Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book reviews: Thievery, Love and Oskar

You guys! Exciting news, I can get a Seattle library card now. But the bad news is that all the libraries are closed from now until Monday. Wah wah (that's the Debbie Downer noise if you didn't know). Until then I'm stuck reading whatever books I can find that I have with me, which is limited. Such is life. Enjoy my latest book reviews. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I'd seen this around on various twitter feeds and book lists and decided to pick it up. It's narrated by Death and written about a little girl, Liesel, in Nazi Germany after she is taken in by foster parents. Her real father is/was a Communist and her mother essentially disappears after taking her to the new home. Her career as a book thief begins with the burial of her younger brother and continues through late childhood and adolescence. This book really really excellent. You fall in love with Liesel's foster parents, her swearing mother and her endlessly patient and loving Papa. I love the perspective that Death brings and the way its written. It's almost as though Death gives away major plot points before they really happen in the story and the whole book is written to explain how they come to be. I highly recommend this book. 
All There Is by Dave Isay

This is another StoryCorp book. I reviewed Listening as an Act of Love awhile back (you can read it here) and wanted to pick up this book. It's another quick read (it took me an afternoon) and holds more poignant stories from real people. These are all focused on love, some on love lost or love found. Many will bring tears to your eyes, like the couple that both have multiple sclerosis and found each other later in life. This is one I could say you should pick up to read over a cup of coffee at home on a rainy afternoon.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I had never been really drawn to read this book. I very vaguely knew it was about a kid who lost his father during 9/11 and that it was made into a movie with some controversy. A friend here in Seattle had it and highly recommended it so I decided to give it a try. It was really different than I thought it would be. Its narrated by Oskar Schell, an 11 year old living in New York City who is dealing with the grief of losing his father on 9/11. He is an interesting child who is teased by kids in his class and constantly invents things, like fanny pack parachutes, when he can't sleep. After finding a key in his father's closet he embarks on a journey to find the lock it matches which takes him all over the city and introduces him to a variety of people. I love the chapters that are written from Oskar's perspective. There are also some written from other people in his life that honestly, I didn't enjoy as much. The whole book I just wanted Oskar to deal with his grief and be able to live a healthy life. Thankfully there is some resolution to the book which gave me hope for the rest of his childhood, and even though he's just a book character it did make me feel better. It's really raw so I would say pick it up if it appeals to you, if not, skip it. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to basics

Living in someone else's house where you're scared to use any of the food in their pantry because you're not sure if they're the kind of person that knows exactly what they had before they went to Hawaii or not really forces you to go back to the essentials of a kitchen. It's astounding how simple things get when you're not in your element. The other night I made one of my very favorite basic meals: pasta + veggies with lots of parm cheese on top. 

Now, this isn't so much a recipe as it is just tossing stuff in boiling water free form. 

Step one: gather the things you either have leftover or bought that day at the store. In my case it happened to be spinach, broccoli, whole wheat spaghetti & unshelled edemame (apparently mukimame - who knew?). 

I also love using asparagus & peas if I have them too. And you can use any pasta you want, rotini, egg noodles, whatever!

To make my pasta I tossed the whole box in a pot of boiling water and a few minutes before it was done I tossed in the broccoli so it would cook to al dente. While the pasta cooked I steamed the edemame in the microwave and also sauteed the spinach in some olive oil with garlic salt on top (because I forgot to get whole garlic at the store...). 

When the pasta & broccoli are done and I've drained them (in the weirdest strainer I've had to use...) I toss it all together in a pot. I squeeze from fresh lemon on top, add some pepper and then just dump parmesan cheese on top.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Snapshot Sunday: August 26th

Can you believe the last time I blogged I was living in a completely different place? We've been in Seattle for a week and it is lovely (and not one drop of rain). Sorry you guys are just stuck with pictures on the blog. I'm refraining from writing further posts until I have some sense of normalcy in my life. Lets be honest, my meals are mostly pasta and things I can cook in someone else's kitchen with minimal ingredients & mess. Enjoy my pictures from this week!

Sunday: on our road trip. 
Look at the clouds in that valley!

Take out from  our first Seattle meal @ Thai Ocean 

Monday: My first morning in Seattle. 
Kuchen from my dad & coffee press coffee. 
A little taste of home in a new place

This is on the gum wall in Post Alley by Pike Place Market
I felt like since I live here now I should own it

Tuesday: enjoying the blue skies while we have them here!

Wednesday: we our house sitting at the house that may have the most amazing tree house ever.

Thursday: this is Spencer, the dog we're dog sitting

Friday: I cannot believe I live in a place with this view!

Saturday: this was shot at 12:10 am after an evening of Rock Band.
Sometimes a late night just needs a bowl of cereal

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Snapshot, August 19

We are currently moving to Seattle. Our car is packed to the brim with bikes strapped on the back. It's been a really fantastic summer, full of ice cream, family, hikes and adventure. My blogging may be a little sporadic for the next few weeks seeing as how we'll be living out of a car & house sitting for strangers so forgive me. In the mean time enjoy my Sunday Snapshots of this past week!

Last Sunday in Tahoka, TX: 
We were there for a family wedding and got to spend time with good friends as well. 
This picture is celebrating the Settling of Catan!

Monday: I smuggled a yellow watermelon in my carry-on. 
Needless to say my bag got searched but we made it in tact. 
And it was delicious.

Tuesday: check out my sweet new ride!

