Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Monday Meals: Thanksgiving Preview

Although I did try out a few recipes this weekend, the bulk of my cooking will be done tomorrow for Friendsgiving and this weekend while my family is in town. Here is a preview of things to come.

Every Thanksgiving needs a green bean casserole! This one from raininghotcoupons.com.

I already tried this recipe from Crazy for Crust this weekend, and it turned out beautifully. I feel like my fudge making days are ahead of me.

I'm also going to make a buttermilk pie. The southern classic has always been a favorite of mine, and it's perfect for any occasion where pies are appropriate (read: always).

What are you planning to make for friends and family this Thanksgiving? 

I'll post full recipes--and what to do with leftovers--next Monday!

Friday, November 21, 2014

{Five Things}

My dad with the flag he made for our friends' wedding.
With Thanksgiving less than a week away, and Friendsgiving on Tuesday, I'm finding myself more and more on Pinterest looking for warm recipes and decorations to fill our house. Though we'll be in California for Christmas and may not even get a tree (*tear*), I can't help but look forward to having my own house someday to decorate. 
After last weekend's fantastic and liver-busting wedding of two good friends and marvelous people, I'm looking forward to a simple weekend of reading, preparing for Friendsgiving, and going to see Mockingjay with a buddy. #HGforever 

The cutest floor dwellers I've ever seen in a coffee shop.

Snow covered pansies from Sunday.

All week I've been drinking hot water with lemon in the afternoons. I love that it keeps me warm and doesn't give me the shakes like coffee does.

One of the best views around is on Steamboat Mountain south of Abilene.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Here's What Happens When a 26 Year Old Re-Watches Sleeping Beauty

Last week, the Disney classic "Sleeping Beauty" was on TV. There was literally nothing else on, so I started watching it. I know, I probably should have picked up a book or cleaned the kitchen, but I didn't. Sorry, not sorry.

I've always loved Disney movies. Who doesn't, right? Every girl has their favorite characters, their favorite princess (mine is Cinderella), and their favorite fantasy about how she will meet her Prince Charming. It had been literally decades since I'd seen Sleeping Beauty, so I was kind of keen on seeing how the story would hold up after all these years. Here are some questions and observations I had after re-watching Sleeping Beauty in 2014:

1. Disney -- Was he kind of a misogynist? I will grant you this: It was 1959 and this movie probably reflected culture and society, as all movies do. But Come. On. When Aurora is a baby, the three good fairies give her three gifts: Beauty, Song, and Sleeping through the curse that Maleficent puts on her, which is that she will die when she's 16 by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel. Evidently these were the only desirable qualities for a woman in the fifties? That she is beautiful, could sing a song and would just get out of the way while her prince saves her. I know a few men who would look at me and just say "yep," hopefully in a facetious way... Le sigh.
I've definitely given this look to my brothers.

2. Maleficent -- Right, so what about Maleficent? She clearly hates King Stefan, but we have no idea why. I think she is either a lover scorned, or she is really his sister and jealous that he got the good kingdom while she was put in the black castle with no one but trolls and a nasty crow for company. How is a girl supposed to decorate a centuries-old drafty stinkhole without the help of Pinterest or Etsy? It is the 14th Century after all. I'd be irritable too.

3. The three fairies -- Flora, Fauna and Merryweather may be the only cool people in the whole joint, (looking past their male-fantasy-based gifts to Aurora). They literally save everyone in the kingdom, bring the two lovebirds together, can fly, cook cakes with magic, and change their outfits in 0.2 seconds. Sign me up for good-fairy school please.

4. Aurora -- Okay, what is the actual deal with Aurora? I know she's lived in a cabin her whole life, but couldn't she have learned to use a sword during all that alone time, or shoot a bow and arrow? Or ride a horse? Something besides brushing her hair and picking berries. And she totally disobeys her "aunts" by talking to a stranger in the forrest, who turns out to be Prince Phillip. So what's the lesson here, to not talk to strangers unless they're hot? I'll give her points for being cursed and everything, but next time, I want to see her become a little more independent before she marries a total stranger at the age of 16. It's a big world, Aurora, I hope you get to see some of it when you're queen.

