Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta’

I recently took my final ride in an Atlanta taxi.

No, I’m not moving. Neither do I plan to drive, walk or bicycle everywhere in this only partially pedestrian-/bike-friendly city.

My latest experience with an Atlanta taxi was simply the last straw in a old, troubled relationship.

Since I moved to Atlanta nearly two years ago, Uber has been my go-to car service. The cars are cleaner. The drivers are nicer. The pick-up times are more reliable.

taxi

Writing that sentence, I just realized that Uber’s cheaper pricing really is at the bottom of my list for using them. How about that.

Anyway, returning from a business trip to San Diego last week, I found myself arriving at the Atlanta airport at around 8:30 p.m. Normally, I would take the MARTA train back to Midtown and either get my husband to pick me up at the station or take an embarrassingly short Uber ride back to the condo (if the sun hasn’t already gone down, I’ll happily hike the mile or so back).

For those familiar with MARTA, however, you know that trains get stupidly scarce at night, and I was facing a 20-minute wait for a train, plus a 20-minute ride to Midtown, plus another, say, 10 minutes to get back to the condo.

Just taking an Uber could get me there in less than half the time. (more…)

Read Full Post »

panniers

Maybe it’s a character flaw, but to be inspired to walk, run or bicycle, I need a destination.

That destination may be somewhat impractical – this is the time of the year, for example, when I try to talk the husband into strolls through the back, sorta swampy part of Piedmont Park, in hopes of spotting snakes. I’ve also had a bit of success getting him to stroll to the dog park, even though we have neither dogs nor any intention of getting dogs.

My go-to destination since we moved to Atlanta has been Trader Joe’s. It’s just within walking distance, although it’s a tad far in really cold or really hot weather. The parking lot is impossible to negotiate most of the time, however, and I would walk twice as far to avoid the ridiculous process of stealthily driving around trying to spot someone leaving. (Yes, there is overflow parking in the back lot by the movie theater, but it comes with its own set of problems, namely aggressive drivers who are angry that they were forced to use the overflow parking lot.)

But the walk is a slog, time-wise, 20-something minutes each way, with refrigerated items suffering in the sun all the way home on hot, sunny days. Not to mention my tendency to suddenly remember that I need 3 pounds of apples AND 3 pounds of potatoes, adding unplanned weight to the bags.

My rarely-used bicycle was, of course, the answer, but the only suitable bag choice, my reliable black JanSport book bag, didn’t hold very much, left a big sweat stain on my back and made the ride home less than enjoyable.

Finally, the husband remembered than panniers were a thing, and we were soon ordering bags and a rack from Nashbar. The Townie was our bag (technically basket) of choice, and we chose the Axiom Journey bike rack to hang it from.

The verdict? So far, so good. The bags hold a little more than I usually get during a standard shopping trip, and the three attachment accessories (hooks, Velcro and a bungee cord) mean they don’t bounce around too much, even with filled with groceries. As you can see, I forgot to bring bags to put inside the bags during the excitement surrounding my first trip with the new setup; the Townies are especially sturdy when the groceries are secured inside another bag and, therefore, aren’t bumping around inside.

The travel time to Trader Joe’s has been reduced to a mere 10 minutes, provided I catch the light at 10th and Monroe the right way, and go full speed down every available hill (which, of course, I totally do). The trip back takes a couple of extra minutes – you can’t go downhill on both parts of the journey, after all, and no matter how well-balanced the load is, it still adds weight to the ride.

All that time saved means more time to look for snakes and watch dogs. And I haven’t even mentioned the chipmunks.

Read Full Post »

After ditching the terrible kitchen that I gladly left behind in Mobile (huge room, no counter space, two outlets on walls spaced some 20 feet apart), I enjoyed the large expanse of a kitchen built in the late 90s, complete with tons of cabinet space. Pure suburbia.

I didn’t exactly get along with pure suburbia, however, and ended up in a medium-sized condo in Midtown Atlanta with a decidedly NOT medium-sized kitchen.

