Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spinach and Orzo Salad

I'm a little obsessed with Whole Foods Orzo Salad with Spinach. Ever since a coworker told me about their 2 for $5 lunch special, I walk to Whole Foods at lunch and get 2 small containers of the Orzo Salad with Spinach. It makes me sad when they don't have it.
While inventorying our pantry for our clean out the pantry challenge, I discovered a box of orzo. Hm, could I make my favorite salad at home? I did some internet searching and discovered a lot of folks like that salad and a lot of them had made similar salads at home. I used this recipe as a base. The only addition I made was adding these purple bell peppers. I stopped at our local farmer's market to see if they had anything for this salad and found these:

I found it even stranger that they were green inside!
I liked the addition of another crunchy item.

So I used:
one box of orzo (prepared as directed),
1/4 of a large red onion, diced
2 small purple peppers, diced
2/3 of a bunch of spinach, chiffonade
8 oz of feta, cubed
1/2 cup of Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of pine nuts
2 tbs of red wine vinegar
1/4 of olive oil
2 tbs of the juice from the Kalamatas
Salt and pepper to taste

Once orzo is cooked and cooled, mix everything together. Start with small amounts of oil and vinegar. You don't want everything to be soggy, just lightly dressed. Serve cold.
This recipe made enough for 12 so it would be great for a potluck or picnic. You can use any type of pasta noodle here, so what ever you have on hand would work. I did see someone sub out feta for tofu if you wanted to make it vegan.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In The Heights

Last night Ashley and I went to see In The Heights. We had heard it was good but knew almost nothing about the story line. We were pleasantly surprised by the lovely story of people living in Washington Heights, New York over July 4th weekend. Listen to some of these songs. I was dancing in my seat all night!

I'd only gone to the salon with my grandmother a few times but it was a lot like this.

The main guy was such a great rapper. I loved how they mixed rap and latin beats.

The cast debating what they would do with $96,000, the lotto winnings.
If you have the chance to see In The Heights, I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Flank Steak with Mushrooms

Tai and I decided to try to finish what was in our pantry before we buy more food. Our freezer and shelves is filled to the gills. Seattle Restaurant Week starts in 3 weeks. We decided that to save money so we could have some amazing meals, we'd eat our meals from our pantry til Restaurant Week starts.
I pulled out some flank steak but didn't have any ideas for what to make. A quick internet search pulled up Flank Steak With Mushrooms which was perfect since I had bunch of mushrooms in the fridge.
I didn't grill the steak, just broiled instead. We both really liked it. It was pretty delicious. I wish I had another flank steak. I made a pilaf blend which neither of us were crazy about. But the steak recipe is a keeper.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thoughts on The Language of Trees by Ilie Ruby

Shellie of Layers of Thought suggested The Language of Trees to me a few months ago. I'm really glad she did. The writing is beautiful. Ruby really draws you in a paints the most gorgeous picture of this town. The story was ok-love lost, then found again. I did like the characters, but I felt they paled in comparison to the beauty of the surroundings.

The willows here grow to enduring heights of one hundred feet, their narrow leaves and long branches bent towards the ground, never forgetting their home. (pg.14)
The rain clouds ebb and flow across it, causing the sky to change from dark to light and back. At this time if year the weather is fickle, sunlight interrupted by  light rain, which dissipates into fog. (p. 58)

Who wouldn't want to visit there? It sounds magical. 
 I enjoyed reading The Language of Trees. It was a lyrical escape. Beautifully written. I look forward to Ruby's next book. 
Other thoughts on The Language of Trees: Devourer of Books, Chaotic Compendium, and Library Queue.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baked French Toast

I bought 2 loaves of French bread the other day and miraculously only one got eaten. If you know me that's a real miracle. I've spoke of my love for French bread before and sometimes two loaves will get eaten in a day or two especially if I have some yummy cheese laying around. But one whole loaf was still around over the weekend. On Saturday, I decided we'd have french toast on Sunday and got to work on getting a recipe. I did some digging and found this recipe which I used as a base. I've added my modifications.