I mean, you literally met him yesterday.

However, Comma -- For all its politically incorrect faults, Disney fairy tales seem to have one theme in common: that your animal friends will help you out when the going gets tough (ahem), and that true love conquers all. Believe it or not, underneath the exterior of this travel-obsessed, seemingly-cynical woman beats the heart of a relentless romantic that mourns the loss of true courtship. There is more than a small part of me that wishes planned dates and romance were still the norm, instead of Tinder hook ups and casual hang outs. Disney movies, even Sleeping Beauty, perpetuate not only my romanticism, but the continued hope that we modern-day princesses will quit settling for anything less.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Meals: Mushroom Arugula Toast with Fried Egg

Confession: I haven't been cooking much in the past few weeks. Helping out at the store and planning trips to DC and Central America has sadly kept me from the kitchen. So I was glad to have a night last week with little going on and this recipe to try. I love every one of these ingredients: bread, olive oil, mushrooms, fried egg, lots of salt and garlic. I didn't have a lemon or creme fraiche, and I used minced garlic since I didn't have a clove. But I did add some arugula to the toast to make the saltiness less intense and cover all the major food groups. I also apparently needed some greens because it hit the spot.


4 thick slices country bread
6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for the bread
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp butter
6 cups assorted wild mushrooms, chopped
Sea salt
Sprinkle of rosemary
4 or 5 cups of arugula
4 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Brush the bread slices with olive oil and transfer them to a baking sheet.

2. Toast the bread in the oven, flipping the slices over once, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the butter in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet. Add the mushrooms, sea salt, rosemary, and garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened.

4. Remove from heat. Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat.

5. Crack each egg individually into a small bowl and then pour the egg into the skillet, being careful not to break the yolk. Cover and cook for a few minutes, until the whites have cooked but the yolks are still a bit runny. Season with salt and pepper.

6. To assemble the toast, spread arugula over each slice, followed by about 2 tablespoons of the cooked mushrooms, and finally a fried egg. Serve.

Friday, November 14, 2014

{Five Things}

So blessed to live in this country. Thanks to all our troops on Veterans Day, and every day!
It feels like I've been cooped up all week since this freeze came through town, but I don't mind it at all. The best thing about the cold weather is that it gets me more in the mood for the holidays. We've started planning our Friendsgiving, and I couldn't be more excited. Not only does that mean more time with friends, but also TWO Thanksgiving meals. Yes and yes.
This weekend, I'm heading down to Horseshoe Bay for the wedding of my third brother and his lovely bride-to-be! Have a good one.

The most amazing Chicken Tortilla Soup from United.

First fire of the season!

Thanksgiving decorations at the store.

Little Bit found a home. Sad to say goodbye to him but glad he is the right fit for someone else.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Meals, aka Drinks Can Be Meals Too.

When the weather cools down and people remember that their fireplaces function, I find nothing more comforting that curling up next to said fireplace and sipping a hot toddy. My drink of choice is usually a lovely cabernet or merlot, but sometimes it's nice to spice things up a bit. This season, I am looking forward to fun drinks like this one, especially since Fireball whiskey is 2014's most popular liquor (I'm assuming this based on Saturday nights at Bar 14/The Zone...).

Last year at Thanksgiving, I made this Cranberry Old Fashioned for our guests, and though it was about as subtle as a punch to the face, it was very festive and fun to try something different. Thanks C&C.


- 10 fresh cranberries

- 2 sugar cubes (or 3/4 tsp of sugar)

- 1/8 tsp of cinnamon (optional)

- 2 dashes of bitters (I used Angostura)

- 2" strip of orange peel

- 2 oz rye whiskey or bourbon

- ice

Place cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, orange peel and bitters into a tumbler glass, add a touch of water. Muddle the ingredients until the sugar is broken up and mixed well. Add whiskey and ice, stir to mix, then serve.