I like it. I donated the china that I’ve been packing around for nearly 20 years (china that was meticulously packed away in my paternal grandmother’s home, so don’t worry that I’ve thrown away some sort of beloved family legacy). I need one more smallish cabinet to keep my own wedding china, which is actually pottery, but other than that a smaller kitchen is definitely working for me. Less to dirty, less to clean up. Less cabinet space to attract stuff that has nothing to do with food prep.

On a recent trip to London and Paris (I’m not going to call it a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, because I fully intend to go back, but yeah, it was a big deal), I realized how much less kitchen I could live without. We stayed in apartments in both cities, beginning with a laughably tiny kitchenette in Chelsea:

kitchen

It really took the concept of “no counter space” to a whole new level, but it worked. We boiled pasta and heated sauce for Christmas dinner, and we scrambled eggs one morning. We also had a water kettle, microwave and toaster, meaning we could easily make coffee (via French press) and tea, plus warm up the occasional sandwich or other bakery treat.

In Paris, we added a dishwasher and slightly more counter space to our cooking area:
kitchen2

I think the most complicated thing I made here was oatmeal (dozens of authentic French bakeries within walking distance does not prompt a girl to break out the pots and pans). I also enjoyed the kitchen’s Nespresso Senseo coffeemaker, which I was disappointed to learn is no longer sold in the United States. While I hold anything involving K-cups in utter disdain, I could live with coffee made from those little filter packets every last day.

So much more to talk about from this trip later. Right now, I have to go enjoy the wide-open spaces of my tiny condo kitchen.

Read Full Post »

Clockwise from top left: triple chocolate cake (probably), peach sliders, salted caramel cake.

When people in Atlanta learn about my love of a good doughnut, they invariably give me a knowing look and say, “Oh, you HAVE to go to Sublime Doughnuts.”

So I did. Meh. They seemed like doughnuts that were trying too hard. I know it seems weird to say that a doughnut is too sweet, but those doughnuts were way too sweet.

Luckily, my doughnut salvation appeared in the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s tasting tent. The Revolution Doughnuts table was freshly out of peach sliders, but the reps were on board for doughnut chat, complete with a knowledgeable sidebar on our favorite New York breakfast haunt, the Doughnut Plant.

A couple of weeks later, we made the 15-minute journey to Decatur.

The peach sliders? Everything a fruit-themed doughnut should be, and more. The fruit was fresh and deliciously sweet, while the doughnut itself was rather neutral, allowing the peach flavor to shine.

My other selection was the salted caramel, which offered a nice balance of a slightly salty icing over a delicately textured, sweet (but not too sweet) cake doughnut. The husband chose (I think) a triple chocolate cake doughnut, which was delightfully chocolatey without going overboard.

You might think we spend every Saturday morning in Decatur now, but doughnuts are a sometime food. Plus, the line at Revolution Doughnuts isn’t exactly inviting; a 20-minute wait in Georgia’s summer sun does not exactly whet the appetite.

We’ve decided that all future visits will be to-go orders; the chaos of such a small dining area (you have to cross the children’s play area to reach the coffee station, a seemingly dangerous path while holding a cup of hot java) isn’t conducive to a relaxing breakfast.

Plus — sorry Atlanta — people-watching in New York City is way more interesting.

Read Full Post »

photo

I’m not a person who gets attached to things – I have spent a great deal of effort trying to free myself from the tyranny of stuff, to make my household easier to maintain, enjoy and, if necessary, uproot. There were really only two pieces of furniture that HAD to make the move to Atlanta: My grandmother’s awesome spice cabinet and the Swedish-design kitchen table the husband and I bought before we were even married (the table isn’t so much an emotional attachment as an awesomeness attachment – it’s extendable via two inserts that stay underneath the table until you gently pull the two ends out, revealing a six-top in place of the previous four-top).

So I’m as surprised as everyone else to find myself unwilling to give up my nearly-11-year-old car, Pica.

I find myself comparing him to an old pair of jeans: I slip into his seat and everything just feels right.

He’s only got a little over 80,000 miles on him, which I like to imagine makes him a tween in car mileage years. And he had some tween problems this summer: We just paid an enormous amount of money for a new AC compressor (I would argue that making it through 10.5 brutal Southern summers is enough for one poor little compressor) and new bushings, among a couple of other minor fixes.

