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Even More FonDOs: My Trip To The Melting Pot in Raleigh

Wednesday is kind of a hit or miss day, don’t you think? It’s either really awesome or really MEHHH. Today, methinks, might fall into the first category.

First of all, my new (to me) Cannon Rebel XT  camera body arrived this morning. Of course, since the lens hasn’t arrived yet, I can’t actually photograph anything. But still- lots of smiles.Smile

Second, Jessamyn Not Jasmine was the runner-up Best Blog in Yes! Weekly’s Best of The Triad awards! You may not be able to tell by my fairly serious facial expression, but I’m REALLY excited. Oh wait, this is the internet and not reality TV so you can’t actually see my face. AWK-ward. Anyway, if you scoped my name through Yes!Weekly and this is your first visit to my little piece of the internet- Hello! Be prepared for seemingly random very liberal hysterical rants and unplanned blogging sabbaticals. I also really like to talk about food.

Speaking of food…

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend North Carolina Arts Day, which is a day/event where NC arts supporters converge in our state’s capital and lobby in support of government arts programming. Obviously, as an arts administrator, going to Arts Day was a pretty exciting event. It was really cool to see so many arts professionals take time off to make a statement in favor of arts funding. I met a lot of people (including lots of local politicos) and (since my hotel was across the street from my favorite grocery store) even snuck in a quick Trader Joes adventure. WIN-WIN.

 The night before Arts Day, however, I had an impromptu fancy dinner at The Melting Pot. I’ve discussed my love of fondue before, and the charm was definitely not lost on me. Not even kidding, the Melting Pot is (probably) my absolute favorite chain restaurant. However, eating there is NOT cheap and I’m only able to do it on special occasions (or during emergency eating escapades in the Carolina capital). Of course, since my camera was stolen right before my Raleigh adventure, I feared I wouldn’t be able to capture the magic of The Melting Pot in photographic form. But thanks to iPhones and friends, photographic memories were still made.

melting pot 1

In addition to their everyday fondue selections, The Melting Pot offers a rotating Big Night Out menu with fondue/salad offerings which fit into a specific theme. Currently, the Big Night Out theme is Latin America, and the cheese fondue special is a very fancy version of queso fundido. So…OBVIOUSLY we had to get it. This wasn’t the queso fundido you’d get at your local Mexican restaurant. I mean, I love melted queso fresco sprinkled with greasy chorizo just as much as the next cheese-aholic. But this fondue contained gruyere, fontina, AND gran queso. One of the best parts about The Melting Pot is that they make all the fondues table-side, and you’re able to see every element that goes into your meal. Our waitress was EXTREMELY knowledgeable, and she made sure that we knew about every aspect of our meal. As a restaurant patron, this is something that’s very important to me and I always appreciate when wait staff take the time to build relationships with their clientele. The queso fundido was served with the usual Melting Pot cheese dippers (an assortment of fresh veggies, bread, and apples) as well as a bowl of corn chips. Seriously, this singular fondue was enough to validate the cost of the entire meal.

melting pot 2

Next came the salad course. I just ordered the spinach and mushroom salad- nothing fancy. Actually, I wasn’t really a fan of this salad. It’s a certain kind of person that truly enjoys sweet flavors in a savory context and I AM NOT THAT PERSON. The dressing was a burgundy shallot vinaigrette- besides the fact that I kind of hate shallots, I thought the sweetness of the wine completely imbalanced the acidity of the vinegar, and the combination proved to be fairly unpalatable. I get the impression that this is a very popular salad at the Melting Pot, so I’m not going to completely denigrate it. It’s possible that my dislike of the dressing was based purely on my personal preferences. Basically, this is the Jessamyn version of reasonable doubt.

melting pot 4

As far as the entrée goes, each diner chooses a selection of dipping items and they share the actual fondue cooking liquid. My companions and I chose the court bouillon fondue (a no-nonsense veggie broth), and we each chose different entrée selections. Since I lead a functionally vegetarian lifestyle (save for the special occasions- you know, locally raised meats and barbeque festivals), I decided to get the Vegetarian selections. This particular plate includes Portobello mushrooms, asparagus, (REALLY FREAKING DELICIOUS) Thai-peanut marinated tofu, artichoke hearts, spinach-artichoke ravioli, and the Big Night Out Pasta (a fire-roasted corn salsa ravioli– stop drooling on your computer).

melting pot 5

It also included a bowl of semi-frozen edamame which, after they went for a swim in the court bouillon, were perfectly cooked and delicious. The Melting Pot also offers several delicious post-cooking dipping sauces for your entrée. My favorite, the gorgonzola cream cheese, is hanging out to the left of my edamame.

