Thursday, September 30, 2010

Black and White and Pink All Over (What I Wore)

I don't know what's up with the weather, but it has been entirely too hot here for fall. I keep trying to convince myself it's time to bust out the jackets, but reality refuses to indulge my delusions. Oh well. One can hope I suppose.

Here's more proof of my love of tights. At first I felt a bit grandma-ish in these tights, but they've started to grow on me. I like how they blend in with my skin. Makes me want a pair of nude fishnets something fierce.

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Dress - F21
Jacket - City Chic I think
Tights - Torrid
Boots - ebay
Earrings - Target
Pink bow - DIY

This outfit is pretty indicative of my style. Even though I keep trying to branch out, I tend to wear a lot of black. Recently I can't seem to stop buying black and white clothing, but besides navy black is still the mainstay of my wardrobe. I like accessories that are brightly colored and a bit silly and it helps offset my dark clothes. As I've said before, we can't help what we love.

Jennifer Love Hewitt's Makeup and Style on The Ghost Whisperer

Jennifer Love Hewwit's character on the Ghost Whisperer, Melinda Gordon, is one of the best dressed people on tv in my opinion. She consistently wears things that are fabulous and it's the main reason I watch the show when I come across it. I love the way her character pairs really feminine and delicate clothing with structured pieces. Even though a lot of her outfits are vintage feeling, they're also modern enough that she doesn't have that costume-y thing going on. I also love her brown smoky eye she usually wears. It just ties in so well with the clothing and her hair.

Ok, I'm gonna stop gushing about Melinda Gordon now. I have a serious girl crush on her though so here is a makeup tutorial and some polvore sets that capture her look really well.

I think this makeup tutorial for Melinda Gordon's look is spot on:



Style ideas:
Melinda Gordon
My Cat Drinks Tea, for Empress-Sha
Ghost Whisperer Style
Trench coat chic...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Poem: Draft of a Modern Love Poem

I am taking International Literature and Culture in school right now, and I thought it'd be cool to share some of the readings I have to do. I've always wanted to have a better understanding of poetry and that's what our class mostly focuses on. I've shared some of the poems on my other blog, but I think this is a better place for them.

Just keep in mind that poetry is meant to be read out loud. It'll make a big difference.

Draft of a Modern Love Poem by Tadeusz Różewicz (Translated by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire)

And yet white
is best described by gray
bird by stone
sunflowers
in December

love poems of old
were descriptions of the flesh
described this and that
for instance eyelashes

and yet red
should be described
by gray the sun by rain
poppies in November
lips by night

the most tangible
description of bread
is a description of hunger
in it is
the damp porous core
the warm interior
sunflowers at night
the breasts belly thighs of Cybele

a spring-clear
transparent description
of water
is a description of thirst
ashes
desert
it produces a mirage
clouds and trees move into
the mirror

Lack hunger
absence
of flesh
is a description of love
is a modern love poem
I think that what we aren't can be as important as what we are when it comes to the whole of who we are as people. Because of that, this poem really resonated with me. "And yet white is best described by gray." It's funny how something can seem white, but when you compare it to something really white it suddenly looks gray. Everything is relative.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Creamy Chicken-Apple Chili

This is a nice dish when you're craving something warm and filling, but also want something a bit different. I had never had a chili with apples in it and I was pleasantly surprised by the sweetness then they brought to the whole dish. This recipe still doesn't come close to my favorite chili recipe, but it was a nice change and easy to throw together.

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I used sharp cheddar instead of jack since that is what I had on hand and I added a potato for extra oomph. I like my chilies brimming with veggies, so I always add them where I can. Besides that, I left the recipe just as it is.

Would I make this again? This is going into "rarely" rotation, but this is a great recipe to have on hand. It comes together so quick and uses such simple ingredients that I know I'll end up making this again.

Creamy Chicken-Apple Chili

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and pepper
2 apples, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
Two 15-ounce cans pinto or white beans, rinsed
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese (about 8 ounces)
Toasted tortillas, for serving
Chopped scallions, for serving

Directions:

1.In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, chili powder and cumin. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes; transfer to a bowl.

2.In the same pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the apples and onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 6 minutes; add to the chicken.

3.In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour for 1 minute; whisk in the chicken broth and milk until thickened, 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken-apple mixture and beans, bring to a simmer, then stir in the cheese. Serve with the tortillas and scallions.

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A Weekend in Pictures

*cross posted

It feels like it's been forever since I've done one of these.

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This was a pretty good weekend I must say. Even though I didn't do anything too spectacular, I got to see zombies at the library, eat some amazing pizza (spinach, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese, and mozzarella cheese...YUM!), and hang out with my boys. I tried to see the Greek play Alcestis, but apparently it started at 9 am instead of 9 pm. Oh well. At least I had some margaritas to take away the sting. :)

Also, aren't this Captain Crunch boxes amazing? I love it when companies go back to their original logos. It just makes me happy for some reason.

