Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Observation Tuesday: Volume 20

I love the Olympics. This O.T. post is dedicated to that fact.

Banksy strikes again. If you've ever seen Exit Through the Gift Shop you know who Bansky is. If you haven't you may only know who that is if you follow street art. I would love to have this grafittied on my wall.

While watching the Opening Ceremonies the Fuggirls retweeted someone who said:
"NBC should have an Olympics picture-in-picture option that shows Kate Middleton AT ALL TIMES."
I totes concur.

And finally, why must the American female gymnasts look so angry constantly? 


Monday, July 30, 2012

Book reviews: Julia, StoryCorp and The Street

I've been reading more than I thought because I am a few books behind on my reviews :)

My Life in France by Julia Child

By now, you know I love food and travel and this book combined those two quite well. This was written in autobiographical style by Child's nephew (or great-nephew?) after many conversations together and re-reading many of her letters. It starts with her move to France for her husband's government job in Paris. Prior to this move, which happened in her late 30s, she had never been interested in food or cooking. As she begins her foray into French food her tastes evolve and she ends up going to Le Cordon Bleu for culinary school. The books goes on to describe writing her cookbook and the success that follows. I really enjoyed learning about how she wrote the cookbook - she was extremely scientific and would toy with recipes for days and days making many batches until she got it perfect. I wasn't necessarily impressed with her as a human being as she doesn't strike me as someone cozy or nice. But overall I would definitely recommend this if you love reading about good food and/or traveling.

Listening Is an Act of Love (forward by Dave Isay)

This book came about with the Story Corps project. Dave Isay started Story Corp in 2003 with the the goal of providing all Americans with the opportunity to have their stories recorded and preserved. They have booths set up in various locations around the country, like Grand Central Station, and a few traveling booths. Its usually set up with one individual interviewing someone they know (family or friend) with a booth facilitator there as well. This book is 48 portions of these amazing stories transcribed. They book is divided into several categories ranging from love, the journey to September 11 and Hurricane Katrina. It is such an excellent read. The stories are really quick to read and this would be great to read to read on a road trip, as long as you're okay with crying in front of the person you're with. 
The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman


This is the best book I've read this year. And I've read some good ones. Perlman writes a story about Lamont Williams, an African American, just released from prison beginning work as a janitor at Sloan Memorial Kettering Cancer Center. There he accidentally befriends an Auschwitz survivor and is duly impacted. We also learn about Adam Zignelik, a historian without research on the verge of losing his job at Columbia. Their stories run parallel in New York City as they both deal with issues of racism, personal worth, history and relationships. My only complaint is that the books ends way too quickly. Perlman wraps up this incredibly detailed 620 page story in the last 15 pages. I genuinely wanted it to keep going. More of Perlman's books are definitely on my book list now.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Snapshots

I finally came up with a title for my blog posts. Thoughts?

Sunday: Start of the Amadeus Festival (classical musical week in Whitefish)
Free concert in the park. 

Monday: Best morning ever. 22 mile bike ride into Glacier with a stop for a latte :)



Tuesday: French Toast for my husband. 

Wednesday: homemade pizza


Thursday: doodles when I needed to be creative

Friday: watching the Opening Ceremonies with my favorite little man

Saturday: my excellent garage sale find. I'm so excited.



The view from our hike on the Highline!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Happy Friday

I'm soon off to work but I just wanted to say I hope you have an excellent weekend. Enjoy the little things.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A few summer recipes

Someone may have accidentally gotten a wicked sun burn while reading outside today...and that someone might be me. I can't help it that my book is good and it's a perfect 80 degrees outside. Between that, making French Toast and watching The Bachlorette nothing much has been accomplished today. In light of that I thought I'd get my butt into gear and share some of my favorite summer recipes with you. Don't worry though, I didn't spend any time typing out recipes, I simply posted some links & pictures for you. 

Buttered Crouton Salad with Smoked Salmon and Mushroom Soup
I made this for myself the other night when I was home alone for dinner
(how that happens when you live with 6 people and 2 babies I don't know).