We also ordered the Dark and Dulce chocolate dessert fondue( a combination of dark chocolate and thick dulce de lece sprinkled with coarse sea salt) but I was too busy stuffing my face and soaking up the awesomeness of that flavor combination to remind Anna (my very patient photog companion) to take a photo. Have you ever met anyone who didn’t like chocolate and sea salt? PLUS DULCE DE LECE? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Fondue is not just a delicious style of eating, but a study in food culture. It forces people to communicate while eating, and it can be reinvented in countless fashions. In my mind, that’s the essence of food- like music, it can bring any manner of people together in a positive way. The Melting Pot encapsulates this theory, and I will always recommend that my friends and family (that’s you, by the way) take the time to seek out one of these restaurants.

If you’re concerned about the price (a CONSTANT concern for yours truly), eating at the Melting Pot with a few friends can definitely help alleviate some of the financial pain. By splitting a cheese fondue between four people, you’re only paying about $8/each for a first course which could easily serve as a main course. Each salad is only $7. A Chocolate fondue for four is about $5-6/each. And if you decide not to get an entrée ( roughly $19-30), you can have a VERY filling cheese, salad, and chocolate fondue dinner for about $20. While it’s not the cheapest dinner for a student living on the verge of imminent bankruptcy, it’s definitely still a viable special dinner option.

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Filed under blogging, food, money honey, photography, restaurant reviews

How My Life Turned into The Gift of The Magi

Obviously, I’ve read the Gift of The Magi. I mean, my man Willie Porter was born in Greensboro, so I’ve been learning about him since I was a baby thumbsucker. I understand the story’s significance. I just didn’t think the significance would make such a profound appearance in my personal life.

Remember when my wallet was stolen? Well, my camera was stolen as well. Even though I secretly wanted a new camera, I couldn’t actually afford to buy one. Thereby making the theft of my only photographic device a pretty big bummer. There are so many events in my life which desperately need to be photographed and, as of the present moment, I can’t Sad smile. I’ve been wanting to write the story of Jessamyn’s First DSLR, but I couldn’t see where the money was going to come from. All in all, the last few weeks in my personal blogging and camera land have been a modern adaptation of  an Edgar Allen Poe story.

Until O.Henry decided to get in the mix.

You see, I’ve been planning an April trip to NYC since February. And it’s not just any old trip- this upcoming weekend is Fat Girl Flea Market, a veritable mecca for fashionable fat girls. I’m tearing up just thinking about it- Saturday is the market, but the weekend will be filled with fun and frolicking around the city with my Fat sisterhood. I’ve been pumped about this for months. Literally, MONTHS. However, when my camera went missing, so did some of my excitement- what if I couldn’t film Fat Girl Flea Market? Thus began my two week long existential crisis.

Until I was offered a choice: I could own the camera of dreams, made for capturing the unstoppable memories of Fat Girl Flea Market (like meeting some of my Fat idols- Gabi of Young Fat and Fabulous, or Marianne and Lesley, my Two Whole Cakes mamas). But, in order to purchase the (VERYEXPENSIVE-OMG-MYHEADJUSTEXPLODED) camera, I would not be able to afford a spring trip to Jay-Z’s hometown.

Well, Jay-Z, you know me- I’m a rebel.

canon rebel

Hello, lover.

