Disney themed baby clothes

February 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm (links, random)

Saving this link for later, as I have a plethora of baby having friends:

“it’s a small world” themed collection at Nordstrom’s

Duuude. The “Japanese Tea” skirt? ADORABLE.

This is the first of four collections, each themed after a country and a season: Japanese Spring, Indian Summer, Scottish Fall (did you hear that, Bethany?? 🙂 ), and Russian Holiday.

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The Horse and His Boy

February 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm (reading)

Meh. That’s how I feel about this book, the latest on my list. Kind of a let down, after how much I loved Prince Caspian… no wonder they haven’t made a movie version of this yet?? 🙂

I was mostly disappointed with how little overall plot there was. Really, the whole plot can be summed up in (spoiler alert) they run away from mean people, and then they fight mean people, and they win. Actually, I guess that’s the point of Prince Caspian too, but at least in that book we saw Caspian grow up, and the Kings/Queens were more involved.

One of my favorite aspects of Lewis’s writing is the spiritual allegories. I don’t normally read fantasy fiction, so that aspect of the Chronicles is a little tougher for me. But the spiritual allegories, particularly in the first three I read (Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe/Prince Caspian/Magician’s Nephew), were so strong and beautifully done that I was hooked on the story. The Horse and His Boy is allegedly a conversion story, but I just didn’t have the same connection to it as I did to the others.

Next is Voyage of the Dawn Treader, if the library has it, so we’ll see how that goes. 🙂

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Ecclesiastes 10:14

February 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm (family, random)

“…no one really knows what is going to happen; no one can predict the future.”
-Ecclesiastes 10:14

We’ve been going through Ecclesiastes in our Bible study at church, and for the most part it’s a depressing/uninteresting book. (Sorry, God.) However, this week, the verse above came up – and Tyler and I couldn’t help but look at each other and laugh.

Like I mentioned a few posts ago, we’ve been having an ongoing discussion lately about the future. Jobs, family, where to live, going back to school, etc. You name it, we’ve probably considered it! We’ve been waiting on a few job prospects for both of us, and are hemming and hawing about making any other plans until we hear back. We’re major planning types, so to not have a sure plan is driving us crazy.

But this verse… it just seemed to come at the perfect time. Our pastor read it, and then talked about how sometimes you just have to go for it without worrying about if it’s the right time. I don’t think either of us believed when we entered college that we’d get married 3.5 years later, but we went for it and it’s been an amazing 2.75 years. Going to be pondering on this verse for the rest of the week… how many areas of my life do I just need to let go and trust God in? Who cares if it’s my “right time” – is it God’s time?

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First attempt at homemade bread

February 22, 2011 at 7:31 pm (recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

Woohoo, look at that! Two new recipes this week!

In an effort to cut out as much processed food as possible (I deal with some blood sugar issues, so the more natural the food, the easier time I have) I decided to make bread this weekend. I also decided to make bread because I finally bought a loaf pan and couldn’t wait to use it. 🙂

I used the following recipe, which came in with my Kitchenaid mixer, in a rather useful little cookbook. I was stupid and was going to halve the recipe, but then I added all the water. Sooo, then I had to add more flour/yeast/etc. Which completely messed up the order you’re supposed to go in. The resulting loaves were a little dense, but still tasted amazing.

Rapid Mix Cool Rise White Bread
6 to 7 cups flour
2 TBS sugar
3 1/2 tsp salt
3 packages yeast
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups very warm water (120-130 degrees)

Mix 5 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and butter in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to speed 2, mix for 20 seconds. Gradually add warm water and mix for 1 1/2 minutes longer. Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and a towel, let rest for 20 minutes. (At this point, my dough looked awful, not kneaded enough, but I was paranoid about over mixing so I stuck it in the fridge and crossed my fingers. Somehow, it looked like normal dough when I pulled it out. Not sure how that happened, but yay.)

Divide dough in half, shape each half into a loaf and place in greased loaf pans. Brush each loaf with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 to 12 hours.

When ready to bake, uncover dough and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Puncture any gas bubbles, then bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Let me know if you make this bread – I might be thinking of resolving to make all of our own bread products from now on. Although considering I’m hoping to be a first year teacher come this fall… that might be crazy. 🙂

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New Recipe: Caprese Bruschetta

February 20, 2011 at 6:45 pm (recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

Yay! I tried a new recipe this week! And… it’s one I made up myself. 🙂

Well, sorta. It’s really not that difficult and is a pretty basic concept. It does have a cool/long back story though.

My absolute favorite restaurant is California Grill at Disney World. We’ve been twice, and both times we’ve had the triple cheese flatbread with sun dried tomatoes and arugula pesto. Then, at Food and Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure in May 2010, we heard Angelo from Angelo and Franco talk about their work making authentic Italian mozzarella and other cheeses here in Los Angeles. They made caprese salads for all 100 of us attending the presentation, and I was highly impressed with the quality of the mozzarella. Spent the next few months looking for their cheeses, but they were only available at Whole Foods for a while, and let’s face it, I’m lazy and there’s not a Whole Foods near us. Then! Glory of glories! They are now selling Angelo and Franco at Fresh and Easy!

So I picked up some fresh mozzarella balls last time I went shopping, and wanted to make some sort of caprese flatbread, to combine what we love about California Grill with what we loved about Angelo and Franco’s caprese salads. Garlic loaves were on sale, so I turned it into a sort of a bruschetta this time, but in the future, I want to make a pizza dough and use it for the flatbread base.