Anyhoo, hope everyone had a good weekend!

Friday, September 24, 2010

We Can't Help What We Love

I have a confession to make - I love me some Gavin Degraw. Ryan teases me endlessly for it, but I can't help it. His voice is just lovely and I was shocked to find myself listening to his first album on repeat.







I'm not into his "nice-guy" shtick he has going on in every video, but his voice is awesome. Plain and simple.

Ramblings

I feel like I've been neglecting this blog lately. And now that I think about it, maybe my heart was never really in it. I sound a bit ridiculous don't I? I tend to go through phases where I wonder why I blog and what it is I hope to get out of the experience. Most of the time I blog simply for myself, but some days it doesn't seem like nearly enough.

I hope I'm not the only one who does this.

I usually ramble on about these sorts of things on my other blog, but I've done it so many times it feels too self-indulgent. Blogging was there for me when I needed a place to express myself and try to stay at least partially sane while I was unemployed. But now I wonder if I still need to blog and whether or not it's time to move on. I don't want it to be stubbornness or routine that makes me keep on keeping on.

I don't know. Maybe you should just ignore this.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Never Let Me Go

I saw a preview for the movie Never Let Me Go on t.v. the other day and I thought it looked adequately depressing.



In case you don't know, Never Let Me Go is a book by Kazuo Ishiguro. While the book has a dystopian vibe, the story is very much about the friendship between the main characters. Even though it becomes evident that something is off about the school and the way these kids are treated right away, you don't really get a sense of what is fully happening until later into the story.

And that is my main problem with the movie trailer. I guess it is to be expected, but I feel like I've watched the movie after seeing just the trailer. Oh well though. I found the book pretty depressing and, while good, not as incredible as some people seem to think. Books are funny like that. Hopefully the movie will be good.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sonic Inspired Chicken Sandwich

This recipe, as the title clearly states, was inspired by the Chicken Toaster Sandwich from Sonic. For those of you who don't live by a Sonic, let me apologize for all the deliciousness you are missing out on. Before we moved to Utah I had never even seen a Sonic, so I know your pain. If only for the yummy fruit drinks in the summer, Sonic would be near and dear to my heart. What can I say? I'm an easy gal to impress.

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This is actually a super easy dish to make. I didn't use a recipe and I just made the sandwiches the way I would want to eat them. If you would rather have less chicken (it can be kind of hard to eat this) or don't want to deal with pounding out your chicken breasts, then use chicken cutlets. My grocery store carries them, but you can also simply cut your breasts in half yourself if you want. Sonic usually puts honey mustard on their sandwich, but I left mine plain. (I love honey and I love mustard but I'm not a big honey mustard fan. Weird.) Ryan used ranch, but I also think a little buffalo sauce would be tasty. As always, do what makes you happy.

Also, sorry for the random junk in the background of the pic. Just focus on the bacon. I always do.

Would I make this again? Most definitely.

Sonic Inspired Chicken Sandwich

Ingredients:

2-4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (either pounded flat or cut into cutlets)
8 slices of bacon
4 slices of cheese
Lettuce
Tomato
Seasoning of choice (I used lemon pepper)
8 slices of thick Texas toast style bread

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. And arrange the bacon in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Cook the bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels and discard all but a tablespoon of the bacon fat.

2. Season chicken on both sides with lemon pepper or grill seasoning. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until nice and brown on each side (about 4-5 minutes). Don't worry about cooking the chicken completely through.

3. Remove the chicken from the pan and place into the hot oven to finish cooking. After about ten minutes, place a slice of cheese on each chicken breast. Cook for just a few more minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.

4. While the chicken is in the oven, toast your bread and slice your tomato.

5. Assemble your sandwiches and enjoy. Serve with mayonnaise, honey mustard, or ranch.

Wordless Wednesday

Have you missed me? This is a picture of Holden on his first day of school on Monday.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Utah State Fair

*cross posted*

Yesterday I finally got to check out the Utah State Fair. I'd been meaning to go since I moved here, but I kept putting it off for no good reason. (You know how those things go sometimes.) I've heard people complain about the size, but as a person who always got overly excited for those little carnivals they set up in old shopping center lots, I was happy as a peach.

By the way, how happy is a peach? I'd actually like to know.

Anyhoo, I also got to try a funnel cake which was on my bucket list. I know it's silly, but I've always wanted to try one. (It tasted just like these "donuts" I used to make with Stacy out of those tubed biscuits.)

