Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Murphy Chronicles: 5/52

Murphy enjoys staking his claim in morning sunspots! His expression in pic#2 is priceless.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dining Dreams: Emeril's

Last night I crossed a big one off my culinary bucket list: Emeril's in New Orleans. The food was delicious and the customer service was out of this world. When I inquired about the location of the ladies room, a server escorted me. When I returned to the table, another server was waiting with my napkin and chair pulled out. My mom, Mammol, and I shared a lovely bottle of Prosecco and started with the famous barbecue shrimp appetizer and a ceasar salad. The shrimp was cooked to perfection with a perfectly sweet yet salty sauce. We sopped up the leftover sauce with the fabulous bread trio that accompanied the meal (sweet potato roll, corn muffin, and a rosemary garlic foccacia). For dinner I had the Top Chef special: Chef Shirley's black drum. Wow. The fish was tender and flaky and surrounded by a delightful mix of roasted red peppers, braised celery, crunchy roasted shittake mushroom, and parsnip. The sauce was buttery, creamy, and basically heaven on a plate. It was a special night with two of my favorite ladies! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Murphy Chronicles: 4/52

Murphy feels pretty cool when he can fit TWO of his favorite squeaky bones in his tiny little snout. Every now and then he can fit three! Impressive!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Weekend Snaps

Spotted at the 7th Street Public Market: VEGAN FISH HAM. Some friends and I hit up the market for lunch last weekend. As we strolled through the market, checking out the various vendors, local farmers, and artisans, this strange food caught my eye in the vegan cooler section. Up until this point, I considered myself a somewhat adventuresome pescetarian. I've tried Tofurky (won't go there again) but must draw the line at Vegan Fish Ham. I did some research and found an ingredient list:Non-GMO Textured Soybean Protein, Non-GMO Soybean Protein (Powder), Wheat Protein, Starch, Sea Salt, Brown Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Vegetarian Seasoning (source). While I appreciate the Non-GMO ingredients, I must say, this sounds like it would be utterly bland and unsatisfying! 

My girlfriends ate at Local Loaf and raved about their meaty sammiches and homemade potato chips (I snatched a few and they taste somewhere in between crunchy chips and chewy french fries, AKA heaven). For me it was a grilled cheese at Orman's Cheese Shop. I've heard rave reviews about their grilled cheese and it was, in fact, incredibly delicious. I had the cheddar, gouda, pickes, and mustard on sourdough. The bread was just right--buttery and tender yet crunchy, and the cheese was marvelous--perfectly stringy with a slight smokey flavor from the gouda, and the pickles and mustard complemented beautifully with a delicious tang. 
We finished the afternoon at the Levine Museum of the New South to explore their exhibits and activities in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. My favorite display was about Charlotte photographers during the Civil Rights Movement. I am fascinated by the history of the Civil Rights Movement and love hearing stories about the people who helped move the revolution along. Photography from that era is so emotional, moving, and life-changing. The museum's permanent exhibit, Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers, presents a history of Charlotte through interactive displays and sets; it's really interesting to see how much this city has changed, yet in many ways, has stayed the same!

I'm jumping the gun on my weekly Murphy photo post, but I couldn't help snapping this shot of him caught in a bone trance, surrounded by his toy collection. I'm grateful for fun weekends filled with good friends, cute pups, and new adventures!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Murphy Chronicles: 1/52, 2/52, and 3/52

The Murphy Chronicles is a weekly post idea inspired by Bleubird's 52 Weeks project. She posted pics of her children. I'm posting pics of my favorite four-legged fuzzy "puppy son" Murphy. He's my favorite muse and always a photographic challenge because he doesn't like the camera. It's a shame since he's so photogenic and incredibly handsome! My sweet 6-year-old Boston Terrier is now considered a SENIOR dog at the vet (insert sound of my heart breaking), but he will always be a wide-eyed, clumsy, silly puppy to me! Since I'm three weeks late starting this project, I'm going to backtrack a little and post some favorite shots from Christmas vacation at the beach. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Warm Winter Wishes

The season of cozy indoor fires / A beautiful cardinal in my backyard / photos by Valocrat
Hot crackling fires and bright red cardinals bring warm feelings and cheerful color to even the coldest and bleakest of winter days. Here's to making the best of these next few chilly months!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Begin Again

Grandpa in Winter 2012; photo by Valocrat
It's been a while. Eight months and seventeen days to be exact. My last post, "Mad Men Monday" was April 23, 2013. You won't see it on here because I deleted the entire Mad Men series of posts; they just weren't doing it for me.  That post, however, was made on the last day of my former life.  The next morning I received a text from my mom, telling me that my grandfather was in the hospital. The three weeks that followed were by far the most devastatingly emotional time in my life.  His first diagnosis was a mini stroke, following by the discovery of a stave IV aggressive brain tumor.  Three weeks later he was gone. A man who was part of my every day for over 30 years.  Just gone.  His loss shattered my family.  Everything was different.  Especially me.  Somehow, posting pretty pictures and colorful words on this blog felt like the last thing I wanted to do.  I've been picking up the pieces for months, looking for some semblance of my old self.  Yet, there is a hole in my being that will never be repaired.  I'm trying to learn to live with it.

This is my attempt at version 2.0 of this blog, starting with a new name and look.  My hope is that "The Adventures of Valocrat" will serve as a sort of personal therapy: A reminder to always be creative, to be grateful, and to savor the small yet significant moments in this short (but mostly sweet) life.