Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Midtown Filling Station Review

On March 11th, my friend Tara and I had lunch at Midtown Filling Station (thank you Living Social for the coupon). For those of you keeping score at home, Midtown used to be Tapas Tallahassee. It's in the Midtown Manor shopping area on Thomasville Road, on the corner of Fifth Avenue. We had planned to sit outside but the weather was just too cool and windy that day.

Here are some things to know about the restaurant:
 - The portions are huge - we ordered the $7 poblano mac and cheese as an appetizer. It was enough for two of us to share and have leftovers to take home. The bowl is huge... and it holds the heat so the mac stays really hot.
 - You can trust foursquare tips here. Members recommended the mac and the fish tacos and both were really delicious.

We'll definitely be back!
Roasted Poblano Mac & cheese
Topped With Chorizo Breadcrumbs

Jumbo Fisher Tacos
Blackened Mahi, Black Beans, Roasted Corn, 
Smoked Tomato Salsa, Cheddar & Mozzarella, 
Avocado Crema, Chopped Romaine & Spanish 
Slaw On Grilled Flour Tortillas

another view of the fish tacos

Monday, March 28, 2011

SEPC Preview

The end of this week I'll be heading the Atlanta to attend SEPC, the Southeastern Panhellenic Conference.

Thursday night's Opening Session will be presented by Tish Norman from Campuspeak and Transforming Leaders Now, Inc.

Calling All Greeks to the Floor!
A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Tish brings a powerful and influential new voice to the fraternity and sorority educational market. She motivates Greeks of all types, sizes and traditions to enhance the quality of student life on and off their campus—contributing to the educational and personal development of their fellow students, and making a real difference in their campus communities. Tish promotes diversity and unity by calling on Greek-letter organizations to recognize and embrace differences. In her keynote, Tish encourages fraternity and sorority leaders to choose their role models wisely and to become role models for the men and women who follow behind them.

Speaking at the Final Banquet Saturday evening is our own Alpha Chi Omega Past National President Julie Burkhard. Julie served as Chair of NPC as part of her six years of service on their Executive Committee as well.

Why Sororities Still Matter
In her keynote, “Why Sororities Still Matter,” Julie addresses the topic of fraternal relevance head-on. She will help your students understand how the history of their organizations provides an enduring example for today’s members; and will also help them understand their role in making their chapters relevant for future students. By telling their stories, actively defining their positive experiences and remembering to “never take off your badge,” students will be empowered to work hard to ensure the continued success of their organization’s values.

In between these two great presentations there are a host of educational sessions. I made a list on Twitter if you'd like to see most of them: http://twitter.com/#!/amy_z/sepc2011speakers/members Following them has given me a chance to learn more about them. I'm really looking forward to hearing Erin Weed talk about her Girls Fight Back program.

5 Minute Promo Video from Girls Fight Back! on Vimeo.

I'm also excited that SEPC has chosen Circle of Sisterhood Foundation as the official philanthropy this year! I blogged about Circle of Sisterhood last fall after the NPC Annual Meeting (see my post here); and here's a brief overview of their mission:

The Circle of Sisterhood Foundation represents a worldwide humanitarian effort - by sorority women - to help girls and women access education. 

As educated women, we understand the importance of achieving an education and we believe that every girl in the world deserves the opportunity to go to school. 

Regardless of affiliation we ask all sorority women to join us in this effort to lift women from poverty and oppression through education. We have the opportunity to positively affect generations to come.

Learn more about SEPC at http://www.sepconline.net/home
And follow the conference on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/sepatweets or by using hashtag #SEPC2011 which you can follow at http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23SEPC2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Challenger Soccer Recap

In January and February, T played soccer with the Challenger League. Games are once a week, on Saturday mornings, at Canopy Oaks Park (next door to Canopy Oaks Elementary). As the name suggests, all the kids in the league face challenges of one type or another. Soccer is not the easiest game to master, but the kids made a lot of progress this year. Dribbling, shooting, passing, and finally understanding the difference between offense and defense are all areas in which they developed good skills. Also it's good exercise and fun to have a chance to socialize and learn about sportsmanship. Here are a few photos from this season. 

All the kids get a chance to score by the end of the hour-long game.

B is getting ready to pass the ball to T.

Getting ready to "huddle up" at the end of the game.

Team photo take 1. T is in the back row sporting his sunglasses and orange pullover.

Team photo sans sunglasses.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Something to Think About...

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

Follow them on Twitter @theelders
Like them on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theElders

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Adding this book to my to-read list based on Katya Andresen's recommendation (I love her blog on non-profit marketing, check it out here): "This is the single best book on effecting social change that I’ve ever read."