Here are some pics in case you're interested (which I assume you are since you're reading this):

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spicy Turkey Meatballs

Have you ever had a kitchen accident that made you nervous about cooking a specific dish? One time I added WAY too much Italian seasoning to a batch of meatballs and completely ruined them. They were so bad that we ended up throwing them out and I went a few years without attempting to make them again. I have no idea why, but that one mishap stayed with me. (It's kind of like when I just stopped wearing shorts in high school. It took me years to get over my issues surrounding shorts for some reason.)

Anyhoo, when I saw this recipe for Spicy Turkey Meatballs I know it was time to get back on that horse. My trust in Ina Garten is pretty unshakable at this point and the ingredient list is so full of flavor I knew this had to be a keeper.

And boy was I right.

These meatballs are so good I couldn't stop eating them. We had meatball sandwiches and meatballs with spaghetti and I still wanted more. I don't want to sound melodramatic, though I am, but these are the best meatballs I've ever had. Seriously, YUM.

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I was extremely happy with the combination of turkey and sausage. I 'm not a big fan of prosciutto so I used a slice of bacon instead. Just that one slice added a subtle smokiness that was amazing. I ended up making the meatballs through step three and storing them in the fridge until the next day when I reheated them in tomato sauce. They were just as good so it'd be really convenient for a party. My only complaint is that my meatballs flattened out when they baked. Though it made it easy for the sandwiches, it wouldn't be as pretty if you wanted to serve these as an appetizer. Maybe refrigerating the meatballs before baking them would help? I don't know. Besides that keep in mind that this recipe makes an insane amount of meatballs. I cut it in half and still had 16-18 meatballs.

Would I make this again? I don't know if I'll ever make any other meatball again. These are amazing.

Spicy Turkey Meatballs
via Smells Like Home

Ingredients:

3 cups (1-inch diced) bread cubes from a round rustic bread, crusts removed
2/3 cup whole milk
2 lbs ground turkey (88% – 92% lean)
1/2 lb sweet Italian pork sausage, casing removed
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp good olive oil plus, extra for brushing meatballs
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
3 (24-oz) jars good marinara sauce, such as Rao’s
2 lbs dried spaghetti, such as De Cecco
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

1. Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the bread is in medium crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and add the milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, sausage, prosciutto, bread mixture, Asiago, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Lightly combine the ingredients with your hands. Add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the eggs, and stir lightly with a fork to combine.

3. With your hands, lightly roll the mixture into 2-inch-round meatballs and place them on the prepared sheet pans. Brush the meatballs with olive oil. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops are browned and the centers are completely cooked.

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4. Pour the marinara into a large, low pot, add the meatballs, and bring to a simmer.

5. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the directions on the package. Drain and place the spaghetti in individual bowls, and top with 3 meatballs and lots of sauce. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Flowers and Plaid (What I Wore)

This is the type of outfit that feels perfect for spring or fall when it is sunny but still chilly. FYI: Both of these poses are courtesy of Holden.

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Sweater - Walmart
Skirt - DIY
Tights and Flats - Target


I'm still not happy with the way this skirt falls, but I think it's because of the fabric I used. Ironically I had put this sweater in my "do be cut up or thrown out" pile. Funny how clothes work out like that so often. I especially love any outfit where I get to wear my big earrings. These ones graze my collar bones.

Plus one can't forget these awesome tights. Seriously, I can't get enough of them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Review: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

It has been forever since I've done one of these. I have no idea why either since I've been reading just as much lately. Anyhoo, let's jump right in.

Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Author: Max Brooks
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies

Publisher: Crown
Publishing Date: September 12th 2006
Hardcover: 342 pages

Stand Alone or series: Stand Alone

Summary: (from goodreads)
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, "By excluding the human factor, aren't we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn't the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as 'the living dead'?"
Review:

There was never the question of whether or not I would read this book. My love for zombies and post-apocalyptic stories is well known. I am also a big fan of multiple point of views when done right, and this book had POVs up the wazoo. Unfortunately though, I found myself a little disappointed in this book.

Even though the idea of World War Z is really interesting, the "interviews" that made up the story were extremely dry. The voice of these interviews also fell into the bad habit of sounding too similar. While this gave the book a cohesive vibe, it also made the characters being interviewed appear to be pretty much the same. And when writing multiple POVs that is the biggest mistake a writer can make in my opinion. (I've heard some people claim Brooks characterizations are "distinct" and blah blah blah, but I completely disagree.)

Another thing that bothered me about the book's characters was the lack of dimension. Since the story is being told by the people who survived the Zombie war, the book is based entirely on these characters recollections. At first I wasn't too bothered by that writing tactic, but eventually the lack of any character growth started to rub me the wrong way. Nowhere in this book does Brooks make you care about the people he's writing about. You know how people often complain when authors tell readers things that would be better shown to us? Well this entire book is about being told instead of shown. And I didn't really care for it by the end.

