Friday, March 30, 2012

Just a Minute: March Edition

exciting...What a great week this has been! Not only did I get to spend the early part of it with my sister in Savannah, but now we're expecting my sister-in-law, Jenny, who is coming to visit today!
lovingThe Peasant Top Jersey Dress from Ann Taylor Loft. Too bad I didn't come across it while they still had my size, or any size, really, in stock.

readingThe Winter Sea, which appears to be somewhat of an historical romance. I am not sure how I feel about it right now, but it's set in Scotland, so I'm giving it a chance.
watching...I can't wait for the new season of Game of Thrones to start on Sunday! I am all caught up on last season (since I didn't start watching last year until halfway through), and now I'm anxiously awaiting Sunday night, especially since last Sunday night's long awaited show return (Mad Men) was a bit of a disappointment.

listening…the latest album from fun. Some Nights is amazing! It's so good, I actually paid for the whole CD. I honestly can't remember the last full CD I've bought, but this one is worth it.

making...I've been blowing eggs in preparation for some Easter Egg decorating. I am going to tackle some this weekend. Somehow I ended up getting a free subscription to Martha Stewart Living, and my first one is the Easter Egg decorating feature, so I may try a few of the ideas out.

baking…Made Black Magic cupcakes last night as a goodbye treat for a friend's last day of work today. It's a pretty great recipe for a moist rich chocolate cake/cupcake.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hello, Kitty

This just made my morning. Stick around to the very end (after the music ends). The last few seconds really get me.

stereo skifcha from xgabberx on Vimeo via Dooce

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Office Space

So I finally have the office I was supposed to get back in is much bigger, nicer, and more private than my little half-walled cube where everyone walking by could, and did, peek in. However, being bigger means that I have a lot of naked wall space now. I was trying to figure out what to put on my wall in my largest empty space when I suddenly remembered that I have a free Snapfish poster coming my way.

It's only an 11x14 so I may go ahead and spring for 3 more in order to make a 2 x 2 grid of a few of my favorite travel pictures. I want to go for lots of color for sure, and I'd like to include a picture from our time living in Scotland, but narrowing it down to which four is a nearly impossible decision. Help a girl out, will you? I'm not set on the arrangement or even that all four of my choices should come from these 8 photos (also our time in Scotland was in the pre-digital era so I currently don't have any photos online). Are any of these definitely keepers?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring-Inspired Eats

There's been a big sale on asparagus at our local Dominick's for the past week, so this past Sunday I made us some spring-inspired risotto for lunch. It was so good, I've been dreaming of it ever since!

Asparagus by Steve Cavrich
Spring Risotto

3 T. olive oil
3 T. butter
1/2 c. onion, finely diced
1 c. Arborio rice
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock (You will probably only need 3 1/2 c.)
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch long pieces
2/3 c. frozen peas
6-8 oz. fresh spinach (or about half a bag)
4 T. grated Parmesan cheese
Juice and zest from one large lemon
Black pepper to taste

Bring stock to boil in saucepan. In another saucepan, saute the onions in the olive oil and butter until they're translucent. Add in the rice and stir until very lightly browned or starts to emit a nutty smell. Pour in 1 c. of stock. Stir continuously until stock is absorbed. Add another cup of stock. Continue stirring until stock is absorbed. If asparagus has thick stalks, add the pieces in at this point. If thinner, you may want to wait 3-5 more minutes before adding. Add in another cup of stock. Stir until absorbed. Add remaining stock. Stir. Add in frozen peas. When stock is fully absorbed, add in lemon juice, zest, Parmesan, and spinach. Mix until slightly absorbed and spinach wilts a bit. Add pepper to taste. Because of the probable saltiness of the Parmesan and stock, you more than likely won't need to add salt.

The whole process should take about 20 minutes. The proper consistency of risotto is for it to slowly spread over a plate-not liquid-y, but not a sticky mass.

Monday, March 12, 2012

99 Fruits but a Bitter (Melon) Ain't One

Weak joke, that title, I know, but JayZ's voice keeps singing that in my head as I researched my list of fruits I've tried, so I couldn't come up with anything better when it came down to it.

Paw-Paw (Tried in Athens, OH)-Good.
Sweet and pulpy. Kind of like a bland peach.
When I created my Life List, I added the goal to taste 1,000 fruits. It's totally doable because there are thousands of different varieties of many fruits like mangos, apples, grapes, and even watermelons. The biggest problem I'm realizing that I will have naming them all is that so many are represented in grocery stores under their basic name. For example, when you buy grapes, cherries, peaches, nectarines, or plums (just to name a few) in the grocery store, you have the possibility of getting a range of varieties depending on the season. However, for some inexplicable reason, grocery stores vary rarely even mention the variety.

Apples are one of the few fruits that are actually sold by variety, and that's why they are one of the better tasting fruits in grocery produce sections. Because they're sold by variety, they can charge higher prices for the ones that are more difficult to get to market (example: Honeycrisp) because people will pay more knowing that the brand tastes better than those that are cheap and easy to transport (example: Red Delicious). For some reason, this has not yet advanced to other fruits.

