Tuesday, December 31, 2013

links for your perusal

Some links. Exploring this vast internet one step at a time. 


Source: Cristina Vanko
This spoken-word poem really made me stop and think. 

Opinions on this comfort food?

Sometimes I miss pen and pencil, too.

If you have not seen anything cool or original today, your problem is solved.

For an inspiration slump.

If you have some time on your hands.

This TED talk by one of my favorite poets is highly recommended.

Friday, December 27, 2013

today is // a leftovers sort of day

this is, in fact, an authentic christmas cracker crown with used wrapping paper letters… waste not want not?

Seasons greetings! This past Christmas Eve, we had company. In an orchestra of preparation, things were shuffled away, the house strung with lights, a Simon and Garfunkel record crooned on the windowsill, pots nested on the stove for hours. I couldn't resist lifting their heavy lids and breathing in the steam. Beef simmering in beer and juicy salmon nestled in layers of buttery pastry (not cut out for vegetarianism!) and vegetables roasting in the oven until they became crisp and sweet- with more than enough for a few day's worth of generous leftovers!

It is now the day after Christmas, a darker day of contemplation. Clouds have obscured our temporary spell of sun and snow now falls gently. My hands feel chapped from the cold air. It seems suitable for reflection. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. The mornings always begin early, with presents stacked by the base of the tree. The half nibbled cookies next to the fire. The scent of fir trees throughout the house. I think it manages to make everyone retreat into a slightly younger version of themselves- there are few other times of year when it seems to acceptable to be excited about singing cheesy (eventually irritating) songs. The way all of our inner Grinches shed their outer layer of cynicism for a few minutes, a few minutes where the lights can dance in the reflection of our eyes and we manage to stuff ourselves to a level we didn't think possible before.

It is a leftovers sort of day. Excuse me, I need some alone time with this Ritter.


Hope you had a wonderful Christmas- and, oh my, is it fruitcake weather?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

recent reads // RANSACKING THE LIBRARY EDITION


Books from top to bottom: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (a re-read!), The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden

A big ol' pile of books to last me through winter break (hopefully). What are you reading? 

The Eugenides Trinity


Top to bottom: The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex, and The Marriage Plot
Jeffrey Eugenides has quickly become one of my favorite authors. His books balance suspense but without becoming unrealistic and always stay down to earth. His writing style is very visually appealing- sensory and not overwhelmingly wordy. I like his books because they are generally an easier lift a lot of other things that I read (for school, etc) but they have really interesting messages and are by no means simple or juvenile. He is a character writer, certainly, and you many be disappointed if you are looking for a very "plot-heavy" book, so keep that in mind.
*I have linked to the goodreads of each if you would like some more story details- they aren't so fresh in my mind. Here are just some of my opinions on the books*

The Virgin Suicides: An snapshot of a suburban childhood outside of Detroit. This novel is what drew me to Eugenides in the first place. The strengths here are definitely the development of the characters- the Lisbon sisters and the teenage boys that follow their downward trajectory. The sisters become awash in observation, harder and harder to pin down, and the boys are confused by their association and struggle to piece together what they see. I found that the ending was rather shocking, not unlike an ice bath, but I'm also fairly sure this was the intended dramatic effect. The pacing is kind of strange but still it is an (if not quite enjoyable or tragic) bittersweet read.

Middlesex: My personal favorite of the three. It tells the story of a intersex adolescent's coming of age, but also the tale of her whole family, generation upon generation. It is evident that Eugenides leans heavily on his Greek upbringing for the background of the main character. It is modern-day epic if ever there was one, stretching through the years and complicated issues that each age seems to face. The lack of plot found in all of his novels seems to "work" especially well here; it becomes more of a romp than focused on any particular character in a very intriguing and effective way. It must be said that this book forever changed my idea of the word "crocus."

The Marriage Plot: By far his least mature and developed of the three. Simply from the writing, I would have thought that this was his first novel, but it turned out to be his most recent. Personally, I found the characters unnecessarily narcissistic and self-absorbed, thus a little bit off-putting.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

today is... no. 1 // SICK DAY



"today is…" is a series (lol pretentious) of snapshots (UGH) inspired (oops again) by selected days

The other day, I was stuck at home sick. I don't stay home sick very often, so it takes a certain amount of effort just to get in the zone and slow down my mind a little. Links below. 

A favorite song off the album. 
This English Breakfast- strong and comes in a lovely tin.
Used a pre made pumpkin pancake mix but would love to take a whack at these.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Old Cookbook Gems


Found this old cookbook at a thrift store with the intention of choppin' it up for some collaging material. However, I was sidetracked (as often I am) by the recipes inside. Some of them cracked me up, including recipes for maple syrup, fish stick polynesian and other bizarre concoctions. 

Fish Sticks Polynesian w/ canned pineapple "tidbits", plenty of sugar and, of course, fish sticks!



"using a fancy pasta is still one of the least expensive ways to make an ordinary dish seem special" it's like I don't even need a punchline for this stuff.

Above, left: Pear Banana Lime Mold (has lettuce as an ingredient) 
Above, right: SURPRISE pie! Filling is oatmeal and coconut


In its full glory: Good Food on a Budget

It's interesting how our perceptions of what is "good" food and what is "bad" food change over the years. This haughty-high-faultin' derision of these recipes is not intended to be ungrateful in any way- I'm sure it's all perfectly fine food and plenty of people I know still eat this way. But it certainly isn't any sort of food haute couture (French words are that necessary extra oomph of pretentiousness). 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Florentines: HOLIDAY DELICIOUSNESS

*lures unsuspecting victim into blog post with pictures of cookies*
If your version of a holiday recipe is 1) open a bag of chips and 2) pour chips into a bowl, it’s about time to shake things up a little. The holiday season is the best time to try baking something new; we're trapped indoors anywho. Not to mention the warmth of the stove or the oven combats chill, the reward of delicious (if imperfect) food,and the perfect gift to give. Food is one of the best presents to give because it is not only delicious, but also fairly inexpensive and simple to prepare. If, however, your mind immediately pictures your kitchen engulfed in flames or, any other manner of kitchen disaster, fear not! All that it requires is a little elbow grease and some love and time. With that said, here is a delicious holiday recipe for Florentine cookies that make the perfect holiday present (or snack just for you!). 

