Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aloha! Packing for Hawaii

It has been particularly chilly in Georgia lately, y'all... so I can't help but think about my upcoming trip to sunny Hawaii!  I've been thinking about what to pack, and I'm full of ideas; I've been to Hawaii a half dozen times (I have family there) but this time I'm venturing off Oahu to Maui!

I'm checking a bag this time, since I'm traveling for 10 days and have a bridesmaid dress/shoes in tow.  So, I'll be packing my bigger Burton Wheelie, the Double Deck.  I love this bag because of its 'cram' zippers and 50/50 split; it's the magic carpet bag of suitcases, and you can pack it to the brim!  I'm also bringing my new Epiphanie Lola camera bag, which looks like a purse but secretly stashes my Canon DSLR and lenses.  I can't wait to take some amazing shots with my new camera!

Another must for Hawaii is, of course, swimsuits!  Being a curvy gal, I favor the retro style suits; I have two one-piece Jantzen Vamp Maillots, and they are my favorite.  I also have a nice halter two-piece from Target.  You should choose a swimsuit that makes you feel good even on your not-so-skinny days (of which I'm having a lot lately!).  I always pack multiple suits for Hawaii, and plenty of sunscreen.  I also plan to wear my pink Betsey Johnson sunglasses, because Hawaii is all about COLOR!

Lastly, I had to have a tropical dress to wear for LC's rehearsal breakfast and bridesmaids' shopping outing... so when I snagged this belted tropical floral dress by Spense on clearance at Goody's (I paid $15 on an $80 dress!), I had to get it!  It's perfect for a Hawaii trip, right?

I've got a lot more packing to do, but these are just a few of the things on my list!  :)

Gleek Peek: I Kissed a Girl

I love me some Santana snark!  Everything she says has a hilarious bite.

But even more so, I loved everyone banding together to support Santana after she was so abruptly outed last episode.  I actually really liked Blaine and Kurt's rendition of P!nk's "Perfect"; so sweet, and they do really well together in duets.  I think Puck's solos lately have been kind of... blah.  I just don't get into them; nothing has compared to "Only the Good Die Young" in my mind!  Give him better songs!  Finn's slow, sad "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" was really moving.  I don't usually like his songs, but this was such a neat interpretation.

I'm also a Coach Beiste fan, and watching her battle over a guy with Sue is simultaneously tough and hilarious.  It was nice to hear her sing, and I love when characters sing during a 'real-life' montage.  It's more emotionally loaded than a big produced number, and it makes me wish real life was like a musical!

I still think this Puck/Shelby/Quinn stuff is far-fetched and WEIRD.  Quinn trying to seduce Puck was pathetic, and I'm glad Puck called her out for being a psycho.  "I'd rather raw dog a beehive"?!  Priceless.

Favorite moment was the girls coming to Santana's defense, giving an awesome "I Kissed a Girl" rendition.  I love Katy Perry, and Katy Perry + Glee is the bomb!  Her grandmother's reaction, however, was heartbreaking.  Overall this was a decent episode, even though I thought a few of the songs were lackluster.  And it's definitely going to be interesting since Rachel is banned from Sectionals... can't wait for next week!

In other Glee news, I've downloaded their latest Christmas album, and once again it's a HIT!  Add it to your Christmas list; it makes me entire house feel festive.

Songs I'll Download:  "Perfect", "I Kissed A Girl"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Sing-Off: CONGRATS Pentatonix! @PTXOfficial

Pentatonix! (NBC)
I put up with a lot of Nick Lachey reading puns this year to FINALLY be vindicated when the Pentatonix won last night's Sing-Off competition!!!  WOOHOO!

First off, I was shocked that Urban Method made it to the final three when Afro-Blue or Vocal Point did not.  They just couldn't hang.  But I did like Katie from Urban Method a lot!  Their rapper just acted like a total frontman and stole the show everytime; it seems like everyone was there to be his backup.

