The Marriage Plot

No, this is not post about an elaborate plan to get my boyfriend to propose, rather, it is a great book I’ve been reading by Jeffrey Eugenides

The besides the title, which references the trope used by many of the great English novels (think about those by Jane Austen), it was the author who drew me in. I first read Jeffrey Eugenides The Virgin Suicides when I was in high school, and found myself wrapped up in the mystery that was the  Lisbon sisters,, and being left with more questions than answers, which left me with a sort of melancholy I hadn’t yet experienced.

I was told by the woman at the checkout of Parnassus Books that The Marriage Plot was a bit lighter than his others, which has proved to be true.

The three protagonists, who graduate from college within the first few hundred pages and spend the rest of the book trying to navigate the “real world” while working through a sort of contemporary love story. Parts of Eugenides’s book seem to bridge the gap between fiction and real-life,  for example the rather anticlimactic sensation after one’s commencement ceremony has ended, and she must go pack up her room and newly gained diploma to drive back home. But I suppose this is why is books are so engaging- they allow the reader to see bits of him or herself, even in characters one might not be comfortable identifying with.

The ending, which was not what I’d expected, was just the resolution I’d been hoping without actually realizing it.

At any rate, I sincerely hope you take the time to read this book, and that you enjoy it.

marriage plot.

A Really Good Margarita

So this may not be quite as easy as throwing together some margarita mix and tequila and hoping for the best, but it tastes so much better, and is sure to impress friends, or your significant other. I love a good margarita. I do not, however, love sour mix, or the sickly-sweek, neon green concoctions most people would try to sell you as margarita. I consider these crimes against margaritas, to be avoided at all cost. This margarita is better, and there are only three ingredients (which I love) and all of them are things I usually have on hand. I should preface this by saying that these are not very sweet, but you can easily adjust them to your taste. Their tartness is perfect for summer, and goes perfectly with something salty like tortilla chips and fresh salsa. For tequila I really like El Espolòn. I generally use reposada tequila because its a bit more mellow, as it’s been aged between two months and a year in oak barrels, which also adds some more complex flavors.

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El Espolon reposada tequila

The other two ingredients are even more simple– lime juice, and a good agave nectar. While I generally espouse the use of fresh squeezed juice whenever possible, this is one time where the bottled stuff is just as good, though don’t use just any lime juice, I’m a big fan of Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice because it tastes almost like fresh. And for agave you can definitely use whatever you have on hand, but I will say that an amber agave works really well with the caramel flavors in the reposada tequila. And sure, you could use sugar or honey instead, but keeping the agave family together makes things especially delicious.

Now for the recipe:

Ingredients*:

•3/4 oz lime juice

• a few dashes of agave nectar (to taste)

• 2oz reposada tequila • wedge of lime (for garnish)

Directions:

1. place all ingredients except the garnish into a cocktail shaker with ice

2. shake

3. strain into a glass, garnish with a lime wedge, and serve! makes one cocktail

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* You may be thinking “But where’s the cointreau?!” Relax, You really don’t need it, but if you find yourself missing it, go ahead and add dash if you’d like.

Spring is for Growing

One of my very favorite things about the warmer months is the abundance of fresh herbs and veggies. My boyfriend and I go to the farmers’ market every Saturday morning in Downtown Franklin, and to be honest I’m ready for some fresh greens. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sweet potato, and I’ve gotten very creative with some hardy kale, but its definitely time for  more variety. This past weekend there were (finally!) some fresh salad greens at the market, which were delicious, and left me craving some fresh herbs. What better way to satisfy my craving all spring, and hopefully summer, than by planting my own mini herb garden on the balcony? There’s only one problem- I’m notorious for not properly watering plants. In fact, the only plants I can care for reasonably-well are orchids, as they don’t like to be watered too frequently. I thought that if I made some fun, eye-catching pots that I may remember to actually water my new plants. Let’s hope for the best.

