Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Books!

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
by Alexandra Fuller

Honestly, I picked this up from the library because I was intrigued by the title. This is the memoir Alexandra wrote about her mother Nicola, living in Africa in the middle of the century. I'll let Indie Bound sum it up

"A story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of the author's family. In the end we find Nicola and Tim at a coffee table under their Tree of Forgetfulness on the banana and fish farm where they plan to spend their final days. In local custom, the Tree of Forgetfulness is where villagers meet to resolve disputes and it is here that the Fullers at last find an African kind of peace. Following the ghosts and dreams of memory, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is Alexandra Fuller at her very best."

It didn't draw me in immediately, but by the end I felt like I just wanted to be friends with her crazy mom to hear about their lives in Africa from her personally.

The Lacuna
by Barbara Kingsolver

My obsession continues. In this novel she writes about Harrison W. Shepard, an author growing up in the midst of the war and Red Scare in Mexico and the States. Most of it is written from his perspective in journal form, with newspaper clippings thrown in. At one point the Shepard even works for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and Lev Trotsky. I wasn't completely enthralled from the beginning but Kingsolver pulls through and I read the last 200 pages in 2 days over the Thanksgiving weekend.

I'm out of her non-fiction to read now I think so I'm going to have to find some of her essays and fiction to read now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Egg Nog


A few Christmases ago my mom gave me a recipe box with handwritten family recipes. It's probably my favorite gift I've ever gotten. Anyways, a few days ago I busted out the egg nog recipe from my grandma to make it for our tree decorating. It's tradition, just like listening to the Amy Grant Christmas Album.

Beat 3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. Add to 3 cups warm milk. Heat until it goes the back of a wooden spoon, stirring constantly. Now, if you live where its cold, you can put it outside in the snow. Otherwise, put it in the fridge until cool.


Before serving, beat 3 egg yolks and pinch of salt until stiff. Then mix in 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla. This is when I totally appreciate my stand mixer because you can just turn it on and walk away (to take pictures)


Stir in egg yolks to the milk mixture using a whisk. Now depending on how thick you like the mixture you can either just slightly mix it in or use a mixer to mix it a little better.


Top with nutmeg and enjoy :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Here!

My favorite time of the year!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day of Turkeys

Oh what a relaxing weekend we had. I finished a book, knitted a failed baby bootie, ate a lot, watched the Muppets (which is SO GOOD) and slept mucho. How wonderful.






Thursday, November 24, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving. It mostly represents the beginning of the Christmas season for me. But I do love the food, the Macy's day parade and spending time with some of my favorite people. To help myself reflect I decided to write about things I am thankful for today, in list/picture form.

0) God. He is inherently a part of and the cause for all of these.

1) My husband. I'm thankful we're married. I'm also thankful he'll spend all Saturday cleaning with me, then yell at me for wearing my dirty socks on our clean floors. I'm thankful for the ways he challenges me and cares for me and loves me. I'm one lucky girl.
2) My family. Particularly my nephew, who is awesome. I'm thankful for my parents who are more adventurous than I am and show me you should always go for your dreams. And my sister and brother in law who love me deeply and give generously. You cannot get any better. 2b) My new family! I am beyond blessed with such fantastic in-laws, from super fun new sibs, to amazing grandparents and a lovely mother and father-in-law. God is good.
3) Friends, new and old. It is so good to know you have the best friends in the world, who despite thousands of miles, still respond to my ridiculous emails about Ryan Gosling, know what to say when I'm in spiritual crisis, and are in general amazing people.
And new friends who do crazy stuff with you, including braving harsh winds, sleeping in the same tent and playing Tiddlywinks.
4) Traveling. I love that I'm a plane ride away from new experiences and I was blessed to get to go to some sweet places this past year (including AZ, Cancun, and more places in TX)!

