Do you ever feel like the world of the 24-hour newsfeed is making you dumber? Information overload is unavoidable, and the struggle is real, friends. Let’s talk about how to read the news and make a habit of being well-informed.
I read somewhere that there is more information in one issue of the New York Times than monks would read in a lifetime hundreds of years ago. Can I tell you where that statistic came from? No. I have read so many similar statistics that they all run together.
That said, I’m really trying to work on how I read and retain information. So today, I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you.
1. Find a few news sources you trust, and read two articles every day.
We used to subscribe to the physical versions of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. However, we found the piles of daily papers became an overwhelming task to face. By using digital subscriptions, I can bookmark interesting headlines to read later when I have time to sit quietly and focus on them.
2. Don’t try to know everything. Try to learn a lot about the topics that really interest you.
There is a lot of news! But what do you actually care about? What do you feel affects you the most? Start by picking articles about those topics and then slowly add in the topics you find intimidating.
For example, I love to read about food–the science of it, stories about it, the politics of it. Food is something I like reading about, and I like discussing with people. So that’s one of the topics I focus on when I read the news. That way, it’s a “go-to” topic. One that I understand, have context for, and where I know some of the key players.
3. For every 3 articles you read about topics you know, pick one that makes you uncomfortable.
The middle east is an overwhelming news topic to dig into. There’s a lot of cultural history that plays into everything but would be impossible to explain in each article. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read about it.
As you read articles that overwhelm you or make you feel uncomfortable, think of it as a learning experience. Try to parse out some of the key players and ideas to remember for future reading.
4. Pick something from the article that sparks your curiosity, then research it.
The only way to learn is to jump in. If you read something that sparks your curiosity, find out more about that topic. Sometimes there are actually organizations that can help you do this or even cultural figureheads that may be on social media. For instance, if you want to know more about the way women are treated around the world, I’d recommend following Chelsea Clinton on Twitter. She often links to articles from all over the web that have really enlightened my worldview.
5. When a person of interest uses a hashtag on Twitter, click on it.
While we’re on the topic of Chelsea Clinton’s Twitter account… When you see a hashtag of interest, click on it. Read what other people are saying. Learn what it’s about. Hashtags that are used by news organizations or political leaders can often lead you down a rabbit hole of discovery.
6. Don’t get all your news from one source.
Know that everything you read has it’s own slant. It’s written by someone with their own ideas. The style of the publication is targeted in it’s own unique way. There’s always an editorial slant affecting the way the information is presented.
Collect information from different sources so that you’re drawing your own conclusions. Make up your own mind. Think for yourself.
7. Tell your friends.
I have some friends that I often trade article links with. We’re interested in the same sorts of topics, but we also just like to be well-informed. I can make small-talk with just about anyone. But the people I’m drawn to the most challenge the way I think. It’s fun to read an article and then get a totally different take on it from someone you respect. Plus, it often leads to some lively discussions that stretch your brain cells in the best possible way.
This post is going to be filled with ridiculous pictures of food so if you’re a #foodporn troll on Instagram, this blog post is for you! Saturday was the 2015 International Biscuit Festival here in Knoxville. People come from all over to test their biscuit making skills, taste their way around Biscuit Boulevard, and even make biscuit-themed art.
Husband was on a business trip so I headed downtown by myself, which was a great reminder of what I love about living in a small town: You are never really alone.
I saw at least 20 people who called me by name, listened to some fab street music, and bought some local honey and fresh flowers.
Another note: When you’re by yourself, you can’t help but eavesdrop just a little. A few ladies who were in town for the event kept going on about how great Knoxville is. “It’s so clean!” “Everyone’s so friendly!” You’re right, ladies. East Tennessee is pretty heavenly–especially when everyone is on a biscuit high.
Finally, I ran into a friend that made long biscuit lines so much fun to chit-chat through. Bonus: We ran into Biscuit Queen Erin Donovan and snapped a selfie!
On to the #foodporn portion of our programming.
Two things of note:
1. Collard greens are absolutely heavenly when they’re cooked right.
2. Chocolate gravy. Oh, honey!
I also went down to the Emporium to see the biscuit art exhibition. The first two are my absolute favorites. If I had some extra money in the art fund right now, I would gladly give it to Beth Meadows because, seriously, how perfect is that White Lily flour dress with that big hair? I feel like that girl is my spirit animal. *Love!*
If you’re craving biscuits after all these pics and would like to try my 2-Ingredient Biscuits, click here.
