Tag Archives: canon rebel

Jessamyn Not Jasmine? Please, y’all- I’m a SELF-HOSTER now!

It’s been a very busy 24 hour period in the world of Jessamyn Not Jasmine.

1. I finally cleaned my kitchen counter and moved my lightbox into its semi-permanent kitchen counter locale. This probably isn’t a big deal for anyone but me- since I still haven’t changed the overhead lamp in my kitchen, the addition of three 100-watt lightbulbs has made a once dungeon-like kitchen into a mini-photo studio.

2. My canon lens arrived. Therefore, I’ve been snapping pictures of every individual item in my apartment (it would probably be a little embarrassing if I didn’t lack self-respect). The definition of the EF 50 mm F/1.8 Prime lens is blowing my point&shoot mind to smithereens. Of course, since my camera usb cable is still in the mail, I can’t physically share any of my ridiculous photos yet. But just know that this is pretty much what I look like:

amelie

3. I am officially a self-hosting presser of words- jessnotjazz.com is live! However, if you actually go to this website, you will not see anything worth noting. Therefore, I am taking a planned weekend break from jessamynnotjasmine in order to put in the necessary elbow grease for a fully functioning .com. Also, I have a weekend cooking project in the works, so look forward to a recipe post by the start of next week.

Is that all? Yes, I think so.

Good-bye, April. It’s been sort of nice knowing you.

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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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Jessamyn Makes a LightBox!

We all have secrets. Sometimes the secrets aren’t particularly scandalous or intriguing. In fact, a lot of the time they’re not even meant to be secrets. Maybe they should be called ‘little known facts’. Well here’s a little known fact about Jessamyn: I spent three years of my life working in an arts and crafts store. Basically, this means three things:

1. I’m a master multi-tasker, and can fix a broken cash register while reorganizing an arsenal of same size paint brushes.

2. I am an unlikely resource when it comes to framing jigsaw puzzles.

3. I’ve been known to talk about the most mundane scrapbooking techniques for hours without realizing the passage of time.

In my post-arts and crafts store world, I try to keep my crafting to a bare minimum. In fact, the craftiest thing in my everyday life is the inevitable winter knitting itch which hits me in mid-October and (always) fizzles out by late January. Therefore, I’ve been knitting the same black and white striped cowl for over two years (but for the record, when I finally finish it, y’all are going to be so jealous.)

Anyway, while I rarely feel the crafting itch, I was very intrigued by Ashley and Stephen’s (of the fabulous neverhomemaker) light box project. Because I don’t take my photography seriously, I didn’t think making a light box was a reasonable use of my funds. However, with a new camera in the mail and armed with a new outlook on my potential photography skills, I decided it might be worth it to give myself a space for creative education. Therefore, this morning I decided to build a light box from scratch.

For those of you who are not photographers, familiar with photography, or don’t spend hours of your day on the internet, a Light Box is an excellent way to diffuse soft light in a contained space, creating a malleable space where light and shadows can be manipulated. Basically, for someone who wants to become a better food photographer but lives in a lighting dungeon, a Light Box is a fairly good investment. Obviously, like any other item in the world, you don’t need to make one- you can buy a Light Box. However, if you’re not a professional photographer and don’t mind spending a couple of hours hanging out in a giant cardboard box, making a Light Box with household items might be right up your alley.

So, armed with a fresh cardboard box, tissue paper, velcro, and a hell of a lot of packing tape, I got to work.

(Of course, since the camera isn’t actually here yet, I only have a rather crude camera phone photo. Thank you, verizon.)

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Isn’t it lovely? It looks way more complicated than it actually is- it’s really just a cardboard box covered with tissue paper. The process took a little longer than it probably should have- I managed to watch two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (my new, ever-so-slightly embarrassing obsession) before taking this photo. All in all, it was not a very expensive project, though I did have to buy three utility lamps at ~$7.00/each. Also, I bought three different swatches of fabric for backdrop- two patterns and one solid black. I haven’t found a permanent home for my new box. At the moment, it’s housed under my kitchen table (which also doubles as my desk and lives in my living room- yes, I try to be as unorthodox as possible.)

