End of Summer Nails

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While technically October is the month that begins fall, I find that people often think of August as their chance to really enjoy true summer since school starts back up in September.

So I decided to do a really fun nail tutorial! Teal is close to my heart because it was my wedding color, and dark blue has always been my husbands favorite color. So I decided to use both of them to creative this fun, ocean like ombre nail. It may take some practice, but these nails will definitely get you noticed! Read more

How to Make Okonomiyaki

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I am sadly not Asian…unless you want to count the family rumor that my grandfather’s grandmother was Mongolian. Asian culture has always been an interest to me and my husband. I wouldn’t say we’re complete ‘weeaboos’ though. We understand there’s more to Japan than it’s anime. We love to watch Basho (Sumo Wrestling) and I often keep up on Japanese news through the NHK channel. Strangely, Eastern art in general has found it’s way into our home- through lanterns from Marrakesh to Japanese wall hangings of cranes in our dinning room. A few years ago, we even got to enjoy an 16 hour layover in Tokyo where we went to Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku (that trip is for another blog post entirely). Read more

Allset and Fuji at Ink Block

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Being a blogger isn’t as easy as Carrie Bradshaw makes it look. I have to plan out what I’m writing about, write it, edit it, stage and take pictures, edit the pictures and then add whatever affiliate links. It’s very very busy!

So often when I go out into Boston to work it’s still very hectic and I can’t always have my laptop out and blogging in a nice restaurant. I don’t want to be waiting around for a place to sit, or even the check. So I was extremely happy when Allset reached out to me asking if I’d give their app a shot. Read more

The Reason I Haven’t Been Blogging or Doing Art

Dear Friends and Family,

For the last year and nine months Amin and I have been keeping quiet about something that has impacted our lives tremendously. It’s a huge reason why I have declined to hang out with some of you and it’s the main reason I haven’t really released any new art pieces.

I’ve been afraid to leave my home. This article will explain why. Please understand that since this is an on going issue that I’m working through with my lawyer, I can’t comment or answer any questions at this time, but perhaps it will give a little more insight to what Amin and I have been and continue to struggle with. Thank you for your support during this time.

Here’s the link to the main page: http://masslawyersweekly.com/2017/06/08/arlington-mailman-slapped-with-harassment-protection-order/

This Lawyers Weekly goes to every major lawyer throughout Massachusetts. They are highly reputable and decided to cover our story. I think Pat Murphy did an excellent job expressing what our experience has been. Here is what the article says:

A bitter and sometimes bizarre feud between an Arlington couple and U.S. Postal Service workers has reached a climax with one mailman being slapped with a harassment protection order after being accused of stalking.

Cambridge District Court Judge Michele B. Hogan issued the order May 8 against an unnamed postal worker, identified in subsequent orders as Allen Hodgkins. The ex parte order requires the defendant to stay at least 100 yards away from the plaintiff, Heather Astaneh, and also to remain away from her home on Rublee Street.

“[Hodgkins] has engaged in stalking behavior and has placed [my client] in very real fear of personal harm,” says Boston civil rights attorney Lauren M. Thomas, who represents Astaneh. “He’s been photographing and video-recording my client in her home. He sits behind her house and stares in her window.”

In an affidavit in support of her complaint for protection from harassment, Astaneh also accuses Hodgkins of watching and following her in the neighborhood.

“Most recently he tried to run me off the road in the rain,” the plaintiff says in her affidavit.

The strife first started a few years ago when Heather and her husband, Amin Astaneh, complained to the USPS about the service provided by their mail carrier, Sharon A. Demirdjian. Their major beef was that Demirdjian mishandled packages delivered to their home, leaving the contents damaged.

They also claimed that Demirdjian “engaged in systematically abusive, rude, intimidating and demeaning behavior,” threatening Heather when she answered the door.

The Astanehs installed a video camera at their front doorstep to capture Demirdjian’s actions in an effort to substantiate their complaints to the USPS.