And the Dartmouth Aires are great, especially Michael.  (My friend JTal and I agree he needs to go straight to Broadway!)  But in terms of being marketable and making something out of the record label, I think the university groups are at a big disadvantage.  They depend upon their dancing/theatrics to enhance performances, there are too many of them to really get attached to individuals, and they change as people graduate.  A smaller group like Pentatonix (and my favorite, Nota, from the first season) are going to do much better post-competition.

I really liked that the ladies all performed together too, but I still think the show is way too long.  Loved Sara Bareilles singing, and Ben Folds judging, but one hour is enough.  The rest just seems like fluff.  I also think all the groups should compete against one another, instead of being bracketed, more like American Idol.

The good news for Pentatonix, besides the recording contract, is that since there are only 5 of them, that $200,000 is going to go a long way!!!  I actually texted in votes for these guys, so I'm happy with the results.

Monday, November 28, 2011

@Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Primer

Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Primer, $42
I've been using Smashbox primers for ages... it is THE most important step when putting on makeup.  I apply primer, then carry on prepping my outfit, brushing my teeth, etc. while it sets.  Then it's time to put my face on.

While I used the Color Correcting formula for a while, I noticed I tend to get dry skin around my nose and eyebrows at times.  When my primer supply ran low, I decided to try out the Hydrating formula.  I was not disappointed!

First off, I love the new primer packaging.  It used to be in a cute, pumping tube, but sometimes the pump would break and the bottle was a bit awkward to pack for travel.  This new packaging is PERFECT for travel, and the squeeze bottle allows for more control... because you only need a LITTLE primer.  This bottle really does go a long way.

While there is a little different smell/feel to this primer, I love how it makes my face feel.  It is absorbed almost immediately, and it really does the job.

If you're looking for a new primer, or you're missing this crucial step in your makeup routine, you absolutely need to check out this Smashbox line!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thoughts on Pumpkin Pie...

Conversation with a group of friends on Facebook about my beloved Thanksgiving favorite, pumpkin pie:

Aubrey:  "Making another pumpkin pie, because mine has already disappeared... pumpkin's a vegetable, right? :)"

"Or is it a fruit?"

"Totally a vegetable, like squash! :) Plus, this weekend everyone gets a free eating pass."

Aubrey:  "It's a winter squash, and Wikipedia says squash are considered a vegetable in cooking, but botanically are fruits. So this TOTALLY counts as a zillion servings of fruits/veggies. :) Forget all the sugar and whatnot."

"I agree it should be counted both as a fruit and a vegetable simultaneously, for purposes of diet."

"I always make two at a time. My favorite pie."

Aubrey:  "I should have made two pies at once, but I live alone and didn't anticipate that I would pick off HALF A PIE in leftovers in two days... :) With whipped cream, of course!"

"I've discovered, by repeated experiment, that Reddi-Wip sprayed on top makes the entire pie disappear."

___________I love Pumpkin Pie.___________

Once, as a kid at Thanksgiving at Grandma's, I ate half a pumpkin pie all by myself. Tickled that I loved her pies so much, my Grandma would always bring an extra pie to family gatherings, specifically for me to 'hide' and take home. Then, when I went to West Point and into the Army, she would make a pumpkin pie for me every time I came home, even in the summer.

This is my favorite pie for a reason.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday: Hey, big spender!

iPad 2 from
It's official, y'all... I went hog-wild on Black Friday without ever leaving the comfort of my sweatpants.  Isn't the Internet a marvelous thing?  I got the same deals they had in-store.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i
I managed two big purchases today... and I'm super duper pumped about them!  First off, I ordered an iPad 2 from Apple (YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!) which my parents are giving me for Christmas.  (It's even being shipped to their house, so I can't have it until then!)  Apple is known for never giving discounts, so the little $41 off we scored today was minimal... but I'll take it!