Wednesday: one last Glacier hike.
We did Huckleberry Lookout and picked excessive amounts of huckleberries
 (they're like blueberries but more tart & only grow wild in the NW)

Thursday: A quote I love from The Book Thief

Friday: my sweet birthday present from my sister. 
This will be an herb garden

Friday: love this girl. Although she may not love me

Saturday: one last breakfast with the family. I made my nephew a rabbit per his request.
And we're still eating the huckleberries.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Overnight Oats

When I think of overnight oats I think of a Barney Song. Specifically the one that goes "I like to eat eat eat apples & bananas" and then you sing the same lines over and over but with different vowels. When you get to the "o" sound the song sounds like "I like to oat oat oat opples and bononos." I like to think that to myself when I make this for breakfast.

Anywho, if you haven't heard of overnight oats, I'm glad you're here. They're one of the easiest summer breakfasts to make and is really delicious. Also, if you feel like cooking at 9 pm but don't feel like eating (which happens to me approximately once a year) you can just whip these up.

The game players:
  • Old fashioned oats, pick your serving size. I like about 3/4 cup
  • Milk of some sort. About the same amount as your oats (mix this up when you decide how much milk to like leftover in the morning)
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Fancy stuff (I went with raspberries & agave this time)
The method:

1) Mix your oats and milk in a bowl, the one you want to eat out of in the morning. This is the best because you can honestly pick ANY milk. I've done with soy, almond and cow. Almond is my personal favorite.

2) Add a dash of cinnamon and vanilla. Now, mix in whatever sounds good. I usually do a bit of sweetener and some dried fruit. Depending on what you have on hand you can wait until the morning too. (I'll sometimes add a bit of peanut butter and banana)

3) Cover and stick that delicious bowl of goodness into the fridge

4) Let it sit overnight, when the oats absorb all the milk & flavor. Pull it out in the morning and eat it! Add whatever delicious treats you want now too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Observation Tuesday: Volume 21

Oh, this cute place? It's my new home (or will be on September 1).

However, our place is in the basement. We got a 2 bed/2 bath daylight basement apartment to rent and I  am so excited to have a place to decorate again. So this Observation Tuesday is all about my recent 
home decor inspiration

How gorgeous is this kitchen?

I mostly love the giant EAT on the wall! It would definitely not work in my new place (i.e. we have a small kitchen) but maybe later.

This color inspiration from Better Homes and Gardens is gorgeous. I'm thinking bedroom. And I would/will/might do a brighter green and make the "moody" blue a touch brighter as well. 

I also adore this room. If I could steal it, I would. The paint job (starting a bit below the ceiling) is so neat. And I would wear those boots everyday. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Snapshot Sunday: August 12th

I'm back in Texas for the wedding of my brother-in-law & sister-in-law. They just started dating before our wedding & we were there for their engagement (for which I made this cheesecake) in April. I couldn't be happier for them! Here are the pictures of my week. 

This precious girl rolled over this week. It was exhausting.

We got this sign in at work, I appreciated it.

This little man is a delight. 
I think he may have been saying "no water in it" (it being his mac and cheese)

I love the library.

I brought my brand new sister-in-law coffee this morning of her wedding (Friday)
It may have been weird when the barista called this out....

Two of my favorite people: (Grand)Nana and my other adorable niece (Rahel)

The fantastic groom's cake at the wedding (like his actual van)

Breakfast this morning with some cousins & an uncle! I love family

I'll leave you with this gorgeous picture of the bride & groom. Love them 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book reviews: Alice, Dave & A Lost Boy

Whew! I'm finally caught up on book reviews. Now you probably won't get one for another month or so, seeing as how I'm moving in a week! Enjoy :) 

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

This was on my to read list and I have no idea where it came from but I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was written in the 1950s about an Englishwoman, Jean Paget, who lived through World War II as a prisoner of war in Malaysia. She ends up inheriting a large sum of money and goes on quite the whirwind adventure (travels back to Malaysia and Australia). It's told from the perspective of lawyer turned friend which adds an interesting point of view and aspect of the story. I feel like I can't say much more because I'll ruin too much. I really did enjoy this book and feel like you should read it if you like books written in the 1950s (which I realize is a sweeping generalization about books written in that time period, but it's late and I'm not sure how else to sum it up). 
The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebowitz 

By now you know my affinity for food & travel books. Since this book is about a famous dessert chef living in Paris I figured, "what could be wrong with this book?" The answer: so much. Lebowitz's recipes may be outstanding but honestly his writing is not. He write trite chapters about how life in Paris is either horrible (the protests out side his window on a weekly basis) or awesome (the cheese). He ends each chapter with a redundant, rhetorical, "humorous" question in the most predictable way. I struggled through it in the worst way possible. I would definitely recommend other books instead (Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle perhaps).

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

I actually read this because it kept popping up in my search results for another book on my to do list (The Long Walk, which I still haven't read, if you are wondering). It's a young adult novel, based on the true story about a Lost Boy from Sudan named Salva. Park writes about Salva's life in a simplistic way while telling an excellent story. While I didn't love it I think it would be a great book to give to kids/teens to introduce them to the war in Sudan. Also, there is an excellent redeeming end to the story that is quite inspirational. Verdict: doesn't take long to read but isn't entirely compelling. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday snapshots: August 5th

Another wonderful week!

Monday: picked cherries & raspberries. Enjoying the spoils

Tuesday: my niece. looking shocked, like usual.

Wednesday: my favorite smoothie.
Plain greek yogurt, blueberries, bananas and spinach

Thursday: Reading Real Simple. 

Thursday: my sister made this cute/delicious cherry pie
although I realized I don't like cherry things in general because they're usually paired with amaretto, which I don't like

Friday: cake batter ice cream. awesome town.

Saturday: Indian Paintbrush while hiking Siyeh

The spoils of the hike. huckleberries.

Only two weeks left!

The view from the mat today.