Pan Seared Steak 
Made by my brother-in-law, who is the son of a butcher, and was skeptical about the miracle of steak cooked indoors with lots of butter. 
Similar to this recipe by Emeril Lagasse except we added more seasoning before searing and finished the cooking in the oven (400 degrees for 7 minutes)

Caprese Salad!
My favorite salad in the whole world, I think.
Simply layer fresh basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and drizzle with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and S&P. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday, Sunday

This was a good week, so lots of pictures. 

Monday: our poor rain pelted flowers. 

Tuesday: these fine folks celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary!

My nickname at work is Tough Cookie (I helped move some furniture once),
this was on my paycheck.

Fruit salad for breakfast on Wednesday.

Thursday: at work!

Also, I went on a walk after work and sat on a dock and read. 
All of sudden this duck infestation happened, there were 22 at one point.




Friday: My nephew eating a mealtoaf sandwich (on wheat bread with ketchup) 
on top of a caramel rice cake with peanut butter. His take
"so delicious"

Birthday nails. Hey-o
My husband likes to call the sparkly one my "pimp me nail"




Saturday: Licking the beaters for the breakfast cheesecake

my husband got me a "big" gift card. literally, it's huge.

Best picture of all, birthday dinner with some of my favorite people

Saturday, July 21, 2012

S'mores

I'm off celebrating my birthday and my present to you today is my favorite s'more recipe. "Recipe?" you ask. YES!

First, you need a good fire with some hot embers (or your gas stove or your microwave). Next spread your graham cracker with peanut putter and add some bananas, top with Hershey's chocolate and a perfectly browned marshmallow. Enjoy

I'll also add they're great if you make it with fresh raspberries and dark chocolate


Just so you know I was too excited about my s'more to stope and take a picture of the final product. Sorry. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blueberry Skillet Cornbread


I got this mad craving the other day for cornbread. I even had my husband get one container of cornmeal while he was picking up our free Redbox rental randomly at the store. We got The Iron Lady if you were wondering. Rent it because Meryl Streep is amazing. 

Back to the cornbread. Normally I would bust out with some Jiffy mix or have some that Nana made (when I lived with them) but we have a whole set of cast iron cookware so I decided to do my own thang. I adapted a recipe on the back of the container that I thought I'd share it with you. 

Blueberry Skillet Cornbread

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 & 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup of frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp butter (for greasing the pan)
The plan:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 8 inch cast iron skillet in the oven while oven preheats.

Blend all dry ingredients (corn meal, flour, sugar, powder and salt). Then stir in the milk, egg, oil and honey until mixed. Finally fold in the blueberries (I put frozen blueberries in without thawing them beforehand).
Take cast iron skillet out of the oven and place butter into the skillet. Turn skillet so the bottom and sides are covered. Now pour the batter into the skillet and put in oven. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and top is lightly brown. Cut into however many slices you want. Or just eat it straight out of the pan if you feel so inclines. 

Take a slice out of the skillet, while warm, slather some butter on it and eat that sucker UP. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My first cupping



I went to my very first coffee cupping on Wednesday this past week at Montana Coffee Traders. To start out they have a table set out with various ground coffees. They're all very lightly roasted in small batches and freshly ground. After a lengthy intro by Richard, the toastmaster (what an awesome job title) about what we were doing you smell them. You're supposed to be smelling it for the overall flavors and the nuances. They even provide you with a list of possible descriptive words including things like "fruity, fermented, baggy, cardboardy, rioy" (which I interpreted to me it smells like a river in Mexico). 


After the smelling of the grounds the facilitators, ours was Katie, pour hot water into the cups. Then you smell that. Thirdly you go around and "break the cusp" with a spoon and smell it while you do that. 


Lastly, you get to drink it. You take a small amount and slurp it with a spoon (possibly one of my least favorite noises in the world but I got over it for the cupping). While you taste it you're trying to assess the acidity, flavor, aftertaste, sweetness and overall impression. My honest opinion is that I'm terrible at it. I mostly just wanted someone to tell me what I was smelling/tasting. I did however enjoying getting to learn a lot about coffee. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekly review

Monday: violently ill. maybe heat stroke. this was my view for much of the afternoon.

Tuesday: heaven in a bowl, homemade chocolate peanut butter ice cream
the only thing I ate other than toast

Wednesday: coffee cupping. more to come on that later. 