The second big purchase today was the Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR!  I've been wanting a DSLR since college, but never was able to make the commitment to purchase.  Then, after months of research, I began to build my dream camera kit.  I've acquired two lenses at a steep discount (via Craigslist), purchased a gorgeous camera bag, flash diffuser, and memory cards.  And while there are still a few more add-ons (lenses, tripod, flash, etc.) on my wishlist, I knew it was time to take the plunge to buy my camera body!  I snagged it for just $610 from 42nd Street Photo, which was at least $40 less than anywhere else I saw it.  And, since I got the kit lens for dirt cheap, I saved a bundle overall!  I can't wait to use my new camera in Hawaii next week!

Anyone else snag some goodies on Black Friday?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving thanks

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was all about family.  If we were stationed overseas, my Mom cooked the meal for our little family of four.  When we were in Indiana, we ate at the smorgasbord that was Grandma & Grandpa's house, sometimes even joining the larger family of my Grandma's siblings for another meal.  As I reflect today on Thanksgivings past, I realize I haven't had one of those large family gatherings in years due to my Army assignments...  and I don't know if I ever will again.
Thanksgiving 2010, in Baghdad, Iraq

Without my Grandma, the glue that held the family together, other things seem to get in the way of everyone getting together now.  There is no magnet to draw us all in, which is incredibly sad to me, especially since most of the family lives within an easy driving distance of each other.  I suppose it's only natural that we give up the big parties with tons of cousins and aunt and uncles.  We draw closer our nuclear families... which for me, is something I have always had as a constant in my life.  Someday, my sister and I will have kids of our own to increase the numbers, increase the joy.

Last year, I was in Iraq for Thanksgiving.  I served the troops at our dining facility, and it was a really happy time despite being so far from home.  I think that most people, including my own friends and family, have no idea what it's like to spend a holiday so far away from 'home' in such an austere, unfriendly environment.  They may never know what it is like to feel that vacancy, that void... and maybe that's why things like Thanksgiving meals with family are taken for granted.

Thanksgiving 2011
This year, I served (in another funny hat!) again at our dining facility, for tons of soldiers eating a Thanksgiving fare for lunch yesterday.  It's a moving experience to share that with so many people, and I'm so glad that local families take them into their homes if the soldiers cannot leave for the holiday.

When I think about what I'm thankful for, I realize that I am an incredibly fortunate girl.  I have parents who are incredibly supportive and loving towards me.  I have a sister who makes me laugh and will always be there for me no matter what.  I have friends who have helped me survive the worst things in life, especially these past two rough years.  I am so optimistic and hopeful for the future, starting a new chapter in my life, and moving forward.  2012 is going to be my year, but I am thankful to have gotten to this point and to have the best company in life a girl could ask for.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kindle Touch
I have had a Kindle since its 2nd Generation model in 2009.  Its original model was one of Oprah's favorite things, and even in this world of smartphones and tablets, it is still one of MY favorite things.

I've had my eye on a new Kindle for a while, because I could see the improvements in it...  clearer e-ink, larger screen, smaller/thinner body, faster page turns, better interface.  But my Kindle 2 was still kicking and I couldn't justify the purchase.

A lot of people have been talking about the Kindle Fire, Amazon's new tablet.  But I just don't consider it to be a true 'Kindle' e-book reader.  It's a tablet, it's backlit, and you can watch movies on it.  I love my quiet Kindle, how it rarely needs charging, how it lets me read books without bells and whistles.  I don't get eye strain because it's not a glaring screen; it mimics a page.  I don't read books on my laptop or iPhone.  I love my Kindle.

Back in 2009, I paid almost $300 for my first e-reader, but it paid for itself in savings on the books I bought through Amazon.  It made me a convert, even as a former library employee and lover of old, smelly books.  But now you can get a Kindle for under $100.  Brilliant.

So I bought the Kindle Touch for $99, and I love it.  Its size is awesome, and I can toss it into a purse easily.  It took me a little while to pick up how to navigate the touchscreen, but it is sensitive enough to work well, and I notice the improved speed.  I have already read three books on it in 48 hours; it inspires me to read more, like my first Kindle did!  It's be latest gadget and beloved toy.  Even if I get an iPad, I'll still read on my Kindle.  It's light, soft, and not flashy.  And I like it that way.

