Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Observation Tuesday: Volume 49

Random internet finds for this OT:

Ellen on Ellen. I really like Ellen and Kate McKinnon impersonates her on SNL. In this video, she goes on the Ellen show and impersonates her while she's there. . 

Found this gem on the popular page on instagram. What in the WORLD? When is there a lion in the car with you?? what is it doing??? I wish I could read it. 

ANNNND hilarious translation of the Thrift Shop song via Shakespeare Lyrics on Twitter.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: April 28

I had a glorious three days off this week filled with SUN! Seattle has totally spoiled us with some gorgeous weather. Enjoys pics from my last week

At Macrina Bakery with on a reading date with my husband
On our plates: raspberry rhubarb tart, ginger apple cinder, vanilla latte and a morning roll

Love note on a fire hydrant

A gorgeous morning after my 3rd night of work!

Cannot believe I mailed my niece her first birthday present.

Walk around Green Lake.

Sunset at Gasworks Park

Had a fantastic day which included:
Paddle boarding (so fun!)

Fro Yo from Zoe Yogurt

14 mile bike ride with my husband

sitting in the sun


Not a bad day

What did you do this week?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Questionnaire from Appraising Pages

The girls over at Appraising Pages initiated this book questionnaire meme where they challenged readers to answer these questions about their books/habits. Who doesn't love talking about that? Fun for a lazy Saturday.

1) Favorite childhood book?
I went through a period in 4th grade where I was obsessed with the Nancy Drew series. I read all of them in succession.

2) What are you reading right now?
I'm reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. And I'm listening to Quitter by Jon Acuff on audio book. Check out the books I'm reading on my Good Reads shelf.

3) What books do you have on request at the library?
I just realized I don't have any currently, which is rare. I've got quite a stash of books I own right now to read including Rodeo in Joliet and a few Brene Brown books.

4) Bad book habit?
Folding the pages in when I lose my book mark (which happens almost every night)

5) What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nothing, I just finished Sweet Tooth from the library and returned it.

6) Do you have an e-reader?
I own an iPad to technically I do, but I like holding an actual book so I don't use it.

7) Do you prefer one book at a time, or several at once?
One at a time. I loose focus otherwise!

8) Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Well, I've had this blog for years but a few years ago put it out that I had a goal to read 24 books a year, since then I've been reading more than I did before. That also may have to do with the fact that I had more free time.

9) Leave favorite book you read this year (so far)?
This might be a little scandalous but I didn't really like The Perks of Being a Wallflower....

10) Favorite book you've read this year?
Wild by Cheryl Strayed and An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. Click here and here to read why I like them so much.

11) How often do you read outside your comfort zone?
Not that often I guess. I've been taking more recommendations for books from friends/blogs/various places but I don't read genres I don't totally love.

12) What is your reading comfort zone?
Science fiction, just not my favorite.

13) Can you read on the bus?
No, I get sick.

14) Favorite place to read?
In a coffee shop, no ipad or phone nearby, a cup of chai and nothing else to do.

15) What is your policy on book lending?
I love it! I like giving away books and sharing them.

16) Do you ever dog-ear books?
See guilty pleasure question.

17) Do you ever write in the margin of your books? Not even with textbooks?
I do for book club or self-help type books. Not very often for textbooks...

18) What makes you love a book?
Good writing (not simplistic) and an interesting plot. Or new subject matter I don't know about.

20) Favorite genre?
Historical fiction, particularly WWII and American.

21) Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
Biographies. I love learning about people and history and their stories. There is so much to learn there, but I just don't pick them up very often. I'm always open to recommendations.

22) Favorite biography?
The Hiding Place about Corrie Ten Boom, such a meaningful story.

23) Have you ever read a self-help book?
I read self-help books about specific topics, like marriage.

24) Favorite cookbook?
Joy the Baker's. Although this is a kind of book I love but just don't buy that often.

25) Favorite reading snack?
I get distracted when I eat food and read, but having any type of toasty beverage in my hands is the best. Black tea (which I'm drinking now), chia, or a vanilla latte.

26) Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience?
I haven't actually read them so this is a totally unfair judgement but the Twilight series. I think without all the hype I probably could have read and just enjoyed them for what they were but all the hype really turned me off.

27) How often do you agree with critics about a book?
Real critics or people on good reads? That's two different ball games.

28) How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I don't like to, because I'd rather read books I enjoy but if the book didn't grab me or inspire me I'll tell the truth.

29) If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

30) Most intimidating book you've ever read?
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett was big, and I was interested in the plot, but I read it.

31) Most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin?
Emperor of All Maladies is a large book, about cancer. Its been on my to read list for a good 2 years and I just can't make myself start it. The book club is reading it so I'll have to this fall.

32) How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
3-ish, if I have some.

33) How often have you returned books to the library unread?
Not very often.

34) Books I'm most likely to bring on vacation?
Whatever I'm reading that isn't that heavy.