And now, to the recipe! You’ll need sundried tomatoes (I found them in a bag, julienned and dried. I think it works better that way than the kind in a jar, in oil. But to each his own.), basil, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic. I cut 8 slices of the loaf, then put slices of cheese on each piece, then tomatoes, minced basil, and drizzled balsamic on top. I stuck it in the oven at 400 degrees for about ten minutes, until the cheese was melted. If I were making this on pizza dough, I think I’d prebake the dough for a few minutes before adding the toppings – the tomatoes started to crisp up a lot, even after just ten minutes.

We each had four slices, and combined with a salad it was the perfect Sunday dinner. Sundays are our grazing days – we tend to eat a few smaller snack meals instead of a big dinner. Saturdays are intensive/big dinner days around here. 🙂

Any other mozzarella fans? I think it’s pretty much the best cheese ever!

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The Girl in the Green Raincoat

February 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm (reading)

This book, The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman, isn’t on my BBC reading list, but I picked it up at the library cause it looked interesting. I’m not normally one for mysteries, but this was more psychological than gory, and didn’t have too much suspense, so I enjoyed it.

Parts I liked:
-Discussions of the future in relationships/families/life. We’re having lots of daydreaming/future talks lately, and I enjoy reading/hearing about how others discuss the future. Is that weird? (Probably.)
-One of the dogs is named Miata. We have an ’06 Miata. It made me smile. 🙂
-The psychology behind a spouse who has lost/killed multiple spouses. Like Drew Peterson. I don’t understand how subsequent spouses can get involved with someone like that?? So I guess I won’t say I like this part, but it’s definitely a topic that intrigues me.

Super short, probably only took me two hours to read? (Caveat: I read super fast.) I can highly recommend it as an enjoyable afternoon diversion.

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Freakonomics, olive oil, and cheap wine

February 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm (random, recipes)

Just finished reading this post about olive oil and people’s preferences vs. what is considered good olive oil. It reminded me of this podcast from the authors of Freakonomics, one of my favorite books ever.

I will honestly admit that I love cheap food. One of our new favorite red wines costs $1.99 a bottle at Fresh and Easy. In fact, I love it even more because we can enjoy a glass or two a week, instead of saving and saving for one bottle of super expensive wine a year. I can’t taste a difference between cheaper and more expensive herbal teas, so most of the time I buy whatever is on sale. Steven Levitt talks about this in relation to his own palate in the podcast, stating that he gets a lot of enjoyment out of cheap food. Listening to him and then reading the olive oil blog post made me realize I’m the same way – and I kinda like that.

I’m trying to expand our cooking repertoire, cutting out high fructose corn syrup from our groceries, skipping hydrogenated oils, etc. In general, we’d like to be healthier and more gourmet, less processed. But sometimes? Sometimes the comfort that comes from a box of Kraft mac and cheese just can’t be beat. And I’m enjoying that part of our life too. 🙂

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Steak in the oven – I promise, it’s good

February 15, 2011 at 7:26 pm (recipes)

Still no new recipe this week. Perhaps tomorrow? Had a late IEP meeting for one of my students (I signed my first IEP today!! I feel so legal!!) and I needed to use some NY steaks, so I went for one of my old favorites: steak in the oven. Expected it to be completely dry the first time I tried it… but now I like it even better than grilling!

I got this from the comment section on an Apartment Therapy post eight-ish months ago. Thanks, random commenter!

Gather kosher/sea salt/whatever salt you have, extra virgin olive oil, and ground black pepper. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Sprinkle salt in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Lightly drizzle olive oil on to both sides of the meat and brush/rub it in. Then place the beef, fattest side up, on the salt layer. Place sheet on lower rack of oven and roast until the meat begins to exude fat/juices, about 18 minutes. If you have a thermometer, 120 degrees is rare, 130 is medium rare, and 140 is a nice medium well – our favorite. Once done, remove from oven and bed of salt. Grind black pepper on top, tent with foil, and rest for 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

For my sides, I made some garlic roasted potatoes and green beans/broccoli, and homemade iced tea to drink. And now, off to finish a Braille lesson before Glee. Yes, I am quite happily a Gleek. 🙂

Any other steak in the oven fans out there?? (Any other Glee fans out there?? 😉 )

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Prince Caspian, Valentine’s Day, and new recipe FAIL

February 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm (family, reading, resolution: 1 a week)

Today I had the day off… (happy birthday, Lincoln!) but I carpooled in with my husband to where I used to work, and where he still works. I got my oil changed at our local mechanic, then had lunch with some former coworkers. In between, I read and worked on some crafty stuff. I truly don’t mind just waiting around for a few hours at a time… I’m doing the same thing I would at home, but my husband doesn’t have to drive in alone and my oil got changed! 🙂

Started and finished Prince Caspian by CS Lewis while waiting today, so another one is crossed off my list! So far, I’ve liked Prince Caspian and The Magician’s Nephew better than Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe… Although I LOVE the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe movie, and thought the Prince Caspian movie was just okay. (Plot of the movie – very different of the book, in case you were unaware like I was.)

And now it’s Valentine’s Day… and we’re doing our favorite things to celebrate. 🙂 Since we were in college, we’ve gone to Chipotle for dinner on Valentine’s Day. We’re not big on paying a lot of money, or waiting forever for a table. So we save special dinners for other days, and on February 14th we have Chipotle and watch a movie together. Tonight was Wall-E, a Valentine’s gift from my husband a few years ago. I think it’s one of the best love stories ever! Then a gym date in a little bit, then relax at home with Chuck and House.

Totally failing at cooking one new recipe a week. We’ve been sharing one car for the last two-ish months (long story) and that means we get home late and end up eating out or eating our standard meals. Eh. We’ll try again next week.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Any other Chipotle fans out there? And Narnia fans – what’s your favorite book in the series??

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