My old Kindle is still on my account, so I gave it to my Mom so she could read all of my books.  I'm passing on the love for Kindle to another.  It will continue to be loved!

P.S.  My ONE gripe about the new Kindle Touch?  It only comes with a USB charger, without the additional clip-on charger for an outlet.  BOO.  You'd have to pay an additional $10 for the power adaptor.  Come on, Amazon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cupcakes with Friends @sweetpeonyblog

When I was in 2nd grade, my best friend was a adorable girl named Nicole.  I always thought she had the prettiest hair and clothes, and it really surprised me that she wanted to be my friend!  We braved the playground together daily, and I am sure we shared many secrets.  We remained best friends through 3rd grade, until Nicole's family moved away from Korea, as military families tend to do.  From then on, we stayed in touch through letters... move after move, as our handwriting improved each year, we were loyal pen pals.  But then, through no fault of either of us, the letters just stopped.

I'd always wondered what Nicole turned out to be like as an adult.  My Mom would sometimes ask me, "Are you still in touch with Nicole?"  Randomly, after college, I decided to search for her on Facebook... and after looking through tons of photos, I finally found her.  I knew it was her!  Turns out, she'd gone to college in Georgia, even gotten married in Savannah at a beautiful mansion I drive by frequently.  We'd had these entire lives apart, but it was so cool to reconnect and look at photos online of each other.  How neat to see how these little girls turned out!  To this day, it is my favorite Facebook connection story.

Nicole has a gorgeous baking blog, Sweet Peony... and my favorites are her cupcake recipes.  Even though I haven't seen her since we were little kids, I feel connected to her because we both share this love for making sweet goodies!  Wanting to take some cupcakes to work, I decided to make her Brown Sugar Cupcake recipe...  as I baked, I thought about how at some point, she had gone through the same exact steps.  (It was a very Julie & Julia moment!)  Maybe someday we'll get to bake a little together.  :)

Brown Sugar Cupcakes by Nicole at Sweet Peony
makes 12 cupcakes

My decorations are from Walmart!
For the brown sugar crumble:
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold & cubed

For the brown sugar glaze:
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water

For the cupcake:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cupcake pan with liners.

To make the crumble:  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients using a fork, pastry cutter or your hands until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

To make the glaze:  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, whisking until smooth.  Set aside.

To make the cupcake:  Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Lower speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping the bowl as needed.  Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the milk and mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.  Top with the brown sugar crumble & lightly press the crumble into the batter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Poke holes in the tops of the cupcakes & spoon on the brown sugar glaze (some might drip down the sides but that’s okay).  Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frost and decorate as you wish!  (*Note from Aubrey, I sprinkled Cinnamon-Sugar on mine!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

When friendships fade away...

Friendship is easy when you're a kid.  You ring the doorbell of your friend's house, ask their parents, "Can Susie come out to play?" and then you're off.  You see each other at school, sit at lunch together, and play at recess.  You don't have your own phone/car, so sleepovers are orchestrated by your parents.  It takes little effort, and it's glorious to have such a great buddy.  A LOT of buddies.  And friendship makes life better. 

But then you grow up... high school, college, and beyond.  And it gets harder and harder to remain close friends with someone.  People move, have kids, change interests.  I've found that I have far fewer close friends as I get older, through a seemingly natural attrition that occurs over time.  It hurts to realize the girls on your sports team in high school weren't really that into you after all.... it hurts to not get a wedding invite from someone you considered to be a friend... it hurts to see your local friends go places/have get-togethers on Facebook when they haven't responded to your offers to go out.

Friendship offers us some amazing benefits, especially as women.  We respond better to stress when we have friends; we even live longer.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Hunger Games

People have been bugging me to read 'The Hunger Games' trilogy forever.  (The same way they've been bugging me to read the 'A Song of Ice & Fire' series!)  And since the movie previews are out, and I hate watching movies before I read the books, I decided to start.

And within 48 hours, I'd read all three books.  I couldn't STOP.