It was a bill that was high enough to justify keeping him for at least another 8 months. Or so goes my argument.

If (when) I have to buy another car, I’ll buy another Mini. They’re the perfect size for driving around Atlanta, and they’re laughably nimble in parking garages.

They’re also super fun to drive.

Pica’s biggest negative in the city is his six-gear manual transmission. He rarely sees the interstate anymore, meaning that the short slog to work involves shifting from first, second and third, back to neutral for the next red light, then repeating. I don’t mind, really, but he’s probably going to work his way through a clutch at some point, and real transmission problems could signal the end of arguable financial benefits to keeping him.

Of course, I’m also averaging less than 50 miles a week, given my extremely short commute and the weekend walkability of our neighborhood. It somehow seems stupid to trade him in for something newer that will travel less than an average of 250 miles a month, the occasional road trip not included.

Although his interior is in great shape (the second rule of Mini Club is you never eat or drink in your Mini), save for a few mysterious bumps and scratches on the glove compartment door (get your act together, rogue passengers), his rear trunk emblem has started to flake. I think it’s quite fetching, like a cool scar, so it stays. Also, we all know that it’s bad luck to start fixing small cosmetic details on a really old car.

Face it: new upholstery = new water pump. Science.

So, Pica stays in the picture. For now, and for the foreseeable future in which I keep coming up with valid let’s-keep-him arguments.

You’ll pry his keys from my still-warm yet extremely sad fingers.

 

Read Full Post »

Dear Yellow Pages:

So, wow. You followed me all the way to Atlanta. Not to be mean, but I thought we were done. I mean, I’ve been chucking you (and some other phone book that looked a lot like you, but was even less valuable) straight into the recycling bin for YEARS.

We haven’t had a real relationship since high-speed Internet became a reasonably basic service.

Come on. I didn’t even hook up my landline this time around, yet I came home one day to discover that you had arrived in the mail. It seems a tad desperate, don’t you think?

Oh, you say. But what if the Internet goes down? For DAYS. Then I’m going to sorry, right? When I need a big printout of indexed phone numbers and can’t get online to find them?

We’ve discussed this, and I remain unconcerned by your argument. If the Internet at my home and office goes down for days, there’s every chance that the power is also off, and I’ll have more pressing problems than finding the number for my hair salon.

Also? I rent now, so flipping through your many pages to find a roofer? Not a thing for me.

I feel I should also mention the fact that every contractor I’ve used in the past couple of years — including a tile guy, a painter and lawn care service — has exclusively used a cell phone for contact, meaning they’re not even LISTED in you.

If the Internet ever falls and the landline comes back to life, we’ll talk. In the meantime, please stop following me.

Read Full Post »

So … it’s been awhile. I’m back in Atlanta, this time with the husband and the cat, and I’ve returned to the job that I loved but had to leave last year to return to Alabama.

Everything is pretty awesome, overall.

We’re renting a two-bedroom condo in a very walkable part of the city. I can’t walk to work, mind you, but I can walk to a huge park in addition to several grocery stores, museums and restaurants. We have so many entertainment options that I barely know where to begin.

It’s the life-changing adventure that I wanted last year, but I guess I was too early.

Best news: Yang, pictured above, settled right into his city digs. I was afraid he would be too high up to really see anything, but it turns out that he likes to watch the cars driving around below. At night, he perches on his cat condo and watches the city lights, near and far.

Snowmageddon arrived on the third day I was here; like any survivor of multiple hurricanes, however, I was prepared. I stocked up on groceries well before the snow started falling and kicked back to watch the traffic build (I didn’t start work until this week). The husband faced a two-hour commute instead of his usual half hour, but once he was home we unpacked, caught up on “Justified” episodes and drank a lot of coffee (me)/hot chocolate (him). We attempted a romantic walk in the snow, but our trek was foiled when the snow quickly turned to slippery ice. That’s just how snow rolls in the South.

