Thursday, June 30, 2011

happy holiday weekend!!

Friends, I hope you are heading for a fun and fabulous weekend. The hubs and I are heading off for a bit of an early-anniversary mini-break to Holland, MI. I am beyond excited! I am going to hurry off to finish packing...see you next week!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

dreamy illustrations

How fantastical are these illustrations?! They caught my eye this afternoon, and I just had to share...I feel like I want to read a children's book filled with pictures just like these. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

book talk: breakfasting with books

This morning before leaving to teach, I breakfasted with books. Eating-while-reading is one of my favorite things, as it combines the two best pastimes. I tried my hand at those strawberry oat bars from yesterday's post, and they were just awesome. A little more like a strawberry crumble than a bar, but still. The "crust" is really, really yummy--the pinch of sea salt really makes it!

I breakfasted with this book:

It has been on my reading list for about a year and a half (the hubs read it and loved it). Today, I cracked the cover. Beryl Markham, "Britain's Amelia Earhart," completely drew me in within the first three pages...her writing voice is frank and well-paced, making for easy (and kind of awed) reading. She masterfully begins detailing her life as a free-lance pilot in Kenya, with evocative descriptions of everything from hacked-out dirt runways to the then-burgeoning city of Nairobi. 

She just seems like the coolest person. I would've loved to take her out for a couple martinis. Very dry martinis. With olives. 

The best thing I discovered at breakfast was this little blurb on the back cover:

"Did you read Beryl Markham's book, West with the Night? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer's log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers. The only parts of it that I know about personally, on account of having been there at the time and heard the other people's stories, are absolutely true...I wish you would get it and read it because it really is a bloody wonderful book." 
--Ernest Hemingway

Well, if Ernest thinks it's good... 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meatless Monday--going raw?

Hey friends. Happy Monday!

I am quite excited about my meatless options for this week. I spent Friday evening looking through some new magazines, and my stack of Bon Appetits from 2009--my friend, Jamica, got me a subscription for Christmas one year, and I absolutely loved it! We were so broke at the time, I wasn't able to renew my subscription, so I just keep recycling that year's worth. Each month, I pull out the corresponding issue, and try to find some dishes I haven't tried yet. Nerdy of me, I know.

I also stopped by the farmer's market on Saturday, on my way home from yoga class, and found some yummy-looking ingredients to play with.

I have a ton of sugar snap peas to try this orecchiette dish.

I love the pasta shape orecchiette. Not only is it fun to say, but it translates loosely into "little ears." How cute is that?

Now, here is an interesting thing that I'd love to hear your thoughts about: going raw. In the latest issue of Whole Living, I read the article about raw food. Mind you, I don't know all of the reasoning behind going raw...part of me shrugs and thinks, "ok, I mean, if that's what floats your boat..." Another part of me wonders if there is some magical nutritional benefit. Yet another part of me thinks that we cook food for some good reasons, too, like to kill bacteria. So, I'm gonna try this zucchini "pasta," along with these strawberry oat bars, and see what happens. 

I'll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, what do you think of the whole "raw food" thing? 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday, I love you

Ah, Friday. A sacred day for many. Today the hubs and I both magically have the day off, and we've spent it gloriously reading, eating eggs and toast, doing laundry and walking to the library. And drinking coffee. Check out this funny (and informative!) video on the subject:

A playful weekend reminder via Anna Garforth:

Pret-A-Voyager is presenting a series featuring all the different androissments of Paris. Don't these photos of the 5th make you just want to hop on a plane?

Oh, man. What scrumptious-looking peaches...and peach-upside-down cake

This weekend, I'll be attending a friend's bridal shower, a fun dinner at a new restaurant, and perhaps the hubs and I will check out the hot-air balloon fest. What are you up to this weekend? Whatever it is, I hope it's fun and relaxing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

going organic...with makeup!

