Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sigur Rós



Jon and I saw one of our favorite bands, Sigur Rós, perform at the Fillmore Detroit on Tuesday night. It was an emotional evening, both because of the great depth Sigur Rós portrays in its music and because their music reminds me of so many events and milestones that Jon and I have gone through these past five years.





I loved their finale of Gobbledigook, complete with a drum line and confetti. This picture definitely doesn't do it justice.

One day, we hope to travel to Iceland to see them perform live. One day...



Monday, September 22, 2008

Soup Swap: White Chicken Chili

Soup swap

Many thanks to Jessica of Turkey Cookies for hosting an autumn soup swap. I took her queue a few weeks ago to start making big batches of soup and freezing for work lunches and it's worked out great for us so far. It's so nice to have the variety each day rather than eating leftovers of one type of soup for an entire week! And it's nice to not have to think about what's for lunch (or dinner) during the week now that we're so busy in the evenings and running around to different events and classes.

I first sampled this recipe three years ago at my friend, Linda's, annual chili party. I'd never tried white chili before and I officially became addicted to this stuff. The recipe is super easy to make and can feed Jon and I for about a week. I'm sure it makes at least 12 servings.







Linda's White Chicken Chili

47.6 oz.Great Northern White Beans (undrained)
6 cooked/chopped chicken breast
1 extra large onion chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
8oz can green chilis
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
6 cups chicken broth (1 large can)
1 block Monterrey Jack cheese

1. Boil chicken breast until cooked. Cut into bite-sized pieces
2. Saute onion, garlic, chilis, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper for 15 minutes.
3. In large stock pot, add beans and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and add sauteed ingredients.
4. Add Monterrey Jack cheese to boiling soup before serving. Take off burner so cheese doesn't burn on bottom. Be careful of burning if you reheat the chili.


And, here are a couple other chili recipes that we've been enjoying around our house, thanks to Rachael Ray:

Buffalo Chicken Chili
Creamy Chicken Apple Chili



Saturday, September 20, 2008

knitting projects

I finished up the Twilight Saga this afternoon (finally!) and now I can get back to real life...

I bought some yarn a few weeks ago at an LYS 20% off sale so now I've got two projects in my queue.

1. Habitat, hat pattern by Jared Flood of brooklyntweed





For this pattern, I purchased two skeins of the softest, hand-dyed (50% Merino Wool/50% wool) from Louisa Harding: Grace Hand-dyed

2. February Lady Sweater from Flintknits (making this along with just about everyone in blog land, right?)





And for this sweater I picked up 14 skeins of Mission Falls 1824 Wool in Pistachio. It's a 100% superwash merino, so hopefully it won't be too scratchy.

I want to make a bigger dent on my zig afghan before I start another project, so I've been busily knitting away on this strip over the past few weeks. Before I started the pattern, I hadn't realized that it's basically just knitting up 8 bias knit scarves and sewing them together into an afghan. Scarves are not really my thing anymore because I get so bored with them, so hopefully I won't run out of steam on this project!





And I'll leave you with a few happy pictures from our house this afternoon:





The cats napping (almost) in harmony






and more zinnias from the garden



Thursday, September 18, 2008

Did I Expect Angels?

Did i expect angels cover

Did I Expect Angels?

I was excited when Trish from TLC Book Tours asked me to read and review Did I Expect Angels? I’m always interested in checking out new authors and books, so I was happy to join in on the tour.

Did I Expect Angels?
by Kathryn Maughn
172 pp.

In this novel, Jennifer, a widow and mother of a young daughter, is on the verge of suicide. While she‚Äôs out buying pills to end her life, she meets her angel, Henry, and he shares his story of grief with her. The novel switches between Jennifer‚Äôs personal perspective and Henry‚Äôs story to show how events in their lives are parallel. 

This was a touching and moving novel. The characters were extremely well developed, which made it very easy, yet emotionally difficult, to relate with their life events. Maughan’s descriptions are incredibly realistic and accurately portray emotions that surround depression and the grieving process. This book really delved deep into human emotions in an intense and powerful way.

One distracting point of the novel for me from a design standpoint was the italicized text used for Henry’s narrations. The italics weren’t necessary because it was obvious that they were switching back to his character and it made these sections more difficult to read. However, this is just a minor complaint about the book.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you have dealt with grief or depression before. While the book is a tear jerker, it teaches an invaluable lesson about reaching out to and uplifting friends or acquaintances when you see them going through difficult times. Jennifer was lucky to have two people in her life, Henry and her mother-in-law, who shared their stories of grief and how they overcame the depression in order to encourage her and show her a new alternative for coping with grief.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

another year older

We celebrated Jon's birthday on Friday night with dinner out at our favorite sushi place, a cupcake cake (thanks to my Grandma for giving me this cute pan for my birthday) and present opening. Now, Jon and I are both the same age again and officially in our late 20's.





I tried making this cake from scratch, without cake flour, which was a big mistake. After I had put the cake in the oven, I went back to read the recipe reviews and it only got 1 out of 5 stars. I need to make sure to check little details like that before starting a recipe. And, after attempting to frost this, I realized that I need some lessons from my mom! She puts me to shame.

I've been on a reading rampage over here, both for school and because of the Twilight saga, so not much crafting is going on. I did finish Betty's block, just in time, for the Common Thread's Quilt Bee, though. This was my first attempt at applique with fusible web, and I'll definitely be using it again for some other projects.





Friday, September 5, 2008

Maisie Dobbs

Maisie

I thought I'd add a little, once in a while, book feature to my blog. I
am going to school to become a librarian, so I might as well add books
to the mix of never ending hobbies at dontcallmebecky, right?

