6.29.2012

"Alight upon me!"

Anyone know that quote?

Anyone?

A prize to someone who gets it!

(I'm not kidding.)

Anyway! Beth and I went to the Krohn Conservatory Butterfly Show this week during a lunch break - so fun!


We didn't get any butterflies to land on us, but I was able to wrangle a few onto our blue flower card thingies.


That was very exciting.


The Conservatory is really close to our office, so lunch was the perfect time to check it out. It wasn't crowded and the 40ish minutes was the perfect amount of time to wander around.


We got the tickets because we volunteered there earlier in June. Our task was to not let any butterflies escape as people were exiting. Armed with butterfly nets, we had two close calls...but no casualties.


We also each got a Reds ticket for our troubles, so we both got to go to our first Reds game of the year for free!


Have you been to a baseball game yet this summer? Which teams did you see?

6.26.2012

Boom goes the dynamite.

Well, well, well. If it isn't my 52nd post. Back in February, after looking at our abysmal blogging track records, Liz and I challenged each other to blog at least 52 times this year - an attainable goal of just once a week. But then to sweeten the deal, some stakes were added.

Spurred on at first by a dinner at my favorite restaurant, and then motivated by my actual enjoyment of blogging, I met my goal - after only five-ish months! And Liz, too!! Go us, Liz!

I think, I hope, that I'll continue. It's fun thinking of what I'll do or share next and of what someone may want to read. Sometimes I probably don't do so well in that, but your comments are what keep me going - it's so nice to know you're reading! Thanks for the kind words and the encouragement. How very nice of you.

6.25.2012

Surprise, Surprise

(Does anyone else pronounce the "r" in "surprise"? Just me? OK.)

So I started going to a boot camp. Yeah...but, I really like it. It's good to really work up a sweat and the small class size is nice and a couple of my coworkers also go, so we talk each other out of it keep each other motivated throughout the week.

Anyway, I started going toward the end of a three-month session, so as everyone did their final assessment tonight, I got to do my first. And what do you know...but I sure surprised myself! There were timed push ups--I had no idea how many I could do in a minute. I did 27! And then there was a timed mile run. I've never really timed myself while running, but I always figured if I could run a whole mile together then it would probably take me a while. I did it in 10:12! I told someone just last week that I couldn't run a 10-minute mile, and it turns out...I totally could. I was just focusing on running the whole time, but now I want to go out there and try to do it faster. Maybe in time for the Color Me Rad 5K?

6.24.2012

Getting My Craft On

I am not a crafty person. Most people who know me can attest - I don't like doing DIY projects, and I usually don't like the results of my DIY projects I actually complete. I suppose my thought goes something like "Why would I spend time and energy and money on supplies to do something that instead, if I just purchase it, it will look professional and awesome?" The crafty spirit is lost on me. Oh well.


But, every so often I am inspired - when something looks really, really easy and requires little in the way of things I don't have on hand. For instance, I ran across this pin the other day on Pinterest and thought, "Hey! That looks like just the project for me!" 


You see, I have two pillows that don't really go with my couch and were living in a cabinet plus three chitenge from Zambia that are awesome but functionless living in a bin in the storage unit. Out came the pillows, out came the chitenge, and this is what happened!










I did it to one other pillow with a different chitenge - they're a lively addition to my couch/living room...but I can still tell that they're "homemade" or something. Anyway, that could just be me being dumb. I do know that I like that I'm using the lovely cloth from Africa that has been on my list to do something with for years. So for now, they'll stay.

6.23.2012

To Market, To Market

This morning, I headed out to the Mt. Lookout Farmers' Market just to see what there was to see, fingers crossed that I'd find some peaches and possibly some farm-fresh eggs.

Mt. Lookout square is about a mile and a half from my apartment, so I walked with a travel mug of Kona coffee (it was a warm, but thoroughly enjoyable walk). Coming into the square, it wasn't immediately obvious that a farmers' market was going down. There were probably eight or so vendors scattered along the sidewalks; I saw tents for brownies, breads, pet treats, homemade hummus and salsas and dips, produce, honey and Amish-made goods. I was prepared to be underwhelmed - I knew this wouldn't be my beloved Nettelhorst Market in East Lakeview and definitley nothing like the Green City Market.

But! I will consider it a success. I walked away with some peaches and some peas from Geiger Farms, some fresh eggs from National Trail Family Farms and a Cincinnati Sourdough boule from Sweet William's Bakery, all for $11.75.



