i don’t know about you, loyal readers, but the weather here in georgia has me reaching for the tissue box regularly these days.  i wouldn’t categorize myself as severely allergic to the spring weather; however, something in the air keeps me sneezing day in and day out.  i suppose it doesn’t help that i have the windows open when i am home, but i just can’t keep the lovely breeze away when it’s so nice!

anyway, when you feel a sneeze coming on but not quite there, you’ve probably been told by someone (perhaps a mother, grandparent, or other wise individual) to look at a light or the sun to get that sneeze out of your system.  well, i know this little trick works nearly every time for me and recently it got me wondering about why it actually works.  good thing there’s a thing called the internet to answer this puzzling question!

after reading a couple of articles (article 1 and article 2), it turns out that there isn’t much concrete explanation (although there is plenty of speculation) as to why looking at light activates the sneeze action in some people.  although originally thought to be caused by heat, the general theory now is that this “photic sneeze reflex” is caused by irritation in the nose, which can be triggered when the trigeminal nerve fires.  this trigeminal nerve is close in proximity to the optic nerve, so when the eyes’ pupils constrict in response to a sudden flood of light to the retina, the nose also reacts.

now, part of what you read were the words “in some people.”  that’s right.  this phenomenon actually has genetic roots.  not from the x or y chromosome, but from an autosomal-dominant gene you inherit from at least one of your parents.  with that, it’s estimated that only about 10% to 35% of the world’s population is affected by the photic sneeze reflex.  well, doesn’t that just make me feel special!

p.s.  the best part about the photic sneeze reflex?  the incredibly clever acronym created many moons ago:  autosomal-dominant compelling helio-opthalmic outburst syndrome.  aka, ACHOO!  the more you know.  😀

spicy pasta salad!

with the cool breeze in the atlanta air these days, the mood struck me suddenly and i was craving pasta salad.  sure, i could hop into disco kroger and pick up a pint of the premade stuff, but with plenty of time on my hands, i decided to bust out a tried and true spicy pasta salad recipe.  now, when i pulled up the ingredients and directions from my cookbook, my handwriting gave no clue as to where the recipe originated.  after a quick search, though, i found out it was another classic from ree drummond.

the good news?  now i don’t have to type out every measurement and step.  the better news?  i still feel compelled to post all the pictures of me making this dish!  for your viewing pleasure, here is me at work in my little kitchen.  🙂

cook up some pasta.

next, measure out half a cup of mayo.  throw it in a mixing bowl.

pour one fourth cup of whole milk and then add it to the mayo.

get yourself four tablespoons of white vinegar and marry it up with the mayo and milk.

to the mix add the salt and some peppa and adobo sauce!

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whisk it all up.


next?  chop up some tomatoes.  the grocer didn’t have red grape tomatoes, so i went with cherry tomatoes and just chopped ’em a little finer.  also, it was a very happy coincidence because these hokee tomatoes come from right down the street in forest park, georgia.  cool!

next you’re going to cube up some gouda.  i won’t judge if you consume any awkwardly shaped or sized pieces on the spot.  i’d be lying if i said i didn’t do that exact thing myself.

now, we’re almost done, i promise!  in your bowl, toss together the gouda, tomatoes, cooled pasta, and dressing.  then, use all your self control not to take a bite – it’s not ready quite yet!

okay, the final step is to grab a whole bunch of basil and chiffonade it.  “chiffonade” is technically a noun, but as a verb, it means to stack all your basil leaves…


…roll them up…


…and then use your knife to thinly slice it all.  just like that you’re a chiffonade pro!


take all that lovely basil and incorporate it in with the pasta mix.  this salad will be sure to please at home, at a picnic, at a bbq, just about anywhere that pasta salad is welcome.  the dressing isn’t overwhelming and has a nice kick from the adobo that provides great flavor.  as with all pasta salads and potato salads of this sort, letting it sit overnight makes for a greatly refreshing snack the next day.


lemon lime pound cake


doesn’t that just sound delicious?  i’d been snooping around on ree drummond’s web site in search of a perfect spring treat to make.  thankfully this recipe for lemon lime pound cake was front and center in the desserts section, and with such a beautiful finish, there was no question i’d be making it in the near future.

although i didn’t have a fancy pan like ree, i used my standard bundt pan, and the cake was still incredibly delicious.  the pound cake is dense and moist and perfectly complemented by the zesty and sweet glaze.  this cake was well-received at my office, so i highly recommend you get that grater and mixer out and get to work!