35) The longest I've gone without reading.
A few weeks in college, probably.

36) Name a book that you could/wound not finish.
The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks. I was really interested when I started as it's about interesting neurological disorders but the book was so clinical that I got bored and stopped.

37) What distracts you most when reading?
Eating, or having other things I need to do.

38) Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
I love both the book and the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

39) Most disappointed film adaptation of a novel?
The ones that come to my mind are Atonement and Water for Elephants. I loved both of the books but thought the movies were pretty mediocre.

40) Most money I've ever spent in a bookstore at one time?
I'm an Amazon junkie and usually but one at a time, so not much.

41) How often do you skim a book before reading it?
If it's a book I haven't heard of and pick up in a store or library I'll skim it then but if its a book on my "to read" list I just dive right in.

42) What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If I'm bored. Normally I just push through.

43) Do you like to keep your books organized?
Right now my favorite method is by color.

44) Do you prefer to keep books or given them away once you've read them?
I love giving them away unless it's a really meaningful book for me. I do this mostly because I really don't like moving books so I don't want to end up with tons of them.

45) Name a book that made you angry.
For really superficial reasons The Sweet Life in Paris by Lebowitz. The writing felt so cliche and I wanted it to be so much better than it was.

46) A book you didn't expect to like but did?
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron, I just happened to pick it up at the library without ever having heard of it and was so compelled. I finished the last half of it in one sitting.

47) A book you expected to like but didn't?
There are a few books by authors I love that just weren't very interesting to me. Sweet Tooth (same author as Atonement), and Prodigal Summer by Kingsolver to make the most recent.

48) Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Honestly, celebrity mags like People.

Hope you enjoyed this! You should do it to and post a link. Or if you don't have a blog answer some of your favorite questions in the comment section.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Sometimes you need to make dessert. You know? You're craving some home-cooked goodness, or a little bit of sugar is what you need to get your mind off a rough day (or night) at work. I recommend you makes the chocolate chip cookie bars. It's simple as that.
Just a few lovely, basic ingredients and you are off and running. Sort of like you're making basic chocolate chip cookies but in bar form. 
After creaming the butter and sugars, you get this golden brown goodness. This is one of those moments where I feel like licking the beater should be better than it actually is. Just hold out until we add the flour. 

See, that's the good stuff. Feel free to eat a spoonful, or two. You deserve it!
After folding in the walnuts (which are optional) and the chips is also a good place to do some taste testing. 
Now we have it spread in a well-greased pan. And we bake. Waiting is hard.
After 28 minutes, I took mine out a few minutes too early because I wanted them a little gooey. They're delicious slightly warm. I also froze half of them and have been eating them that way and MAN are they good. Hope you enjoy!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Makes 12 bars
  • 2 sticks butter (1/2 lb), slightly softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 12 oz chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark)
To Make:

1) Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking pan (I used 9x13 but 8x12 would also work)

2) Using an electric mixer, or hand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulate sugar, until smooth. About 2-3 minutes. Then add vanilla and eggs, one at a time. 

3) In separate bowl, whisk together flour, soda, and salt. Add slowly to wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Finally, fold in walnut or chocolate chips. Pour into the pan and spread evenly. 

4) Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan and cut into bars. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Observation Tuesday: Volume 48

Just a few of my favorite links this week! Enjoy :)

Why going to the gym is a huge waste of time (from Buzz Feed)

In college at my house I had a pun board I updated monthly. I totally appreciated this list of visual puns.  (Buzz Feed) 8 & 18 are my faves

The most hilariously bizzare link I got from my best friend this week. Old people wearing vegetation, I like the rhubarb. (from Sad and Useless).

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: Austin

For part of Seth's spring break we went and visited his family in good 'ol Austin Texas. I'd been there once before so it was fun to go back and explore more parts of the city. Enjoy my snapshots

The boys and their parents.

Food trucks on So Co (South Congress)

Part of a Vietnam War Memorial in the LBJ museum

I'm going back there to try more flavors when we go back

Check this out: donut, graham crackers, bananas and whipped cream. 
I got a pb&j (obviously).

Austin Skyline

Urban hiking. Love the trees leaning to the left

Not a Knox family visit without several scrabble games.
Seth dominated.

My favorite wall in the city (on Jo's Coffee

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Applesauce Oat Muffins

Man, I hate the last day of vacation. You're all relaxed and having fun and then BAM out of nowhere you're mind starts thinking of things you have to do when you get home. The laundry, the grocery shopping, the work. such a buzz kill.
Then you have to do the whole airport thing. Which, in itself isn't so terrible, but when you're headed home from vacation people seem extra grumpy and you end up getting frisked because the TSA thinks you're hiding explosives in your hair. WHICH YOU'RE NOT.
And then your mild sunburn starts to itch, which makes you feel guilty for not wearing sunscreen, because you know you're more likely to get skin cancer now. Am I being a total Debbie Downer or what?
But, you know what will make it okay? These muffins. The stirring helps you relax and they're full of oats, applesauce and whole wheat flour so you don't feel super guilty for eating sugary stuff. After all, while you were on vacation you drank soda, root beer floats and giant donuts.
But like I said, these donuts are healthy, comforting and will make you less sad about being back from vacation. You can eat them while you fold your laundry.
A few tips for making these: if you use muffin liners they get kind of moist, so I recommend just spraying the pan and skipping the liners. Second, instead of sifting your flour just whisk briskly a few times before stirring in other ingredients. Also, when you put the topping on it, kind of press the oats into the muffins or else they fall off while you eat them onto your floor, then you have to sweep. 