I feel like I’ve finally found  my home planet — not Atlanta itself, per se, but an escape from Suburbia.

This is huge. This is FUN.

Read Full Post »

CokeCake

During the last few weeks of my brief relocation to Atlanta, I craved Coca-Cola cake. Not because I saw it on a menu or because somebody mentioned it, but because you can’t travel an entire block in Atlanta without seeing some sort of reminder that it’s the home of Coke, and my mind heads off in unpredictable directions when it gets a prompt.

Atlanta, the home of Coke, leads to Coca-Cola cake. Why not?

I remember eating Coca-Cola cake on a pretty regular basis when I was a kid. It’s pretty easy to throw together, and since you bake it in and serve it from the same pan, the presentation is simple, too.

I’ve had a copy of Classic Cooking with Coca-Cola for years, apparently always meaning to make this cake, but I got very confused when I tried to look up the recipe. I found three recipes for chocolate cakes containing Coke, but none of them called for the 13-by-9-inch pan that I specifically remembered. Online, Southern Living linked to a recipe that called for a good bit more sugar than the one in my book (not that I’m trying to make a low-sugar cake, because LOL low-sugar cake, but I didn’t want a chocolate cake in which the sugar overwhelmed the chocolate). Finally, I flipped through my copy of The Mississippi Cookbook, figuring that the Southern classic would surely hold the recipe I was looking for. I found that the sugar-cocoa ratio in its version was even more unappealing than the one in the online recipe.

Other than the sugar discrepancy, the online recipe’s ingredient list was nearly identical to one of the recipes in Classic Cooking with Coca-Cola, AND the online recipe gave me instructions for baking in a 13-by-9-inch pan instead of a sheet pan, so I figured my baking time would be about the same. And it was.

As I remembered, the cake was at its best the day after I made it. As the icing sits overnight, it hardens into a fudgy topping — not quote a hard coating, but not a soft frosting, either.

Admittedly, this cake was not the ambrosial concoction I remember from my childhood, but it was quite delicious. I think cake, like sandwiches and salads, is simply one of those treats that always taste better when somebody makes them for you.

One regular can of Coke is enough to make the batter and the icing, provided you don’t drink the leftover soda while the cake is baking. I’m not judging, either way. And seeing as I have NEVER purchased a carton of buttermilk, I always have to use the standard substitution: 1 tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup milk. I also understand you can use yogurt or buttermilk powder.

Start making the icing a couple of minutes after the cake comes out of the oven. You’ll want to pour it on top of the cake after the cake has cooled off for about 10 minutes. Also, the original recipe indicated that the pecans in the icing were optional, and pecans are SO not optional for this cake. In fact, I might try to work some pecans into the batter AND the icing next time.

Coca-Cola Cake

  • 2 cups plain unsifted flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl. (Note: I didn’t sift anything because I kind of hate to sift. I had to mash down a few flour pellets in the batter with my stirring spatula, but that was the only consequence.)

In a saucepan, bring the butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola to a boil. Pour this mixture over the flour and sugar and stir until the batter is mixed thoroughly. Stir in the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, vanilla and marshmallows; mix well.

The batter will be extremely thin, and the marshmallows will float to the top. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, and move the floating marshmallows around until they’re spread out reasonably evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. (Note: None of the recipes I consulted tell you how to tell that this cake is done, which was a little scary because the batter is so weirdly thin. The toothpick test worked, though. After 35 minutes, the toothpick came out with a few moist crumbs on it.)

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then pour the icing on top. It should spread itself out pretty evenly over the cake. Let the iced cake sit for at least an hour to let the icing firm up a little before you cut it, or risk scraping icing run-off out of the bottom of the pan with a spoon (which, really, is not such a terrible thing).

Coca-Cola Icing

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 6 or 7 tbsp. Coca-Cola
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

In a saucepan, heat the butter, Coca-Cola and cocoa until everything is melted and mixed together. Pour over the powdered sugar and mix well. (Note: I broke out the mixer for this.)

Read Full Post »

So I’m back in Huntsville. Long story short, the Atlanta move just didn’t work out. Short story long, I still can’t decide what I want to be when I grow up.