I'm not going to go into the plot, because it's complex, and I don't want to give away any stories.  I will say that I spent the first few pages of the book convinced that Katniss, the protagonist, was a boy, but was pleasantly surprised she wasn't.  Girl power!  I enjoyed the first book the best... the rest of the books kind of lost my interest over time (like The Matrix sequels), even though I desperately wanted to know how it concludes.  I predicted a lot of the events that unfolded, including which of the two boys in her love triangle she ends up with!

If you like books like 'Dune' and 'The Giver', I think you'll like this series.  I love young-adult fiction...  it's accessible to everyone, and everyone has felt like an adolescent at some point, so you can relate to the characters.  It's driven by emotion, not practicality, like a teenager.

Now I can't wait to see the movie!

(Sidenote: I also can't wait to see the latest Pixar movie next year, 'Brave'.  More girl power!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by @mindykaling

OMG, you guys...  YES, another funny girl book by another awesome chick on NBC!

Mindy Kaling is a writer and actress on 'The Office', one of my favorite shows; I even have a Dwight bobblehead doll on my desk at work.  And her first book, 'Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)' had me laughing out loud and causing other passengers on my plane to stare.

I want to be friends with Mindy Kaling the same way she wants to be friends with Beyonce.  I love her blog, we both love fashion/shopping, and I can totally relate to her experience with immigrant parents, being unpopular in school, and living the single careerwoman life.  I LOVED it!  The stories are sometimes a little disjointed, but I couldn't put this book  down.  I read it in a day, and I may even read it again!  I hope she keeps writing, because I'll eat up every word.

Oh, and in both Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey's books, they go ON AND ON about how AMAZING Amy Poehler is.  So come on, Amy Poehler, I want to read YOUR book!

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I had already ready excerpts of Tina Fey's 'Bossypants' before I bought the book on my Kindle, but I was in the middle of reading a bunch of business books and wouldn't let myself buy it.  Then I got a gift certificate for Amazon and I just couldn't help myself!

I love Tina Fey.  I love that she gave us 'Mean Girls'.  I love that she was badass on SNL with Weekend Update and her phenomenal Sarah Palin impersonations.  (You betcha!)  And now she's kicking butt on '30 Rock'!  How awesome is she?

She's a writer, and she's built her comedy career through hard work, intelligence, and this extremely likeable charm.  The book is a great insight into her early life, the beginning of her career, and all the funny little stories along the way.  (She even talks about getting glammed up and the joys of Photoshop!)  Tina Fey rocks.  'Bossypants' is a quick, easy read, perfect for a plane ride or quiet Sunday.  If you like Tina, you won't be disappointed.  She's not as outrageous as Chelsea Handler or Kathy Griffin (other women in comedy I read) but I like it that way.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Bracelet Story

At first glance, it looks like any other bracelet, a chain of links adorning the wrist.

When my Grandpa died, he was buried with military honors, to include a 21-gun salute.  My Dad's friend BD, who was part of the salute, brought me one of the brass shells from the gun line.  The rest of my cousins also received these blanks, something for each of us to hold on to.  I've held a thousand of these brass rounds before, during my military time, but this one was special.  How could I turn it into something more?

I took my round to a silversmith in Savannah, and he helped me come up with a bracelet incorporating the brass.  The brass rings you see (different thicknesses) are actually the hollow round, in many pieces; I have worn this bracelet regularly since I lost my Grandpa in 2009.

As you may have read, I lost my Grandma last month.  As I looked at my bracelet, which I wore to her funeral, I wanted something that could remind me of her.  I recalled her favorite Bible verse, Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God."

I talked to a jewelry artisan on Etsy that I had worked with before, and we came up with the idea to add a small disc to my bracelet that simply says 'Be still" to represent that verse.  Every time I look at my wrist now, I have something of them both together; the bracelet finally feels complete.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gleek Peek: Mash-Off!

LOVE me some Santana!  (FOX)
I love Glee mashups!  It's my favorite type of performance for the show.  I actually liked a song that Matthew Morrison sang... because he sang with Idina Menzel.  Lady Gaga, Adele, what more could I ask for in a Glee episode?  This was my favorite episode of the season music-wise, aside from Puck's flop at the beginning.

