Homecooked, Family foods, and the Grateful Crow

Here are a few of my culinary adventures as of late. These were from a homemade dinner with our wonderful neighbors. We also had an amazing broccoli and onion cream soup with homemade bread. Of course, the show stopper was the brownies.

Can you have too many pictures of a homemade brownie with cream cheese in it?

Below is the Roasted Beet Caprese from the Grateful Crow in Chelsea. Absolutely delicious. The cheese drops on each beet have the most amazing herbs in them. I mixed them into every bite.

Below, Harvey’s burger and truffle fries. The sauce was sweet with a kick. I am kind of a wimp about spicy sauces ha…so one bite was enough for me! Not pictured is all the water I am making Harvey drink. 🚰

Fun fact about Chelsea is that Jeff Daniels owns a couple of restaurants in the area. Apparently, he is originally from there. We will have to go back for more deliciousness.

In other culinary adventures, my sister-in-law is an amazing cook and she totally spoiled us when we went to her place for Thanksgiving. Below are some of the amazing foods she and my nieces made for us in the non-Turkey meal. I’m going to ask her permission to see if I can share some of her other recipes with you. She is such a good cook and she works really hard to plan ahead and keep healthy foods available.

Everything below was amazing, but the real show-stopper in my opinion was the stuffed mushrooms at the bottom of this picture. I love mushrooms.

Also, not to brag, but I totally put the mozzarella balls on the Caprese skewers.

Below is a bacon-wrapped date stuffed with either Manchego or Goat cheese. My sister-in-law swears it is super easy to make.

Apple Galette below.

Hope you’re having a wonderful start to your week!

x

Shannon

Don’t Look Up

Spoilers!

Don’t Look Up is definitely worth a watch. I thought the acting in it was stellar and the movie made some apt observations in the form of amusing satire: The general public is fickle, uninformed, cruel, with a pathetically short attention span. Politicians want to make everything into a merchandise-selling Broadway promotional. Most of the character’s motives are amusingly pathetic. Don’t Look Up condensed and delivered an incredible range of observations about American society in a funny way.

The movie has some weaknesses though; especially lacking in it are depth and structure. There were a few parts that had that depth — like when Dr. Mindy is getting out of his car and the whole street stops to look at the comet. I felt like that was a moment that was intended to be profound. But at that moment, I still hadn’t recovered from the satiring laughter that the movie evoked in so many other places. It required a bit too much cognitive and emotional dissonance. Most of the writing was so upbeat and jestful that when it sought to come back to earth and convey the gravity of the situation, it couldn’t. The plot felt like the house being carried away by balloons in the movie Up. Combining satire and a penetrating message seems perhaps an impossible task, but I definitely think this topic warrants a deep message. Although the nature scenes were beautiful, I didn’t feel like there was a penetrating message to the movie except for laughing at how stupid and obtuse people are.

Perhaps as a satire, the character development was not meant to be prominent, and apart from revealing a few layers of Dr. Mindy, Yule, Kate, and Brie, there wasn’t much. The plot also didn’t seem to have a lot of common threads throughout it. Different from a finely crafted show like Ted Lasso, It felt a little bombastic and perhaps unintentional. It felt like a song with too many key changes. I read that the cast was allowed to improvise as much as possible, and that made for some incredible scenes, but the overall movie felt a little disjointed. Good paragraphs but a jumpy essay.

I am a firm believer that only good movies deserve any constructive criticism, and in spite of my complaints, this is definitely a good movie. Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Rob Morgan, Timothee Chalamet, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Rylance all deliver exceptional performances. Rob Morgan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lawrence made a great trio. The scenes I’ll remember are when Dr. Mindy and Brie are getting to know each other– Brie talks about her socialite life and Dr. Mindy chooses to reciprocate by talking about when his pet died. Who knew Leo could be so funny? The oval office scenes were also apt and funny. I loved Dr. Mindy’s family. During Yule’s delightful, lovable semi-proposal in the car I was wondering to myself… in real life, are these actors as intriguing, charming, and normal as these characters are scripted to be? I have decided to believe that indeed, they are.

I found myself laughing at Meryl Streep as well as Jonah Hill and the accuracy of the rallies. I thoroughly enjoyed Hollywood’s take on Elon Musk/Jeff Bezos/Mark Zuckerberg. The nature scenes were poignant, beautiful; overall the movie held my attention. I know the reviews on this movie are very divided, but I give it either a B+ or A-. I liked it. But even if you don’t like it, you’ll remember it.

