Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Some people agonize over what costume they will wear on Halloween.  Others (like my husband) obsess over which candy to give out.  Because, you know we can't be the house that gives out sucky candy.  Oh yea, and he wants to be excited about eating the leftovers.  

Me?  I contemplate for DAYS what my pumpkin carving will be...because I L-O-V-E it.  I like to change up what I carve every year, so I can spend hours looking at pumpkin carving patterns.  I just really wish they lasted longer than a day or so after carving.  Oh well!  

The picture above is the result of my handiwork last night...and you want to know the best part?  I bought a small battery-powered light on clearance last year (75% off after Halloween) and tried it out for the first time last night.  It is so awesome, it changes colors (red, blue, purple, orange) and even blinks.  So, guess who's going to have the most awesome jack-o-lanterns in the neighborhood?  You guessed it, this girl. 

I hope everyone has a safe and sweet treat-filled Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Grateful Book Review

I believe that today is probably a good day for me to review the following book, which I finished this past week.

With Hurricane Sandy wrecking havoc on the east coast and further inland, what's really important in life can become real...real quick.  Sometimes you have to just sit down and be grateful and thankful for your circumstances.  Both mine and David's sisters (and their spouses and children) live where a lot of this craziness is occurring...luckily, both have been spared any real damage ::knocking on wood:: so, that's something to definitely be grateful for. 

Following that same line of thought, being grateful and praying for beneficial outcomes, this book can shed some interesting light on our everyday lives as well as, perhaps, one's faith.  I initially bought this book off the bargain bin in Barnes & Noble and thought it more resembled a coffee table book than anything.  Not because of it's size, but it's layout.  The entire book is simply one separated paragraph from another.  So, there's not one big, long extended thought.  Rather, the author picks one thing at a time and gives you a short synopsis of it, including scripture footnotes if necessary.

The book is broken up into various chapters where similar ideas and premises are clustered: America, familiar phrases, literature, music, places, famous people, etc.  The idea is to denote what or who has any sort of link with or around biblical texts...along with some notations that people think come from the bible, but actually do not.  

A few examples include the phrase "the handwriting on the wall" and where the words "amen" and "beautiful" come from.  This book goes over dancing and why some religions might forbid it, as well as why some religions forbid women to become pastors.  Also, did you ever wonder who or when the different books were divided into chapters and verses?  This book explains how and when that occurred.  It was also interesting to learn that a lot of classic books, poems and plays have roots within the Bible (i.e. Vanity Fair).

I found this book enlightening and learned quite a few things through my perusal.  I would recommend this book, definitely, though I did notice quite a few grammatical errors throughout.  It's almost as though the editors just skimmed over it and rushed it to publication.  Most of the errors are the lack of punctuation and capitalization, but I just hate it when a book is like that.  It ruins some of the reading enjoyment for me.  But regardless, I would definitely recommend this book especially if you need something to read either on a plane, while you're waiting for your car to be worked on, etc.  I guess what I'm saying is that it's easy to be interrupted and then come back to this book.  You don't have to worry about rereading a paragraph or two to get caught back up in where you were.
And again, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

2 Reviews: a Book and a Recipe

Recently I finished a book I had borrowed from a book club member, Year of Wonders.  Honestly, I didn't read the physical copy of the book, but decided to experiment with the local library system's online directory.  Here in Tulsa, the library system has been heavily promoting their applications for iPad, Kindle, Nook and smartphones.  I decided to dabble in the application for the iPad and discovered there were quite a few audiobooks available for check-out...what luck for me, an audiobook lover.  And it literally takes only seconds to download.  Score!  I downloaded this book in audiobook format and listened while I got ready for a few mornings as well as when I would sit down to crochet.

The premise of this book is based upon a true story, about a small village near London around 1666.  The village becomes inundated with the Plague and the pastor of the church convinces the town members to participate in a self-induced quarantine.  This novel is told via the housekeeper of the pastor, who loses her husband and children throughout the telling of the book (I'm not giving anything away-in the beginning you're aware she's alone).  It's very interesting to read about how different people react to poor living situations and conditions, especially when they change from a relatively normal one.

I have to say that while the idea for this book is sound, the actual follow-through was pretty...meh.  It was one of those books that, when I put it down...I didn't feel super positive or negative about it.  There was no "man, that was an awesome read" feeling nor a "that book stunk" feeling.  I suppose I would say this book was the definition of mediocre for me.