Yes, I’m definitely sad about not being able to go to Fat Girl Flea Market. Really sad. I mean, I’m going to miss A LIVE RECORDING OF MARIANNE AND LESLEY’S FATCAST! But I’ll be in the city this summer, so it’s not like I’ll be gone forever. And this purchase was actually a necessity, unlike the clothes I would have had trouble schlepping home from NYC. Anyway, I can’t wait for my camera (and new lens) to arrive. In the mean time, I’ll just waste hours of my life on ups.com, tracking the hell out of my purchases.

On an unrelated note, if anyone would like to donate money to the cause of Jessamyn Can No Longer Pay Her Rent, please e-mail me (jessamyneatspraysloves@gmail.com) for more information Winking smile.

(Yeah, I used a winky face, buttttttt…the rent sitch is kind of real life.)

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Filed under blogging, body issues, camera, fat

Races 2011, Music For Blogging, and Giveaway Magic

One of the benefits of spending (literally) an entire day in bed is that I’ve been able to spend my time (well, the time I didn’t spend staring at the interior of my toilet) playing catch up. One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is officially plan out some of the races I want to walk, walk/run, and run this year.

After careful consideration and cross checks with multiple calendars, I’ve officially decided upon a couple of different races I’ll be doing this year. I’m going to do more but, like most people with responsibilities, it’s difficult to make plans too far in advance. For example, any races I do during the summer months (June, July, August) will be dependent upon my summer work plans and those are still TBD. Anyway, I’ve listed my ‘definite’ races on the My Races tab- check it out and track my progress!

Also, while my exercise music is important, the music I listen to while blogging is almost as important. It helps keep me focused, and colors the tone of my posts. Just like exercise music, the type of music one listens to while blogging/tumbling/tweeting/etc. is highly indicative of the individual and I’m fascinated by what musical choices say about us as people.

I almost didn’t want to list my favorite blogging music because I thought it would be really repetitive (Sia, Sia, and more Sia), but I can’t get past my own narcissism.

Albums Worth Blogging To and About:

Adele– Live From Soho

Cat Power– The Covers Record

Erykah Badu– Baduizm

Esthero– Breath From Another

Fiona Apple– Tidal

Fiona Apple– When The Pawn…

Jill Scott- Experience: Jill Scott 826+

Portishead– Roseland NYC Live

Regina Spektor– Songs

Sia– Lady Croissant

Sia– Some People Have Real Problems

What music do you listen to while blogging?

As far as giveaways go, it seems the internet is littered with opportunities to win cool new products. Here are two I’m especially stoked about:

The hysterical Elizabeth of On Tap For Today is giving away a full line of skin-care products created by an up and coming Massachusetts based company called Stages of Beauty. The concept of this company is really smart and extremely relevant- basically, as we age, the needs of our skin change. What a 21 year-old woman needs from a skin care product is not the same as a 55 year-old woman. With that in mind, Stages of Beauty has lines of skin-care products which answer the needs of women depending upon their age bracket. Seems genius, right? Well, check out Elizabeth’s post about their products for her review and for more information on how to enter the giveaway. A winner will be selected on February 18th, so hop to it.

Also, Krit over at Healthy Krit is giving away a GIANT Sampler Box of Vitatops. I’m almost hesitant to post about this giveaway because I want to win and I don’t want other people clogging up the entry box Winking smile . However, this is just too good not to share.There are multiple ways to win, and they are listed here on her blog. The giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday, February 20th. The winner will be announced on Monday, February 21st.

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Filed under blogging, couch to 5k challenge, exercise, Giveaway, goals, music, races, running, walking

Time Keeps Running: Managing My Way Around The Blogosphere

Time Management. It’s difficult enough for me to find the time to live my regular, non-social media life- home, work, school- just making those three conflicting elements move together harmoniously is like putting together a never-ending 173970170 piece jigsaw puzzle.

However, adding in the instant complication of blogging is enough to give me hours of anxiety. I admit it: I’m terribly paranoid about my blogging abilities. I think it stems from being a self-doubting perfectionist. However, this self-doubting perfectionism causes me to spend over 2 hours writing individual blog entries, and I spend way too much time reading other blogs, commenting on as many entries as possible, and trying to get to know the rest of this ever expanding universe. Yes, it sounds like fun, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a bit of a headache.