Happy Monday, y’all!
Biscuits are the quintessential Southern food. Everyone has their own recipe as well as a story about where they got it. In fact, this weekend Knoxville will play host to the International Biscuit Festival! Festivities will include an art competition, the crowning of Mr. & Miss Biscuit 2015, and, of course, a taste-off. So I couldn’t imagine a better day to share my own 2 ingredient biscuits.
Regardless of what anyone will tell you, biscuits are simple to make. There’s really only ever 2-5 ingredients required plus a really hot oven. These are my personal favorite because you can crave biscuits and be eating them in 30 minutes. The “self-rising” flour is the key as it eliminates the real baking science-y ingredients of the classic recipe–it’s basically the drive-thru ingredient on your way to buttery bliss.
I learned how to make these biscuits from a couple of ladies who are my mother’s age in our church on the same afternoon I learned to make strawberry jam. They, incidentally, learned the recipe from another church saint named Oral Ruth, who was of the generation previous to theirs. Really, every time I make this recipe it’s a lovely reminder that nothing is ever really new when it comes to cooking. There are basic ingredients and what you do with them depends on where you’re from and who taught you something. It’s reassuring to know that Oral Ruth was standing in her own kitchen 60 years ago making these for Wallace without an iPhone dinging or podcast playing. And it makes wonder where our grandchildren will be making a batch 60 years from now… providing, of course, they’re sensible enough to not read too many health magazines and still invest in a good heavy cream.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups self-rising flour
Yes. It really is this simple.
Preheat the oven to 425°
Ever-so-slowly pour the heavy whipping cream into the flour while mixing with a spoon. Going slowly feels daunting at first, but you really have to see how the dough comes together. You want to catch it when it first mixes enough to hold–not too wet, not too dry. You don’t want to over mix the dough or you’ll biscuits will get tough.
Flour your countertop and roll your dough out.
Use a glass to cut out your biscuits. The lady who taught me insisted you shouldn’t move the glass around in circles. “Cut it once, and you won’t lose the layers.” I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I figured it’s worth noting.
Bake 16-18 minutes. When the tops start to get golden brown, put a pad of butter on each top and leave it one more minute to melt.
*This recipe only ever makes about half a dozen. It’s perfect for 2 or 3 people, but if you’re serving brunch double it!
Disclaimer: If you’re looking for the tall biscuits with uber-buttery layers, I’d recommend this recipe. This is a simple biscuit. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with friend green tomatoes or eggs & jam. Delicious, but not uber-buttery in itself.
A few months ago, I saw that the American Museum of Natural History had partnered with Etsy to bring some unique products to their shop. (One of a few rad collabs they’ve done.) Anyway, I became a teensy bit obsessed with this particular banner by Winter Cabin Collection.* I love this directive: Gather, Observe, Ponder.
I’m currently thinking about a new project, and isn’t this is how each one starts?
*Artists Mary Kate McDevitt and Fred DiMeglio partnered under the Winter Cabin Collection name to sell postcards, prints, and a few home goods with this very old-school, cabin feel that I am totally into. They are currently in the process of relocating their business, but their shop should be back up soon.
Ladies & gentlemen, it’s officially that time of year. Some would argue it’s just as magical as the first crisp wind of autumn or the first snow of winter: Strawberry Season.
Yesterday, our first CSA basket of the season really delivered. 3 containers of these bright red beauties! Every year at this time, I think back to the Spring I learned to make strawberry jam. There’s something almost sacred in the practice. So today, a little haiku…
It pairs perfectly with this cornbread too.
As you’ve seen before, we really like to put fun artwork in our bathrooms. Think about it: It’s the one room in the house, most people will visit so why not give them something to look at? (Bonus: We’ve never had anyone drop a phone in our toilet at a party. They’re too busy looking at the random art hanging on the walls!) The thing about art in the bathroom is that it’s subject to moisture and mildew. So I suggest a 3 minute frame that’s quick and fun.
This is a lady from the Lower East Side that I cut out of a magazine years ago. There was just something about the pointing (and mocking) that I had to save. Fast forward to our current bathroom that was sorely in need of a little tongue-in-cheek, and she now hangs above the toilet where she points and laughs at everyone who visits.