In keeping with my “Only criticize decent movies” policy, I won’t be delving into The Unforgivable. Honestly, it is just too awful to even know where to begin. It tries to make sense of something that feels way too contrived. I also won’t offer any constructive criticism of The Guilty but I will offer a quick recap of it: A woman who doesn’t take her anxiety medication decides to mutilate her newborn infant’s stomach. Makes total sense, right? Then her husband who is a convicted felon tries to bring her back to the mental institution for people who cut their babies into small pieces, and she calls 911 to tell a remarkably incompetent individual that she is being kidnapped. Her husband somehow forgets to call back and explain what’s going on. The only constructive criticism I’ll offer for both of these movies is that they each most certainly deserve their own Mystery Science Theater or Riff tracks. Although I do believe Hollywood is a cesspool of favors, quid pro quo, and connections(think Emily in Paris being nominated for an Emmy- only explanation I can think of), I also think there must be some sort of tenure or insane job security that allows these screenwriters to continue funding plotless, unrelatable movies that are consumed by the general public.

The movie I am looking for (still) is the right movie about the environment– one that is funny, inspiring, and leaves me with more conviction and clarity.

In other non-movie news, I tested positive for Covid and spent quite a bit of last week sneezing. I don’t feel super sick, but I do feel confused about how cautious I should be.

I hope you’re having a bright, delightful start to 2022. And I hope the year is filled with healthy progress and relationships for you.

The Latest

How are you! I got to meet my newest niece and nephew this past weekend and I am over the moon happy. My niece is in the princess phase. Truly everything must be a princess.

Isn’t she a doll? Here are a few more pictures from the weekend.

Our little clan made gingerbread houses and gingerbread men. Rarely, occasionally, sometimes, and frequently, we snitched and ate some of the candy on the gingerbread (pictured below). While working on our creations, every few minutes a family member would announce “NO MORE EATING CANDY. THIS IS YOUR LAST PIECE,” while eating a piece of candy. Then a few minutes later, someone makes the exact same announcement, and then again a few minutes later….

SIL and niece:

My niece is as tall as my sister. She just won’t stop growing.

In other news, I am so in love with Ted Lasso. I like the show, but I LOVE the person. Hope you’re having a great week. Be curious, not judgmental.

Socializing on Social Media

Nichols Arcade on campus

So, here is the truth. The truth is that social media has been my rescue flotation device over the last few years. I’ve dealt with a situation that I’ve found to be exhausting and, in all seriousness, social media has been the thing that has grounded me and helped me feel grateful for my friends and all the good things in life. It’s given me a platform to share. Sometimes sharing things with the world kind of ruins them, but more often than not it helps me to find good people and good things to focus on in sometimes turbulent moments.

Life is not always a breeze, and although I don’t think social media should be used to escape life, I do think there is immense value in sharing good news, recognizing the accomplishments of others, looking for inspiration, sharing kind words, and genuinely connecting with people with a goal of uplifting them. For example, I really admire Jennifer Anniston (not just for her skin care routine) because I think she has a big heart. So I follow her. I follow a lot of people who I feel like are sincere and authentic. In contrast, I feel like both on and off line I have found people with the most bizarre motives and obsessive personalities, and sometimes I just need to connect with something or someone good. I want to be a good, real person, and I want to connect with good, real people. For whatever reason, it take some extra energy and effort to connect with those types these days.

Anyway, below is a sliver of my life over the past few months. I’m back in Michigan wrapping up my master’s and hoping to move back to California if the right job presents itself. Hope this finds you healthy and well. If you find my happiness to be nauseating, or it makes you feel bad about your weight or your life or something — close the tab! xxx ilysm

Shannon

the Dexter Cider Mill
the Jolly Pumpkin..
This is the picture I go back to when I need it. Look how pretty my sister is.
haircut!
😂
Jessie has a hot pot
Arastradero Preserve. This is near where I went mountain biking.
That inside is a mushroom, not meat.
B school
I beat Derek in eight consecutive ping-pong games. EIGHT. So he had to purchase this for me. 😊
It’s nice to have an ex who doubles as a thoughtful loving person. V brought me my favorite food from India.
The nice thing about moving is that it doesn’t require any work and it’s always really easy.
This is my trainer.
Those rolls are a real crowd-pleaser.
He helps me to sculpt my body.

Have a wonderful end of September. 🙂

Navel-Gazing Update: Spring, Summer, East Coast and West Coast, Board Game Parties, & Golf

Navel-gazing

How are you doing! Technically it is summer– my favorite season as long as there’s a pool nearby– but it feels like a brand new season. I think this whole year should have its own season, and we should call it ‘new’ or ‘life-feels-like-it-did-the-first-time’, or something like that.