Last week, my sister and I finally made good on our Mother's Day present for Mom. We went for a fantastic spa-day at Rouge Make-up and Nail Studio in Ferndale. It was so much fun! While we were there, we got makeovers with this line of cosmetics called Eve Organics. They're based in Macomb, MI. After chatting with Cheryl about my skin type, she used the "Quantum Quencher Renewal" on my. My face felt so silky, I bought myself a bottle! (and felt good about supporting local businesses, too...)

Can I just say, almost a week later, my skin is singing for joy! I never would've said that "organic makeup" would be any different from my trusty Oil of Olay...but my skin thinks different. What do you think about the move to go organic? Even in things like makeup? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

mitten love

check out these awesome Mitten-accoutrements....

Mitten pillow! (spied by brideblu)

Cool, folksy tees (found on amanda jane's blog)

book talk: full nerd confession

Hey friends! Today I'm going to talk about a book I'm reading. A book that, to be honest with you, I've become rather obsessed with. I understand that talking about this book will reveal the depths of my nerdiness, and how deep are those depths!

The hubs and I are in the middle of this book:

We started it last summer, actually, and Jake has already read it (and the rest of the series that is out) once. Oh man, it is so good, though! The premise is based in fantasy, but the characters are quite complex and very real. The story is so dense, and the book itself so thick, that when the hustle-and-bustle of the fall semester set in, we gradually had to abandon it. Not that it wasn't engrossing! It was, actually, so engrossing that we had to stop staying up so late to read! 

This summer, I was prompted to pick it up again when I read that HBO was making it into a series. It has gotten some good reviews and a few of my friends are already all the way through season 1.

I'm so in.

But, because of my extra-nerdy commitment to only watch movies or series after I read the corresponding book, I need to get to reading! What about you? Do you wait to watch something until you read the book first? Why or why not?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meatless Monday

Happy Monday, friends! I am fixin' to head home, dodging some raindrops along the way. I am thankful it is rainy here in the Mitten today, because the pre-rain is so, so sticky.


But now, the rain brings a sweet coolness to the air, and the dull ache in my head subsides.


image source

Tonight, I had had the mind to make the Barefoot Contessa's Middle Eastern Salad.  For humid weather, it's the best: lemony-herby-crunchy-cool.

But now that it's raining and chilly, I am thinking something more along the lines of this Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili

That might take too long, though. I might have to whip up some popcorn to hold me over. My newest obsession? One of these mini-bags with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. 

Also, I have a pint of blueberries I need to use up. I saw these bars on Martha Stewart's website and now my mouth is watering. Except, I don't have any buttermilk. Any suggestions for what to make with blueberries?

Happy Monday, everyone! 

Carnival of Dads

For Father's Day, we had a fun-filled weekend celebrating with both of our dads. That is one of the coolest things about living near family--you get to be around for all the days, the every-day-days and the fun, special ones, too.

Saturday, we took my father-in-law to a great brew pub in Ann Arbor, the Jolly Pumpkin.

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We got a sampler of some really interesting beers, including a gluten free IPA and a brew made with spinach! The spinach beer was, indeed, very green. But cold, it turned out to be thick, and slightly sweet.

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I tried the Hibmajishtee--a wheat beer with hibiscus. It tasted so crisp and clean, like tea and beer combined. All-in-all, it was a leisurely, lovely meal. Afterwards, we took a walk around Ann Arbor. My brother-in-law, who graduated from U of M, took us to the law quad... was really pretty and oldy-worldly. I felt like I was back in Oxford. We got to peek inside the Law Library as well. So cool!

Sunday we hung out with my dad. We sat on the deck, noshing on olives and a new wine my mom got to try. The weather was PER-fect. Everything was just easy, relaxing. We barbecued steaks and the hubs and the brother-in-law played chess. 

My dad and I have a special relationship. He's my mentor, my hero, and a goofy antagonist (stop tying my socks in knots, already!!). We can talk about almost anything, and we share a lot of interests. 
Dancing on my wedding day.
Goofing off together.
Chatting at Jake's autumn exhibition.
A big classical music buff, my dad got me into Fantasia when I was little. So, for Father's Day, I got him special Fantasia blu-ray pack from us. Evening's entertainment? Covered. 

