Tuesday, December 13, 2011

book talk: wisdom

I am a little more than halfway through this book, which in the audio version I'm borrowing is read by the author. I am listening to it in the car, during my commute, and trying to soak it all in. The back of the book makes clear that Ms. Angelou is writing to her "daughter" in the universal sense of all younger women she intends to "mother" through her writing. She only has one physical child, who happens to be a son. But I am honestly kind of in awe that she is writing to me, her "daughter."

I cannot tell you how much I am getting from this small volume! (especially hearing it read to me by Maya Angelou, complete with her pauses and inflections and humor and warmth). If you haven't already read it, I urge you to pick it up as soon as possible. You can read one of my favorite essays (so far, anyway) excerpted here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Meatless Monday: my soup committment

So, it's been a couple of weeks now.

Pretty much since the weather turned cold.

I've committed to making a pot of soup every week...and actually done it! It's been really satisfying both for my need to relax-via-cooking, and for the hot, healthful meals it produces for us. This week, I'm going to make a mushroom white bean soup, like this one listed at Whole Living:

But I also think that this soup looks amazing, too. Decisions, decisions.

The soups are usually my Thursday-morning routine, since I don't have to teach on those mornings. For tonight, I'm definitely riding my baked-eggs obsession into Israel. I think this shakshuka recipe in Bon Appetit's December issue will fit the bill nicely.

the most finalsy time of the year...

Hey all~sorry for the dearth of posts lately, but it is that time of year...finals. The leftovers worked out splendidly last week, but now we have a new week, and so I'll be posting for Meatless Monday a bit later. First, though, I thought I'd share some images that epitomize the feeling on campus right about now...




Monday, December 5, 2011

Meatless Monday: leftovers!!!

Hey friends, happy Monday! I'm having a splendid start to my week, and I hope you are, too. It's almost finals-time at my university, and my students are working on their final portfolios for my classes. I plan to be really, really productive this week, and next. Lots of incisive grading, student-conferences, and efficient planning for and working on my own research projects. And that is why it is leftover week.

My dear friend, Jamica, had a bunch of us over for a potluck this weekend. She made three incredible soups, and we all supplied salads, bread, cheese and wine. I'm so grateful that she let me steal some of her delicious lentil soup--it is going to be our hearty meatless dinner tonight!

But don't get me wrong, with the proximity to holiday feasts of all kinds, I have a fridge full of leftovers that are going to be re-purposed as fantastically quick dinners this week! Here is my game plan:

  • Tonight: Jamica's lentil soup with greek yogurt, rice and greens
  • Tuesday: turkey shepherd's pies
  • Wednesday: roasted chicken breasts with sweet potato gratin
  • Thursday: chicken barley soup
  • Friday: Girls' Night! (so, basically eating wine and cheese for dinner)
What about you? Do you like leftovers, or detest them? Any creative leftover-makeovers you love?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Five Gratitudes

Here are some hilarious pins that made me laugh out loud this week. I am super-grateful for laughter.

1. I'm grateful for Betty White, that sassy, sassy lady.

2. I'm grateful for this disgruntled cat (makes me laugh out loud every time!).

3. I'm grateful for this helpful graph...which is totally not pedagogically accurate, but as a former nerd-student, is extremely emotionally accurate.

4. I'm grateful for this funny public service announcement.

5. And I'm grateful for this flying cat. I think the pic pretty much speaks for itself.

Hope you have a fun weekend full of laughter, friends!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

flowers on the brain

So...in the spirit of my last post, I do believe I'm becoming a little obsessed with flowers.

I ran across this post from frolic!, and thought it was just the thing to perk up this wintry day...

...which sent me off to explore the language of flowers, and lo and behold, there is a book of the same name that looks pretty intriguing.

Then again, maybe I just have (way-too-premature) spring fever. Either way, happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

book talk: flowery intrigue

So, I'm about halfway through this book:

And I have to say that so far, I'm undecided in my opinion. The moment Jake saw the cover in the stack I'd brought home from the library, he sort of snorted and said, "oh, a book for girls."