Spring and Summer have been good to me- lots of great food and trying to figure out which coast I like better — East or West. Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever decide.

As much as I love the Bae, I will always feel like I am cheating on the East Coast while I’m here.

Below are some pictures for you! I hope you love them.

/\/\/\/\/\Four boys for every girl! I love Silicon Valley.

In March we tried out the ramen place in Palo Alto, the one that always has a line down the street. It was good but suuuuper heavy. It’s an item checked off of my bucket list. \/ \/ \/

\/ \/The reason you pay so much to live in California is because of the outdoors. There are so many hikes I still need to do and so many perfect days. Pacifica, below, never disappoints 🥳☀️.

Grabbing boba with these ambitious girls. \/ \/

\/ \/ I ordered the rice clay pot from Merit Vegetarian.

\/ \/ birthdays and pizza

\/ \/ Pinky doing the catwalk.

East Coast: \/ \/ There are three people in this picture! So happy for you Missy!

West coast: went up to Bocce Bar in Sausalito, mostly for the views, since Bocce was still closed. We ate these delicious desserts. \/ \/ \/ \/

\/ \/ Toga day!

\/ \/The Georgetown crew teams practicing on the Potomac:

In other news, XKCD is here to explain most board game parties. Hilariously accurate.

And a quote I just found from Dave Barry about golf:

“Although golf was originally restricted to overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.” 😂

I don’t actually hate golf 🏌️‍♀️, but there is some truth to that! Do you like to golf? Do you like to *watch* golf? 🧐

Hope you have a stellar weekend!

Shannon

My Jabras 75t Review

Going back to college was a weird experience, because suddenly I felt like I was immersed in the trends that I had had the privilege of ignoring for several years. I usually listened to skillshare tutorials on the way to class, and I was always putting the mess of wires in and out of my backpack. While I was busy resenting my tangle of wired earbuds, it seemed that truly everyone else had wireless ones.

One of the things I was constantly reminded of during covid was that background noise helps me to stay focused. Silence is my arch nemesis. I need a movie, a podcast, a lecture or some noise going on to get me focused.

So recently, I finally took the leap and got wireless earbuds from Jabra. They are fantastic. 🎉🥳 I’m probably last to this party, but being able to walk into the kitchen while still focusing on a meeting on the computer, is such a liberating experience.

A few quick facts, if you’re interested in purchasing these:

  • They are very tightly bundled into your ear. They don’t move at all on a run.

  • The LED lights will flash to let you know the charge status as soon as you open the case. If they are fully charged, they will show green, if they are low on charge they show yellow, and if they have no power they are red.

  • The earbuds charge while they are in the case. There’s a little magnet in the earbuds that pulls them into their fitted spot and it’s actually really satisfying pop them in and out.

  • In the case, it takes 2 hours for the earbuds to fully charge.

  • They have Active Noise Cancellation and Hear through settings. The battery lasts longer on Hear through.

  • The case itself needs to be charged; I use my mac computer charger because it’s faster than the one it comes with.

  • They come in green, black, navy blue, sienna (pink), gold, and gray.

  • You can mute and unmute yourself by clicking the button on the earbud.

  • They cost a whopping $180. In about ten years, I will get back to you on whether or not they are worth that number.

  • I get a LOT more done with these. With them, I want to go running, I want to go to my ZOOM meetings and classes, and I like to get into the flow and rhythm or getting work done.

I hope this is helpful to you! And that you’re having a fabulous last week of June and first week of July!

Graduation

School ended earlier this month, which means presents, candles, cards, and a bittersweet feeling. Although I love the gifts, I really cherish the cards from the students with specific memories and things they have learned this year. 

I am so proud of our graduates. In our ten months together, they worked so hard and improved immensely. Graduation was a wild, beautiful, gorgeous success in which each of the eighth-grade students gave a speech they had written. They also performed a song on guitar together.

The ceremony was on the front lawn of a gorgeous home on Stanford campus, lined with roses and across the street from a house built by Frank Lloyd Wright. After the speeches, we had catered organic tacos and the graduates swam with their little brothers and sisters in the pool. 

Here is my graduation speech. I hope you like it. 


One day over the summer of 2020, two concerned parents here in Palo Alto had a chat about the coming school year and talked over an idea of creating a small school with a group of students. In this school, students would learn and study the four core subjects for four days each week, and then have a fifth day of project-based learning. They shared the idea with two other parents, who joined the effort to create a positive learning experience for their students this year. 

These four spent hundreds of hours on the phone, trying to convince family friends to join in this idea. At last, they found the students and teachers to start their own school. 

