Thursday, November 8, 2012

30 Dr. Seuss Quotes

This week as been a bit rough, for a variety of reasons that I won't go into now. There has been a lot of 'bleh' going on in my head and I am very ready for the weekend. 

However, I stumbled upon this image below, full of quotes by the ever-amazing Dr. Seuss. His stories were a big part of my childhood and his whimsical advice still has an impact. It helped me cheer up a bit, and hopefully it will put a smile on your face as well. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cocoa Pear Crisps

Yesterday I found myself with time on my hands, the desire to bake something and these exquisite red pears. 

If I were a painter I would paint still-life. Unfortunately, the best thing I ever drew was of a horse in my 5th grade art class. It took me forever and I was never able to replicate it. So, since I wasn't going to paint these pears, I did the next best thing - turned them into something yummy. 

A few months back, I pinned a recipe for Cocoa Pear Crisps and decided to give it a go. They literally take no time to make and have a lovely sweet and satisfying crunch that I found really, well.... satisfying. 

First, preheat your oven to 275ºF. Then start by slicing three pears into very thin slices, about 1/8 inch. 

The original recipe called for a mandolin slicer to get perfectly uniform slices, but a mandolin slicer I own not. So, I just tried my best to get the slices as thin as I could. Some were a little thicker than others, but ah well - life is too short to worry about such things. 

Now come the flavors. Mix together the following: 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (I used Saigon Cinnamon, which I talked about in this post) and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. 

The nutmeg was not in the original recipe, but it seemed like it would be a nice complement to the other spices, so I added it. 

Also, uhm, can we just talk about nutmeg for a second? It is one of my favorite spices. Amazing in both sweet and savory recipes, I use it all of the time, especially in soups and meat dishes. And while you can buy it already ground in the spice aisle, I really prefer to grind my own using a microplane grater. Each little pod lasts forever and the flavor is fresher. Give it a try sometime!

Back to recipePlace the pear slices on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and sprinkle the spice/sugar mixture lightly over the pear slices. 

Bake for 30 minutes, then flip the pear slices, and bake for another 30 minutes, until the pears are browned and slightly shriveled. 

Remove them from the oven and allow to cool, which is when they will crisp up. 

**Note - if your pear slices still don't seem crispy, put back in oven and bake as long as needed, in 5 minute intervals, until desired crispness is achieved, but not burned.** 

Once they have cooled, you will have these delightful little pear crisps that are not too sweet and have the perfect amount of cocoa. 

I think these are perfect healthy-ish snacks for kids and adults alike. I don't know about you, but after dinner I like to have a little something sweet, and these do just the trick. 

I hope you enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cutest Ever

** Today's post is sponsored by cute little things. **

The other day I was at work and wanted a little snack. My company stocks fresh fruit in the kitchen, so I decided to go see what was in there. 

Approximately .0000531 seconds after I walked in there, I spotted the cutest piece of fruit I have ever seen in my life. 

Friends - let me introduce you to a mini pear. 

I took this picture with my iPhone, so it's not the best, but there is no denying the cuteness factor of this little guy. I put it next to chapstick for referenceI'm such a sucker for stuff like this - it gets me - hook, line and sinker.

And, I have to say, it was actually the perfect little snack that kept me going until lunch.

Yay for cute little things!

Happy Friday :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The English Perspective

For those who don't know, my husband is from England. There are a million reasons why I love him, and the fact that he is English, but one of the big ones is the new, fresh perspective he has introduced into my life.

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and have been steeped in the local culture for most of my life. People here love micro-brews and enjoy arguing over whether Oregon State or University of Oregon has a better football team.  They like Indie music, appreciate rainy weather, wear fleece to the office and take coffee seriously. I grew up around men who LOVE football, women who love Nordstrom and kids who adore peanut butter.

[Enter my husband into my life.]

Suddenly I found myself with a man who thinks micro-brews are disgusting, could not care less about football and is quite confused about Americans and their love of peanut butter.  Collegiate sports, and how popular they are, is still a funny concept, and which of two schools win in any competition means nothing to him. When he goes out, he likes to be dressed up and would never be caught dead wearing khakis or fleece. He loves English rock bandsdoesn’t drink coffee and swears that you can’t find “proper bacon” anywhere in this town.  His school trips growing up were to places like Paris and skiing in the Alps and he struggles with the lack of beautiful architecture here on the West Coast (which I have to say, is true – can we please rid of the ‘strip-mall’ concept before they completely take over??).

On the flip side, there are certain American things that amuse him, which I would never even consider.  Yellow school buses (“It’s just like the movies!!”), dishwasher disposals and automatic garage door openers were all exciting discoveries for him.  Portland’s brunch culture is one of his favorite things and he gets really happy when he sees huge pick-up trucks and old, classic American muscle cars.  It amazes him how strangers will just talk to you for no reason and loves how we take Halloween so seriously.  He thinks we have great steak, has just started to discover regional accents (many Brits think we all sound the same, as we tend to think about them) and finds it hilarious when Americans say things like, “God dang it” and “Awesome!”