On a higher note, I would definitely recommend looking into your local library system's options for book check-out via your reader or smartphone!

Moving right along...I thought I'd share a Dave's Fave (for breakfast) that I haven't made in a while: raisin bread.  This is one of those recipes that, while it doesn't take a lot of effort and there's nothing too complex about it, it just takes a while to make.  You know, the whole waiting for the bread to rise..twice...thing.  But, this is a delicious recipe and I would definitely recommend making it if you've got the time to come back to it a couple of times throughout your day, in order to move it along to the next step.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Food Network Magazine January/February 2011 - click here for their printable

2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for brushing
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
Cooking spray
2/3 cup raisins
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

Measure out 1 1/4 cups very warm water and check the temperature; it should be 120 degrees F to 130 degrees F. Mix in the yeast with the warm water, then combine both flours, the dry milk, egg, canola oil, honey, salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add the yeast and warm water mixture. Mix 3 minutes on the lowest setting, then increase to the next highest setting and mix 5 more minutes. The dough should be soft and sticky.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough has nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Dry raisins will rob moisture from the bread, so soak them first in boiling water until plump, about 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Picture it as a loose square. Lift up one side of the dough and fold about one-third of it across; press down on the dough with spread fingers to remove any air bubbles. Repeat with the remaining 3 sides of the dough.

Mist two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Divide the dough in half; roll out each half into an 8-inch square.

Brush each square with canola oil, then sprinkle with the cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins. 

The first few times I made this recipe, I measured out these, I know about how much.  It's really just a fine covering of sure to have the filling items all the way out to the edges of your loaf, otherwise the edges will be mostly just bread and no tasty filling!

Roll up each square of dough into a tight cylinder.

Place seam-side down in the prepared pans.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough fills the pans and springs back when touched, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the loaves with canola oil and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

I didn't roll this one quite as tight as I'd like, but it was still delicious!  Enjoy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Becoming An Author Groupie?

Earlier this year I went through the long and somewhat arduous process of meeting the Pioneer Woman.  Because EVERYONE (it seems like) wants to meet her, the lines for her book tours are hours long and you, therefore, have to make a pretty big commitment to wait it out.  My mom went with me and we really did have a blast.  Luckily, the book signing up here in Tulsa included tasty food from her most recent cook book (the reason for the signing).  And I was able to get all three of her books that I own signed.

Overall, it was a super fun experience and I don't regret the long wait one teeny bit!

With the advent of social media, authors (along with any other society moguls) can easily share when they're going to be making a public appearance.  I've begun following a lot of my favorite authors (and other celebrities) on various forms of social media including my Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest accounts.  How excited was I to hear that Kate Morton was coming somewhat near Tulsa, Oklahoma?  Very.

A lot of you might not be aware of who Kate Morton, I'll back up for a minute and fill you in.  About a year ago my mother was going on a trip with my step-dad and she picked up this book at a local bookstore to read on their journey.

She couldn't put it down until she was done...and then handed it to me rather forcefully and insisted I read it too.  Around that time the same book was worming it's way into my book club circulation.  This book is Morton's second and is completely amazing.  I highly recommend it.

Over the past year I've also read Morton's freshman novel...

and what was her most recent novel (released in 2010).

Kate Morton's fourth novel was released in the United States earlier this month and she has set out on a book tour promoting it...notably (for me) a signing in Kansas City this past Wednesday.  Kansas City is a short four hour drive from Tulsa and since I grew up there, I was more than comfortable with the idea of making a quick trip in that direction.  My mother, yet again, accompanied me and we even drove by the house I grew up in ::tear:: while we were there.

Kate Morton is an Australian author, so she's not like the PW...practically in my own back yard.  So, that was one of the reasons I was so vehement about going to meet her.  Who knows when she'll be back in the United States, let alone within four hours of my own back yard?  I have to say, she is the cutest little thing and I absolutely loved her Aussie accent.  And when she started signing books, I noticed she was a leftie! (notice the pen is in her left hand in the picture below) Who knew?  Must be where all that creative writing comes from. 

Here I am with Kate Morton and my (now signed) copy of her newest book, The Secret Keeper.  And yes, those are my other copies of her books in front of us, that she signed as well (yippee!). 

So, I guess you could say that I might be becoming an author groupie...hey, everyone's got their own "thing," right?