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copper foil clay pot

I chose basil, lemon thyme, and spicy oregano for my balcony “garden”, and plan to add some mint (a must for cocktails), and hopefully some sage as well. Planting was relatively straightforward, since the plants came in great biodegradable pots so all I had to do was put them in the new containers. Unfortunately, the biodegradable pots were a bit larger than the new containers, so after removing one of them from a basil plant, I decided it would be better to put the rest of them in a larger pot.

basil, lemon thyme, and spicy oregano

one of the finished products

basil plant in one of the decorative pots

I plan to wait for at least a few days for the plants to adjust before picking any of them, but I can’t wait to have fresh herbs for cooking!

Petit Guerlain, Parfum d’Ete, and “The One”

Growing up I was always fascinated by perfume. Some of my fondest memories are of “helping” my mother get ready- the bathroom abuzz with the sound of a hairdryer, various powders and lip colors scattered across the counter, and her Kenzo Perfume d’Ete. I once remarked how distinctive it was, to which she replied that she hadn’t actually smelled it in years. It seemed strange that something I associated so strongly with her was something she herself could no longer smell, almost as if it had become a part of her.

Growing up I desperately wanted my own signature scent. I would smell all of the perfumes in her collection hoping to find the “one.” When I was seven or eight I got my very first perfume-  Petit Guerlain which my mother helped me chose while on vacation in France. It was floral, slightly sweet, a little bit powdery, and I loved it. Her advice, that you should “live” with a scent, letting it sit on your skin for at least a few hours before making a decision, has helped guide me ever since.

I have worn many fragrances since that first one, slowly learning which notes I like, and which I don’t, even going so far as to have a few favorite top, middle, and base notes. Every so often I feel the need to switch scents, as they begin to remind me of specific times, events, or places. There’s the one that reminds me of when I first met by current boyfriend, the one I wore at my college graduation, and the one that takes me back to summer I loved in Palm Beach. I’ve always found that my memories linked with scent are my some of my  strongest and most vivid.

Scent has always seemed to me like a signature, something  tied up with personal identity and expression. So, if you’re searching for “the one,” be patient. It’s bit like dating I suppose- you have to have the small talk- the top notes, learn some personal history- the middle notes, and finally meet the friends and family- the base notes. Think about the smells you respond to, like the smell of rain, or earth, even incense, and go with your gut- if something reminds you of your grandmother its unlikely it will ever stop doing so.

Do you have a signature fragrance? Is there one that reminds you of a person or place? Let me know in the comments.

The Bee’s Knees

So I don’t consider myself a huge fan of gin. Sure, I like a good G&T on a hot summer evening, and negronis are one of my favorites, but it isn’t usually the first thing I chose. I was flipping though a cocktail book when I found this, the Bee’s Knees. Its a prohibition-era cocktail that derived its name from the popular slang meaning “the best,” and I certainly have to agree– its both delicious, and requires only three ingredients: gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup (honey-simple syrup). It’s an easy cocktail to make, and seems more impressive than it really is, which is always a plus.

We generally get our honey from the farmer’s market, and this one was perfect for this cocktail. Supposedly sourwood honey is one of the best in Tennessee (according to the farmer we bought it from); it has complex flavors, and isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. Besides some great honey, I definitely recommend using fresh-squeezed lemon juice. I know it takes a bit of extra time, but I promise it’s worth it- you won’t have that slight chemical taste you get with the bottled stuff.

This cocktail works well with at least a mid-shelf gin, I like Bombay, but I’ve also made it with home-infused gin (I got my boyfriend a gin kit for Christmas), and it was even better.

Ingredients:

• 3/4oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

• 3/4oz honey simple syrup (2tbs honey + 2tbs water makes enough for two)

• 2 oz gin

Directions:

1. place all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously

2. strain into a glass, garnish with a lemon wedge if you’d like, and enjoy!

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Attempting Effortless

So this is it- the result of several months of brainstorming and a lot of rejected names, brainstorming, and many different ideas about just what exactly this would become.

Attempting Effortless will be just that. Here you will find my various forays into making cocktails, cooking, traveling, dressing, getting my MA, and hopefully making it all look as effortless as possible. Any by effortless I mean trying my hardest to go with the flow, to say no to things I don’t want to do, and yes to those I do, and to let life happen and do my best to enjoy it.

Hopefully you’ll find something here that speaks to you, be it a new cocktail, a new destination to explore, or something yet to be discovered. Welcome.