It’s who he is, and I love it. I’ve discovered that having someone to challenge the way you think, the way you see the world and what you are used to is really satisfying and opens up your world in ways you never imagined. I look back now and past relationships feel so boring compared to the one I am in now. I’m constantly learning new things about his culture, and he with mine. Things I think are totally normal are weird and funny to him, which makes me stop for a moment and realize that MY normal is not everyone’s normal.

This is a life lesson that I will be forever grateful having learned. We all have a different ‘normal’, and that is a good thing. In fact, it is essential. Can you imagine if we all liked the same things? Boring schmoring.

So, to my husband - I say thank you. Thank you for opening up my world, introducing me to your incredible culture and for accepting mine.  Thank you for your hilarious commentary that makes me examine certain American customs with fresher eyes and a sense of humor. And mostly, thank you for being you. I hold dear the “English” things about you, and you always have my permission to be exactly as you are.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

I hope everyone has a safe, fun and spooky Halloween! 

Think candy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Carving

Even though we don't have kids, my husband and I love going to the pumpkin patch, carefully picking out our pumpkins and carving them into jack-o-lanterns. 

This year, my husband decided to up the ante by purchasing some professional grade, wood and metal carving tools (on the left), while I stuck with my faithful collection of plastic tools (right). 

He wanted to try carving into the flesh of the pumpkin instead of just cutting out shapes. I initially made fun of him for this seemingly frivolous purchase, but I have to admit that after watching him, they worked pretty well. 

We wrapped our dining table in plastic, set up shop and were ready to roll. 

Very serious carving going on here people. 

Although messiness drives me crazy, I quite enjoy the mess that pumpkin carving creates. I also love the feeling of sticking my hand in the cold, slimy pumpkin. 

Is that weird?

I chose stars for my pumpkin this year and I was already done before Dan had finished the mouth. 

After about 45 minutes, this is what he had done, and I totally loved it. Those are some serious chompers you've got there, Mr. Pumpkin. 

 Starry, Starry Night...

 ...and Mr. Scary Pumpkin. I love it. 

And with that, we are ready for Halloween. Let's hope we get some trick-or-treaters this year!!

What about you? Are you ready for the night of fright?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Election Fatigue

Is anyone else out there feeling SO ready for this election to just be over? 

I'm suffering from a major case of election fatigue. 

The negativity between the candidates is palpable and it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth - from both sides. Anyone else out there feel the same? 

Frankly, I am tired of hearing the same issues discussed time and time again. Maybe introducing some new topics into the mix would spice it up a bit. 
If I had my way, here would be some things I would like the politicians to focus on:

1) Why we teach Algebra and Calculus in high school, but not personal finance? (I am serious about this one.)

2) The benefits of turning the standard 5-day work week into a 4-day week. (YES! YES! YES!)

3) The current price of admission to a movie. I mean, c'mon.

4) Supporting food science that will make butter and sugar alternatives that taste EXACTLY the same, but are healthy. 

5) An imposed tax, that provides revenue for schools, on the purchases of:
- Jeggings
- Press-on nails
- Nestle Strawberry Milk
- Clothes for animals
- Anything made by Ed Hardy

6)Tax incentives for production companies to make sitcoms like they did in the 90s. Think Seinfeld, Friends and Cheers.

7) Training programs for police to not only pull over those driving too fast, but for people driving too slow.

8) Longer maternity leave for new Moms. (I am serious about this one too.)

9) Criminalizing mayonnaise. 

It's my list. Mayo has got to go. 

10) Mandates that regulate the amount of times any one person (my sister) can ask a woman (me) when they are going to have a baby.

What about you? Any issues you wish were a little higher up on the political discussion list?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mr. Grasshopper

I hate bugs. 

HATE bugs. 

They scare the crap out of me and I will do anything to not be around them. 

Spiders are the worst. (WORST WORST WORST.) Moths are not far behind spiders. (Erratic. Weird. Gross.) Butterflies are pretty, but please God don't land on me. 

Ladybugs are slightly tolerable, but I would just rather not. 

My entire family makes fun of me for this fear, but I can't help it. They make me feel all eebie-jeebie and itchy and gross and ivylidjhsvdvdfnebf;ks - bleh. 

So, when I discovered a grasshopper lounging around on my front door flowers, like he bloody owned the place, I wasn't too pleased. But, my dear sister, who has loved bugs since I can remember, and was visiting at the time, started taking photos of him. He seemed pretty chill with the the whole photography thing, so I decided to get out my camera and have a play. I took dozens of photos, but this one was my favorite:

The Grasshopper

Looking at him in the photo, he isn't so bad. In fact, I would maybe go so far as to say he is kind of pretty. I like how his legs bend backwards and the yellow/green of his eye. Perhaps when there is a lens between the bug and me, it helps me tolerate the situation of even looking at a bug. 

Okay, Mr. Grasshopper, you can stay and enjoy my flowers. Just please don't jump on me, or we might have some beef. 

