Posts by Merisa Martinez

Joy to the world! It’s time for a drink.

Flaming Cocktails

Contrary to what the title of this post may suggest I am not, in fact, a lush.  However, during the holiday season, one is expected to mingle and attend parties with family and friends.  For a naturally introverted person like me, this can cause a bit of social anxiety.  Thus, my alcohol consumption and my social interaction usually show an exponential positive correlation during the period from November 28- January 6th.  As I assume this is the case with most people I know, we at the Literary Duck have put together a list of cold-weather cocktails to inspire your own holiday drinking. Note: please drink responsibly! continue reading >>

Giving Thanks with Food and Family

Vintage Thanksgiving Card

Like most kids in America, I grew up with the traditional Thanksgiving fare, and like most aspiring gourmands, I like to elevate classic dishes to new levels. Unfortunately, like most young people fresh out of grad school, I am broke. However, if the point of Thanksgiving is to be grateful for what you have, then this Thanksgiving I choose to be grateful for my vivid imagination and my family. I have always wanted to prepare an extravagant Thanksgiving feast for my whole family, both blood-related and adopted over the years. This is difficult for two reasons: funds and the fact that my family is spread all over the place. So below you will find the meal I would make if I had the money, and if I could get everyone I love into the same room for an evening. (For those of you responsible for bringing over a single dish to a potluck this Thanksgiving, check out my choices for some inspiration!)

Let me set the scene: There would be the lighting that every woman I know prefers (soft candlelight).  This would be in lieu of the harsh but environmentally friendly fluorescents that currently reside in my apartment’s light fixtures. The wassail, hard spiced cider, and hot buttered rum would be flowing. continue reading >>

Learning to Cook Like a Pro

IStock Cooking

I’m not what one might call a “natural” in the kitchen. I have definitely had to learn from my mistakes. When I was thirteen, I roasted a chicken on my own for the first time and added way too much garlic. Like, an insane amount of garlic. We had to open all the doors and windows and our neighbors complained because THEIR house started to smell of garlic. When I was seventeen, I had a date which started with me wooing my man through my baking skills and ended with him watching me ugly cry over the sink while I put salve on my arm—I had burned it trying to take a flaming cookie sheet out of the oven. (That was our last date.) At 23, I over-heated vegetable oil while trying to make popcorn on the stove and nearly burned down my entire apartment complex in the process.

My seeming magnetism to fire and garlic aside, I love being in the kitchen and have been cooking (or—more accurately—attempting to cook) for most of my life.  However, I would still consider myself a “beginner,” in so much as I am clumsy (see above) and can make only the quotidian basics (come to me for a grilled cheese and I’ll blow your socks off). continue reading >>

Summer Blues

Summer Blues

This summer has gone too far. It’s too damn hot. Don’t get me wrong: I love getting outside when it’s warm and being active by hiking, swimming, fishing, hunting (get over it) and any kind of screwing around in the sun. However, being of the Scandinavian persuasion, I’m more disposed to enjoy cooler (or one might dare say NORMAL) summer temperatures. 70 degrees Fahrenheit—that’s perfect.  80 degrees? Okay, sure, but that’s pushing it. 90? No. Get out of my face. As I write this, it is 92 degrees, and I feel like my skin is going to boil off of my body and melt down the sides of my skeleton, like in some kind of second rate, perverse Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino horror show. And I wouldn’t even mind, because I’m too hot to care. continue reading >>

Congratulations, Class of 2013! Time to get a job

IStock Work Life

If you recently graduated, you’ve probably started getting pressure from your parents to settle down and “get a damn job,” as my Dad would lovingly say.  As much advice as your parents have probably given you about how to conduct a job search, the process has changed significantly in the past ten years with the advent of social media, and you need to be ready to greet it head on with the most up-to-date tools available.  As such, I’ve put together my handy “Get a damn job” guide along with some books for you to peruse at your leisure.


1) Network like your life depends on it

Getting a job in 2013 requires resourcefulness.  Yes, the job market is really tough, and yes, you’re going to have to work against the stigma about Generation Y (employers may be biased against you, seeing you as a person more interested in Instagraming your latest meal rather than being a hard-working potential employee). However, you have several networks to draw on. continue reading >>

Discovering Oregon

IStock Oregon

I am a recent Eugene resident and a confessed sufferer of wanderlust. I moved here at the end of last summer after finishing my Master’s degree in Scotland, and the transition was not an easy one. After spending limited durations of time in different cities for about a decade, I wasn’t prepared for the prospect of being in one place for five to seven years while my partner completed his PhD at the University of Oregon. I also didn’t know how it would be possible to sate my growing need for travel on a limited budget and in a state that seemed to be mostly farmland.

This perception changed rapidly after I started working in the Literary Duck department at the Duck Store. While Scenic Routes and Bywaysshelving one day in our travel section, I noticed a book with a gorgeous picture of Mount Hood on the cover called Scenic Routes and Byways: Oregon, by Tom Barr. The book promised over 80 itineraries to different places around the state, including several that were no more than an hour’s drive outside of Eugene. After flipping through a few pages, I was convinced that it had what I was looking for: a way to get to know my new state without having to spend a lot of money on travel expenses.

I started with the McKenzie and Santiam Pass Loop, a gorgeous, winding drive along the McKenzie River which reached up into snow covered pines and leveled out [...]
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Love, pure and simple.

Love, pure and simple.

I remember cold February mornings from my youth when I was woken up by kisses and tickles and my mother’s voice in my ear, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Maroushka!” I would scream and giggle with delight, kicking my little feet in wild abandon, scattering blankets and pillows all over the room in my frantic rush to get out of bed. Running down the hall to the kitchen, my older brother and I would find a basket on the table with chocolate and a special letter she had written to each of us, telling us how much love we brought into her life. My mother would laugh and clap her hands, watching us tear the wrapping off of our chocolate, our faces lit up with joy and surprise. It was the happiest I ever remember seeing her during my childhood.

Soon I realized that not everyone was as enamored with the holiday as my mother. When, after a particularly unpleasant Valentine’s Day at school, I came home and asked her what the point of it was anyway, since boys were stupid, and so was school and so was everything else for that matter, my mother shrugged her shoulders and said, “I observe Valentine’s Day for the same reason I read non-fiction. It is about celebrating truth. It is pure. You can’t hide love, and you can’t fake it when it isn’t there. Love is the most beautiful and powerful force in the world. If that’s not worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.” She replied that way [...]
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