But the video surveillance triggered a tit-for-tat between the postal workers and homeowners. The Astanehs allege that their mail service was twice stopped because they either refused to stop recording their mail carrier or because Heather would keep an eye on Demirdjian from the front window as she delivered the family’s mail.

The Astanehs also alleged that they came under video surveillance by postal workers, apparently intent on trying to catch Heather recording them.

Things got so bad that last June Thomas sent the Postal Service a notice of intent to sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act. In the notice, the Astanehs alleged that the USPS was violating their First Amendment rights by trying to stop them from video-recording the actions of postal workers.

Thomas says she since has been able to resolve most of the issues with the USPS without actually having to file a FTCA complaint. Notably, Thomas reports that Demirdjian was taken off the mail route servicing the Astanehs’ home.

The Hodgkins matter, meanwhile, may be a case of bad blood arising from the complaints against a fellow mail carrier.

Hodgkins doesn’t deliver the mail on the Astanehs’ street, but his route does include Sylvia Street, the road that runs behind the Astanehs’ home.

In February, Heather called police to report someone in a suspicious vehicle recording her home from Sylvia Street. Police called to the scene didn’t find the vehicle, but couldn’t help but notice that the Astanehs had a large bed sheet hanging from their rear deck with the message: “USPS stop harassing my wife.” Arlington police responded to a similar call on April 7, but again came up empty in their search for a suspicious vehicle.

On May 30, the USPS removed Heather Astaneh’s harassment prevention case from state court to U.S. District Court.

In its notice of removal, the USPS claims that, rather than harassing Heather, Hodgkins is simply doing his job by delivering mail along a route he’s had for more than a decade. In that regard, the government claims that it only makes sense that Heather frequently would see Hodgkins in the neighborhood. The government also claims that Hodgkins only photographed Heather because Heather was photographing him.

In arguing for removal, the USPS contends that the harassment order against Hodgkins interferes with his ability to perform his duties as a mail carrier.

But other judges in Cambridge District Court have already issued extensions of Judge Hogan’s original harassment protection order. Thomas says she intends to file a motion to dismiss the federal court action and have the matter remanded to state court.

That said, Thomas admits that Cambridge District Court will likely vacate the protection order if she’s unsuccessful in getting the matter remanded. In that event, Thomas says she will ask the federal court to issue a similar protective order against Hodgkins.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason C. Weida, who represents the USPS, declines to comment.

Thai Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

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As a person who grew up in Florida, the winters in Massachusetts remind me of the ninth circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno where everything is frozen. I am exaggerating a bit because today is 50 degrees and I’m writing this with a T-shirt on, but every now and then (usually on a day that requires me to be outside of my home) it can drop into bitterly cold.

This may not be good outside weather, but it’s PERFECT for soups! While my husband prefers the chunky soup, he kindly got me the immersion blender I had asked for on my Christmas list. Up until now, our smooth soups have come out as a kind of strange porridge consistency and I found that my blender just couldn’t seem to get those little pieces.

Armed with the right tool, I decided to try out a recipe Read more

The Pinball Wizard Arcade: The Magic of New Hampshire

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Location: 150 Bridge St P, Pelham, NH 03076

I am not being paid to write this article. I honestly love this place so much I’m doing this for free. Read more to find out why.

For a former Floridian, Massachusetts winters can be brutal. The snow is downright terrifying and honestly I still don’t drive if there’s more than an inch or two on the road. I’ve tried, and it resulted in me driving into a snow drift, and even bending the control arm on our car. The other side of nasty winters is the fact that it can get extremely cold. There have been times it has gone into the negative numbers during the evenings and bitterly cold during the day especially if it’s windy. I’m talking about the kind of cold that seems to disregard your coat and chill you to the core. It’s nasty. Read more

Painting: Blue Buddha

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Title: Blue Buddha
Materials: Acrylic on Textured Board
Prints on: Etsy