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is HardFrom amazon.com:
"Change is hard." "People hate change." Those were two of the most common quotes we heard when we began to study change.
But it occurred to us that if people hate change, they have a funny way of showing it. Every iPhone sold serves as counter-evidence. So does every text message sent, every corporate merger finalized, every aluminum can recycled. And we haven’t even mentioned the biggest changes: Getting married. Having kids. (If people hate change, then having a kid is an awfully dumb decision.)
It puzzled us--why do some huge changes, like marriage, come joyously, while some trivial changes, like submitting an expense report on time, meet fierce resistance?
We found the answer in the research of some brilliant psychologists who’d discovered that people have two separate “systems” in their brains—a rational system and an emotional system. The rational system is a thoughtful, logical planner. The emotional system is, well, emotional—and impulsive and instinctual.
When these two systems are in alignment, change can come quickly and easily (as when a dreamy-eyed couple gets married). When they’re not, change can be grueling (as anyone who has struggled with a diet can attest).
In those situations where change is hard, is it possible to align the two systems? Is it possible to overcome our internal "schizophrenia" about change? We believe it is.
In our research, we studied people trying to make difficult changes: People fighting to lose weight and keep it off. Managers trying to overhaul an entrenched bureaucracy. Activists combating seemingly intractable problems such as child malnutrition. They succeeded--and, to our surprise, we found striking similarities in the strategies they used. They seemed to share a similar game plan. We wanted, in Switch, to make that game plan available to everyone, in hopes that we could show people how to make the hard changes in life a little bit easier. --Chip and Dan Heath

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 30th and plan to join us at Siam Sushi for lunch from 11:30am to 1:30pm (treat it like an open house - come and go as your schedule allows).

Spearheaded by Paula (aka @biggreenpen) with help from Alicia @aliciawellman and me, this is a local event to raise money for disaster relief in Japan, and to have some social time with our friends (and future friends) who enjoy Twitter. Everyone is welcome, too, even if you are completely unfamiliar with tweeting. People around the country (and world too) are organizing Tweetdrive4Japan lunches, happy hours, and dinners this month.

See the official event (and make a donation) here:

Or you can RSVP on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198848546814320

Or you can RSVP on twtvite (our usual tweetup site) http://twtvite.com/tally4japan

We chose Siam Sushi because the food is great, there is plenty of parking, the location is fairly central, and they are considering donating a portion of all their proceeds the day of the Tweetup to Save the Children! See my review of Siam Sushi here.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you next Wednesday!

Update Sunday March 27th:
Thank you to Siam Sushi for agreeing to donate 10% of the proceeds from TweetDrive4Japan to Save the Children AND for donating a door prize: a gift certificate for lunch for 2!!

We're also thrilled that Mashable chose TweetDrive4Japan as one of 8 ways its readers can help Japan! Check out the article here: http://mashable.com/2011/03/25/ways-help-japan/ (To give you an idea how huge this is, @mashable has over 2.2 million Twitter followers so hopefully lots of local people will read the article and come support our Tallahassee event!)

Update Tuesday March 29th:
Door prizes! Did we mention there will be door prizes?
Thank you to these local businesses for their contributions:

Sam Goody, @SubwayTally, Sports Authority, Hunt Club Subs and Grill, @GamescapeTally, Barnes & Noble, and Siam Sushi!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carrot Cake Muffins

We tested out this recipe last week - they are pretty tasty. Moist, not too sweet; full of healthy ingredients!

Carrot Cake Muffins
adapted from Britain's blog

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup raw brown (turbinado) sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup raisins tossed with 1 teaspoon unbleached all-purpose flour, or 2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups grated carrots

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the upper third of the space. Oil or butter muffin tins.
2. Sift together the whole-wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Using a whisk or a spatula, stir in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Do not beat; a few lumps are fine, but make sure there is no flour at the bottom of the bowl. Fold in the raisins or pecans and the carrots.
4. Spoon into muffin cups, filling them to just below the top (about 4/5 full). Place in the oven, and bake 25 minutes until lightly browned and well risen.

Yield: Twelve muffins, depending on the size of the muffin tins. 
These keep for a couple of days out of the refrigerator, for a few more days in the refrigerator and for a few months in the freezer.
(Our muffin tins might be a bit smaller, the recipe made 20 muffins, and we baked them accordingly - for a much shorter time - between 15 and 20 minutes - just until they were done.)