Applesauce Oat Muffins
makes 12 muffins
(adapted from Fearless Homemaker)

  • 1 1/2 cups regular oats 
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 egg
for the topping
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
To make

1) Preheat oven to 400* F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

2) In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder and soda. Whisk to mix. Add in oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir.  In a separate, smaller bowl, mix applesauce, canola oil and egg. Pour into dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon just until combined.

3) Spoon batter into muffin cups, about 3/4 full. 

4) To make topping, stir oats, brown sugar and cinnamon together. When butter is slightly cooled, pour in and mix. Sprinkle oats on top of batter and press in slightly with fingers. 

5) Bake for 16-18 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then on rack until completely cool. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Observation Tuesday: Volume 47

My heart is hurting today thinking about those affected by the bombing at the Boston Marathon. I checked my twitter while in a museum yesterday in Austin I found out within minutes what had happened. Social media and technology never cease to amaze me. It seems that twitter even played a small part in good things happening amidst the tragedy at the Boston Marathon (from NBC news).

On a more pleasant note, here is a picture of a started rabbit in a sink.

I love tumblr accounts with interesting pictures of people, my latest favorite is this Humans of New York account. Seeing portraits of those just out and about on normal days really moves me for some reason.

And inside the household of a family with a one year hold, Reasons my Son is Crying. Description from the site: "All the many completely logical reasons that children cry". "

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Snapshot Sunday: April 14

I'm currently in my old state of Texas. Enjoying the warm weather and the company of my in laws. Here are pictures of my week, before we left for Texas.

Sunday morning donuts. 
I should make this a tradition

A quiet moment of food preparation.

I went two days without seeing my husband this week, which is what night shift will do
He was incredibly thoughtful and surprised me with these tulips

A drizzly morning after work.
Perfect for going home and sleeping.

I love walking through my neighborhood and seeing people's houses

 I hope you had an enjoyable week too. I'll definitely be blogging about our trip when I get back.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Reviews: Wild, God's Hotel, and Major Pettigrew

God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet

Laguna Honda is truly its own place, where a chicken walks through the AIDS ward, patients fall in love and get married in the chapel and some patients eventually die. In this book, Dr. Sweet writes about her time working at Laguna Honda Hospital, one of the last almshouses in the country. She practiced medicine there for decades and saw the hospital transform as she began to learn about slow medicine and it's healing powers. She tells powerful tales of simply observing her patients and allowing healing to happen simply with small changes in their environment and time. Sweet also tells about getting her PhD studying medieval medicine and how that changed her practice. As one who spends my working days in the hospital I appreciated the stories she told and some of the principals she uses; observation rather than chart reading, interpreting her own x-rays, listening to the nurses. I think the writing could have been a little more compelling but the things she is able to communicate are really important and the story of Laguna Honda is an important one.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed

This is a beautifully written memoir about a young woman hiking the pacific crest trail with no prior backpacking experience in the midst of personal turmoil. After her mother dies quickly of lung cancer, she gets divorced from her college sweetheart and ends up working a variety of jobs while moving about the country, Cheryl Strayed decided to branch out of regular life and spend 3 months hiking through the wilderness of the west coast. She tells about the people she meets along the trail, the horrific blisters earns, the monster of a backpack she hikes with and the life lesson she learns. Honestly, I pre-judged this book. I went into it thinking it would be a silly story about a girl who made stupid decisions and "finds herself" in the forest. I was only partially wrong. Strayed did make some dumb decisions leading up to this but the story was so much more than I had expected. Her writing is compelling, laugh-out-loud funny, self-deprecating but not apologetic. She is brutally honest about herself and the things she went through and I loved it. I definitely recommend this book. 4/5 stars *disclaimer there are some inappropriate scenes so don't judge me
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

I picked this up in a free library in someone's front  yard with no expectations and ended up being pleasantly surprised. Simonson tells the story of Major Pettigrew, a retired army major living in a small town in England. He lives a ordered life as a widower and ends up befriending Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani shop owner. They deal with her family values, his adult son's drama, and the town's judgement. It's a rather simple story about the life of people in this town and their traditional British values. You really end up rooting for Major Pettigrew to step out of his comfort zone and for everything to work out. It's lovely. 3.5/5 stars