10 slices of bread (I could only fit 4 slices in one pan. I used 2 pans and had 8 slices total)
3 large eggs (I used 8)
1 2/3 cups almond milk (I used 2 cups of lactose free milk and 1 1/2 cup of soy cream)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (Used 2 tsp)
1/2 tsp orange extract (Used 3 tsps)

butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish.

use random slices of bread, slicing in half where necessary, squeeze slices slightly to fit if necessary. lay into buttered pan, in two layers.

Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, and extracts until combined well, then pour evenly over bread. Chill, covered with foil, until bread has absorbed all of custard, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day, depending on bread.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Bring mixture to room temperature, flip slices, and sprinkle bread with turbinado sugar.

Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until bread is puffed and top is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately with genuine maple sugar.

I followed the rest of recipe and got this:

There was a lot of extra custard even after I left it overnight. It baked up nicely and tasted delicious. It was very orange-y so if you aren't a fan of orange, I'd skip and use either a little more vanilla or maybe even maple extract. I can't wait to make this again. It would be terrific for a bunch or if you had overnight guests.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Pizzas

Tai and I recently tried 2 new to us pizza places. First we tried Brooklyn Bros Pizzeria.
I loved this sign.
We ordered the Bowery:
It was delicious! Tai wanted dessert (a cannoli):
A little closer to home, we tried Mod Pizza. I liked that their pizzas are only $5.88 for a 10" pizza with as many toppings are you want. Below are pictures from my first meal there. I've been there numerous times since.
This one has mushrooms, artichokes, olives and green peppers.
I also got a salad which came with garlic knots. Yum-o!
I'll be frequenting both restaurants again. Have any great pizza lately?

Friday, September 17, 2010

BBAW-Future Treasures

We’ve been visiting each other and getting to know each other better…now is your chance to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other bloggers. That's my favorite thing. Blogging sometimes can sometimes be a solitary venture-one person talking about books. I'm not fond of talking in a vacuum. That's why I join BBAW, readathons, and read alongs. To participate with others and share.
My goals for the upcoming year are to continue to share about what I read and  to participate in the blogging community. I love being here and I'm honored that you spend a few minutes of your day with me. Here's to another fantastic year!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BBAW-Forgotten Treasure

Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction.  This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!

I have 2 books to share. The first one is the one I blogged about yesterday-Almost Perfect. If you like an amazing love story with two wonderful and vulnerable people, then this is the book for you. I lost myself in their story. Logan meets Sage and is instantly drawn to her. Sage likes Logan but she can't let him close. Her secret could drive him away forever. You know when you meet someone and you want to know everything about them but then that one thing, the dealbreaker. But can you move past the dealbreaker and stay with the person? About half the book deals with Sage's secret, her dealbreaker. Can Logan move past that to be with Sage or is it a dealbreaker?

When my coworker lent me Sweeping Up Glass, I wasn't sure if I would like it. I don't usually read mysteries, but this book isn't a real mystery in the typical sense. Sure there's an element of what's going to happen but it's a story about life. Again the characters here stayed with me long after I finished the book. Like life, you never knew what was going to happen in Olivia's life. It was a ride but one with a comfortable blanket, surrounded by good people. I was surprised how many people had read it but I still hope that more people read it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BBAW-Unexpected Treasure

We invite you to share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger.  What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, then you know I blame Staci for a lot of the books I read and put on my tbr pile. I can't help it. She reads so many fantastic books! Earlier this year she reviewed Almost Perfect, a teen romance featuring a transgendered girl. Her review was so moving that I immediately requested Almost Perfect from the library. Staci didn't lead me astray. Almost Perfect is one of my favorites of the year despite that I don't read a lot of LGBTQ books. I give it my highest recommendation. I And I have Staci to thank for sharing it!
Click here if you want to read my thoughts on Almost Perfect.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBAW-Interview with Danielle of There's A Book

One of my favorite things about BBAW is the chance to meet new-to-me bloggers. And this year's interview swap is no different. I had the honor of interviewing Danielle of There's A Book.  She interviewed me so check out my responses on her blog!