Every year around Christmas, my husband and I go to this wonderful little seaport town called Rockport. If you’re ever in Massachusetts, especially during the holidays, I highly recommend stopping here. There are tons of these adorable little stores and great restaurants. I’ll write a post just about how amazing this place is some other time, but for now I want to write about my inspiration for the piece above. Read more

10 Ways to Set Up for a Successful New Year

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2016 sucked! I mean, I thought 2015 wasn’t so fun, but then 2016 happened. On New Years Eve: the recipe that my husband wanted to cook failed because of some heavy cream I had bought that morning magically curdled in the fridge; the Chinese food we ordered to replace it was so late in getting to our home that the rice was crunchy; and in the end we popped some champagne and went to bed around 10 disillusioned. It left me feeling rather hesitant about 2017. I also found I wasn’t alone. This morning the guy who took my Starbucks order told me that he didn’t celebrate at all. Read more

Relic of the Past

wmark_scale_gameboy

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Title: Relic of the Past
Materials: Acrylic on textured board
Dimensions: Original is 12 inches high by 9 inches wide. (though print sizes may be varied)
Prints on: Etsy

This was my first attempt at painting in a semi realistic style and took care to notice shadows, highlights and dimensions. Read more

Jack Daniel’s Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese

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I’ve been wanting to cook this recipe for the last month and I finally got a chance to last night. Let me warn you ahead of time, this meal is dense. It says on the recipe that it serves four and I could barely put a dent in my serving. To be honest it probably serves more like six. I will include the calorie counts for both a four portion meal and a six portion, for those of you who just want to have an idea of how much this is (but I promise you won’t like the results).

I got this recipe from Pinterest, but you can find it as well as some really nice pics on the site The Slow Roasted Italian.

Jack Daniel’s Smoky Bacon Mac and Cheese:

Jack Daniels Ingredients

Ingredients:

½ tsp salt (and don’t forget to salt the pasta water.)
12 oz Hickory smoked peppered bacon, uncooked
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon smoked paprika ( I didn’t have any smoked paprika and just used the regular kind)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon New Mexico chili powder ( I also didn’t have any of this specific chili powder, so I just used the regular kind)
1 tablespoon chili pepper paste
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar (white), shredded
2 ounces smoked provolone cheese, shredded
2 ounces Asiago cheese, shredded
8 oz dry elbow pasta
croutons (garnish)

Directions:

1.) Prep the ingredients. I’ve found that measuring everything ahead of time and getting it all set up, makes for a much more fun cooking experience.

2.) Bring a large pot of  water to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, add some salt and the pasta. Cook uncovered to al dente (has a bite to it). Drain and set aside.

3.) Meanwhile warm a large 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Using clean kitchen shears cut bacon into bite size pieces over the skillet and let them to fall into the pan. Stir occasionally as needed. Cook until crisp.

4.) While the bacon is cooking, (f you haven’t done so already) shred (or chop up) cheeses and prepare remaining ingredients.

5.) Once bacon is cooked through, remove bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings and discard the rest. Wipe the side of the skillet to avoid flame ups.

Jack Daniels Rue
6.) Pour reserved bacon drippings back into the skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once melted add flour and whisk to combine. Add spices, chili paste, Worcestershire, whiskey and chicken broth. Whisk to combine. Allow to come to a bubble for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally to help pick up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Add milk. Whisk to combine. Bring back to a bubble and add cheeses.  Stir until cheese is melted and smooth.

Jack Daniels Mac n Cheese

7.) Add pasta to sauce and stir to combine. Add bacon. Cook pasta in sauce for 5 minutes over medium heat until sauce thickens and the pasta has a chance to absorb some of the sauce.

Sprinkle with croutons, if desired. Because this sauce is so thick and rich, I found that the croutons bring a much needed crunch to the dish.

Jack Daniels Mac n Cheese Finished
Enjoy!

I got the calorie counts by putting the recipe into the My Fitness Pal recipe maker:

For 4 servings it’s roughly 759 calories for each individual serving.

For 6 servings it’s roughly 506 calories for each individual serving.