Most excited about the peaches. I'm thinking I'll start with these Peach Cobbler Scones. Then maybe Peach Shortbread? Or maybe I'll just eat them all as they are!

6.22.2012

Summer Recipe Round Up

Summertime is not the time to be cranking the oven roasting a leg of lamb for hours. Or even turning on the crock pot to stew some beef. When the temps are high, I want light, fresh and minimal stove/oven time. Here are a few dishes that I've made and loved for their ease, their freshness and the fact that my kitchen isn't 90 degrees when I'm done cooking.

Summer Corn Cakes


via Ezra Pound Cake

These are super versatile! You can eat them as above with chopped avocado and tomato, or with the best salsa ever. But they will blow your mind with leftover strips of flank steak and a poached egg. Oh my.

Peach and Gorgonzola Chicken Pizza


from Cooking Light

I was so surprised with how this turned out! Really, really delish.

Shrimp Boil Kebabs


via Cook Au Vin

Don't be concerned if you can't get the corn to go on the skewer - they work just as well grilled separately. The Old Bay sauce on these kebabs is amazing!

Pasta with Fresh Corn Pesto


via Lottie + Doof

Super good. I added a few red pepper flakes to mine and, um, tripled the garlic.

Charred Corn Tacos with Zucchini-Radish Slaw


via Smitten Kitchen

Charred corn is so easy if you have a gas stove! I didn't make these into tacos, but it was still fantastic just piled on a plate.

Cold Avocado and Cucumber Soup


via Tasting Table

I love cold soups in the summer and this soup will cool you down for sure. The sour cream is what makes it.

Avocado and Edamame Salad


from Joy the Baker

A great lunch option and so fresh! I gobbled this up really fast - it's hard not to, the dressing and the creamy avocados with the crisp edamame and radishes is just too good.

Pasta Primavera


from The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

This recipe makes a ton - perfect for family dinner or a potluck. And it's light and colorful, full of summer veggies and just really yummy.


Desserts

Fresh Strawberry (or Raspberry) Yogurt Cake


from A Spicy Perspective

Truthfully, I didn't make this exact cake. I made this one - a Raspberry Yogurt Cake. But there's no picture. The one pictured is very similar, and you can totally sub out the strawberries for any summer berry! I bet it would be divine with blackberries.

S'mores Pie


via Cookies & Cups

No fire pit - no problem! Get your s'mores fix with this crazy pie. So easy to make and just 20 minutes in the oven until pure s'mores bliss!

Coconut Caramel Cake


via Jamie Cooks it Up

These little gems are really, really good. The coconut gives them an island taste - reminded me of something I had at a luau in Hawaii.


Drinks

Homemade Ginger Ale


via Joy the Baker

I love making this - way better than anything you'd find in a can and pretty darn simple to make, especially with a food processor. Plus, homemade ginger ale is something the whole family can enjoy, just add a splash of bourbon for the adults!

Cucumber Margaritas


Oh wow. Margaritas are good, obviously. But when you add the coolness of a cucumber, they're taken to another level. Try these, for real.

Let's play "Which One Will You Try First?" - I know I'm going to try the Cold Avocado and Cucumber Soup again soon!

6.21.2012

Sunning

It's been so warm hot lately. I guess this is what they call summer.


I'm so thankful for my central air.


I'm also thankful that I haven't managed to kill my herbs yet despite the withering heat.


My impatiens are another matter.


Days like these make me want to be extra, extra lazy. I'm constantly thinking "Couch, book, nap. Porch, sun, iced tea."


I'm pretty sure that's what this crazy animal is thinking, too.

6.20.2012

The Writing Life

For Christmas 2009, my mom got me this book. I know because she wrote "To Robin, From Mom, Christmas 2009" just inside the front cover.

When opened the gift and saw it, I was surprised. I'd read Annie Dillard before and enjoyed her, but hadn't mentioned it to my mom that I could remember. But here was a short book by Dillard that she chose for me somehow. My guess is the title. In 2009 I was struggling away in an unfulfilling job, basically being told every day that I wasn't a writer, that my writing wasn't good enough. Little did I know that in a half a year, I'd be taking a job as a copywriter. Getting paid to write. 

Anyway.

I know I'm only now just getting around to reading it. But this book is pretty cool. It's very short - only 111 pages - and has no plot except Dillard loosely explaining how to write a book. Or just how to write. Or really just how to read and write and live creatively.