You’ll need 3 things:
paper with a pattern (I collect old sheet music. When it’s no longer usable, it’s perfect for craft projects.)
a picture you’ve cut out from a magazine (remember: Nothing too precious.)
a frame with glass
First, pull together a pattern for the background and then an image to be the focal point. If you’re hanging this in a place where moisture isn’t a factor, choose whatever you like. But if you’re making something seasonal (like this Christmas gallery wall) or a fun piece to hang in the bathroom like me, use scraps that are easy to switch out.
Lay the glass over your pattern and cut the paper to that size. The glass acts like a ruler!
Use a piece of double-sided tape in the center of your layering image. This will keep it from sliding around under the glass.
Note: If you’re using a photo that’s more precious: use acid free tape!
Finally clip the frame together. That’s all there is to it!
Whew! Serious TGIF! this week, y’all–who else desperately needs a weekend? As much as I hate to admit it, life totally took over this week. This means two things:
1. While I have sorely neglected Hannah & Husband posts, I have a backlog of stuff that will be super rad for next week.
2. Today’s links have to be extra fabulous, which they totally are.
As I’ve mentioned, Springtime is in full force here in East Tennessee. I have been spending most of my time on the front porch reading and fawning over the rose bushes while Husband works on the car. Also, I have an unquenchable desire to watch Mel Brooks movies lately.
I just can’t seem to get that song out of my head! Anyway, here are a few fab links from around the interwebs to round out your week. Enjoy!
We have been following photographer Foster Huntington (& his glorious treehouse) on instagram for several months now. However, this week Brain Pickings posted about a previous project of his called The Burning House that I found fascinating. The premise is this: Foster asked people from all walks and backgrounds what objects they would take if their house was burning down. The results are varied and beautiful. Click here to view the tumblr. Click here to buy the book.
I already can’t wait to see this documentary! Then yesterday, Carroll Spinnery did an AMA. Confession: It is the only AMA, I’ve ever had the patience to read because comments on these things make me dizzy.
If you’re new to the concept as well: AMA (or Ask Me Anything) is an interview conducted by the internets on reddit. You can follow the blue line on the left to differentiate question from question.
Have you seen Kevin Delaney on The Tonight Show? It’s kind of old news, but we just saw this clip last week. He’s kind of amazing. As is his beard. As is science.
Finally, I leave you with this picture of our front porch just because it’s pretty!
I took a picture of this iris the other day and couldn’t resist posting it here. I have always been in love with these flowers, which happen to be the Tennessee state flora. They come in a variety of colors, but the deepest purple is my very favorite. Recently I learned something new.
The flower was named for the Greek goddess Iris who was said to be the personification of the rainbow and a messenger of the gods to humanity. Isn’t that lovely? Each time I see one of the delicate flowers, I’m always infatuated, but now I think I will pause and see if there’s something else I should be noticing at that very moment.
“I am going to try to pay attention to the spring.
I am going to look around at all the flowers,
and look up at the hectic trees.
I am going to close my eyes and listen.”
Spring has a way of awakening our senses and waking up our brain cells. What is it trying to tell you?
Happy Friday! You’ve made it to the weekend! Here are some (really random) TGIF! links to kick things off on the right foot.
A couple weekends ago, we discovered that ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries are streaming on Netflix. You can imagine how enthused a non-sports girl like myself was about watching any of these, but I seriously dug them. Sports fan or not, if you love stories, you’ll dig these documentaries. I really enjoyed “Of Miracles and Men” because I’ve heard the story of that Olympic team from my dad for years. We also watched “Bernie and Ernie” who got their start here at UT in the 70s.
The answer to why French women don’t contour is pretty fantastic.
Contouring is not our thing because the main beauty philosophy in France is to accept who you are.
Randi Brookman Harris is a professional hero of mine. She’s a prop stylist residing in NYC who’s done work for companies ranging from Warby Parker to the New York Times. Today, Ivanka Trump profiled Randi for her #WomenWhoWork series. Consequently, the whole series is worth checking out.
I was on a panel recently to talk about hand illustration in a digital world, a topic I should really riff on at another time. One of the coolest applications of technology to hand illustration that I mentioned is the way illustrators are sharing their work and giving it a larger voice. One such artist that I saw this week is Molly Crabapple. She’s an NYC-based artist who has been doing some amazing mural work in a building in Turkey that houses the Zeitouna program. Zeitouna is a creative therapy and physical wellness program works with Syrian refugee children–amazing! Read more here.