I don't buy the Puck/Shelby 'hot for teacher' plotline.  Puck is too easy to write into these improbably romances.  What's up with this?  I also wasn't pulling for Damian McGinty to win The Glee Project... he is hard to understand, and his acting is terrible.  They should have gone with Lindsey.

Santana was brilliant though... her Lima Heights-isms are phenomenal, and she is a true wit.  She needs more screen time!  She was awesome during the dodgeball mash-up, and she KILLED the Adele songs.  KILLED them.  She's a mean girl, but not a dumb mean girl.  It was awful the way she was outed on TV, and she was the episode's star.

Oh, and I love Hall & Oates.  Happy song!  I am also glad that Kurt/Rachel made up.  And Quinn deserves everything she got from Shelby; she was being ridiculous.

Songs I'll Download:  "You and I/You and I", "Hit Me With Your Best Shot/One Way or Another", "I Can't Go For That/You Make My Dreams", "Rumour Has It/Someone Like You"

P.S. CONGRATS to Glee for hitting 300 musical performances!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The brisket at The Salt Lick was my favorite!
I spent my Veterans' Day weekend in TEXAS!  I couldn't wait to see my college friend JH, and meet my little 'niece' EH... I was Maid of Honor in JH's wedding, and so it is only fitting that I spoil my little baby girl.

We spent most of the weekend in Killeen, having fun with EH and the current family dogs...  The family has a genius Springer spaniel, adorable basset hound, mutt rescue from Iraq, and a foster.  JH has fostered dozens of dogs over the past couple of years, placing them in forever homes.  It's so fun to see little EH play and roll around with the dogs, who are so good with her!  We even gave her a bubble bath for the first time.

JH and I took a trip to Round Rock (just north of Austin) to shop at the outlet malls (I bought some super-fun outfits for EH!) and to eat at The Salt Lick BBQ, part of my Before I'm 30 bucket list!  I'd seen it on the Travel Channel and wanted to try it ever since.  It was DELICIOUS.  I even bought some of the BBQ sauce and dry rubs to take home with me.  We also hit up another local (and Travel Channel) foodie spot, Round Rock Donuts, which was amazing.  Cheaper and more delicious than a chain donut store, it was one of the best donuts I have ever had.  (I also had an apple fritter, one of my favorite treats!)

But really the weekend was about spending time with JH; we hadn't seen each other in years, and it was so good to spend that one-on-one time together.  We talked endlessly like we'd never been apart; JH calls me weekly, so we're always catching up.

I had a great time, ate some delicious food, and even got a little shopping in.  But the best part of all was holding my little niece!  I can't wait to watch how EH grows!

EH and JH...  first Bubble Bath ever!
My favorite photo of the weekend!
Sunglasses: Marc Jacobs via Haute Look
Blouse: Old Navy
Jeans: Old Navy
Boots: purchased in Nashville, TN
The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Are cookbooks obsolete?

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
I love my cookbooks.  I have Julia Child's Art of French Cooking, The Joy of Cooking, Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker, Better Homes and Gardens...  but even though these lovely books are sitting pretty on the shelf, I continue to turn to the internet for recipe ideas and inspiration.

Recently, I came across an article in the NY Times, entitled, "Are Apps Making Cookbooks Obsolete?"  With all of the cooking apps available, the portability of tablets, and the vast collections of free recipes online, it's no wonder people are buying fewer and fewer cookbooks.  I find recipes in magazines, use Pinterest to save the recipes from the magazine websites, and then browse my pins to plan meals.  Even the Culinary Institute of America has an app now!

There's something to be said for these online resources.  You can have color photos and step-by-step guides, which aren't available in many text cookbooks due to space limitations.  You can search for recipes based on the ingredients you have in your refrigerator, instead of scanning difficult indexes at the back of thick books.  You can even watch video demonstrations; I recently used this to figure out how to cut a spaghetti squash in two.