Enter Jennifer of shesafitchick. She wrote an EXCELLENT blog series about how to better time manage your life in and out of the blogging world. I’ve been feeling very inspired by a lot of her ideas, and I decided to take the time to document a full day in my life, divided into 15 minute (or 5 or 30 minute, whatever made the most sense) time increments. This may seem a bit time consuming (therefore counterintuitive), but it took no time at all and when I looked over my day afterward, it really opened my eyes to the way I use time efficiently and inefficiently:

Monday, January 31, 2011

7:45am- Wake-Up

7:45am-8:15am- Check e-mail/ facebook/twitter

8:15am-8:30am- Organizing Backpack

8:30am-8:45am- Organizing Backpack/Getting Dressed for the gym

8:45am-8:55am- getting out the door/driving to the gym

8:55am-10am- GYM

10am-10:15am- Return home from gym

10:15am- 10:40am- Shower

10:40-11am- start breakfast/dry off/put on lotion

11am-12:15pm- eat breakfast/put on lotion/ get dressed

12:15pm-12:30pm- walk to class

12:30pm- 1:50pm- Class

1:50pm-2:15pm- photocopy 1776 script

2:15pm- 2:30pm- walk home

2:30pm-3:15pm- eat lunch/make dinner

3:15pm-3:30pm- go to 1776 rehearsal

3:30pm-11pm- 1776 Rehearsal

11pm-11:15pm- Return home/Put on Pajamas

11:15pm-11:30pm- Check e-mail

11:30pm- Fall in bed

As you can see, a huge portion of my afternoon is currently consumed by rehearsals for a production of 1776 that I’m currently working on. Obviously, the time spent on that particular activity is not negotiable. However, I think it takes me way too long to get dressed and put on lotion- I didn’t really realize I spend so much time pampering myself. I don’t even wear makeup on a regular basis, yet I spend as much time getting ready as someone who wears a full face of makeup. My class schedule definitely varies, and I don’t always have the luxury of walking to class so late in the day. However, the amount of time I spend getting ready doesn’t change in relation to my wakeup time- if I have to be somewhere at 7am, I’ll wake up at 5am so I can do my daily physical prep.

While I’m not quite sure what to do about my pampering schedule, seeing the way I spend my time in a chronological format is oddly comforting. It’s allowed me to really think about things I want to do in a given day, week, or month. For example, I need to pick out the best hour of every day to write a blog. I need to stop feeling pressured to write every single day or more than once per day, but I need to set up a minimum number of weekly entries. Also, I need to figure out ways to fit my cultural enrichment into my schedule (because, while my schedule may seem packed, I waste quite a lot of time watching re-runs of The Office when I should be doing other things.)

Here are some things I hope to change about my schedule within the next three months:

  • Write at least four blog entries/week.
  • Of the four blog entries, write at least one recipe entry and try/blog about at least one new product per week.
  • Read at least one new book per month.
  • Watch 1-2 new movies per week (this may seem ridiculous, but as someone who enjoys the cinema I think it’s very important to continuously enrich my cinematic knowledge. However, I have a bad habit of watching the same movies repeatedly which has resulted in a jam packed netflix queue. If I stopped re-watching so many things and just reminded myself to watch two new things, I could gain knowledge and relieve my bursting netflix queue( s ).

Here are my goals for the month of February:

    • Write at least four blog entries/week.
    • Of the four blog entries, write at least one recipe entry and try/blog about at least one new product per week.
    • Read Oil! by Upton Sinclair
    • Watch 1-2 new movies every week, starting with One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
    • Start water jogging once per week, and continue with the couch to 5k Challenge
    • Schedule my first 5k of the season- preferably late March or early April
    • Strength Training 2-3 days/week
    • Continue the 200 Sit-ups Training Program

I don’t think these goals are unattainable, but I do think they will require a lot of commitment.

In other news, Danica of Danica’s Daily is giving away a giant box of dark chocolate ice cream miniatures! You can find entry details on her blog– make sure to enter by February 4th!

What are your monthly goals?

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Filed under blogging, couch to 5k challenge, goals, time management