Orange Chocolate Florentines 

Contrary to what the name might have you believe, the Florentine cookie did not originate in Florence, nor are they distinct to the region (they pretend to be Italian in the name of sophistication, I'm fairly certain). These delicious thin, crunchy, almond based biscuits are perfect with a cup of tea in cold winter months. If you would like to to gift to a friend, simply box in a pretty and/or hand decorated container- keep in mind that air-tight containers will allow them to stay fresh and crunchy for longer. If you would like to gift to an enemy, BOX IN ONE OF THESE AND LAUGH MANIACALLY AS THEY STRUGGLE (or any other devious plan that may come to mind!). 

Ingredients (adapted from the Ottolenghi recipe) :
Vegetable oil for brushing
2 egg whites
1 cup and 2tbs confectioners’ sugar
2 ¾ cups sliced almonds
grated zest of one orange (~1 tbs), substitute 1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 4 ounces of dark, milk or semisweet (depending on your personal preference, milk being the sweetest option) chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar

1. Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. On a baking tray, place parchment paper then brush lightly with vegetable oil.
2. Mix almonds, orange, vanilla, sugar, and egg whites in a bowl. The egg white and sugar should form a "glue" for the almonds. Get a bowl of cold water on the side. This where you should dip your hands before forming small mounds of the mixture. Space them out evenly on the baking sheet. Before “squishing” down each mound, dip your fork in the cold-water bowl (aim for three inch cookies in diameter). They should be very thin but without gaps between each almond (much thinner than your average cookie).
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until they start to get golden brown and crispy. Make sure they get cooked all the way through.
4. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds. Remove and stir. Repeat microwaving and stirring until the chocolate melted through. Make sure it does not get too hot, or it will burn and look uneven.
5. To make Florentine-chocolate sandwiches, dollop some chocolate into the middle of two cookies and let cool. Otherwise, you could dip half of a Florentine into the chocolate or brush chocolate onto one side of the cookie, and let cool. Store in an airtight container if possible.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Phone Case DIY

I though I'd switch it up a lil' bit with a DIY Phone Case.
I'm  embarrassingly bad at this sort of crafts thing on account of laziness imprecision issues, heh, but even I could figure this out. it saves you a bunch of money and you get to keep it ~*FRESH*~ and #QUIRKY with a whole bunch of unique phone cases!
I've only tried it with an iPhone as of now, but I'm sure it would work with another kind of phone as well. Just adjust accordingly, and good luck my friends.

Step 1: Acquire phone and case. This will probably require standing in the AT&T store for a few hours. It will probably eventually devolve into something like this, at which point you go just a little bit stir crazy and start to think of crawling under the nearest phone display and retreating into a turtle shell and/or you begin to see your bearded AT&T salesperson as Santa. This is not to discourage you, though. I bough my case online and any clear case will do. I purchased a Speck case, because I am a klutz and I hoped that it would protect the best (It's held up so far!) but you can get much cheaper cases on Amazon (disclaimer: I have no idea if these work or last as long).

Step 2: Find some pretty pictures to cut out from magazines or print out from online. I felt a twinge of guilt at chopping up some of my favorite magazines (SACRILEGE!) but it was for a good cause (right…?). It will be easier to cut cleanly if you use some form of thicker paper (like card stock) but this is not necessary.

OH THE AGONY
other assorted glittery things in direct daylight that scalded my pupils a little

Step 3: Use the back of your phone to carefully trace the outline of your phone onto the thing that you want to become your phone decal. Cut it out.

Ft. Socks

Step 4: Use your phone case to trace the outline of the camera hole onto the phone decal. Cut out.















Step 5: Put this into the back of the case and then stick your phone in. Voila! Look at you, Martha Stewart (MStew?). No more plain old phone cases.

YAY FOOD

Thursday, September 5, 2013

baby cacti, still unnamed




I am putting my green thumb to the test and have adopted a few cacti. 

sunshine toast for sunny mornings

mug o' joe, half of a grapefruit, and a "egg with a hole in the middle"
This slice of bread, fried in a pan with an egg in the center, is a strangely nostalgic dish to me. As a little kid, I called it "egg-with-a-hole-in-the-middle" which is makes me doubt my childhood critical thinking abilities because it is actually bread-with-a-hole-in-the-middle. Then again, as a child I once stuffed crayons down the VCR machine. Apparently, it is also referred to as "sunshine toast" which I think is such a lovely name (yes, fried bread/egg concoctions can have lovely names, too).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

we went to the beach (again)


We went to the beach, again, marking the second time this week. It was the last day of summer. This time, though, the sand was soft and pillowy and the sky was blue despite all weather forecasts. Parents held their toddlers hands, anchoring them again the gentle waves, and little kids whispered secrets among the rocks. 


we went to the beach today


We went to the beach today, a rocky one, yet dissolved by the force of the waves. There was a lot of hobbling, barefoot, through tangled webs of washed up algae. On the horizon, the city skyline faded into the hazy sky.

avocado w/ s+p on sourdough toast, cuppa' joe, and some strawberries