I'm actually pretty ashamed to admit that the thought really never crossed my mind before that I was eating different varieties of peaches, nectarines, or plums (among others). You'd think that I would have realized that the variety was the reason that sometimes my stone fruits were delicious and sometimes they were terrible. Still, better late than never! Hopefully, being more aware of the varieties offered in stores will mean that I buy less awful fruit in the future.

Here are a few of the odd fruits I've tried since setting my goal.

Dragon Fruit (Tried in Korea)-Not great.
Didn't have much flavor. Light sweetness, a little grainy.
Might have been overripe.
Yellow Melon (and Dragon Fruit)-Good
Tasted like Honeydew

Loquat (Tried in Jeju, Korea)-Good
Sort of a sweet/sour tiny orange. Annoying amount of seeds.

Chayote (Tried at home/Cooked in Thai dish Nathan made.)-Good
Tastes like a mix between an apple and a potato.
Image by Stephen Crout, The Obsessive Chef

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

If George W. Had Bought the Brewers

Some of my favorite passages from the book, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, which I just finished this weekend. It's completely fiction, but is based loosely on Laura Bush's background though the couple lives in Wisconsin rather than Texas. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I didn't take it very seriously as the characters were somewhat two dimensional. It was far from being a book I will consider one of my favorites, but I did find myself marking a few passages where I thought the author had really nailed a concept. 

Concerning how I feel about growing up in the Midwest: 
            Admittedly, the area possesses a dowdiness I personally have always found comforting, but to think of Wisconsin   
            specifically or the Midwest as a whole as anything other than beautiful is to ignore the extraordinary power of the 
            land. The lushness of the grass and trees in August, the roll of the hills (far less of the Midwest is flat than outsiders 
            seem to imagine), that rich smell of soil, the evening sunlight over a field of wheat, or the crickets chirping at dusk 
            on a residential street: All of it, it has always made me feel at peace. There is room to breathe, there is a realness of   
            place. The seasons are extreme, but they pass and return, pass and return, and the world seems far steadier than it  
            does from the vantage point of a coastal city. 

Being around those huge families that seem to encompass half the town:
            Still, I could tell that he was geared up for the night ahead. And I couldn't blame him--it was obvious that for the  
            Blackwells, family reunions not only involved competitive sports but were a kind of competitive sport in themselves. 
            Being around the Blackwells...filled me with a jealous wonder at their clannish energy, their confidence, their sheer  
            numbers, and also with a gratitude that I had grown up in a calm and quiet family. So many inside jokes for the 
            Blackwells to keep track of, so many nicknames and references to long-ago incidents, so much one-upmanship: 
            Surely I was not the only one who found it tiring. 

I think I've said this a time or two to someone about my own family. Sittenfeld is right, I do take a little bit of pride in it:
            But he was the one who approached me on the porch, saying, "I hope you haven't found us overwhelming." (Of 
            course, they took pride in their overwhelmingness, as all families that are both large and happy do.) 

Brutal imagery concerning the suffering of others:
            I have often felt, observing the world, like a solitary person in a small cottage looking out a window at a vast dark  
            forest. Since I was a little girl, I have lived inside this cottage, sheltered by its roof and walls. I have known of people 
            suffering...the unlucky have knocked on the door of my consciousness, they have emerged from the forest and 
            knocked many times over the course of my life, and I have only occasionally allowed them entry. I've done more 
            than nothing and much less than I could have. I have laid inside, beneath a quilt on a comfortable couch, in a kind of 
            reverie, and when I heard the unlucky outside my cottage, sometimes I passed them coins or scraps of food, and 
            sometimes I ignored them altogether; if I ignored them, they had no choice but to walk back into the woods, and 
            when they grew weak or got lost ore were circled by wolves, I pretended I couldn't hear them calling my name.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Easy St. Paddy's Day Project

Last week I was at Home Depot looking through the paint samples trying to decide what color to paint our bathroom, when I had a brilliant thought. Looking at the paint cards in green, I thought, "Those are the perfect size to use to make a St. Patrick's Day banner." Since there were hundreds, I didn't feel bad about grabbing 25 of the same to use in my craft.

I decided to make the cards into triangle shaped flags, alternating the direction of the card, so half of the triangles went from dark to light and half from light to dark. From there, I created a little stencil of a four leaf clover to trace in the center of each flag. I used an Exacto knife to cut each one out. Once I got the hang of it, they went pretty quickly.
*I would recommend using something like these stickers instead of cutting the four leaf clovers out if doing this with a child or if you want to knock this project out in 10 minutes.*

I punched a hole in the top corners of each triangle and strung them on the twine.

 In all, my St. Paddy's Day banner took me about an hour to make and cost me absolutely nothing!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Oh Happy Day!

A couple of years ago, I bought a pair of red and white polka dot flats from Old Navy. I loved them. I wore them almost everyday. Now they're more of a pink color and separating from the sole, but I hated to get rid of them because I love them so much. I looked everywhere for them last summer, but no one had anything similar. But today I came across these!
Almost the exact same shoe as before. Yay!