Nutritional information per muffin (based on 12-muffin yield): 239 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 32 milligrams cholesterol; 38 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 323 milligrams sodium; 5 grams protein
Martha Rose Shulman is the author of The Very Best of Recipes for Health 
The Very Best Of Recipes for Health: 250 Recipes and More from the Popular Feature on NYTimes.com

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Siam Sushi Review

Siam Sushi opened last year when Hopkins moved to their new location in the Lake Ella Publix plaza here in Tallahassee. As their name suggests, they serve both Thai and Japanese specialties. My first visit, in January, was with my co-workers for our monthly lab lunch. I had Pad Thai, which was delicious. The portion was really big (maybe three times what I could eat) and came with a choice of Miso soup or salad. I had the soup, but wish I had ordered salad - it looked really good, especially the ginger dressing. For entrees, you have your choice of mild, medium, hot, or Thai hot. I ordered my Pad Thai mild and it was truly mild - no spiciness at all. Some of my co-workers ordered medium and hot and thought the spice levels were right on target for what they expected.  We all enjoyed our lunches (everyone ordered Thai - all twelve of us!) and the service was fast and friendly. It is definitely a place you can go for lunch and not worry about being late back to the office.

For date night with hubs on February 22nd I made my second trip to Siam Sushi. Hubs loves Thai, the spicier the better, so it was no surprise when he ordered the Red Curry Thai hot (pictured below). It had him sweating!! I ordered Pad Woon Sen in medium. It was delicious (a new favorite for me?) and just about as spicy as I could handle. Again the portions were large and we each had plenty to take home with us. We also enjoyed an appetizer of mussels that were tasty and unique - lots of good fresh Thai flavors in the broth. I have heard the sushi is also really good - sometime I'll have to break out of my Thai habit and try it. I hope you'll give Siam Sushi a try too!

Red Curry (with chicken)
Red curry paste, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, carrots, and fresh basil served with your choice of beef, chicken, or tofu.

Pad Woon Sen (with chicken)
(choice of chicken $10 or shrimp $12)
Stir fried glass noodles, eggs, shitake mushroom and mixed vegetables.

Nick Kristof in Tallahassee March 28

If you are a regular blog reader or follow me on Twitter, you'll know I'm a fan of Nick Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn and their inspirational book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. When my Twitter friend Paula mentioned he was coming to town I immediately had to find out the details. Here they are.

The Florida State Golden Tribe Lecture Series presents "Half The Sky": An Evening with Nicholas Kristof

The Florida State Golden Tribe Lecture Series is proud to present "Half the Sky": An Evening with Nicholas Kristof. Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times' columnist, who has written about many human rights issues and his experiences traveling throughout the globe.

This event is free for everyone. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28th, and the event will begin at 7 p.m. in Ruby Diamond Auditorium.

For more information, please visit lectures.fsu.edu or unionproductions.org
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Vintage)

my review
see it on amazon

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our Truck a Movie Star?

True story. We loaned our truck (the one that sits in the driveway and occasionally goes to the garden center for a load of mulch) to some graduate students at the FSU College of Motion Picture Arts (aka the Film School). They are filming the movie this week and next. It's a short (15-17 minutes) psychological thriller, called The Curse.

The students were very professional and even had paperwork to transfer liability from us to them while they use the truck. We were connected with them via my Twitter friend Paula @biggreenpen who helps out on a volunteer basis, hunting down locations, materials and even people to appear in films. 

If you have a minute, check out the film school's website - really impressed by all their awards and honors, their ability to fund the production costs for students, and the way the alumni mentor new graduates: http://film.fsu.edu/

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Celebrating the Peace Corps' 50th Anniversary with Jenn

On March 1, 1961 President Kennedy signed the legislation that created the Peace Corps. The first week of March 2011, our local Returned Peace Corps Volunteers celebrated the 50th anniversary with a whole series of events including a gallery showing of art the volunteers have brought home from countries they've served in. I went to the Opening Reception to support Jenn and see the great art.

Jenn and Tiona both served in Botswana.

They had such a nice variety of objects on display in the gallery.

Tara (right) also came to the Opening. I brought Jenn carnations to say Bravo for all her hard work, which really made her day. We are standing in front of a tapestry she purchased in Botswana. It reminds me of a batik I brought home from Uganda for Mom - about the same size and colors and both have goats. Jenn's depicts a typical village scene. It was woven in Oodi village which is near the capitol city, Gaborone. Oodi is famous for its weavers.