I was also annoyed with the books almost completely male dominated point of views. Even though I'm saying it had to be 50/50, the overwhelming amount of male characters compared to the very few, I'm talking about maybe 4 or 5 here, stuck out rather obviously. It bothered me even more because so many of the male characters told basically the same story while procreation is always important after any form of apocalypse. It may seem like a silly thing to comment on, but it really got under my skin.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:
Introduction

It goes by many names: "The Crisis," "The Dark Years," "The Walking Plague," as well as newer and more "hip" titles such as "World War Z" or "Z War One." I personally dislike this last moniker as it implies an inevitable "Z War Two." For me, it will always be "The Zombie War," and while many may protest the scientific accuracy of the word zombie, they will be hardpressed to discover a more globally accepted term for the creatures that almost caused our extinction. Zombie remains a devastating word, unrivaled in its power to conjure up so many memories or emotions, and it is these memories, and emotions, that are the subject of this book.

This record of the greatest conflict in human history owes its genesis to a much smaller, much more personal conflict between me and the chairperson of the United Nation's Postwar Commission Report. My initial work for the Commission could be described as nothing short of a labor of love. My travel stipend, my security access, my battery of translators, both human and electronic, as well as my small, but nearly priceless voice activated transcription "pal" (the greatest gift the world's slowest typist could ask for), all spoke to the respect and value my work was afforded on this project. So, needless to say, it came as a shock when I found almost half of that work deleted from the report's final edition.

"It was all too intimate," the chairperson said during one of our many "animated" discussions. "Too many opinions, too many feelings. That's not what this report is about. We need clear facts and figures, unclouded by the human factor." Of course, she was right. The official report was a collection of cold, hard data, an objective "after-action report" that would allow future generations to study the events of that apocalyptic decade without being influenced by "the human factor." But isn't the human factor what connects us so deeply to our past? Will future generations care as much for chronologies and casualty statistics as they would for the personal accounts of individuals not so different from themselves? By excluding the human factor, aren't we risking the kind of personal detachment from a history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn't the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as "the living dead"? I presented this argument, perhaps less professionally than was appropriate, to my "boss," who after my final exclamation of "we can't let these stories die" responded immediately with, "Then don't. Write a book. You've still got all your notes, and the legal freedom to use them. Who's stopping you from keeping these stories alive in the pages of your own (expletive deleted) book?"

Some critics will, no doubt, take issue with the concept of a personal history book so soon after the end of worldwide hostilities. After all, it has been only twelve years since VA Day was declared in the continental United States, and barely a decade since the last major world power celebrated its deliverance on "Victory in China Day." Given that most people consider VC Day to be the official end, then how can we have real perspective when, in the words of a UN colleague, "We've been at peace about as long as we were at war." This is a valid argument, and one that begs a response. In the case of this generation, those who have fought and suffered to win us this decade of peace, time is as much an enemy as it is an ally. Yes, the coming years will provide hindsight, adding greater wisdom to memories seen through the light of a matured, postwar world. But many of those memories may no longer exist, trapped in bodies and spirits too damaged or infirm to see the fruits of their victory harvested. It is no great secret that global life expectancy is a mere shadow of its former prewar figure. Malnutrition, pollution, the rise of previously eradicated ailments, even in the United States, with its resurgent economy and universal health care are the present reality; there simply are not enough resources to care for all the physical and psychological casualties. It is because of this enemy, the enemy of time, that I have forsaken the luxury of hindsight and published these survivors' accounts. Perhaps decades from now, someone will take up the task of recording the recollections of the much older, much wiser survivors. Perhaps I might even be one of them.

Although this is primarily a book of memories, it includes many of the details, technological, social, economic, and so on, found in the original Commission Report, as they are related to the stories of those voices featured in these pages. This is their book, not mine, and I have tried to maintain as invisible a presence as possible. Those questions included in the text are only there to illustrate those that might have been posed by readers. I have attempted to reserve judgment, or commentary of any kind, and if there is a human factor that should be removed, let it be my own.
Verdict:

If you're like me and want to read every zombie book you come across then give it a shot. But at the end of the day I like my zombies with a bit of horror and suspense. Two things this book did not have.

Rating:

5. Blah – essentially neutral

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pictures from the Zoo

*cross posted*

We went to the Salt Lake City Zoo yesterday with Ryan's work. Even though I'm not a big fan of zoos (unless they're all pimped out that is), Holden had a really good time. He is finally at that age where he fully understands what's going on around him and it makes everything that much better. I can't wait to take him to the fair next week.

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I didn't get very many pictures of animals, but that's because there aren't that many animals at the zoo. I think the San Diego zoo has spoiled me.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend! Cheers.