That is pretty much what it is, in a nutshell. 

I'd be pre-disposed to turn my nose up at it, if I hadn't been sucked in by the premise that the Pink Carnation is actually a famous English spy in the 18th century, along the lines of one of my favorite English spies of all time...The Scarlet Pimpernel.

It is, to this day, one of my very favorite books. Maybe because it is written from Marguerite's perspective, or maybe I just have a thing for swashbucklers...either way, it's the association that grabbed me. And now, the plot (though sprinkled with some groan-worthy "romantic" scenes that are trying just a bit too hard to sound Pride-and-Prejudice-esque) has sucked me in and I'll have to see what happens. Likely, it'll be a bit of a let down, but so far, I've decided I'm gonna roll with it. 

What about you? Have you ever picked up, or stuck with a book simply because it referenced or reminded you of another book you really liked? Or is it just me??

Monday, November 28, 2011

Meatless Monday: just bake it!

Over the holiday weekend, I found myself cooking up a storm. One of the things I ended up making was a "big batch of macaroni and cheese, following a recipe in FOOD similar to this one, but slightly different. There are a few suggestions for what to do with the giant pot of mac-and-cheese that ensues, and one of 'em is dinner tonight.

But for the life of me, I can NOT find this recipe online, anywhere. All I can tell you, is that the picture looks sort of like this...but imagine using already-made mac-and-cheese, a can of diced tomatoes (I'm thinking of using salsa), and maybe some cream to help keep everything moist? Anywhoo, it looks delish, and it's already half made. Dinner = done. Well, in my head, at least.

the digital public library of america

bodlien library, oxford

So...there is now in existence a Digital Public Library of America. I can't decide if I think it's the coolest thing ever, or the most depressing thing ever. As huge fan of real-life libraries, I'm torn. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

gird your loins

It doesn't feel like the holidays, yet. The Mitten is sunny, the grass still fairly green. No snow, really. And, I know I'm not alone in my slow-building "holiday spirit."

But, ready or not, here they come. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving (!) and about three days after that, it will be Christmas.

I do love Thanksgiving--a time to eat food, reconnect with family, watch football, and reflect. I am always gratified by the communal attention we give to just plain being grateful, for big and little things. Our church has an annual Thanksgiving service that is basically an open mic--whoever comes can step forward and talk about what they're grateful for. It is my sister's and my favorite service. It can be, by turns, heartwarming, hilarious, serious, thoughtful...and it is secretly the Thanksgiving tradition that the two of us keep with each other. We both show up, ready to share our gratitudes and enjoy the bits and bobs our small congregation shares. Our own private, sister-tradition.

Here's another sweet Thanksgiving tradition (via You Are My Fave) that seems like it would be fun to start.

Wouldn't it be great to pass these little cards around to your family each year, and then collect them somewhere--in a small book, say? What an amazing record!

But before we get to the dinner, there are the appetizers. For the first time ever, my Mom is hosting the appetizer-portion of Thanksgiving dinner (we'll then walk next door to Grandma's for the main event). I'm going to make 3-cheese gougeres that hopefully look as cute and puffy and splendid as Martha Stewart's...

...and taking inspiration from Madame Fromage (as I often do), I will make her super-easy Maple Balsamic Pecans with Sea Salt (though I'll add some walnuts, too). You're welcome, Dad.

After all the feasting is concluded, I will not be shopping. I mean, I will eventually, but I am a hard-core anti-black-Friday-ite. Also, this year I want to be extra-thoughtful about gifts (i.e. carefully budgeted), which is why I so appreciated this budget sheet and this one-day shopping strategy.

What about you? Do you have any favorite (or groan-inducing) holiday traditions? Do tell.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

book talk: the exact book I wanted to read

I had heard of it, in passing. Never really gave it much thought. But, it turns out, that when I tapped this book on the shoulder at the library one autumn afternoon, I found the exact book I wanted to read at that very moment.