What about you? Do you hate bugs? If not, what is it that makes you cringe?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Homemade Cinnamon Walnut Butter

Walnut Butter_6

I am a total peanut butter nut (pun intended). It is one of my favorite foods in the entire world and I could literally eat it every day. However, lately I have been into the idea of trying my hand at making some homemade nut butters, with a nut other than the peanut. 

(How many times can you get the word 'nut' in a sentence?)

Since I love walnuts, and they are delightfully healthy, I decided to give walnut butter a try, and I am so glad I did. The result was a delicious treat with wonderful texture, just the right amount of salty and sweet and a nice alternative to my beloved peanut butter. Do give this recipe a try - you will not be disappointed. 

Two notes before you read the recipe:

Walnut Butter_1

1) You can use normal cinnamon, but if you feel like splurging a little, try McCormick's Roasted Saigon Cinnamon. It is a little spicier, with a bolder cinnamon flavor. Also great on oatmeal and in cookies, this is just a great spice to have in your pantry. 

Walnut Butter_2

2) It is recommended that you use walnut oil, but if you don't have it, canola oil will do. However, walnut oil is full of the rockstar omega-3 fatty acids and is great for cooking at a high heat, so it is a good all-around oil to have around. 

Walnut Butter_4

Homemade Cinnamon Walnut Butter
(original recipe by Gluten Free Girl and The Chef)

Makes 1 cup 

2 cups walnuts, shelled
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Roasted Saigon Cinnamon
2 tsp walnut oil

1) Soak the walnuts overnight in a large bowl of water. This will help remove the bitter taste that walnuts tend to have. 

2) Once the walnuts have been soaked, drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread the walnuts out onto a cookie sheet and roast in the oven until the walnuts are dry and slightly golden, about 10 - 15 minutes. Make sure not to let them burn, as that will change the taste of the butter. Once toasted, remove from oven and let them cool entirely. 

3) Put the cooled, toasted walnuts in the food processor and pulse until they are broken down, crumbly and slightly sticky. Add the salt, honey and cinnamon and pulse until combined. Taste the walnut paste and adjust seasonings as needed. When I was making it, at this point I added a little more honey and a little more cinnamon, but it's totally a matter of taste. 

4) When happy with the seasonings, slowly drizzle in the oil while the food processor is running. The walnut paste will turn into walnut butter after a few seconds and you will be one happy camper. (Feel free to add a little more oil if you feel the texture is too dry.)

Walnut Butter_5

I stored my walnut butter in a mason jar (I will never tire of storing things in mason jars) and am really happy with how it turned out. It is great paired with apples, on bread with apple butter (heeellloooo amazing) and would taste delicious with a mild, soft cheese and crackers. 

I am now totally inspired to try other combinations of nuts and seasonings. Next time I think I will go savory...maybe pecans and curry? Walnuts and roasted garlic? Almonds and paprika? I really think the possibilities are endless. 

I hope you enjoy!

Can you think of any other combinations that might work?

Friday, October 19, 2012


A few years ago I was turned on to the English clothing company, Boden. Their clothes are classic, beautiful and seem to really flatter the feminine form. The items do tend to be a little on the expensive side, but since they are so timeless, I like to think of them as investment pieces. 

Another thing I love about the company is the styling of their photographs. Whenever the catalog comes in the mail, I take time to sit and look at each page because it feels like art.

Broderie Top Dress
This photo in particular really caught my eye. I'm actually kind of obsessed with it. I love everything from the dress to the furniture to the flooring to the shoes to the makeup to the hair. Oh the hair...LOVE. Wouldn't this look be perfect for a holiday party or a winter wedding?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Birthday Fun

Ryan's Birthday_9
Make a wish! Birthday cake complete with trucker hat party favors. 

We recently celebrated the 33rd birthday of my friend Ryanwith his wife Ari and their beautiful daughter Adi. Ryan and Ari are high school sweethearts and I met them back in college when I was 19. My boyfriend at the time was in the same fraternity as Ryan and, while that relationship is long since over, I always thought one of the perks from it was getting to know these two. 

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Ryan's Birthday_2

As always, Ari put together a lovely little spread (complete with large tissue paper pom-poms). She is a trained chef and always makes the most delicious food. 

Ryan's Birthday_6

It was somewhat of an Octoberfest theme, with Bratwurst and all the fixings. But, the difference between Ari's fixings and mine is hers are ridiculously awesome and look like they come from a magazine.

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Ryan's Birthday_4

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This spinach artichoke dip was out. of. control.

Ryan's Birthday

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If you ever see this wine, buy it and drink it. It was one of the smoothest red wines I have ever had.

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German Chocolate Cake. Uhm...OKAY. 

Ryan's Birthday_1

And peanut butter sandwiches for "the kiddos."

Speaking of kiddos, I give you a little photo montage that I call:


Ryan's Birthday_13

Ryan's Birthday_14

Ryan's Birthday_15

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Ryan's Birthday_16

Ryan's Birthday_18

Ryan's Birthday_20

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Yay! She did it!
(oh how I wish this photo was in focus!!!)

Happy Birthday Ryan! May this 33rd year of your life be the best one yet! And thank you, Ari, for the lovely party. 

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