Tell us a little a bit about yourself.
Well, I'm a stay at home mom of two wonderful little kiddos I call the Turkeybird and Littlebug. I'm also married to a fabulous husband (recently practicing attorney, yay!) who tolerates every bit of my book obsession with grace, except for when he's fighting over a book with me. Besides that, I love to read (obviously), write, play the flute and am very active in my church. I started my blog almost a year ago with the intention of sharing books for children of all ages in an effort to help parents find books that match their own children's tastes. It's been a labor of love and I can't wait for many more years of blogging.

I have a hard time posting on one blog so I'm in awe that you contribute to 2 blogs (There's A Book and Chick Lit Reviews) Is it hard posting on 2 blogs?Yes, and no. I have wonderful co-bloggers (Leah & Chloe) at Chick Lit Reviews who do the majority of the posting. My features generally run on Saturday's and talk about "American" Chick Lit. It's been great because I have an outlet to discuss something outside the realm of children's literature at least once a week. What is becoming increasingly difficult about it is the time to read, but honestly I think we all have that problem in some form! Too many books, too little time!
A lot of book bloggers have a book that turned them into book bloggers. A book they wanted to share & talk about with others. What helped start you blogging?
My reasons for starting my site had more to do with my children than anything actually. When my son was born he loved to read and it was hard to keep up with all the books. It was also extremely difficult to find the "right" books. I would visit bookstores and the library and be baffled at what to choose because he was very particular. Now, with his sister it's also quite difficult as she has very different taste in books than her brother. So, I knew I couldn't be alone in my dilemma and decided I wanted to help. Thus, started me on my book blogging journey.
What do you find to be the best part of book blogging?
By far, the association with other book bloggers! Second to that would be the association with authors. Both of these were completely unexpected, but I've met some of the best people while book blogging and I can't wait to meet more.

What’s the hardest part of book blogging?
For me, time. Obviously my plate is a little full with two little ones, but I make time by staying up late and squeezing things in during naps. I make it work because I love it.
What types of books do you avoid if any?
I'm definitely not a fan of Erotica type books as that's just not the type of book I read. The other would be self-published books, they generally don't work so well in the Children's book market.
What book do you love that other people seem to dislike?
This is a tough question! Umm...probably the Twilight series. Recently there has been a lot of speaking out against the series, but in all honesty I love it. I have every book signed and reread them on occasion. I feel like no matter whether you like the writing or books, Meyer started something in the book world that can't be denied and I'm very happy she did.
What book did you dislike that others love? 
Pretty much any Classic novel. I'm just not a huge fan unfortunately. My least favorite would be Wuthering Heights. I couldn't get past the first couple of chapters, it was too negative and confusing for me.

Advice for newer book bloggers?
Do it because you love it, not because you want books. Books will come, but the love will wain once the stacks become overwhelming. It's important to remember why you got into blogging. Because books rock and the community does as well!

Thank you Danielle for answering all my questions. Check out Danielle at There's A Book and Chick Lit Reviews and on twitter @The1stdaughter. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

BBAW-First Treasure

We invite you to share with us about a great new book blog you’ve discovered since BBAW last year!  If you are new to BBAW or book blogging, share with us the very first book blog you discovered.  Tell us why this blog rocks your socks off and why you keep going back for more.

Nymeth isn't a new blogger. I see her everywhere. I can't tell you why I waited so long to join the following. I enjoyed participating in  her Middlemarch readalong. She made reading such a huge a little more fun. I love her reviews. I sad she's going to be blogging less but totally understand why. Grad school will keep a person busy.
Do you read things mean a lot?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thoughts on Broken: A Love Story by Lisa Jones

I choose to read Broken after reading Bibliophile by The Sea's review. I liked the idea that the interviewee of a memoir could change the life of the interviewer. And it had been sometime since I read a memoir I decided to check Broken out.
Jones goes to visit Stan Addison for a magazine article. Stan, a quadriplegic, breaks horses and his methods are world renowned. Stan is also a healer/medicine man. Jones has lots of everyday problems-a boyfriend who won't get married, father issues, insecurities. While at Stan's on assignment she discovers a peace and calm she doesn't feel anywhere else. So for four years she travels between her home in Colorado to Stan's home in Wyoming to learn about life, love, and finding her center.
I loved the journey everyone was on in this book. All trying to find peace-within themselves and with others. It was a beautiful, honest story. It left me with a sense of hope for the futures of those in the book as well as for all of us.
Other who read Broken and shared their thoughts: Reading Extravaganza, Circles of Light, and Minding Spot.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marge that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
 After reading My Books. My Life's review of My Name is Memory, I immediately added it to my library queue. It had been on my to read list but her review pushed me to read it sooner than later. I've been getting more and more books but not reading them as fast as I like. I hoped I don't start relooting again. After I get through this glut of books, I'm going back to being good and only requesting more books when I'm done with my current loot.
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting My Geek On At PAX