Thursday: breakfast on the porch. I love having a porch.

Thursday: accessories. 

Not sure what day, but a note I found in my library book. I hope Naz got his sheets upstairs.

Friday: day trip to Missoula & wine cubes in Target


Saturday: my sunflower is the on on the left, its losing but at least its alive.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies


These cookies won me "best cookie of the summer award" as granted by my dad and husband. I take that as a pretty high honor.

I once used Pioneer Woman's recipe for Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies and the men really like them. However I consistently experienced technical difficulties when making them (they STICK to the pan like you wouldn't believe and are paper thin). I decided to hunt down a new recipe and found a good one! This recipe comes from The Cookie Scoop

Ingredients:
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup plain malted milk powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened (recipe calls for unsalted but I used salted and omitted the salt)
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chip (used Hershey and they were great)

To make: Preheat the oven to 350. 

Cream the butter and sugars in a mixer until light and fluffy. While this happens, mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (flour, malted milk powder, soda). 

Next, add the eggs, vanilla and sweetened condensed milk to the butter/sugar mixture until well combined. 

Dump in the flour&stuff just and mix until all the dry ingredients are mixed in. Stir in chocolate chips.

Place dough in balls on cookie sheet and bake until edges are slightly brown (mine took quite awhile, 15-17 minutes.)

Even my nephew enjoyed them.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Funday Pictures

One of my favorite bloggers (Tracy from shutterbean.com) does a "my life in photos" post that I thought I would try once in awhile. Basically you'll get to peek in at my week in pictures. I'm not the greatest at weekly posts but we'll see what happens. 

(My sleeping and adorable niece)

(Blueberry popsicles for the 4th that need some work)

(Clove face from my baked beans)

(Fancy water spread for the ladies while the men work away,
with some nephew hands creeping in)

(Contraband from GNP on our hike today. Don't tell anyone)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book reviews: lemons, happiness and cancer

I am thoroughly enjoying this summer for a lot of reasons, the 70 degree sunny days, the time with my niece and nephew and the fact that I am finally crossing a bunch of books off my list. 

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I have been interested in this book since I started reading the blog a few years ago and I bought the book off of Amazon months ago but have been saving it to read. Rubin spends one year of her life focusing on her "Happiness Project." She researches happiness and decided to spend one month of the year focusing on a particular subject (marriage, kids, money, career, etc.) and works on certain goals to make herself happier. There are so many interesting things she does in writing this book from becoming a "treasure house of happy memories" to starting a young adult book club and beginning the blog based on the premise of the book. While I don't agree with everything she does (she isn't a Christian so I'm still wrestling with the "me" emphasis of the project) and don't have a year of my life to simply dedicate to doing things to making myself happier I definitely took a lot away from this book. I could write a whole post just about this book and if I end up doing my own mini project you'll hear about it. 

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and The Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan

A friend of mine recommended this book over a year ago and I'd been looking forward to finally reading it. But it was very different from what I anticipated. In my mind I would dive in to a flowery story about two people that meet and have a lovely friendship despite religious differences. What I got was that intertwined with a history of the conflict in Palestine. Bashir is a Palestinian man who goes to the home he was forced from as a young boy and meets Dalia, a Jewish woman, who ended up living in the same house. From there their unlikely relationship begins and develops over decades. Honestly, I knew very very little about the Palestinian conflict prior to reading the book (I still don't know much) and, at first, found it challenging to really embrace. It took me a little while to get through but I slowly became engrossed with the story. Because the conflict still exists there the book just seems to drop off without much resolution, but that's the way it goes. I would definitely recommend it if you have any passing interest about the Middle East. 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Where do I even begin? First, I would like to thank Entertainment Weekly for the recommendation :) John Green is a young adult author who tackles the heartbreaking subject of pediatric cancer. He writes about Hazel, a 16 year old with terminal cancer held at bay by a new drug. Hazel ends up meeting Augustus Waters and guess what happens? But really, this book gave me a new appreciation for YA lit, despite the cheese and the fact that teenagers do not really talk like that. It also made me cry on a plane, which is just embarrassing. I really was so so good.