Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just a Minute: July

traveling...We went on a few weekend trips this month. The first was down to Indianapolis, so that Nathan could play in a soccer tournament. Luckily, his team didn't do all that well on Sunday, so we were able to get back on the road long before the last team headed onto the pitch. While in Indy, I hung out with one of my favorite longtime friends who is 8-months along and helped entertain her son and met another good friend for lunch so I could meet her 6-month-old. Last weekend we headed to Texas. In July. A big group of family including my sisters, parents, a great uncle and 2nd and 3rd cousins, mosquitoes that blanketed you the moment you stepped outside, and a smack* of jellyfish all met at the beach for a long weekend. Against all the odds, (and despite sleeping on a pullout couch in the main room, where all the people and mosquitoes gathered), it was a good time. 

*Did you know a herd of jellyfish is called a smack? Me neither. I had to look it up. Also, just so you know, a group of flies are a business.

planning…This weekend I mentioned to Nathan that I'd like to start trying to eat less meat and up my vegetable intake (he's really good at eating tons of vegetables...of course he just eats tons in general). I just have a hard time thinking of good go-to meals that don't always include meat in them. I mentioned that I might get a couple of good cookbooks for inspiration. I have read some really good things about these two, so I've put in an order on Amazon.

reading…Just finished Treasure Island!!! The main character really reminded me of the narrating character, Ignatius, from A Confederacy of Dunces though she was a bit more likeable. I always have trouble with satires because the narrating characters are such blissfully awful people that they start to make me nervous that I am equally blissfully awful. It did have some moments that actually made me laugh out loud, and I am a tough nut when it comes to actual audible laughing while reading.

listening to…I just discovered Poliça and Of Monsters and Men, and I am basically listening to both of them on a continuous loop. Check out Lay Your Cards Out and Wandering Star by Poliça and Little Talks and King and Lionheart from Of Monsters and Men.

making...Bought some radishes from the farmer's market last weekend and decided to pickle them at about 7 pm on Sunday night. When the muse takes you, you just have to give in. Had to wait 24 hours until they were officially pickled, but they were pretty tasty last night. I think they'd be the perfect topping to a barbeque pork sandwich. I used a jalapeno in this recipe, and if I made it again, I'd add a second.

baking...This grilled flatbread recipe from Tartine was in a recent Bon Appetit magazine I read, and I've had it on my mind for awhile. I made the dough yesterday, and I'm planning to grill it tonight. My thought is to use some of the somewhat shriveled apricots and plums we have in our crisper, kale, and caramelized onions along with a leftover from Sunday night fig, mint, and basil sauce (from this dish) on top. We'll see how it turns out. Honestly, the sauce is so tasty I'd probably happily eat cardboard coated in it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

One of Each, Please

I absolutely love this! A New York designer started a curated project where fifty designers created prints around the fifty states' mottoes. A few of my favorites...

New Mexico by Jon Ashcroft
Florida by Two Arms

Wyoming by Seth Neilson

Friday, July 27, 2012

Apricot Quinoa

A week or two ago I promised to post the recipe for my most recent salad experiment. It's a fruit-infused quinoa salad, which is perfect for a picnic. It makes a very large bowl, so I would consider halving it if I were only making it as a side dish for a regular family meal.

These are the leftovers several days after taking this to a picnic for 15.

Apricot Quinoa

1 c. cooked quinoa
1 c. wheatberry (aka whole wheat) If you forget to prepare this ahead of time like I did, (it needs to soak overnight) then you can always substitute in barley instead.
5 small fresh apricots, diced (you can use dried apricots instead)
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/2 c. dried cranberries
3/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 c. olive oil
Juice of 2 oranges
2 T. white balsamic (I used grapefruit balsamic which is amazing, but not required.)
salt and pepper to taste

Except for the quinoa and barley measurements, everything is most definitely an estimate because I just sort of threw in a bit at a time and mixed as I went. Feel free to add more or less depending on your preferences. I would also have thrown in some dried blueberries if I'd had them on hand. This was really tasty as a cool breakfast on those 100+ degree mornings. Also, I recommend making it a day ahead because the dried cherries and cranberries soak up some of the moisture and become deliciously plump overnight.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fancy Headbands

Use a vintage necktie, lace scraps, ribbon, or embroidered fabric to make fancy headbands. Photo tutorial below.

Cut piece of tie long enough to go 2/3 around your head (mine was 15 1/2 inches).
Tie elastic cord into figure 8 measuring approx. 7 1/4 in. (I colored my elastic cord with permanent marker to match.)
Fold in ends of tie and position cord. Pin and (carefully!) try on. Adjust cord if needed. Sew.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lessons from Our New Kitten

Beside being the most adorable entertainment you could possibly imagine (seriously, she is constantly tumbling!) our kitten has illustrated some important life lessons.