I loved the piece with the whales, set to "the Pines of Rome" by Respighi. Sooo magical. (though the hubs was a bit disappointed that they weren't "space whales" after all.)

We all agreed that the "Rhapsody in Blue" animation was friggin' cool. Plus, the narrative was complex and sweet.  

But, I think my favorite was the Carnival of the Animals--a quirky, short, and funny bit that supposedly answers the question, "What happens when you give a yo-yo to a flock of flamingoes?" Fabulousness, that's what.

What a fun weekend! How did it go for you?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

book talk: educated by jane austen

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My friend, Jenni, is going on vacation next weekend. We were discussing what books she'd take to read on the trains she'll be riding around Spain. She said, "I will definitely bring my pocket Pride and Prejudice, because it's always good to read." I emphatically nodded my approval. 

So, as a Jane Austen fan, and as a teacher, I was doubly excited to read this book review in the New York Times. It led me to this book

Apparently, William Deresiewicz has taken the novels of Ms. Austen and learned all sorts of cool life lessons from them, and written it all down in A Jane Austen Education. I love it. 

Even more intriguing is his connection between Austen's literary style and teaching practice. In his article for The Chronicle, Deresiewicz describes how reading Northanger Abbey, and specifically interactions between Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney, revealed "lessons to explore for a lifetime, but the first place I applied them was the classroom.":

"Instead of training Catherine to follow the conventions of life in her society, Henry was trying to wake her up to them by showing her how absurd they were. But he didn't do it by being didactic; he did it by provoking her, taking her by surprise, making her laugh, throwing her off balance, forcing her to figure out what was going on and what it meant—getting her to think, not telling her how."

I see in Deresiewicz's quote the glimmer of what I consider the true teacher's heart. This is a book that I need to read, for my love of Austen, certainly. But also for my love of teaching. 

What about you? What author has taught you your most significant life-lessons? 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meatless Monday

I'm not sure if it's the summer Mitten heat, or just the fact that I've been (mentally) warming up to the vast list of meat-substitues, but I've been mildly obsessed with lentils lately. There is a great recipe from the Barefoot Contessa for warm french lentils that sends me over them moon. And then, I found this intriguing little recipe for lentil tacos. Told you I was obsessed.

But, there are other legumes in the sea... 
How delicious does this quick bean soup look? Maybe for dinner tonight?

Last week, I made this yummy vegetarian pizza. I have to say that even though I griped at Jake for telling me to let it bake a little longer, I was amazed at how perfectly the crust turned out. Good instincts, honey!

I used Trader Joe's Garlic Herb dough, pesto, baby bella mushrooms, arugala, tomatoes, onions and goat cheese.

Also, here is a new invention that involves, yes, fresh order to make a delicious fruit salad. I've been taking it for lunch almost every day!
  1. Slice several peaches
  2. slice several strawberries
  3. roll up 4-5 basil leaves, slice (creating thin strips)
  4. Toss fruit and basil with 1 tsp. raw sugar, stir well

What's your favorite combo for a fruit salad?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday Snapshot

Hello! Happy weekend:) It has been a fun, delicious and relaxing weekend for us--I hope for you, too. We are heading to my Grandma's 87th birthday party this evening,
Grandma and my mom at Jake's art show. Aren't they pretty?
so I thought I'd take a minute to give you a snapshot of how my saturday went.

For book club, I was brave and bought mimolette. I say brave, because I learned at the cheese shop that part of the aging process for this cheese involves mites. Yes, mites! Creepy, but delicious.  

My best friend is getting ready to head to Europe for about a month. I brought some leftover mimolette and a bottle of Gypsy Chariot wine (a nod to her upcoming wandering!) over to her house...

...and we had a mini Dr. Who marathon! What could be better? (can I just say--the through plot is getting pretty twisty-good!)

I came home after our fun, nerdy girl-time, and it was a cool, crisp evening. I was glad to have some cozy new pjs to curl up in.