I do love sentimental things like notes in margins of hard-bound cookbooks, hand-written recipe cards from my Grandma, and things like that.  But I admit I drag my laptop into the kitchen frequently, much more so than those books.  Like my transition to reading on a Kindle, I definitely have nostalgia for the old books, but I embrace the practicality and enhancements the technology brings to my life!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gleek Peek: First Time

Oh, I loved this most recent episode!  When I react out loud to scenes, whether I want things to happen a certain way or not, I know it's a great show.

This episode of Glee was particularly controversial, because it had to do with two relationships (Kurt/Blaine, Rachel/Finn) taking a big step... I think you get the idea.

Overall, I wasn't a huge fan of the music, but then again I was never a huge West Side Story fan.  I did like the back and forth during Santana singing 'A Boy Like That' where we meet Sebastian, the gay jerk trying to tempt Blaine away from my beloved Kurt.   I also didn't really like the premise that Rachel wanted to lose her virginity to 'act better' and relate to her character of Maria.  Silly, but I think it was resolved well.  I could relate to Finn's frustration at finding his football career doesn't really have legs to last post-high school, because it's so much more realistic.  All of the characters were more relatable... we even learned more about Artie and saw Mike's parental conflict again.

The conflict between the two competing McKinley glee clubs was completed ignored in this episode... I don't think I saw Mercedes at all.

But the BEST part?  Coach Beiste in love!!!  I love it!!!  It was so sweet and had me absolutely gushing.  The love interest they've chosen for her (a football recruiter) is a perfect match, and her crush on him plus her awkwardness towards his advances was hysterical.  I can't wait to see more!

I really thin Glee's third season is finally living up to what it was the first season.  They faltered for a bit, but we're getting back on track!

Songs I'll download:  "Uptown Girl"

P.S.  Those kiddos on The Sing-Off need to take a look at the Warblers doing Billy Joel and learn a thing or two!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hot Dog Rice Bowl

My bowl!
You're probably thinking, "Huh?"

This is my way of using up 'leftovers' around the house.  What do you do when you have two random hot dogs, a tiny smidge of ketchup, some old rice, and some eggs in the fridge?  BINGO!

There are some things that I eat that other people find to be disgusting.  Spam, for one.  Hot dogs, perhaps!  (I personally hate vegetables, and think they are gross; so you are entitled to your own tastes.)

But hot dog rice bowls are more popular than you might think!  Similar to the rice bowls of Japan (donburi) or a Thai 'American' fried rice, it's an easy way to cook up a quick meal and use up leftovers... like hot dogs.

I've done this with Spam and soy sauce, but this time I used hot dogs and a little bit of ketchup for color/sweetness.  I took a frying pan and tossed in the sliced hot dog, then added two scrambled eggs to fry.  Then I tossed in a cup or two of my rice (even better if it's day-old) and the squirt of ketchup and chopped/mixed it all up as it cooked.  Fast, delicious, and my fridge is minus a few randoms!

Here's a recipe I found online for a hot dog rice bowl, if you want a more donburi version, and another if you are more into the American fried rice.  My Mom takes hot dogs and fried egg and makes them into Korean kimbap for me.  This combo has been a part of my life for ages!  It also reminds me of loco moco, Hawaii style.

P.S.  Even Rachael Ray has a Hot Dog Rice Bowl recipe.  Told you it's becoming mainstream!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin @SavannahCooks

Y'all, this recipe uses FOUR ingredients.  Seriously.

I attended a cooking class/demonstration at Kitchens on the Square in Savannah (one of my Before I'm 30 tasks!) this weekend.  KoTS is one of my favorite stores, and I can't help but want to buy a half dozen things every time I'm there.  (And I totally did, after this class...)  But I loved the cooking demonstration!  So when I got home, I decided to try one of the recipes we learned, the Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.


Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin (serves 8)  Recipe by Kitchens on the Square
1 (1-lb.) pork tenderloin (I used a honey mustard-seasoned center loin by Hormel)
2 T. coarse stone ground mustard
3-4 bacon slices, cut in half (I used center-cut bacon)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I didn't use that much)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F).
Using a basting brush, coat the tenderloin evenly with mustard.
Wrap the pork in bacon, and place on a baking sheet. (Line the sheet with aluminum foil or a Silpat!)
Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 155 degrees.
Remove the pork from the oven and distribute a layer of brown sugar over the top of the loin.
Increase oven temperature to Broil.  Broil pork 3-5 minutes, watching the sugar brown on the top.
Mmmm.... brown sugar.
Remove from oven, making sure thermometer reads 160 degrees, and let stand 10 minutes.
Slice pork and serve!  (I like to slice along with the bacon strips.)

Oh, and I discovered a new foodie store in Savannah!  The Salt Table is a great spice and tea destination...  I loved so many things (habanero sugar?!), and the prices are reasonable too!  You can tell the owners and workers are passionate about what they do, and I really like the layout.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Paris, je t'aime!

I didn't get to dress up for Halloween, so when I was choosing my outfit this morning I decided to be French.  :)

I remember an outfit that Jessica Quirk did on What I Wore that was similar, and I was inspired!  I even stopped at Papillote in downtown Savannah for a couple of macarons and some Perrier.  It all made me feel like I was back on my semester abroad in Paris...  I definitely got some looks, but I figured it was because I was one of the few people in Savannah walking around NOT wearing running clothes for the marathon!  (Someone asked me if I was a student at SCAD, and I took it as a compliment!)

I probably need to hem the skirt, as it's a little longer than I usually go for, but I loved that I was able to make this look work for the weather, which was chilly in the morning but warmed up later on.

I'm wearing:
Sunglasses: Rocawear via TJ Maxx
Scarf:  Target
Necklace (see below):  Gift from semester in Paris!
Shirt: H&M
Skirt: Heartbreaker Fashion
Boots:  eBay
Bag:  Coach (circa 2007)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gleek Peek: Meet the Leprechaun

FINALLY a new Glee episode!  It's been forever, right?

But is it just me, or was the episode all over the place?  (And did anyone else find Damian McGinty, Glee Project co-winner and adorable Irishman, a little difficult to understand?  ANNUNCIATE, darling!)

I just didn't get inspired by any of the first three songs, and there was so much evil: Sue, Quinn, and Santana were a bit overwhelming.  Maybe it's just setting up the story.

Then the all-girls' group debuted their peplum vintage outfits and sang 'Candyman' and I loved it!  Woohoo!  I love me some retro.  The rest?  Meh.

Songs I'll Download:  "Candyman"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Healing comes through tears

My road home... beautiful.
As I've said many times, I'm not a religious person.  My journey in faith has taken many twists and turns.  But the past week has been all about reflection for me, and one of the things I've truly realized is how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and family.

I had a chance to spend time with all of my cousins this week, every single one of them.  I saw all of my aunts and uncles.  I saw so many extended relatives and friends.  In my mind, I took a picture of them, these people who have been a part of my life.  When I last said goodbye to Grandma, I knew it might be our last hug.  I even have a picture from that moment... but sometimes I think we take for granted our time with people that we care about, because they have always been there.  We won't always have a picture to hold on to.

I also got a chance to spend some time with a few of my friends from high school, which is something I look forward to every time I come home.  I know I probably annoy them with my incessant chatter, but I feel like when I see them I don't ever have enough time, so I speak without even pause to breathe.  I hope they know it's how I show my love.  One of my dearest friends asked me how I was dealing with the loss of my Grandma, because he knew I'd struggled with depression in the past.  He was worried that I might slip back into that state again.  This, more than anything else this week, touched me.  To know that he was there for me, and so in tune to what I was going through, meant the entire world to me.

All of the love I've been feeling from friends and family both near and far has been tremendous.  It all makes me think about the song that my cousin AV sang at Grandma's funeral service, with a chorus that is everything I've been feeling for so long....

What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
(Laura Story)

Even if you're not religious, it's a beautiful song... because something in life we learn the most about ourselves, love, and other important things during the most difficult of times.
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