Friday, March 30, 2012

Five Gratitudes

Man-o-man, am I grateful it is Friday! Still working on finding my mind...and totally glad that now I have two days of weekend to seriously try and locate it:)

Here's what I'm grateful for today:

1. It's been raining here in the city all afternoon. And, while this has made for some pretty adventurous dashes to and from classes, I am grateful for the soft, meditative sound of rain.

2. I'm grateful for laughter. (I'm also grateful to Jo for her tip on this hilarious tumblr, a definite source of out-loud laughter for me today!)

3. I'm grateful for this beautiful look at the grace and precision of ballet.

4. I'm grateful for the da Vinci glow.

5. Last but not least, I'm grateful that my sister is hosting a little girls' night tonight--an excuse to try out this fresh, easy-seeming appetizer.

What about you? What are you grateful for this week?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

go find yo mind!


Hey all! Sorry for the long silence...I've been trying to get a handle on things. So much to share with you! Last week, I was in St. Louis for this professional conference, which was fun and interesting. However, I feel like my life/schedule/brain has been thrown off-kilter by that chunk of traveling. As I slowly attack the pile of projects I have to grade, I'm also trying to get back in the swing of my own personal writing and blogging--so, I hope to see more of you all here, soon:). Hope this post finds you all well, and with at least some idea of where your brain is!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

book talk: mongolian feminism

So, I am almost finished with this book, which I picked up at the library partially for it's cool cover image, and partially for its intriguing title. I am always interested in powerful women, and this book seemed to promise an encouraging tale of women in power, doing great things, rescuing an empire.

Of course, history is never as neat and tidy as we'd like to imagine, and this book offered less "women-as-heroes" moments than I'd expected. Also, it really highlights the deeply engrained patriarchal tendencies of men, even in a society established to be so egalitarian as Genghis Khan's empire seemed to be. (Genghis Khan: Mongolia's first feminist? Pretty cool.)

The overarching story is less about one generation of women (as the title might imply) and more about important women rising to power, holding power, staging revolutions and just being general bad-asses over the course of several generations. That kind of consistency has a lasting effect, and this book is ultimately encouraging in a wholly un-glamorous, un-hollywood, but totally real way.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meatless Monday: St. Pat's treats for St. Pat's date night

Hello! Hello! Well, I am back from a head-spinningly-fast Spring Break--fairly rested, and ready to tackle the rest of this semester. I hope that you had a great week last week, enjoyed some spring weather, and got (maybe a little?) rest, too.

Even though this weekend was a frantic shuck-and-dive routine, trying to get all my last minute to-dos taken care of before crashing back into the swing of things, Jake and I did have a fun little date night on Saturday. We sat on our little deck, sipping Irish cocktails, nibbling on Irish cheddar and chatting a bit with our neighbors. Then, we took a long walk around the park to soak in the beautiful, mild spring evening. 

I thought I'd share with you a couple of the treats I made for our St. Patrick's day date night. Neither have meat...but I have to confess that I definitely made a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner (in my crock pot, no less!), so there was meat hanging around...

But not in these beauties:

These vegan dark chocolate stout brownies have really made the rounds on blogs and pinboards, and they look so great in the photo that I just had to try them. Plus, let's face it, I was buying Guinness anyway... The blackbeans were surprisingly silent partners in this recipe--I don't taste them in the brownies at all. I do, however, notice them in the texture. This recipe makes for a cakey, really substantial-feeling brownie. You're really getting your protein with these puppies. I'm so glad I added the optional chocolate chips--they really make the brownies (as in, I think it is what moves your brain from the "I'm eating a vegan bread" train of thought to the "I'm eating a brownie" train).

Our Irish cocktails were called Irish bucks. I found this recipe for the fizzy drinks, which turned out very festive. I wondered, though, if the drink was related in any way to the Moscow mule, a cocktail that is almost exactly the same, except sub in vodka for the Irish whiskey.

What about you? Any festive foods (with or without meat) that you tried out over the weekend?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Five Gratitudes

Ah, spring break. A magical time. A time when the frantic pace of the semester abruptly halts, and everyone gets a chance to breathe. This year, I'm especially ready.

1. I'm grateful for the chance to lay down, maybe stretch a little, and relax.

2. I'm grateful that I won't have to wake up until my body wants to.

3. I'm grateful that these books are the only things I'll have to read.

4. I'm grateful that I'll have time to shop for the ingredients and make this spicy dish.

5. I'm grateful that I can finally sit down and start planning our trip. (that's right, we're going to Spain and France this summer!!! I'll post the story soon:)

Spring Break!!!

Today is the last day of school before spring break at my university. I am thrilled that we will have this time off, since for the past couple of months I've been working through the weekends, grading papers and checking homework. I found this great reminder about how to make the most of time off, and it seemed only appropriate to post it, you know, to ring in spring break.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

book talk: a cup of exoticism

I am just about finished reading A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez. It has been a fascinating read. Ok, so not necessarily for the plot, per se, but for the saturated experience of a wholly "other" world. Set in Kabul, Afghanistan, the story centers around a coffee house run by an American woman (not unlike the author herself...). There are several female characters, western and Afghan alike, who are strong, likeable, yet still very human. The plot has some genuinely tense moments, but not enough to call this a "gripping"  story. But, Rodriguez does manage to translate the sights, sounds and smells of Kabul and the surrounding mountains with a harsh, vivid distinction that feels as clear and firm as winter wind.  Notwithstanding some of the more predictable (or maybe just chic-lit-ish?) moments, the insights into a land and culture so different, so easily misunderstood by so many, were weighty and valuable. I have to say I've enjoyed this read immensely, and have certainly learned from it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meatless Monday: lemons and legumes

Hey all! Glad to be back posting another Meatless Monday. I confess, our diet has been pretty crazy this past week: Jake is working on thesis stuff, and I'm trying to grade my butt off so that I can truly have a real break over spring break. I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the grading tunnel! So, in that spirit, here are the meatless meals I'm planning to try this week:

Definitely still yearning for comfort food (the grading is halfway done...but still only halfway!), and so I am excited to try these black bean, avocado and goat cheese beauties.

And because the grading still calls, I'll need to make a big batch of something that we can eat off of for a couple of days, like this Moroccan chickpea salad. It looks so fresh, yet filling.

Still, what's a springy, comfort-food-ish week without desserts? (which, we all know, make the perfect antidote for stressed people;) I'm dying to try this lemon yogurt cake from Ina Garten, it will hit just the right note, I think.

What about you? Making any cool meatless dishes this week?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Marching Forward

Hello, friends! Happy March to you:) 

Sorry that I've been a little awol lately. February just flew by--and I had barely a second to breathe, much less keep on top of my posts! I felt like I was running around in circles.

Well, after plugging away extra diligently at my large pile of papers to be graded, getting some big meetings and focus groups finished up, and hanging out with my best friend who was in town from Chicago (!) I am feeling slightly calmer. Slightly more at peace with work. I feel like I have so much to share with you all! 

Seems like it's just the perfect time to start fresh. New month, new outlook. Spring will be here soon (except that in the Mitten, "soon" means in May).

So with that, I do hope you're all feeling "straightened out," ready to march forward into what lies ahead.  Ready or not, here we go!
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