I'm so glad we were able to get out and support Jenn and the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers! Happy Anniversary, Peace Corps!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Herb Gardens

It's time to get plants in the ground here (and protect them if it gets too cold). With thanks to Mom for her weeding and inspiration to keep weeding here are our two herb gardens. First on the driveway side of the back door, we have, at top, aloe (that wintered over surprisingly well, considering how cold it's been); a new rosemary plant, then oregano and at the bottom a grape tomato. The tomato plant is an experiment. The soil in this garden is really sandy (which makes aloe and rosemary happy). We'll probably have to add some compost for the tomato.
Yes, it still needs mulch.

Close up on the aloe. It is so useful for burns and rashes.

The second herb garden is in the backyard but again right outside the back door for easy access. A few pictures I took while preparing for planting - you can see what a weedy mess it was:

Almost weed free!

Basil (2 plants, top left), parsley (top right), other three are nasturtium, which have edible flowers.

A new pineapple sage (bottom) to join the two baby ones above it that have come up voluntarily.

Along the side wall of the garage where they'll be a little more protected, 2 dill (toward the top right) and a sage (lower right). The top right corner there is reserved for lemon grass, and we have plenty of space for more herbs and flowers.

One last sunny picture of the first nasturtium blooming.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wisteria Blooming

Sharing a little Florida sunshine as our wisteria blooms. A little worried because I haven't been hearing the buzzing of the bumblebees. Usually they love all the flowers.

Did you know that the US population of bees is down by 40% overall? It's due to Colony Collapse Disorder and scientists think that might be caused by pesticides. Learn more here in this blog post from Slow Food USA and do what you can to help bees. Even if you don't like honey, we still need pollinators - about 30% of our food comes from honeybee pollination. Thank you! 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mockingbird Cafe Review

February 14th my co-workers and I went to Mocking Bird Cafe for our monthly lab lunch. I had not been since the restaurant changed hands last year, so this counts as a "new" place to me. [Trying 10 new restaurants is on my 101 in 1001 list.] For Tallahassee friends who haven't visited, Mocking Bird used to be called Fusion. It's on Monroe Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. If the parking lot is full, try the lot across the street behind Fedex/Kinkos.

In addition to lunch, we also wanted dessert (for Valentines Day) and the restaurant was nice enough to serve their full dinner dessert menu for us at lunch time (usually they just serve cupcakes at lunch). They definitely get points for that. Here are some photos and then a few more thoughts.

Crabcake Salad: 
Hard Cooked Eggs, Shaved Red Onion, Tomato, Cucumber, Spring Mix, Spicy Remoulade

Lamb Burger
Ground Lamb Pattie, Minted Feta, Cucumber-Red Onion Slaw, Tzatziki Sauce
(sweet potato fries on the side)

Pesto Turkey Panini
Roasted Turkey Breast, Mozzarella, Caramelized Onions, Pesto Mayonnaise,
on Toasted Ciabatta

Falafel Sandwich 
with hummus, Tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
Fresh Raspberry Studded, topped with Macerated Berries and
White Chocolate Chunk Biscotti

Peanut Butter Cheesecake
With a Pretzel Crust, topped with Ganache, Caramel Popcorn and Toasted Peanuts

All the food was as good as it looked! One minor criticism: the biscotti that came with the creme brulee was a little salty. The service was friendly and helpful. If you have a big group, though, make sure you have plenty of time. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cooking Party Recap

After school on Tuesday we had two of T's fifth-grade classmates and his speech therapist over for a cooking party. Credit for the idea goes to Mrs. N, T's brilliant speech therapist. She has been working with him on getting ready for middle school, and part of being ready is being able to have real (aka non-scripted) conversations with his peers. This activity was an opportunity to do that in a relaxed situation, and to have some fun together. I was really impressed at how well the boys worked together. Mrs. N. worked with them beforehand to pick the menu and she was nice enough to provide the ingredients as well. How nice is that? We are so lucky.

We made Not-Spicy Tangerine Beef (see previous post for the recipe), rice, steamed broccoli, and lava cake for dessert. Everything tasted great, though we probably need to follow the cake recipe a little more closely next time (some of the chocolate didn't make it into the batter, and we might have baked them a little too long). But overall the party was a success!
 D measuring hoisin sauce.

Hoisin sauce plus sherry in the bowl.

H adds the honey.

T shows the guys how to use the citrus press to juice tangerines.

Meat goes in to the very hot pan to cook. T keeps it moving around.

D measures the rice.

D posing. Mrs. N. in the background.

Everyone sitting down to dinner.

The finished product!

Dessert! Chocolate lava cake, which turned out gooey but not like lava. We need to perfect our technique! It was tasty even though it didn't come out perfectly. 
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