Be looking for my review of The Secret Keeper, coming soon!  By the way, if you want to give one of Morton's books a try, I suggest beginning with The Forgotten has been my favorite thus far.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Bars

I've mentioned before how David and I believe we have found THE church that we want to attend on a permanent basis here in Tulsa.  We don't always get to attend every Sunday, such as when we're visiting in Oklahoma City or up at his parents' in Kansas.  On those Sundays, we'll attend church at either our old OKC church or the church David grew up in (and his parents still attend). 

Approximately a month ago this had occurred, so when we went to our Tulsa church the following Sunday we were not aware there was going to be a potluck.  Whoops.  Now, David and I are both of the mindset that if we didn't bring anything to a potluck...we ain't stayin'.  I guess both of us had parents who ingrained into our brains rules about fairness and reciprocation.  Needless to say, we didn't eat at the last potluck even though a few church members requested that we do so.

Since then, I've started following the church's Facebook (on which they post these types of updates) and we were even in attendance when the next potluck was declared during the service's announcement period.  Said potluck was this past Sunday and so I had started to contemplate what to make.  Because we'd never even stepped foot into the church's eating hall or kitchen, I didn't want to be ambitious and bring something that either needed to be chilled, heated or plugged in (i.e. in a crockpot).  Cookies are usually a good bet, so I started thumbing through my cookbooks and decided upon pumpkin bars.  Since it's October and 97% of people love pumpkin...this would be a perfect fall treat, right?

These bars appeared to be a pretty big hit.  They ended up being cut in half yet again after the below picture was taken.  And I only brought four or so home at the close of the potluck...always a good sign.

Pumpkin Bars

4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 cups (16 oz. can) solid pack pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 cups golden raisins (they come in 2 1/2 cup packages and I normally use the whole box)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In mixer, beat eggs until frothy.  Beat in sugar and then beat for another 2 minutes.

Beat in oil and pumpkin.

Sift dry ingredients over the raisins and fold the dry mixture into the egg mixture.  Do not over mix.

Pour into a greased and floured 13x9 pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until done through (I normally bake for 45-50 minutes to ensure the center is done).

Cool on rack and cut into approximately 23 squares.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Reading Compulsion Reviews

Sorry, I was a little MIA for the past week for a couple reasons.  First of all, it was my birthday on Friday and while I was preparing for that, I was also super excited about An Affair of the Heart (AAOTH) and book club!  All three were on Friday and so, the week was spent preparing for these. 

If you're not familiar with AAOTH, it's a HUGE craft fair that takes place twice in Oklahoma City each year, however the October show is the "big one."  I wasn't able to go last year due to David and I living in/moving from San Antonio.  I've been attending this show since 2000 with one of my best friends and last year was the first one I've missed...needless to say, I was ecstatic to get to go again this year.  I'm not into decorating my house with super crafty items, but I do love a lot of what the vendors at AAOTH offer.  One of my favorite finds this year was a leopard pumpkin, a perfect fall piece for our mantel.  My friend, Gordy, actually bought it for me for my birthday.  Yay!

One thing I tend to do sometimes on the week of book club (and I don't know why) is in anticipation of seeing some of my favorite girls, I go wild with reading.  This past week was no exception...I read three books in three days.  No joke.  I don't do this every month, but I'd say at least once every three.  Something just comes over me and reading excitement overwhelms me.  I'll give you a quick wrap-up of these reads.

First up is...

Two of my best friends have sworn that this book, The 5 Love Languages, was awesome and I was intrigued enough to give it a whirl.  The premise is that everyone communicates their affection/love in one of five ways.  And if you and your spouse do not communication in the same "language," then there could be much miscommunication leading to many disagreements and perhaps even divorce. 

Honestly, I'll say that a lot of this book appears to be common sense, but it's so eloquent and appears that way simply because of how Chapman explains it.  I could definitely see how some of the couples the author uses as examples, didn't see how they were acting detrimentally towards their spouse/marriage until receiving counseling from Chapman regarding their separate languages.

David and I are super lucky, in that when we took the quiz at the back of the book, we speak the same "love language," which Chapman says is relatively uncommon in marriages.  Also, after reading this book I can see how many of my friends, parents, etc. show their affection/love, therefore what their "love language" is.

I highly recommend this's a quick and easy read AND your relationships with others might improve greatly upon finishing it!

Next up...

The premise of A Long Long Sleep is a young 15-year-old girl, Rosalinda, wakes from a sleep in a cryogenic tube.  Her parents would normally have her "sleep" while they were off on vacation, business trips, etc.  It turns out that Rosalinda has been "sleeping" for 62 years and that horrible circumstances, entitled the Dark Times, have taken place while she was asleep.  With her parents gone (and her being an only child), Rosalinda is now the heir to a grand interplanetary empire.  However, everyone she has ever known or loved is now dead...

This is a young adult read, and starting it, I didn't have a lot of high expectations.  I'd heard good to mediocre reviews, so I was prepared for a solid 3 out of 5 stars book.  And boy, was I surprised!  I really, really enjoyed this quick read.  The storyline was more complex than I had initially imagined and truly was entertaining. 

I have two issues with this book, though.  One, the parents do end up being villain-ized...I mean, they treated their daughter more like a doll that they could "freeze" when it best suited them, rather than as a real, live person.  I don't think that's an appropriate storyline for an YA should have been written for adults.  Secondly, this book leaves the ending (barely squeaked) open for a sequel.  Almost like they're waiting to see how well it does...then, if it does sell well, they'll obviously ask the author to write another.  I'm so tired of this "cashing in" revolving door that authors are taking these days.  Give me a good, long stand-alone book any day of the week!  Just my two cents. 

I definitely recommend this quick and easy read...but, only for adults.  If you've got a teen...nah.

And finally...

I'll admit it...I have a slight addiction to crime shows.  Criminal Minds and CSI are two of my favorites and when David and I had to temporarily live with my parents for two weeks last November, we discovered a new show that my mom got us hooked on: Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery.  Candice DeLong is the resident former FBI profiler expert on this show, detailing different women and their murders.  Delong is often compared to the character of Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs movie.  After becoming addicted, I decided to see if DeLong had an autobiography...and lo and behold...

After DeLong's retirement, in 2000, she wrote this autobiography detailing her life leading up to and including her career in the FBI.  She participated in numerous cases throughout her career, the most famous including the Tylenol-cyanide and the Unabomber cases.  Her final chapter also includes a personal safety (especially for women) list of tips that I particularly enjoyed.

I really enjoyed this book, but some of that might stem from my slight obsession in learning about this kind of stuff.  While I could never think of doing anything like this, it fascinates me and I love to read or watch anything about it.

That pretty well wraps up my reading obsession for the week...stay tuned for my next reading compulsion series...I'm sure it won't be long in coming!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Starting Out the Week Right

I think everyone's favorite days of the week are Saturday and Sunday, right?  In recent years I've come to love Sundays more and more.  And I definitely know that I have David to thank for that.  While my family can be very religious/spiritual, we didn't always attend church regularly.  Adding the fact that we moved around a lot when I was a kid, then tried to drive back and forth (5+ hours one-way) to visit family a lot on was just hard.  But, I was always raised with a strong Christian background and have never doubted my faith. 

David, on the other hand, lived in the same house the vast majority of his childhood and still retains membership of his hometown church.  When we met, I began going to church with him weekly and I really have noticed a strengthening in my faith.  While the two of us have both grown up in different Protestant faiths, we have much common ground within this vast network of Christian sects.

Luckily, we have found a local church that we've been attending the past five or six months that we've come to really enjoy.  Oddly enough, the denomination is not what either of us grew up with...but, after trying one early on that was NOT a good fit, David did a search on Google including keywords that are important to both of our faiths.  We found the church that we are now attending...and have really enjoyed it thus far.

Each Sunday morning I really enjoy heading to church and I think both of us truly enjoy the pastor's message each week...though, like any church, some more than others.  I look forward to getting to know members of the church better and taking part in more and more activities.

When we got home from church yesterday, I decided to spend some time and finish a book I had been nibbling at for a while.  I had about 100 pages left and thought that a Sunday was the perfect day to go ahead and complete it.

This book, The Dovekeepers, is a work of fiction that is based upon a true event that occurred in biblical times.  Because of this, I have labeled this post as both fiction and non-fiction...because it truly is both. 

The timeline of this book is four years, beginning in 70 C.E.  Now, you must begin this novel knowing that at the conclusion of this story, the community in which the dovekeepers reside, Masada, is completely obliterated.  The Jews within Masada are hunted like dogs by the Roman soldiers and while this community is able to survive for many months based upon the strongholds and fortifications of their the end, it doesn't matter.

This story revolves around the women that are the dovekeepers within this society.  The dove, as most know, is typically viewed as a sacred bird.  Because of this, the doves in Masada are (for the most part) not eaten.  However, their manure is used to fertilize the soil of the fields and their eggs are used for sustenance.  So, the keepers have a very important job within Masada.

Four women are focused upon within this storyline (Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah), specifically their journey in arriving at Masada and what their role within the dovecotes and amongst the other women becomes.  Each woman's story is so very touching and each is an incredibly strong woman, even though each may not think so about themselves.

I'm not going to lie, there were parts of this story that dragged a bit for me.  But, I think some of that stems from the fact that this book has zero chapters.  Zero.  There are sections/parts that are approximately 100ish pages long and while there is some dialogue, there's not a ton.  Because of that, this 500+ page book can be slow-going at times.

With that being said, I still really enjoyed this book.  Shirah (the last woman who's story is told) has an amazing background and story.  Plus, the book's ending is heartbreaking and breathtaking at the same time.  Obviously, since most everyone dies.  Oh, and of course, there are a couple of plot twisters. 

I would say if you're fond of Francine Rivers-type books, you'll definitely enjoy this.  I certainly did, just be ready to invest a little bit of time with this one.

Oh, and have I mentioned that I did pull the bike out of the garage for a nice, long ride this beautiful Monday morning?  Trying to continue this week on the right path...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cornbread Stuffed Peppers

So, this past week I decided that I really needed to use up all the vegetables that my in-laws left with us from their garden.  I saw this pin and thought this was a really good idea...only instead of using jalapenos, I'd use the big green peppers my FIL gave us.

So, I started out with the four beautiful peppers and mixed the cornbread mixture together. 

The cornbread mixture is super easy...I just used Jiffy and mixed up the batter according to the box's instructions.  Then, you add one cup of corn (I used frozen) and one cup of shredded cheddar cheese. 

Next, you want to cut the peppers open length-wise and remove the seeds and membranes.  Then stuff the cornbread mixture into the peppers.  And sprinkle with another 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the cornbread is cooked through and puffy.  I made these on the same night that I made my famous stuffed peppers (a definite Dave's Fave).  So, it was truly a "stuffed pepper night."

I really liked this recipe, but I think next time I'll use my MIL's corn casserole recipe and just stuff that inside the peppers.  It has a creamier David grew up with it and might be slightly jaded to it's flavor.

While this was a recipe I'll be amending for future consumption, I'd definitely say this was a winning food pin on Pinterest!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Sunday night and all day Monday I was suuuuper sore from The Dirty 30.  You know how when you overdo it, you always feel it the most a couple days afterwards?  Yea.  That was me...but, at least I can find some solace in the fact that I'm one of these people...

As we march right into fall, I need to really remember this...

I believe I mentioned a while back, that for our two year wedding anniversary David and I bought each other road bikes.  Tulsa has an absolutely awesome trail system and I've been utilizing this...A LOT.  In fact, my weekly exercise regime has been approximately two days on the bike and two days in the gym.  I think I'm in love...with my bike.  But, last week I got caught out when the wind was horrendous.  Ever tried to ride a bike in strong winds?  No all.  And since then it's been kinda windy and kinda cold (at least in the mornings when I work out).  And it's Thursday and the bike has hung on it's rack all this week, getting zero of my attention.  So, maybe tomorrow?  I'll keep the above pinned quote in mind tomorrow when I crawl out of bed.

With all of this exercise and soreness talk, I thought I'd share with you a pretty healthy recipe that I've encountered recently...and love.  I copied this recipe out of my MIL's Cooks Country a while back and haven't had any cucumbers on hand to give it a go.  Well, if you have a home garden...or have a friend or family member who has one...then you've probably noticed a run on cucumbers this year.  My in-laws are covered up in these and peppers.  With the cucumbers they gave me (David doesn't like cucumbers, so yes, they were for me and me alone) I've made two batches of this recipe and have loved every forkful.  

Creamy Cucumber Salad
Cooks Country

3 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin (home-grown cucumbers tend to run smaller/skinnier, so I used 4 and didn't de-seed since there wasn't much to de-seed)
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 tbs cider vinegar
1/2 cup sour cream (you could easily use Greek yogurt and health-ify this recipe even more)
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1/3 tsp granulated sugar
salt and pepper

Spread cucumber slices in single layer on paper towel-lined baking sheet; refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Combine onion and vinegar in a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.

Whisk sour cream (or Greek yogurt), dill, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt together in a large bowl.

Add cucumbers and onion-vinegar mixture, and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 


I'm seriously diggin' on this recipe.  In fact, I can't wait for more leftovers tonight with my supper!  Try it out, it's super quick-to-make and super tasty!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Zombie Domination

As I shared this past Friday, on Saturday some of my friends and I participated in the newest edition of The Dirty 30.  We had tons of fun, though it was suuuuuper cold.  Here were are all bundled up pre-race.

It really wasn't that bad once you got going.  I'd say that by the time we were a 1/4 of a mile in, none of us were really cold anymore.  Sadly, we did lose all our flags.  There were just so many zombies!  There were very few people we saw that still had their flag-football-type flags by the end.  Here we are in all our muddy glory...

So much fun...and I would definitely do it yet again!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse

A few months ago I mentioned that I participated in The Dirty 30 with a few friends.  It was, seriously, the funnest 5K I've ever done.  If you'd like to read my previous post about this (and another) race, you can click here.

Tomorrow is the latest Dirty 30, the zombie edition*, complete with event volunteers dressed up as zombies and chasing you throughout the 5K.  It's my understanding that you receive two flags (like in flag football) at the beginning of the race and the end-goal is to still have your flags at the finish line.  We shall see...

Also, in light of the fact that it's breast cancer awareness month, I'll also mention it's going to be "freeze your tatas off" cold.  Today the first big cold snap of fall has arrived...and it's making me wonder what I've signed myself up for, considering the fact that tomorrow's low and high will be 37 and 54 degrees, respectively.

Am I crazy?  Yes.  Am I going to have so much fun with my friends that it should be illegal?  Yes.

Wish me (and my friends) luck tomorrow!

*If you'd like to read up on the worthwhile charities this event supports, click here!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Healthy Taquitos!

This past Friday I did something pretty amazing...I got an iPhone.  Specifically, the iPhone 4S.  I'm not one to need the latest and greatest, most cutting-edge technology when it comes to phones.  But, in the past year I've had REALLLLY bad luck with cell phones.  And I don't understand it.  The usage of my cell phone has dropped dramatically, yet the last two phones I have had appeared to be super delicate and started messing up almost immediately.  Could it be a conspiracy amongst the cell phones manufacturers?

I'll bring you up to month after moving to San Antonio (April 2011) I bought an HTC slide phone.  I'd heard good things about these types of phones.  I bought the hard case to protect it and...lo and behold, two months later the texting stopped working when the phone was vertical.  I had to turn it horizontal ever.single.time to text.  Annoying, yes.  Deal-breaker, no.  Then, when we moved to Tulsa in November (2011), the phone started to mess up even more.  I figured, I only have a few more months to go for an upgrade, I can make it.  In February (2012), I accidentally dropped it (in the case) and the entire screen cracked and went super dim.  I hobbled along for a week or so, but then bought a new Blackberry off eBay.  I figured I just needed it to get me through to April (2012), when I'd claim my yearly upgrade.  April came and went and the Blackberry was suiting me just fine, so I figured I'd keep it for a while longer.  No point in buying it and dumping it just because an upgrade was available.  Then, within the past month/couple weeks it started to act up and I figured I just needed to wait a few more days until the iPhone 5 came out...that way I could get the 4S for cheaper than it was pre-iPhone 5 release.

You know, you hear that once you get an iPhone, you'll never go back.  It's been pretty fantastic thus far...I never realized how much more user-friendly they could be!  And there are sooooo many useful apps.  I figured out this week that there is a Hobby Lobby app, so you don't have to print off their weekly coupon to provide to the cashier.  Rock on.  Let's hope the cell phone honeymoon period here doesn't last a mere 6-9 months like it has with my past two cells.  Cross your fingers for's encased in an Otterbox, so we should be good!

One of the things that's super fantastic about my new iPhone is the camera.  It's way better than any camera phone I've had fact, I decided to take a picture of our supper from Sunday night and Tweet the pic.

Delicious-looking, no?  They were.  Big time.  I got this recipe from Giada's show, "Giada at Home"...also referred to by David as "Boobs at Home."  Have you ever watched this girl?  She's cute and skinny, the daughter of a chef and model, I believe.  The ol' saying goes to never trust a skinny cook, but I like to watch some because I feel they're more healthy.  I can't continuously watch other cooking shows (which shall remain nameless) where every recipe starts with a stick of butter or a cup of whole milk/cream.  At least, if I make a Giada recipe, I know my waist won't be expanding later on that day/evening.

But seriously, look at the girl.  She kinda deserves the nickname David has dubbed her with.  This is the kind of outfit she seems to wear EVERY EPISODE.

But, I digress.  Giada's recipe was delicious and I highly recommend you trying it.  David doesn't even like black beans and still really liked this recipe...of course, I waited until he said it was tasty before I revealed that tidbit of information.

Here's the recipe and if you'd like a quick and easy printable, just click here.

Turkey and Spinach Taquitos

Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 packed cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature (8 ounces)
Eighteen 6 1/2-inch-diameter extra-thin or regular corn tortillas
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded white or extra sharp Cheddar (4 ounces)

Serving suggestion: salsa or guacamole

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Spray a heavy nonstick baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. 

For the filling: Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch skillet. Cook the onions, salt and pepper, stirring frequently, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the turkey and cumin. Cook until the turkey is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the beans. Mash the beans until smooth, using a fork. Stir in the mascarpone. Place a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush each side of the tortillas with olive oil. Cook the tortillas in batches until warm, about 30 seconds.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of the filling into each tortilla and roll up into a cigar shape. Place the tortillas, seam-side-down, on the baking sheet and sprinkle with Cheddar.

Bake until the Cheddar is melted and the tortillas are crisp and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve with salsa and guacamole.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gone Girl

How do you prepare for vacation?  Let's just go through a listing, shall we?  You might have your mail stopped, ask a friend to check on the house while you're gone, clean from top to bottom, do laundry so you can pack, set up a dog-sitter, clean out your fridge...I could probably keep going, but I think that's enough.  You get the idea

One main thing I relish before a trip is picking out what I'm going to read.  For David and I, we agreed upon four books and ended up finishing two.  That's pretty good; our road trips usually consists of two, so we were right on track this time.

Separately, I had a few books that I wanted to try and either finish or read through.  One was Gone Girl, which is sweeping the nation right now.  It's been on top of the New York Times Bestseller list for weeks and the author, Gillian Flynn has been making the rounds.


In fact, it appears that the book will be made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon looking to be taking on the lead female role.  But, when you have this kind of hype and you're really looking forward to finishing the book after reading a mere 50 pages...doesn't it sound like a fantastic idea to leave the book in your car right before you leave for vacation?

Because that's what I did.


Oh well, I was able to finish the book earlier last week.  No biggie, this small hiccup allowed me to progress further into Les Misérables while we were actually on vacation.  Which is a realllly long book, I might add.  But, really good too.

Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard the premise of this book.  On the off-chance you haven't, I'll indulge you.  Amy and Nick have been married for five years...and after a celebratory five year anniversary crepe breakfast, Nick heads off to work.  Later that morning/early afternoon Amy goes missing.  And, inevitably, the first place the police and media at Nick.  And he's an easy scape goat, you soon realize.

The way this book reads (predominately) is Nick's present day telling and Amy's journal over the past few years.  So, while the police and media immediately appear to convict Nick, you as the reader have access to his inner thoughts and fears.  This is a new and interesting way to tell this type of story and I enjoyed it.

I don't want to get into the nitty gritty of this novel and what happens...because there's no way to do that without revealing HUGE aspects of the story-line.  However, I will say that I am not a mystery/thriller girl.  Over the past year, I've tried to read a few mysteries (in the classic sense of the word) and they just don't excite me.  But, I will say that I enjoyed this book.  Am I doing back flips over it and telling everyone I know to read it?  No.  But, I would recommend it simply based upon the literary quality of the book.  Flynn is an excellent story-teller and there are definitely some unexpected plot twists.  And everyone loves real, flawed characters; Nick and Amy both fit that bill to a of them maybe a bit too much.

Go and pick this book up if you're so inclined, it is a treat to read.  But, the world won't end if you don't read the newest and most coveted bestseller.  I'll give you the overall message Flynn said this book presents, that no one really knows what kind of person they may be married to... 


Related Posts with Thumbnails