Friday, November 7, 2014

{Five Things}

I ran with the bulls last weekend, along with a 1950s housewife and a librarian.
This week had the first few cool days of the season, not to mention about 2 inches of rain! For West Texas, that's basically flood level. I combatted the cold and wet with comfort food and finishing another season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Since I have zero plans this weekend, I'll spend time in the kitchen with a few new recipes, and finish up my next story for the local magazine in Abilene. Have a good one!

My messy ribbon bow on a gift to a friend for her birthday.

This adorable baby shower invitation--Can't wait to see my peeps in DC and celebrate a new peep! 

I met a celebrity this week: Gus Perini, who "signed" my copy of his book about life at Perini Ranch.

Little Bit's new hiding place. And we found out that he is, in fact, a boy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Chronicles of Nicaragua

When I got back from Paris, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life...a present theme of late. I moved back in to my parents house and began filling my days with working out, playing the piano, cooking meals and writing. While I enjoyed all the free time, I wondered how I was back in this position, unemployed, in Abilene, with no real motivation to do anything of substance. I thought about doing things to make my life seem a little more purpose-driven, but my efforts were lackluster at best.

Two different people in Paris told me about their experiences in Nicaragua volunteering for various organizations. They both loved their experiences, and talked fondly about their time in the Central American country. To make matters more fateful, some family friends in Abilene are from Nicaragua, and they are always telling us how beautiful and charming it is.

La Esperanza Granada
I found an organization in Granada, Nicaragua that takes volunteers out into rural schools to help teachers of elementary students. Every review I read said it is a great organization, and I sent off an application in late September. La Esperanza Granada responded promptly, and we confirmed that I would come in January and stay for three months. In the application, I listed that I would like to be a volunteer in the office doing communications, promotions and social media-type help. With my few years of experience, I felt like I could best help them in that capacity.

I was elated the few days after they confirmed it with me. Though a little scary, I felt the wonderful uneasy feeling that one feels before embarking on an unknown journey. It is something so different from anything I've ever done, and I expect great things to come from this experience. And not just a better Spanish vocabulary.

I am still not sure how I want to shape my life for the long-term, where I want to live or what kind of job I want to have. And I realize that spending three months in Central America probably won't change my life or reveal to me the great epiphany of what to do with it. It might, and I always try to remain faithful. But either way, I'm believing that I will grow and learn in ways that I can't conceive yet. Like Paris, and Kilimanjaro before it, it feels good to push against the boundaries that I set for myself, to stretch out and accept new challenges, even when I'm uncertain where they will lead.

I hope you'll join me for the journey. Vamonos! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Meals: BBQ Chicken Salad

As I grow older, salads are more and more appealing. A delicious Cobb, Caesar or Fajita salad are wonderful fallbacks if and when I've reached my sandwich quota for the week. Though I love them now, I'd never made a salad at home that was a full meal. I decided to try this one from Cheerios and Lattes last week after a weekend of very unclean eating. It may not be the healthiest salad in the world, but it satisfied my craving for some greens and tasted amazing. Anything with BBQ sauce and Ranch dressing...sign me up.


Your favorite lettuce (I used baby spinach)
3 or 4 boneless chicken, cooked and chopped
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 red pepper, diced
Colby Jack shredded cheese
Tortilla strips
Your fave BBQ sauce (I used Stubbs Sauce from Austin)
Ranch or Lite Ranch dressing

Roast corn, red pepper and black beans in skillet. Once the veggies are roasted and warm, toss lettuce, chicken and vegetables in a large bowl. Add tortilla strips and cheese. Drizzle with BBQ sauce. In another bowl, mix 1/3 cup of Ranch with 1/3 of BBQ sauce, then add to salad. Toss and serve.