Now, I'm not usually one for a story told through correspondence (my main issue with Possession). I tend to be too impatient to let the plot develop in such limited snapshots. But this book, with its multiple narrators and just plain likeable characters, had me at the first salutation. It also contains some fascinating historical perspectives of WWII. If you haven't read it yet (and I know I'm behind the times on this one...) try it out. It would fit in wonderfully with a blustery afternoon and a hot cup of tea. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meatless Monday: sweet....potato

Happy Monday! Today, sweet on a certain kind of potato.

Think I'll make this pasta dish for dinner tonight. It combines the lovely sweet potato with bell pepper and goat cheese. (let's face it, though: I'd eat just about anything with goat cheese!)

But for sheer comfort, I'd have to go with this sweet potato gratin. I mean, doesn't it look like a healthier, more delicious version of mac n' cheese?

What about you? Any meatless recipes you're loving these days?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Gratitudes

1. It's Friday, people!!!

2. First snow of the season was this week. Yesterday, in fact.

3. I always appreciate color-coding, especially in hyperbolic proportions.

4. I love working in my building. The lobby always makes me smile.

5. I'm really digging Whitehorse, especially this song.

So, what are you grateful for today?

personality by color

First of all, I am obsessed with any and all personality tests/quizzes/finders. Second of all, it was only natural that I fell head over heels for this one from Paper Source. If you follow the link, it will take you to a larger image of the colorscope. Which colors are your favorites? Mine are peacock and strawberry.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

book talk: books with numbers in their titles...

These days, I've been caught up in some really great books. Just finished a fun-start-to-the-series YA novel by N.D. Wilson:

It's about a boy who goes to stay with his aunt and uncle and cousins in Kansas, only to discover that there are mysterious cupboards beneath the plaster walls of his room there. Adventure, and a little bit of magic, ensue. The end was a tad unsatisfying, but I suspect that is because it is the first book of a series and meant to leave the reader feeling unsated, wanting more. I'm game. 

On the grown-up end of things, I'm one "glass" into this fun and absorbing book by Tom Standage. Somewhere in the "praise for" section, it says something like, "manages to give you a comprehensive history of the western world and entertain you at the same time..." and I think it's true. I'm now the proud knower of quite a lot of Fertile Crescent history, along with ideas about not only the invention of beer, but also the invention of writing. I can't wait to finish this book, I just know I'll feel so much smarter!

What about you? Any books (perhaps with numbers in their titles?) that make you feel smarter or more magic just by reading them? Do tell. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: incredible eggs

Ok. How amazing does this look?  I think I've just discovered tonight's dinner recipe. Mexican flavors + eggs + avocados?

You had me at avocados.

winter wreaths

So, I'll be honest. My previous post was my own little "giddyup" to myself. I can feel winter creeping up, the holidays, and all their frenzy. This time last year, I had an inexplicable "holiday spirit"-type bug, or something. I was all in the mood and making lists before we were even ready to plan Thanksgiving menus.

This year, not so much.

But, I'm gonna try. I have to say, I had a lot of fun last year, and I'd like to chase that feeling. Maybe we can help each other, friends! I need to get in the holiday swing of things somehow. So, here goes...

What do you think of holiday wreaths? Maybe what I'm ok with is more of a "non-wreath-wreath." You know, less greenery, more unexpected? I was absolutely captured by this one.

I'm also fairly in love with the textural simplicity of this stick wreath. It might look stunning on our dark front door...

But, let's face it: my DIY time and motivation is precarious, at best. Also, there is the issue of materials. Would I love to go for a long walk in the woods and gather up pine-cones or sticks to assemble into one of these fetching wreaths? You bet. Will I? Um, no.