At 8:30 am on August 24, 2020, Justin, Natalie, Zach, Max, Katherine, and Hannah became part of the first and last year of Sage Academy. 

This has been a unique year. 

While covid has continued, people around the world have made sacrifices to support each other, and your parents have made sacrifices to support you.

This year, you’ve worn a mask to school every day. You’ve had the chance to celebrate birthdays and holidays together, with just the six of you. You’ve had the chance to learn cooking, mindfulness, Chinese, Spanish, sports, film, guitar and more.

You’ve also had the chance to study and challenge yourself in the four core subjects–math,  science, English and history.

In English, you have grown in reading and writing, developed your own voices, learned the rules of language, learned to critically evaluate online information, and practiced using new words to help you express your thinking. I have loved watching you grow in English. 

In US history, you have learned how the idea of the United States first started, its initial failures and successes, its immense growth, conflicts, and its changing beliefs and ideals. You’ve challenged the perspectives of historians and you’ve learned about important leaders in America. 

Recently, you memorized Gettysburg address, in which Lincoln urged Americans to honor the sacrifices made on the battlefield, by working to maintain the country.  Similarly, I hope that you can continue to honor the sacrifices that have been made for you, by continuing to work hard towards your goals. 

I’d like to share a few of your individual strengths that I’ve gotten to see this year. 

Justin 

You’re a talented reader and writer. Whenever there is a quiet moment in discussion, I can always count on you to chime in with your knowledge and inferences. I appreciate your humility and honesty and I always catch you doing nice things for others. Thank you for sharing your sense of humor and hard work with our class this year. 

Natalie

I’ll always remember when I found out that you and Katherine were not allowed to shoot in the basketball game against the boys, in order to make the game more fair for them! I thought that was hilarious. 

 You are such a capable leader, and I am thrilled by your love of words! I get goosebumps when you speak passionately about your beliefs. You have a critical eye for motives in history and I hope that you always stay hungry to lead others. The world needs good leaders. Thank you for sharing your writing, your voice, and your leadership this year. 

Zach 

You have grown so much this year, and have done a great job of learning to express your thinking in your writing.  You are always willing to think independently. I appreciate your positive attitude during both simulation games, and your detailed class presentations on the geography of Killer Angels. I love your passion for new information, especially related to technology and finance. Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and helpfulness this year. 

Max

Your sense of humor, adventure, and creativity have added much to our classroom. You make learning fun, and always put a positive spin on things. I especially enjoyed your ‘two truths and a lie’ presentation as well as your drawing assignments to memorize things in history. 

This school year, you have asked good questions about how to improve your writing. Thank you for asking those questions, and striving for growth. 

Katherine

You always strive for perfection.  You are my executive assistant and secretary, so hungry to excel. I often notice you doing thoughtful things for your friends. You have developed as a speaker and  writer and with your drive, focus, and work ethic, I know you’ll continue to develop in every direction. Thank you for your conscientious work and consistency this year. 

Hannah

You are so humble, teachable, and funny. You have clear writing and are so interested in feedback. One of my memories from this year was your speech during the Patriots and Loyalists simulation. The sixth-graders couldn’t stop talking about how inspiring it was. You have a great presence and a wonderful attitude. Your competitive spirit in the simulation games made it more fun for everyone. Thank you for always asking more questions and coming to extra google meets.

Thank you for letting me be a part of this wonderful school year!

Congratulations to the one and only Sage Academy Class of 2021!

Ana and her Great-Grandmother Sloan’s Pound Cake

I have a wonderful friend named Ana, and she is the type of person who you could chat with about anything. She’s cheerful and fun and curious about all of the things I love to talk about. She is perfect for a chatty girl like myself. She is the sort of person who makes you feel like you’re best friends with her, but….you’re pretty sure she makes everyone feel like that- 😅

Thanks to instagram, I discovered Ana’s secret weapon/talent/love of cooking, and I am here to broadcast it to the world📢. Below, Ana shares about her love affair with food and a pound cake recipe. I hope you love it! and feel free to add your name to her list of best friends here.

From Ana:


I love food. I’ve always been a fan of food. I was the sort of food-obsessed kid that would journal about exceptional meals and kept a mental catalogue of all of my “life changing” food experiences. 

When it comes to where my ardent devotion for food comes from, there is the question of nature vs nurture I guess. My dad is originally from Greece and his mother, my YiaYia is one of the best cooks I’ve ever known. A colleague of my husband said of Greeks the most important factors to being Greek are: family, food and laughing loudly. That feels right to me. Add to that the fact that I grew up in the south with a healthy dose of southern cooking and hospitality and my love of food seems inevitable.