I recently finished
reading five books in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. I
came across the first book, Maisie Dobbs, a few years ago at a used
book store and was immediately drawn to the cover. (I believe that was
in my vintage travel poster loving phase). Having grown up reading
mysteries as comfort books (Bobsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children),
I was excited to find a non-gory, non-thriller adult mystery series to
try. One nice feature about the series is that she introduces character
and plot information in each subsequent book very minimally. I've often
read serial books that spend at least a chapter recapping previous
books in the series, so it was nice to just have a few flashback
sentences here and there.

The books are set in post World War I England and Maisie Dobbs,
psychologist and investigator, is a new style of detective who uses
body language, astute interviewing techniques and her acute sense of
deduction to solve crimes. These are cute, mostly light, quick reads,
but they have a lot of information about WWI and various lifestyle
facts from the 30's that make them interesting. If you're like me and
were a Nancy Drew fan in your earlier years, you'll probably find these
books to be just as entertaining. And, for you fiber fans out there,
Maisie learns how to spin, die and weave tapestries in An Incomplete
Revenge.

Here's the complete list in the series:
Maisie Dobbs 2003
Birds of a Feather 2004
Pardonable Lies 2005
Messenger of Truth 2006
An Incomplete Revenge 2008

Winspear has a new addition to the series, Among the Mad, that is due out in 2009.



Thursday, September 4, 2008

6 quirks and a swap

Kristena tagged me to list 6 of my quirks


1. I've never seen the Wizard of Oz. I don't think I ever will either, just so that I can claim this title.


2. After working in the towel department at Linens N Things in high
school, I'm now really anal about folding towels correctly. I've been
relegated to the sole towel folder in our house after I wasn't able to
successfully teach Jon the correct way to fold towels. I hate folding
towels, but I want them folded my way or no way at all. It's really a
lose lose situation!


3. If I know someone's bought a gift for me, I have to know what it is and it
kills me if I can't figure it out. I like surprises, but I also like
snooping. This quirk has ruined many Christmas and birthday
celebrations for me.



4. It really bothers me when people do not have bike seat heights adjusted
correctly. I always comment on seat height issues whenever I see them
(mostly to myself or anyone who will listen). People: raise your seats!
You should not bump your arms with your knees while pedaling and you
should not have knee pain from bike riding! Plus, raising your seat will make pedaling much easier and will save you some energy.



5. Before I start reading a new book, I always check to see how many
pages the book has, divide that number in half and then excitedly read
until the halfway point. I'm always calculating the fraction of the
book that I've completed.




6. I hate getting my hands dirty. I have to wear gloves when I garden because dirt totally grosses me out. Whenever I make cookies, I use a cookie/ice cream scoop to grab the
correct amount of dough. It totally grosses me out to prepare the
Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day recipe, but I do it because the bread
is so tasty.

Those are my quirks, now let's hear yours! Leave one of your quirks in the comments section if you like or post 6 quirks on your blog  :)

• • •





I joined this vintage sheet swap at Crafty Little Beana a few weeks ago and have had fun scouring local thrift shops for sheets and pillowcases. Here's a sample of the fabric that I sent in for the swap. I can't wait to see what I get in return!



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

knitting time

While I'm sad that summer is drawing to a close around here, I'm getting excited to get back into knitting for the fall and winter. I've got two new protégés to teach (Jon and my sister, Rachel), and I'm on the lookout for new things to try myself.

Knitalong
 
A few weeks ago I picked up 5 skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca with only
a vague idea of what I wanted to make. I've never gone into a yarn
store and bought anything on a whim before like this, so I was lucky to
find the perfect pattern for this yarn! I'm planning on making Olive's
afghan that's featured on the cover of knitalong
(zig zag afghan, bottom middle). It's actually made in the yarn that I
purchased, so I'm all set to go. I just got the book in the mail and
now I just need to wind these hanks into a ball.




PS. You can check out Craftsanity's interview with the authors of knitalong here.



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

canning

My grandma gave me a do it yourself canning starter kit from her personal collection and I finally got to put it to good use yesterday. It's too bad that gardens aren't harvested in the winter when a hot and steamy kitchen would be a welcome temperature from the outside cold!




I made some crushed tomatoes





and some peach jam

My new canning book is going to get a workout this fall.

It was so exciting to boil the peaches and tomatoes and then miraculously peel off the skin in preparation for canning. But, the thrill ran out after about 3 skin peels...oh well!

For all of you canning experts reading, do you have any tips for getting the chunks in the jam to spread out evenly through the whole jar? I tried pushing them to the bottom with a bamboo skewer, but they just floated back up to the top.

And...here's my favorite new vegetable that we're growing this summer: japanese eggplant. Isn't the color gorgeous?! It's so tasty in Jon's vegetable stir fry.




Monday, September 1, 2008

garden fresh



It's harvest time around here. We are so appreciative of all our our work during the summer when we're able to use and enjoy our fresh vegetables and flowers.

We spent Saturday and Sunday entertaining friends and here are a few things that we made to eat. It was so much fun to spend Saturday afternoon in the kitchen with Jon playing with vegetables!



Lemony Tuna Salad by Rachael Ray






Greek Pasta Salad (a summer favorite! The dressing is delicious)






Veggie Kabobs





Fresh Basil for basil pesto


And, excitement of all excitement, I'm blogging from my new iMac. My four year old Powerbook, while it's been great for me, will no longer cut it for my grad school computer classes, so I had to do a little upgrade. Thank goodness for my student discount (with my new, official school ID!) and a free printer and ipod (for Jon).