For years I've been waiting to go to PAX, a festival about games (tabletop, card, and video games). Every year I miss the opportunity to buy tickets. This year my friends were on top of things and got us tickets for PAX. So Saturday morning we got in this line to check out what was coming out in everything games:
There were probably 1000 people in line when we got there at 9:15am (doors opened at 10am). Once they opened the doors we rushed in. I was excited to wander around the Expo Hall and see what was there.
I'm excited for the Tron movie coming out. And they had the new Tron game. I didn't wait in line to play the game but from what I saw it looked pretty cool.
I was excited to see the Delorean from Back to the Future. It was there to promote their new game.
Patrick thought this bike was pretty cool.
I bought one game-The Last Night on Earth-a tabletop game. The guy who was demoing the game was part of the company and worked on this game. He had a lot of enthusiasm for the game and it made me excited for the game. Besides it sounded like a lot of fun for a game night.
There was a lot I missed at PAX since I was there for a short period of time. I can't wait for next year and do it all over again!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thoughts on Middlemarch by George Eliot

Yea! Finally done with Middlemarch. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it. It was a long book and it took me almost a month to read. I summarized my thoughts halfway last week but I thought I would talk a little about the characters and why I liked or didn't like them.
Dorothea-Probably my favorite character in the book. Dorothea longs for a life different that she has. She longs to be poor (or maybe just not as rich). She wants to learn more and not be constrained by what's right for women to learn. Dorothea speaks her mind overall and, in my mind, is the most steady of the characters.
Mr Casaubon-I liked Mr Casaubon at the beginning. Over time, I pitied him. Here's this older gentleman, doing ok in life. He meets this young woman who wants to be his companion and assist him with his writings. After marrying Dorothea, it seemed like he didn't know what to do with her. Honestly I think he probably would have been better off with a secretary than a wife.
Mr Brooks-This man's speech patterns annoyed the crap out of me. Overall nice man, just never looked forward to him speaking.
Celia-Not as much substance as Dorothea. But she served as a nice opposite to Dorothea. Celia was happy to get married, have babies, and do as expected by the rest of society.
Rosamond-Similar to Celia. She was a good opposite to Dorothea as well. I did want to write her off but she proved helpful at the end. After she marries Mr Lydgate, Rosy has to learn that life sometimes isn't as easy as it was when you live with your folks.
Fred & Mary-Probably my favorite couple. I loved the evolution of "them". I was excited by their happy ending in the Finale. I also liked her mother and father. Could have read a book about the Garths on their own happily.
Will-My favorite male character. In the beginning he seemed like a shyster but redeemed himself in my eyes by refusing Mr Bulstrode's money and attempting to leave Dorothea to live her life without his interference.
Overall I enjoyed Middlemarch. Especially the last half. Once I understood what was going on and what Eliot was trying to do (the life of a town's inhabitants and how they affect each other), I relaxed and enjoyed Middlemarch. It's a beautiful story of love, family, honor, trust, patience, and society.
Other's who have read and shared their feelings on Middlemarch: Things Mean A Lot, Vishy's Blog, and  Bookstove.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marge that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
Don't you love it when books you've been waiting on become available? It's like Christmas. Problem is they tend to come in clumps. What can you do?
Starting on the upper left is Bayou which I read about on The Bookgirl of Mur-y-Castell. It sounded like such a great graphic novel. I wanted to read it immediately. Next (top right) is Feed. I've been excited about this book for a while. Then The Language of Trees which was recommended by Shellie at Layers of Thought. Lastly Dime Store Magic, the next in Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series.
Are you on Goodreads? Friend me!
What did you get this week?