But, there is a very real possibility that I have (or could have, in a few weeks) the appropriate amount of wine corks for this wreath. Perhaps it is the non-wreath-wreath that speaks most directly to my essence as a "person with holiday spirit." Or something.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

cough and cold care

Hey there, friends! Sorry it has been so long between posts, but I've been feeling a bit under-the-weather lately.

Against my will, I've managed to contract a gnarly cough--probably because it's been floating around the university since the beginning of October. I guess I should be impressed with how long my immune system held out! For now, though, I'm trying to lay low. Dress comfy. Take care of myself.

I've been drinking cups and cups of tea, mostly this kind and this kind.

I've been eating cough drops like candy, my favorites are these. But, I would love to try these homemade honey "cough pops" pinned first by Jess.

Last but not least, I've been trying to dress myself cozy--sweaters, layers, etc. Today, hilariously, I didn't realize until I was already out the door that it is 65 degrees out today.  I'm either burning up because of my four layers, or I have a fever. Or, both.

So, here's to a healthier rest of the week! I do hope you are all feeling well:)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

book talk: good ol' mystery novels

So, I'm about halfway through this book:

I picked it up from the library, as it is the first book in the Stephanie Plum series, and I'd been reading reviews for Finger Lickin' Fifteen all summer. The cover for that one is pretty cool, too. Cooler than book one, for sure.

But, before I can leap into a series, I usually want to read the beginning first. So far, I'm intrigued by the spunky protagonist, Plum, and am willing to read a few more volumes to see how she develops. She is at the start of her journey in this first book, and so she has a lot to learn about the business she's gotten herself into (bounty hunting). I'm hoping she gains some confidence, some smarts, some ass-kicking ability. I guess, all things considered, it's good that I'm rooting for her. (it is reallyreallyreally hard for me to stick with a book where I despise, or even halfway-despise the protag.)
Usually, I turn my nose up at mystery novels. Aren't they formulaic? Aren't they for grandmas? Despite the fact that I've read a couple of scenes now where I've (literally) yelled at Stephanie Plum to be more alert--there's a guy in your bathroom, fool!!!, I've also been sucked into to the story and now have to see how it ends. Is this what reading the mystery genre is like? Is this why it is such a popular and lucrative genre? It's the equivalent of literary crack?

Because of my addictive tendencies, I'm now more determined to read a book that's been recommended to me for over a year:

 Anybody read it? Thoughts? Is it worth reading the series? What about mysteries in general--for or against?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Meatless Monday: feeling autumnal

Hey friends. Happy Monday! (ugh.)

I can just tell that this week is going to be a doosy. This past weekend was really, really nice--complete with friends, family and rest. And then, the week sort of hit me in the face.

So,  I'm craving comfort food, big time. Yesterday, I made my mom's apple cake, which I managed to slightly burn, but it still tastes good. Actually, over at smitten kitchen there is an apple cake recipe almost identical to my mom's--just leave out the walnuts, and layer the apples with the batter, so they're inside the cake rather than on top.

The funniest part is that Deb mentions that it is "her mom's apple cake," also. I see. Well, mom's of the world, unite with your delicious apple-cake recipes!!!

Tonight, I think I'm going to make a now-classic in our house: spaghetti with kale and parmesan. But, I did not invent this dish. Oh no, I was inspired by Molly Wizenberg's story about how she learned to love kale...

...now, at the time (our first year of marriage), I had never tried this mysterious ingredient, kale, before. This article made it seem so accessible. I've been obsessed with it ever since.

If I can make it by the store on my way home, though, I might pick up some black beans to try this meatless chili recipe that caught my eye instead:

It just looks super-easy and comforting. A win-win.

What about you? What are some of your chilly-weather, feeling *schmeh* comfort food recipes?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Audubon Birds

Aren't these prints breathtaking? 

As you can see, I've been a bit bird-obsessed these days. Maybe it's all the migrators, floating and swirling in the sky over the freeway as I drive to school. Maybe it's their hollow bones and bright plumage. Birds are just cool.

Hope your week is cool and swirling by nicely so far!
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