What are you up to this weekend? Give me a snapshot!

Friday, June 10, 2011

rainy day friday

I really could have used one of these delectable-looking popsicles that jo made...on tuesday.

But today, it's chilly and rainy in the Mitten. I rode my bike up to the library, and then it decided to rain buckets. So, I'm biding my time till it lets up, and then I'll brave a ride back to our flat, via the's bookclub tonight!

I wish I had one of these toasty-looking drinks to sip on while I wait...

What's your rainy-day comfort?

my cousin's band

My cousin is the lead singer. Sounds good, no?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

food and wine pairing

Summer has finally hit us in the Mitten. Like a bullet in the back. And, I should confess to you that I've been pretty cranky about it. (apparently I don't handle the heat super well...) So, Jake and I went for a walk last night, to get out of our oven of an apartment and to keep me from fussing. We got frozen custard. I felt better.

It is about this point in the year that I stop drinking red wine. Not that I don't love it, but it's just so hot out! I need something refrigerated. These days I go for a nice, crisp white wine, enjoyed on our little back deck.

Reading Mme. Fromage's account of pairing--what else?--cheese with a particular white vino got me thinking about food and wine pairings. This week, I've been crazy for a sweet (not syrupy) moscato with a tiny dish of salty olives. The briny/fruity combination crackles in my mouth like grown-up pop rocks. 

What about you? What is your summer evening snack? Or, do you prefer a summer evening activity, like a long walk around your neighborhood or sitting on your porch? What activities sing of summer to you?

a new (old) skill

So, on Monday, when I went to create that weirdly delicious summer salad I told you about, I ran into a snag. I don't know how I've gotten by so long without knowing how to hard boil eggs, but somehow, I have. 

I had to call my Grandma, who will turn 87 years-old on Saturday. She is my go-to contact with all basic cooking questions, like how to make a white sauce, or how long to roast a particular kind of meat, and at what temperature. And here is what she told me:

  1. cover the eggs with water
  2. bring the water to a boil
  3. turn the heat down to medium and simmer eggs for 10 min.
  4. immediately dump the eggs into a bowl of cold water and let them cool
  5. ta-da! hard-boiled eggs. 
I feel smarter, and even a little more grown-up for knowing this. If you knew it already, good for you. If you didn't, now you know;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

book talk: living in balance

For this Book Talk Tuesday, let's talk about living in balance.

So, I'm on Day 3 of my 10-Day Reboot. Made an awesome salad for dinner last night, and learned a thing or too about basic cooking moves in the process (but more on that later).

Every morning for the past three days, I've been practicing these flow workouts, and so far, so good.

But, I'll give you a hint about which flow is hardest for me: it's the one with the least amount of hands/feet on the floor. As much as I love yoga (and I do! It's a totally non-competative workout with a nap at the end--what's not to love?), I suck at balance poses. I've been having an awful time of it during my magical days of detox, and so I thought what any college instructor in writing and research would think, "I wonder if there is a book I can read to help with this?"

And while I didn't find a book about yoga poses per se, I did find and interesting list of books and articles to help with living a balanced life in general.

ProfHacker suggests creating a Whole-Life Grid to maintain a balanced professional academic life:

And then, there's this funny article about balancing swear words with professional words.

This is the book I'm reading with the hubs. The title sounds super self-helpy, I know. But so far, we've found it to be a pretty practical book about spiritual balance. 

There's always this aptly named novel which was recently added to Oprah's famous list, and which looks pretty darn luscious, if you ask me. 

If all else fails, I will turn to Kung Fu Panda: The Art of Balance. Apparently, in this illustrated print episode of the tale, Po is trying to balance his job at his dad's noodle shop and his new life as a Dragon Warrior. I totally relate. I'm sure that I have much to learn from this animated, endangered dude. (p.s. I haven't seen either of the movies yet, but sort of want to--to indulge my inner 12-yr-old, of course--anyone seen 'em? What did you think?)

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