One of my favorite people as a child was my great grandmother. Her name was Emily Sloan but everyone called her Sloan. Growing up I can remember watching Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right or Little House on the Prairie with her and drinking Tang which she would proudly declare the astronauts even drank.

She was hilarious and had many choice sayings like “Well I’ll swan!” or “I wish I had a swing like that in my backyard!” or “It beats the hen ‘a pecking.” Or “As nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rockers.” Too many more to name. One of my early memories is of her oohing and aahing to my impromptu choreography and dancing around her small apartment. She was lively and warm with an infectious spirit with an enormous heart.

One of my grannie’s signature dishes was her pound cake. She made it in a bundt pan and would make it a little underdone so it was extra soft. It is a pretty simple recipe but you definitely wanna grease it generously or be prepared for it to stick. Though it does taste quite good even if it sticks. 

I paired it with some fresh sliced peaches bathed in diluted apricot jam and crème fraîche sweetened with powdered sugar and a dash of pink sea salt.

While my family and I were visiting my parents in Texas having what my dad likes to refer to as “an eating vacation” we made and ate at least one every day! As Grannie would say, “I could eat my weight in that!” We surely did try to.

xx

Sloan’s Pound Cake

2 C. Sugar

1 C. Butter-Softened 

5 Eggs

2 C. Flour 

2 tsp Vanilla extract 

Generously grease & flour Bundt Pan. 

Cream Butter & Sugar; Add Eggs 1 at a time beating constantly. Add Vanilla & then add flour gradually. Pour batter into pan. It will be thick so you can spoon it in if you want.

Bake @ 325 for 45 minutes or until top starts getting brown and a toothpick comes out clean. 


Thank you for sharing Emily Sloan and her recipe, Ana! Please invite us over for lunch soon. ☺️

What is NYU like?

My friend Jackie just started at NYU this past year! Although she can’t speak to a normal year at NYU, she generously offered to share her experiences with you here. Hope you can enjoy it vicariously.


What is NYU like?

Some of my favorite memories from my first year at NYU are walking around for hours with my friend Theo, a native New Yorker. One of the first weeks after he and I met, we walked all the way from NYU’s campus to Central Park and back as the sun set. Every glimpse I caught of a beautiful mural or brick buildings that complement each other perfectly was accompanied with the thought, “wow! I actually live here!” I can’t begin to count how many times throughout the year I had that realization, accompanied with the knowledge that I get to spend the rest of my college experience in New York City.

My time at NYU this year is by no means representative of the typical NYU freshman experience, but NYU has specific characteristics that undoubtedly persist without a pandemic. NYU’s student body is extremely diverse, with no single race making up more than 25% of its population. This means that, for the first time in my life, I am the only white person in my friend group, which includes an international student from South Korea.

The core curriculum courses I have taken this year, specifically the First Year Seminar and the Writing the Essay Class, have been incredibly inclusive and progressive in their curriculum and in the class discussions we have that are facilitated by the professor. LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality, and feminism are issues that are emphasized as valid and crucial to the improvement of our society in NYU’s classes. 

Many people warned me that while New York City can be an enchanting place to live, it can quickly become a very lonely city. I have made great friends this year, whom I have really enjoyed spending my weekends out and about with, but I do understand this warning better than I had hoped I would. I spent many days without leaving my hall or seeing anyone other than those in my computer screen. It is easy to find yourself without plans to see friends for days on end, and without your family nearby, it can be really, really lonely. I think it just takes a special effort to make sure you aren’t spending so much time alone.

I am so excited to spend the rest of my college experience in the city. I’m even hoping to study abroad in Shanghai this spring! Getting to spend some of your best years in New York City is a magical experience and I’m so glad my college experience will forever tie me to one of the best cities in the world.

Thank you tons Jacqueline! So excited for your next three years of outdoor life at NYU!

Navel-gazing Update: What your Social Security Number Reveals about Your Personality.

Before discovering the Myers Briggs personality test, I’ve never really cared what color my parachute is or anything like that. I felt like most of those quizzes were basically a MASH game and smoke and mirrors.

But if you’ve had a conversation with me in the last several months, you have heard me talk about my obsession with Myers Briggs. I’m an ENFP, and the more I have read about ENFP’s, the more I’ve understood my own needs and thinking. I feel like studying the MBTI personalities has also helped me to better understand how to make other people happy. 

Anyway, in keeping with my newfound respect for personality tests, I thought I would share one of my own. This one is based on scientific evidence. Be sure to keep your answers private. 

What your SSN reveals about your personality: