Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Up From the Blue

This book, Up From the Blue, was one of those books that was kind of pushed onto me at book club one month.  I listened to the two previous readers of it review the book by saying they couldn't "like" it, but they did recommend it saying that you just needed to read it for yourself.  I think this is an accurate recommendation from me as well...let me start with a synopsis...

Tilly Harris has just moved back to D.C., heavily pregnant and alone (her husband is away on business).  She is attempting to unpack her house, which has no phone yet connected, when she starts to feel the first pangs of an early labor.  Knowing she simply needs to get to the nearest hospital, she goes next door to request use of their phone.  Tilly doesn't know a soul in town, has no idea where the nearest hospital is and has no idea where she is because she has yet to memorize their new address (leaving calling a cab out of the question).  So...Tilly calls her estranged father who still lives in D.C., but with whom she hasn't spoke with in over two years.

Tilly's father arranges a cab and meets her at the hospital.  This unleashes a torrent of memories from Tilly's childhood, specifically her 3rd grade year.  The most traumatic year of her childhood.

In that year, Tilly remembers the move from Albuquerque to D.C. for her father's job.  She remembers being packed up and deposited at her father's secretary's house, who watched her for almost a month.  In the meantime, Tilly's brother and two parents made the cross-country move to D.C.  Tilly remembers her mother being...well, crazy.  Certifiable, really.  However, Tilly loved her very much and was shocked when she arrived in D.C. to discover that her mother was...gone.  Not a trace.  Tilly's father goes along as though nothing has happened and just expects the two kids to pick up the slack.

I'm not going to say anything more because I don't want to give this book away.  But, I want you to think The Glass Castle and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.  If you've read either of these books, you know how engaging and...well...messed up things are in their plots.  There was, literally, a moment halfway through the book where I couldn't figure out if Tilly was just as crazy as her mother or if the craziness was really and truly happening.

I would definitely recommend this book, but at the same time say that it's pretty messed up.  Dysfunction at it's finest.  Let me know if you decide to pick it up!

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Fun and Flirty Apron

A couple weeks ago my mom let me have take a table for which I'd practically been begging for about a year.  Or more.  Seriously.  My craft room only had one table and it's really hard to keep a sewing machine (two actually), crochet and scrapbooking implements and a cross-stitch project stored.  All on the "little" table that David made for me a while ago, click here for that post.

Fast forward to last week, I actually had room to move both sewing machines onto this new, big table.  Because, let's be honest, a sewing machine needs quite a bit of space.  The space the actual machine takes up, plus extra blank space to work with fabric.  I was able to finally assemble a project that I'd purchased waaaaaay before we even moved to San Antonio.  ::wince::  Yes, I moved this project twice...and lived here for over a year before getting to work on it.  And it's not even that I was procrastinating...I had NO space (read: table) to set up my sewing machine in San Antonio, nor here in Tulsa.  Sure, I could have bought a big, project table, but those things are expensive!  And I've been shopping estate sales and whatnot for the past year to no avail.  This table saved the day.  Finally.

So, the back story to this project is that one day I was fabric shopping with my mother. (Obviously, this was before we had our current online quilt shop.) I saw a super cute apron displayed in this store and decided I HAD TO HAVE ONE.  So, I bought the pattern book and the required fabric. 

And it languished.

For over two years.

But, alas...I finally got around to it last week. 

And I LOVE it.  All the colors are sooo ME.

And I had so much fun making it that I've decided to make quite a few more aprons from my pattern book (including more of this design).  Having our quilt shop at my fingertips was a dream with picking out fabric for future projects.  In fact, I'd only intended to cut fabric for three or four projects...but, there were so many pretty options that we ended up cutting fabric for eight aprons. 

My plan is to see how these turn out and probably sell them on Etsy.  David's already telling me that I'm spending too much time up in the sewing room...oops!  Heeheehee!

P.S. I don't like to promote our quilt shop on my blog here because this is my personal blog, not business.  But, if you're interested in viewing the fabrics, patterns and other incidentals that our online quilt shop has to offer, just check out our website: www.quarterseamquiltshop.com.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Funday

This was kinda a slow week for me on Pinterest.  There just wasn't that much I felt the need to PIN. 

So, I thought this week might be a good time to share some more of my "likes" on Pinterest. 

Most of these, literally, made me laugh out loud.


Source: instagr.am via Twila on Pinterest

Source: imgfave.com via Kelsie on Pinterest

And, finally, I'll close out this week with one of my favorite quotes from my favorite book of all time. 
I totally get goosebumps when I either read or watch these lines...
Love me some Rhett!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kelsie's Infinity Scarf

I thought I'd share my latest completed and gifted crochet project with you guys today. 

I started on this infinity scarf using some super cute multi-color sock yarn and a half-double crochet stitch. 

And I love how it turned out!

The top pic is the lucky recipient and one of my favorite people, Kelsie!

The second pic is the self-portrait I sent her when it was complete (it gives you a slightly better impression of the scarf and what it looks like). 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Are you looking for a sweet, short novel that has a little bit of dry British humor that won't make you think too hard, but will still entertain you while reading?  Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is the ticket.

This book was recommend to me by my MIL, who if you've read this blog for any length of time will know is another big reader who shares her recommendations with me from time to time.  My MIL tends to really enjoy anything British.  She loves almost anything BBC puts out, loves the James Herriot novels, etc., etc.  So, considering this book takes place in...you guessed it...merry old England was no big shock for me.

The premise of this novel surrounds Major Pettigrew, who loses his younger brother at the very beginning of the book.  There is a pair of very prestigious guns that are supposed to be reunited when one of the brothers passes...and Pettigrew has a small fiasco trying to make sure this happens.  As a widower, he also develops a cute, uncertain romantic relationship with the local quick shop owner who also happens to be a Pakistani widow. 

This book explores the social ramifications of an inter-racial relationship at an age that is rarely discussed, for most post-retirement.  It also shows what it's like to grow older and have the younger generation in your family try to tell you how things truly are, where you should go from here and, of course, how to live...old traditions can die hard.

I thought this book was a perfect example of what we like to call in my book club a "palate cleanser."  There was nothing overly dramatic and my heart rate never got pumping, yet I still thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It's very cute and Major Pettigrew's dry humor snagged a few quiet chuckles from me.  Overall, I'd say this book was good and would recommend it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

So, I had some almost-expired cream cheese in my fridge the other day.  Does that every happen to you? 

The question was, what to do with it?  I didn't want it to just go to waste...so, I riffled through my cook books and found a recipe for carrot cake cupcakes that I'd never made before.  Upon starting this post I noticed that it's an Barefoot Contessa recipe.  Hmmm...no wonder is was so good.  I did mix some of the ingredients up a little, but if you'd like to see Ina's original recipe then you can click here.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
adapted from Barefoot Contessa

2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour plus one tablespoon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
just over 1 pound grated carrots
1 cup raisins

For the frosting:

1 package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line muffins pans with paper liners.

Beat the sugar, oil and eggs together in bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add vanilla. 

In another bowl, sift 2 cups of flour, the cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Toss the carrots and raisins with 1 tablespoon of flour.

***Side note: Let me just say that I shredded whole carrots for this recipe instead of buying pre-shredded.  I did so with my food processor utilizing the shredding function for the very first time ever.  I've had this food processor for almost three years and oh my gosh, it was so fun.  Maybe I'm weird for enjoying something so simple like that, but oh well...that's me! 

Add to the batter and mix well.  Don't use paddle attachment, but rather a nice strong spoon or your hands.

With a large scoop, fill muffin cups until almost full.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack.

For frosting, mix cream cheese, butter and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment.  Add the confectioner's sugar a little at a time until smooth and the proper consistency.

Frost generously then ENJOY!

These were super delicious, David gave them two thumbs up so, I will definitely be making them again soon!  Highly recommend giving these a go!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Giver Quartet

I think most everyone has heard of The Giver.  It's typically required reading in 6th grade, so many, many, many people have read it growing up.  This is one of my girl's in book club's favorite books of all time.  Recently she heard about a sequel coming out...then when she went to buy it she discovered that this is actually a quartet!  So, she immediately purchased each of the three books she need to finish her collection. 

I had initially thought that I had read this book way back when, but alas I discovered that it was actually Number the Stars that I had read by Lois Lowry.  Another fantastic book and classic by Lowry.

I've held on to this series for a little while because I didn't have The Giver in my possession, I rented it via my library book app...which took forever because there was (of course) a huge waiting list.  But!  Once I finally got to read the first book, I quickly read each of the other three in quick succession.  These books are very short and most definitely quick and easy reads.  They have to be considering they're written at a 6th grade level. 

I really enjoyed each, though I will say that books two and three are more of a companion to The Giver, then Son ties each of the three stories together rather nicely.  If I had known this starting out, I would have already read Gathering Blue and Messenger while waiting for The Giver to become available...but, if that's the worst that happens to me this year, I'm doing pretty well.

If you haven't ever read these before, I would definitely recommend them!  There's a reason why The Giver is considered a classic!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Funday

Anyone else ready for spring?!?!?!  This cold snap is NOT welcome...

Lovin' that it's finally getting to be nice enough to workout outside!

I'm known for being "hard to get to know."  I'm OK with that
because it means that the people
I'm really close to were willing to put as much effort into our
relationships as myself, but if you're wondering why
I'm the way I am...this explains me perfectly.

And, of course, there's got to be at least one book quote to round out the week...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shrimp Risotto

I know that this is probably going to come as a shock...but, I'm going to share with you guys a delicious recipe that I got from the Pioneer Woman's website.  I know, I know, I know...I'm surprised as you are.  Not.

I will begin this post by saying that this recipe only annoyed me in one way...it dirtied to many dang pots.  But, that's where my gripes end.  This was absolutely delicious and David LOVED it.  He scarfed down the first helping and devoured the leftovers the next day with zero complaints.  He did request the next time I make this to perhaps include some chopped jalapenos to give it a little zing.  I'll probably do that just to mix it up.

Now, this recipe on the PW's website doesn't have a quick and easy printable.  Nor does it even have an ingredient list...I'll share with you, approximately, what my recipe entailed. 

You can also click here to see this post on the PW's site.

1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
1 stick of unsalted butter
Worcestershire sauce
minced garlic, approximately 3 cloves
2-3 shallots, finely chopped
olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
chicken broth, lots of it
salt and pepper
2-4 green onions, thinly chopped

OK, here's where you want to start...melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Pour in some Worcestershire sauce, how much depends on how much you like Worcestershire sauce.  Then, add in the minced garlic as well.  Let this warm for a few minutes while you peel your shrimp.  Then, pour the sauce over the shrimp in a bowl, allowing them to marinate for a few minutes.

Pour a good amount of chicken broth into a small saucepan (I quickly washed out and reused the pan I used to prepare the shrimp marinade so as to dirty as few pots as possible.).  Simmer.

Heat up the olive oil in a separate nice-sized dutch oven.  Throw the shallots in and let them cook for a couple minutes.  Next, pour in the Arborio rice and stir it around a little bit so that it gets slightly toasted.  Pour in the white wine and stir.  There'll be a nice sizzle and the wine will then cook off.  At this point starts the inevitable...the risotto process of pouring in a little of the warmed chicken broth (enough to cover the rice a little), stir a little until the broth has cooked off.  Repeat until the rice is done.  This will take approximately 20 minutes and the rice will be done when it still has a nice bite to it, but is fully cooked.

At this point you want to grill up your shrimp.  I used my cast iron skillet pictured below...it worked beautifully.  And have I mentioned how happy I was to find that pin that details the best way to care for your cast iron skillets?  Heaven.  Everyone always just tells you to not wash them and just cook on 'em.  Ummm, hello!  I needed a little more info than that!  If you missed it from my last Friday Funday, click here.

After I grilled my shrimp, here's what my cook top looked like. 

Over on my chopping block, I proceeded to cut up the shrimp into bite-size pieces along with the thinly sliced green onions.

Once the rice was done, I threw in the shrimp and green onions and stirred it up.  

Yum, this paired great with a quick and easy Caesar salad.  I didn't want to dirty up yet another pan to cook some veggies...I was too lazy for that. 


I definitely recommend this recipe for just about anyone.  Super delicious and easy to make!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Secret Keeper

Hey, do you guys remember this?  I was so excited to get to meet one of my favorite authors a few months back and I finally got around to reading her new book. 

Ahhh...where to begin?  Like all of Morton's books, this one focuses on a female relative relationship...specifically between mother and daughter.  This book also likes to jump around in time, three specific time periods actually.  If you've read any Morton, this is no new style for her.

Laurel is a relatively well-known actress who has been called back home by her sisters to help care for their ailing mother, who is at her end of life.  Laurel is the eldest of four sisters plus a baby brother.  And Laurel knows a secret that she has decided to unravel before her mother dies.  This is a secret that Laurel has kept ever since the day of her baby brother's first birthday party.  This secret is that Laurel watched her mother commit a murder...but why?

Oh my gosh...this book.  I'll just start out by saying that I LOVED it.  I find myself speed reading occasionally and when I found myself doing that with this book, I literally stopped and told myself to slooooow down.  This book felt like a fine wine to me, I wanted to savor it.  Page by page.  And I will say that there are parts of this book that might appear to drag for some people.  I could see that, but I felt that they were imperative pages of character and plot development.  I was never bored and I was always excited to come back to this book and learn what happened next.  This will definitely be a book I read again and again in the future.  A new favorite, for sure, and Morton's best yet.

A Song of Ice and Fire

I decided a while back that when I have read a series to wait until I've completed it to review them on here.  Sometimes that works out when the series is already fully written and released.  Sometimes it's not and in those cases I'll just review the new ones as they come out.  I mentioned a while back that I read the first three books in George R.R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire.  If you want my review of those first three books, click here.

I will stand by my initial review saying that book three is when everything started to get really good.  I loved almost every page of A Storm of Swords, but for the rest of the series that can't be said.  Don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic series.  But, when each of your books is at least 800 pages...there's going to be some dragging.

I will say that A Feast for Crows wasn't as good as the third book, but it still was far superior to the first two books.  However, the last 100-200 pages makes up for some of the snoozing throughout.  I was fully prepared to give this one three stars until the last minute plot twists.  I was very pleased with those twists, in case you can't tell.  Four stars.

And now A Dance with Dragons? This one is right on par with A Feast for Crows.  However, I was glad to read that finally...FINALLY...we were seeing the dragons take a bigger part in the overall story.  Martin's been alluding to how big of a role they'll play in this series and again, finally, we're there!  Four stars for this one as well.

OK, so Martin mixed things up a little bit with books four and five.  When you've finished book four you'll realize this.  Because there are so many characters and the books are already so long, it was virtually impossible to keep up with every single character and scene while still sticking to his 800ish page published product.  So, while reading A Feast for Crows you're wondering occasionally "what about this character" and "what about that character?"  Book five, A Dance with Dragons, catches you up on the other half of these characters until you're about three-quarters of the way through.  Then, you're pretty much caught up and up-to-date on everyone.

This series was initially planned to be a trilogy...considering the fact that I just finished the fifth book, that didn't really work out now did it?  From what I've read online recently, it appears that Martin is planning to wrap things up by book seven.  So, two more.  I'm curious to see if he'll write books six and seven similar to four and five, as I've outline above.  Regardless, I can't wait for six to come out!  Hopefully I won't forget what's happened by the time I finally get around to reading it...simply because the storyline is so complex and detailed.  I would definitely recommend this entire series thus far, but just be prepared for the complexity and character load.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Funday

Happy Friday!  I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

I was so excited to finally find a good cast iron skillet care guide!

Source: jocooks.com via Crystal on Pinterest

I love this because I could define my husband this way!

I'm so ready for summer!  I love this skirt!

Source: obaz.com via Crystal on Pinterest

And it wouldn't be my blog without a bookish pin to wrap up this week!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Another Baby Blanket

I have to admit...if it isn't already obvious...that I love the pattern for this kind of baby blanket.  It's easy peasy and looks fantastic.  So, this is the third blanket I've made with this pattern.  I didn't have anyone in mind for it when I started because I simply bought the yarn for being too cute to pass up.  I mean, who doesn't love how those tiny letter blocks look?  I realize this could be a potential choking hazard at a later date, but for when a baby is just born this would be a great blanket for naps or perhaps a cover during transport. 

So, now the real question is...what do I do with it?  I'm contemplating 1) creating an Etsy listing, 2) waiting for another friend to get knocked up or 3) packing it away for "someday" for myself.  Decisions, decisions...


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