Rather than give a review (although I will give it 5 stars on Goodreads), here are some quotes I underlined, starred, bracketed, etc. (I've found I have no method to my annotations):

"Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed?"

"There are no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading - that is a good life."

"The painter, in other words, does not fit the paints to the world. He most certainly does not fit the world to himself. He fits himself to the paint."

On a having a schedule: "It is a net for catching days."

On writing: "It is life at its most free, if you are fortunate enough to try it, because you select your materials, invent your task, and pace yourself....The obverse of freedom, of course is that your work is so meaningless, so fully for yourself alone, and so worthless to the world that no one except you cares whether you do it well, or ever....Your freedom is a by-product of your day's triviality."

"I do not so much write a book as sit up with it, as with a dying friend. During visiting hours, I enter its room with dread and sympathy for its many disorders. I hold its hand and hope it will get better."

"Its relationship to the vision that impelled it is the relationship between any energy and any work....The work is not the vision itself, certainly. It is not the vision filled in, as if it had been a coloring book....It is rather a simulacrum and a replacement....You try - you try every time - to let your light so shine before men."

"It is like something you memorized once and forgot. Now it comes back and rips away your breath. You find and finger a phrase at a time; you lay it down cautiously, as if with tongs, and wait suspended until the next one finds you: Ah yes, then this; and yes, praise be, then this."

6.19.2012

On the road again...


Actually, maybe a better post title would be "To the skies!"

Anyway.

I'll be heading to The Last Frontier in September for as much Alaskan adventure as I can cram into four days with Amy and Scott! In March we took in all the The Big Island had to offer by way of waves, lava rock, swimsuits and palm trees, and this fall it's mountains, glaciers, seals and winter coats. I'm pretty stoked.

Planning any adventures/vacations yourself? Have you ever been to AK? I'd love to hear about both!

6.17.2012

Brownie Bar Bliss



On Saturday night, Leah and Jimmy hosted a game night, and when I asked what I could bring to supplement the snacks, I was told "something sweet."

Faced with almost limitless possibilites, I had to think for a while, consult cookbooks and revisit my menu-planning strategies. Since we would be playing games for a couple hours, it would need to be something I wouldn't have to babysit or keep warm, something people could create themselves as the mood struck them.

A Brownie Bar.


To make your own Brownie Bar at your next shindig, here's what you'll need:

Cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, flour, sugar, butter, eggs (brownies) and dulce de leche, chocolate sauce, heaving whipping cream, powdered sugar (toppings). I decided to bake mine in a spring form pan with a parchment paper lining, to make things a little more appealing, presentation wise.


Also, as there were going to be 12 people attending game night - and since playing games works up an appetite - I decided to make two batches of brownies so everyone could have as much as they wanted. So what you see up there is enough for two batches. (Side note: A Brownie Bar can certainly be made with boxed mix - but I think you should try making brownies from scratch at least once. It's pretty darn easy and tastes SO much better.)

Alright, so first things first, prepare your pan. I grabbed a plastic container that was about two inches larger than the circumference of my spring form pan and traced it onto some parchment paper two times. Cut both circles out and place one of them in the spring form pan. Turn the oven on to 325 and you're ready to go!

Nail color: Jackie Oh! by Color Club

Combine 10 Tbs of butter, 1 1/4 cups of sugar, 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs of cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp of salt in a microwaveable bowl.


Stir it around.


Then microwave on high for about a minute, take the bowl out and stir. Put it back in for another 30 seconds, take it out, stir. Do this one more time until everything's combined, gritty and pretty warm.


Then, add 1/2 tsp of vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon. Crack an egg into the batter, stirring vigorously until it's all mixed in. Do this again with the second egg.


You'll be left with a glossy, fairly smooth batter. Ad 1/2 cup of flour.


Stir it in until it's all mixed, then do the standard-brownie 40 strokes.


Spread your batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out slightly moist with batter. Undo the spring and let cool on a wire rack. If you're making two like I did, start mixing your batter when the first one is half way through baking.


I transported my two brownies to Leah and Jimmy's house and made the whipped topping there.


To make the topping, combine a pint of whipping cream (two cups), 3 Tbs of powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla in bowl. Using a hand held electric mixer, start off slow and then increase the speed until your whipped cream is the consistency you want.


We ended up at fairly stiff peaks.

Then, cut the brownies into wedges and assemble the bar!


And go to town.