5) My house. Which means a place to cook, do crafts, sleep, spend time with friends and laze around. This rental will always be the first place I lived with my husband and I genuinely love it. And now, things that don't need explanation/pictures
6) Good books
7) That I have a job
8) My health
9) Shows like Parks & Rec and Modern Family
10) My mattress. I love it.
11) Pictures
12) Camping
13) Online banking
14) Cranberry Banana bread
15) New clothes
16) Laughter.
17) you!

Bottom line here, I'm crazy blessed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars


Lets be honest, I'm sure you've got tons of extra time and lack of ideas for things to bake/make today, right? I mean, its not like there is a holiday completely based on eating delicious things soon... haha just kidding. But I did want to share these super delicious homemade granola bars I made because I just uploaded the pictures.

I modified this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (which is a superb website, btw).


Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (I took whole flaxseed and used by coffee bean grinder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (I chose sunflower seeds, dried granberries, golden raisins and regular raisins)
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey

**differences from the original - I added more regular oats and used flaxseed and wheat germ instead of oat flour. I also used brown sugar instead of regular sugar.
To start I just dumped all the ingredients together in a bowl in whatever order I happened to grab things in and mixed away with a wooden spoon. The original recipe calls for dry vs wet ingredient mixing, I just skipped that.

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and dump the mixture in. and press it so its even. Now, I turned on my oven to 350 since I forgot to preheat it. I baked mine for 30 minutes since I think my oven is a little hot-tempered. Just got for a little brown on top. Then they'll look like this:


Super delicious looking. Now I let mine cool in the pan all the way, pull out the parchment paper and cut into bars. I wrapped mine in plastic wrap and enjoyed them all week long!

Happy Day

Granted this day was several weeks ago, but look what I got in the mail!


Our wedding album! Hooray! The amazing Kimberly Jarman took our pictures and as part of our package I color corrected our images so I have all 1,024 images on my hard drive. I actually used a Groupon for My Pic Tales to make it. There's something about holding the book that tells the story of our day that makes me incredibly happy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Embarrassing

Today, after a long 13 hours at work I stayed up until 9 am (okay, it's now 11:31 but that's not the point) to watch the Farewell Regis show. I have had a mild love affair with the Live with Regis and Kelly ever since I graduated college and didn't have a job and had time to watch daytime TV. They're hilarious and charming and entertaining. Well, today was Regis Philbin's last day on the show.

Since we don't have TV channels because our TV is old and has no digital converter box and, no, we can't get one to work, I had to go to the gym to watch it. I elipiticized for 45 minutes and walked on the treadmil for 20 in order to watch the final show. The embarrassing part is I may have cried a little during the show...at the gym....in public...

don't judge me.

P.S. In order to stay up til 9 I took a detour to Target to return something and ended up buying a $7 purse, Christmas lights and some deodorant....this is real life folks.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

PackBacking

Last weekend Seth and I went with a few friends to Guadalupe Forest National Park and backpacked at McKittrick Canyon. It was Seth's first trip and my first trip without my family (which meant I had to carry more than a day pack).

The first night we just camped on some bureau of land management land, woke up and headed into the park to get our backcountry passes. It was a 7.5 mile hike in, the first 3 miles were through the canyon and gorgeous with their fall leaves. The last part was a 2500 foot elevation gain with some fierce winds. Thankfully my loving husband was there to hold my hand for the scary parts. That night we spent 13 hours in our tent only venturing out to cook, pee and hook our rain fly back on. Thankfully the next morning was much nicer.


Making breakfast burritos, fried spam and hot chocolate for breakfast.


The view into the canyon on the second day.

After we were done! Sorry about the poor framing due to my lack of self-timer skills.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Confessions of a Wanna-be-Hippie: Part II


I listen to the Joy the Baker Podcast from Homefries.com. Its pretty fantastic.

One of their episodes was about hippie-ness. They talked about home beauty remedies including using coconut oil for conditioner and using baking soda for shampoo. I went home and promptly used it as well. It makes your hair super squeaky clean. Literally, squeaky.

Bottom line of this story is I've only done it once. I'm not hooked yet, but may try it again.