Since I didn’t have the patience to take a thousand process shots of this project, I must insist you check out the neverhomemaker instructions in order to actually learn how to make one of these babies. I followed their instructions to a Tee, but I definitely didn’t do any of the steps they deemed unnecessary. That probably sounds a little silly, but trust me- you’ll understand after you check it out for yourself.

What random crafts/activities have you attempted lately?

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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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The Trouble With Food Tracking and My Wish List

I learned a valuable lesson today. It’s a lesson I’ve been forced to learn about 187391092779 times over, and I hope this time the true meaning will stick in my mind so that I’ll quit making the same mistakes.

If you are monitoring your food intake, ALWAYS TRACK YOUR MEALS.

I know, it seems obvious. It is obvious. It’s also the cornerstone of the Weight Watchers philosophy. But I am the laziest tracker in the history of the world. I spent the month of March being really lazy about my tracking habits- partially because I was fasting, and partially because I’m just really freaking lazy. As a result, when I stepped on the scale two weeks ago, I wasn’t very surprised to be pissed off by the number it gave me. However, I was a little surprised to be even more upset by the number I saw last week. In my defense, I was on my period and I always weigh really heavy when I’m menstruating. But I also didn’t track very well last week. I always start the week strong, and then I taper off toward the middle of the week. When I stop tracking, it becomes infinitely easier to impulsively eat the foods which sabotage me and my goals.

This week, however, I really focused on my tracking- even when I didn’t feel like it. And I saw definite results on the scale this morning. I need to maintain this momentum- sometimes tracking my food is just such a F-ing hassle. But I have to remember that the long term goals are worth the extra five minutes of effort.

In other news, I’ve been accumulating a wish list of items which will improve my blogging/cooking/athletic life. While the list grows steadily every day, there are a couple of items that are really key:

canon rebel1. New Camera- I love my camera. I really do. It’s small, and I can take it everywhere. But I need to get serious about my photography, especially in regard to my blogging. I mean, I’m well aware that a fancy camera does not create great photos- there’s no substitute for good lighting and composition. But I want the quality of my photography to increase, and I don’t want to invest more money in another point and shoot when I’m pleased with the point and shoot I’m using. I need to upgrade to dslr. My ideal model is the Canon Rebel– of course, it’s really expensive. I’m looking for a used canon, and I’m actually looking primarily at older models. I spend quite a bit of time scouring ebay for viable options. At this point, it’s just a little too far out of my financial grasp. But I’m hopeful- if you know anyone who is upgrading to another model and wants to get rid of their dslr, let me know!

garmin heart rate monitor2. Heart Rate Monitor: I think I need to be monitoring my activity level more vigilantly and I think a heart rate monitor will really help with this goal. I’d like to kn0w exactly how many calories I’m burning while exercising and I’d like to get more precise heart rate calculations. This will help me determine how I should be increasing/decreasing my exercise levels, especially as I reach weight plateaus and finish couch to 5k. At this point I’m battling between a garmin and a polar– price is an obvious factor, but I’m still just trying to decide between the two brands. As always, I’m really open to any insight you guys might have.

running shoe fitting guides3. Running Shoes: I actually already talked about this, but it’s become a true necessity. I don’t know how I’ll make it through the summer running season (especially since I definitely plan to run/race when I’m in Boston) wearing the shoes I have right now. These are great sneaks for general exercise, but I need to take better care of my tootsie wootsies if I’m going to keep up this hobby. I’ve received some great running shoe store recommendations in both GSO and Winston-Salem, but I still can’t quite decide between Fleet Feet and Off’N Running. In fact, I might have to get fitted after Saturday’s race– but maybe I’m being too impulsive. Thoughts?

citrus reamer4. Citrus Reamer: Self-explanatory. I bite my nails, and citrus juice+ bitten cuticles= LAME.

All this talk about running has made me pretty pumped about my run tonight. It’s weird how I’m sort of starting to like it.

…I hope I didn’t speak too soon. Smile

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