First, don't give a shit if someone dislikes you. That's clearly their problem, not yours! Try a bit to win them over and then go have fun without them. Peut-être has not had a warm reception from Maybe. It took him a long time to stop hissing and warm up to her (although I would still only call it lukewarm), but even when he was acting his worst, hissing and swatting, she'd sidle up to him or pounce on his tail, trying to make friends. Of course it really just instigated a huge cat freak out, but she was always shockingly unfazed. She'd watch it unfold, receive her smack, and then gallop off to spend 20 minutes in ecstasy playing with a ribbon or a bug or a button or a shadow. She was so confident that his dislike could not possibly have anything to do with her that she eventually won him over.

It's not worth it to feel sorry for yourself. Focus on the good stuff. We discovered that Peut-être's front paw was infected this weekend because she's been licking her wounds too much. The vet prescribed her penicillin and...a neck cone to wear for a week. This is the smallest size they make, but it's still awfully heavy for a kitten. At first she alternated between dragging it around face down on the floor and walking everywhere backward, though now she can do sort of a camel style lope across the room because every other step the bottom edge bounces off the floor. It keeps her from playing, it's uncomfortable, and very unwieldy. Needless to say, she was not very happy with it. However, she can't help being happy. You snuggle up to her, and she still just purrs and purrs. Sure, one part of her life is not going all that great right now, but she's still able to find big moments of contentment.

I'm sure there's lots to be said about her ability to see everything as a game or her constant activity as motivation to work out more, but I'm going to leave it at these two big ones. I want to learn from her example to worry less about what people think and to stop feeling sorry for myself when one part of my life is not going my way.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just a Minute: June Edition

late...I completely forgot about this month's installment until yesterday. Oh well, better late than never.

reading…This past weekend I finished about four books. It's too hot to be outside much, so I spent a lot of time snuggling with the cat and kitten and reading, reading, reading. I finished Fly Away Home and Certain Girls quickly because Jennifer Weiner's books are always quick reads for me. Then I devoured two amazing young adult books that were both advance copies I got back in May, Seraphina and Unspoken. Seraphina had dragons, but in a really original way, and Unspoken had a unique take on sorcerers. Both are aimed a bit more toward girls (they get a touch too emotional/romantic than a boy reader would probably prefer), both are obviously fantasy, and both left me really annoyed that I'm going to have to wait an unspecified amount of time to read more in their series!

sweating...It is entirely too hot around here! We are all draped across furniture trying to soak up the slightest breeze.
surprising...Nathan's birthday was Tuesday, and I managed to get him a very difficult to find bottle of whiskey with the help of a friend of my sister's! He was pretty thrilled, which made it worth the trouble of asking big favors from strangers.

The best is yet to come...
listening…of course there's this, but I've also been listening to The Tallest Man on Earth, and, somewhat against my will, I really like Home by Phillip Phillips (Disappointed to realize that this song was not a new release from Mumford & Sons, but was, rather, an American Idol winner with a ridiculous name.)

creating…I have a brilliant idea for what I'm making Nathan for our 2nd wedding anniversary. Luckily, I realized that the traditional year two gift is cotton early enough that I could tackle an embroidery project with enough time to actually get it done by September 6. I'll keep you updated on progress, but for now, here's a sneak peek-->

making...I invented a quinoa salad using one we used to get from the grocery store as my inspiration. I'll be posting the recipe later this month because it's definitely a keeper.

baking…I made the brownies I mentioned last month again, this time for the fourth of July. This time I made them in ramekins for individual servings. It really worked great; I definitely recommend it. If you used small ones for every serving it would probably take 14. Baking time remains about the same, if not 5-10 minutes longer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Because I Need Yet Another New Project

Have you heard of Kickstarter? It's a great concept that allows regular folk like you and me to support the innovation of other regular folk like you and me. It's a funding platform where people can outline their project and funding needs. Most offer different pledge levels, and depending on which one you choose, you can end up with the product they're hoping to create.

Recently, I've come across some outstanding ideas that were featured there...

I finally committed when I discovered Inkodye, the photo sensitive ink that will let you dye cloth through photosynthesis! They've even developed an app that will let you turn your Instagram pics into negatives to be used on fabric. This project hasn't met its funding goal yet, so it may not end up being a reality (Kickstarter has an all or nothing policy...that means that if the funding goal is not met, you get your money back and the project doesn't go forward.)


Another project I'm supporting which has reached its funding goal (by over 650%!), is men's dress shirts using space technology that helps keep you cool and dry. Couldn't pass this up since I know how much Nathan hates wearing dress shirts in the summer because of the sweat factor. Plus the company is called Ministry of Supply which sounded very Harry Potter-esqe to me. Made in the US too. I was sold...Happy Birthday, Nathan.

Beware, it's kind of like a more current version of the infomercial. At least, it leaves me with the same "I need that" feeling as I get when accidentally landing on a channel touting the latest Oxyclean or Bare Escentuals product. And the feel good model of supporting people in making their innovative dreams come true is just more incentive.