The problem is that I’ve already been what I wanted to be when I grew up, and that career barely exists anymore.

I had known I wanted to work at a newspaper since I was 10 years old.

When I was in the fifth-grade gifted program, our teacher was determined to expand our little minds beyond the standardized tests that had, presumably, placed us in her class. (I want to think that her name was Mrs. Wilkinson, but let me assure you that if you think you’ll ALWAYS remember the name of everyone in your life who has been important to you at one time or another, you are WRONG. Write it down. Let’s just call her Mrs. W.)

Mrs. W. wanted us to understand practical things, like how banks and the stock market worked. She also allowed us to conduct a deeper exploration of subjects like geology – I spent hours wearing safety goggles and breaking up rocks from the driveway with a hammer to look at the patterns inside. (And still never received my coveted rock tumbler.)

She also tried to inject a little cultural cachet into our group by accompanying us to the opera in New Orleans for a matinee performance. Now, I didn’t exactly take to opera (nine years later, in fact, one of my fellow gifted students would find himself elbowing me awake repeatedly during a production of The Marriage of Figaro at the University of Southern Mississippi), but I remember falling in love with the IDEA of opera, and live performances in general.

Mrs. W.’s greatest contribution to my future, however, was definitely our field trip to the Sun Herald in Gulfport, Miss. Don’t get me wrong: I come from at least two generations of daily newspaper readers, so the concept of print journalism was not foreign to me at all. I grew up understanding that no breakfast table was complete without a newspaper.

The Sun Herald folks gave us a tour of the entire operation, including the pressroom. They gave us copies of the preprinted sections, hot off the press. The moment one of the press guys handed me my section, I realized that it took A LOT of people to get the newspaper out the door every morning, and I was certain that I wanted to be one of those people.

Fast-forward past college: I was a copy editor and staff reporter at the Mobile Press-Register for nearly 10 years. It was the most awesome job ever, and now it’s gone. I got out of the business a few years before it really hit bottom, but last summer, the position I had literally disappeared from the newsroom, along with dozens of others.

The newspaper business is a treacherous place right now. There’s no going back, but I’m still trying to figure out what to do going forward.

I ran into an Internet friend at Earth Fare today – Joe Martin of Huntsville Adventure Boot Camp for Women fame. (It’s always weird to meet Internet friends in real life, but it’s also kind of awesome, especially when said Internet friend is somewhat of a fitness guru and you’re feeling reasonably fit that day and are carrying only bananas and spring-mix lettuce in your basket.)

While explaining my recent return to the Rocket City, I mentioned that my post-newspaper career had been pretty flighty. His response? Something along the lines of, “Imagine how flighty it would be if you had stayed in newspapers.”

What a duh moment for me. I mean, I know that I’m better off having gotten out of the newspaper business before the implosion, but I don’t know that I’ve ever understood that other people, people outside of the industry, understand that, too. And I think I carry a little guilt for not staying until the absolute end, although, as Joe suggested, that would have been a terrible idea.

So here I am. Former newspaper copy editor turned technical writer turned research analyst turned proposal coordinator. Wife, freelance writer, decent weightlifter, mediocre runner, culinary adventurer, cat owner, amateur photographer, blogger.

A little flighty, maybe, but also gifted with the experience that can only come from a multi-pronged career path and the curiosity to wonder what comes next.

Let’s do this.

Read Full Post »

If I had a nickel for every time I deftly shook all the coins out of this little piggy bank when I was a little girl, I would need a WAY bigger bank for all my nickels.

Like the old glass measuring cup and my grandfather’s blue denim jacket, it’s one of the few items that I simply HAD to have from my grandparents’ house. I seriously played with it for hours at a time when I was younger, shaking out coins, counting them, stacking them and carefully putting them back in again.

It’s made it all the way from Smithdale, Mississippi, to Huntsville, Alabama, and then Atlanta.

It’s still doing its job beautifully, holding the coins fished out of pockets and the bottom of my purse. The only difference is that I don’t really have the urge to shake them out and sort them anymore.

Not much of an urge, that is.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: