Monday, April 28, 2014

Thoughts on Food from the Weekend

Good morning Monday everyone!

Things to note: the following is just my ramblings with no lesson to be learned or beautiful pictures to view. I just felt like writing and these are my thoughts.

It's been one of those weekends where I just don't. want. to. cook. When it comes to dinner I would like to eat jelly beans. Why can't jelly beans be a legitimate dinner option? I ended up making pizza from refrigerated dough and threw together a quick salad since the lettuce was already washed and chopped.

I have a handful of go-to dinners that don't require recipes. Tacos, spaghetti, chicken and rice, etc. I didn't start cooking until I moved out of my parents house and I didn't do that until I got married. So in the almost three years since my cooking journey began I'm happy that I have these go-to dinners that require little thought. I keep checking cookbooks out of the library thinking it will change my dinner game, but they usually get returned without a single recipe made. So, I told myself no more library cookbooks until I have tired cooking out of the books I already own. I think I'd like to try a recipe for steak and one for ribs in the slow-cooker next.

Another funny observation, my mom never made ribs or steak while I was growing up so those two things seem especially difficult to me. If mom didn't make it, then it was gourmet food that requires a professional. The meals I make now are very similar to the ones my mom made during my childhood and I am 100% with that but I'd like to try something new.

Anyway, that's just what I have been thinking about and decided to share. Hope you all have an absolutely lovely week ahead!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Moving Things Around in the Dining Room

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.

This weekend I tired some dining room hutch rearranging. We got this hutch last year for $100 on Craigslist. Originally I thought about painting the back of it a lighter color since since so dark, but it is solid wood and I actually enjoy the look of wood so I decided not to paint it. Instead, I put all of my white ceramic pieces in there and they pop against the dark wood.

Here's what it looked like before:

Sorry for the blurry photo but this is the best one of the bunch (you don't want to see the others.) Anyway, the hutch had turned into a catch all of sorts. Nothing was styled so I collected all my pieces on the kitchen table and did some rearranging. 

I ended up with:

I love the way the white pieces look in here. I also enjoy having my cookbooks available in the kitchen for obvious reasons. I wonder if the Pioneer Woman minds being on display? I'm sure I'm not the only one who has all of her cookbooks.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

This was the perfect book for me to read in this season of my life. The chapters were short but each one contained a heartfelt story that really resonated with me. The way she talks about food makes me want to run to my kitchen to start chopping and dicing right this very instant. (Which is saying a lot because I'm a rather hesitant cook) But this book is about more that just food, it's about life. The good the bad and the ugly, how we all go through hills and valleys and just as life connects us all, so does the food.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the chapter City Love where Niequist is talking about how one of her favorite memories of her wedding day was eating the leftovers with her new husband back in their hotel room overlooking Chicago after all the wedding festivities were done. She says this...

"When we want something to be momentous, it rarely is. Life is disobedient in that way, insisting on surprising us with its magic, stubbornly unwilling to be glittery on command." (page 222)

How true is this? You can plan and practice but life will give you magical moments even in the most unexpected of times. My favorite childhood memories are from everyday life. Dancing in the kitchen with my sisters, making cities out of boxes and paper for our stuffed animals, my dad justifying the cookies the came home after his grocery trip by proclaiming they jumped into his cart.

Yes, special occasions like Christmas and Birthdays contain wonderful memories too, but there is just as much magic throughout everyday life.

Even big things like my wedding day contain unexpected moments that bring a smile to my face. I planned, pondered and made big, expensive decisions because I had dreamed about this day my whole life. I spent a lot of money on dress that I wore once but, do you want to know one of my favorite pieces of my carefully designed outfit was? At the last minute someone asked if I wanted flowers in my hair. Yes, I thought, of course I wanted flowers in my hair. So they rounded up some white orchids and the hair stylist pinned them in my hair. And whenever I see the pictures I smile because I got married with flowers in my hair. To me that is such a beautiful and romantic thing. It was last minute and I loved it.

But back to the book. The copy I read was from the library but I definitely need to own this book. The recipes sound delicious I am definitely going to make the Basic Vinaigrette and I want to try the Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, the Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee and the Blueberry Crisp. Even though I more of a "good reheater" than a cook, I still think I can tackle these. Reading this book has given me more confidence in the kitchen. She admits that not every recipe she tries turns out the way she hopes and that's okay. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don't, with food and in life.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pillow Fight!

I am a big fan of use-what-you-have decorating. Although, I am not always the best at practicing what I preach. I give into the the it will look better when we have more money mentality sometimes, but really, that is just an excuse.

So today I challenged myself to use what I have and shake things up by moving some pillows around (which was so strenuous because they are so... you know... heavy...) anyway this is the results.

The Front Room:
First up is the pillows that came with the couch. I like the colors, the round pillow is slightly odd but I think it works.

Next up is the pillows from the family room. This is probably my least favorite in here. Something about the red, blue and gray seemed too patriotic for me. Also, since the pillows were all the same size it felt very flat if that makes any sense.
These teal-blue pillows are from our new bedding set. This option and the original pillows are my favorites on this couch. Something about that shade of blue and the gray menswear type fabric of the couch look so good together in my opinion.

The Family Room:

These are the pillows that normally live on this couch in our family room. My mom made the pillow covers to go over the stock pillows. She made these when we still lived in our first apartment so this has been this couches "look" for quite some time.

I thought these pillows would totally clash with the yellow on beige thing they have going on but I actually really like them in this room. The photo hanging above the couch (which I cut out in every photo but the last one) is from our wedding day when we stopped by this little dirt road to take pictures. The surrounding grass has a lot of yellow in it which I never noticed until I moved the pillows in here. I also love how the big pillows balance out this big couch.
I grabbed this gray pillow from a nearby chair and although I love the way this looks, I think five pillows on a couch might be too fussy for they way we live. Most of the time the pillows get moved around or end up on the floor for back support when playing video games.
Here it is with the teal-blue pillows from the bedroom. I kept the gray pillow because I thought it looked nice but again five pillows is probably too much for our family. I like the teal with beige though, it definitely freshens things up a bit.
So what did I end up with?

The front room winner is:
The teal blue is my favorite in this room. I'm not too worried about missing these upstairs because we always moved them when we went to sleep and they very rarely made it back to where they belonged.

The family room winner is:
I was completely surprised how much I like these pillows in here so I think I will leave it like this for a little while and when I change my mind again it will take, oh about two seconds to switch everything around.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What I Read Wednesday: Notes from a Blue Bike

I just finished Tsh Oxenreider's new book called Notes from a Blue Bike which was released earlier this year. I am a fan of Oxenreider's blog The Art of Simple and her podcast by the same name (formally called Simple Mom.)

Notes from a Blue Bike is a memoir style book where Oxenreider shares stories about her families travels and experience as ex-pats and how all of this has lead them to a life where they intentionally choose to live simple. I really enjoyed the parts about her life in Turkey. She described the culture such as the open air markets so well I felt like I was experiencing it for myself.

My favorite quote from the book is:

"Most of life's decisions don't come with black-and-white answers, and that's a beautiful, marvelous thing. We're each given freedom to choose our decisions, and that responsibility is the very definition of living with intention, after all: making daily choices so that your life lines up with your passions and values. It should all make sense in your head." (page 214)

I this is such a great quote to keep in mind. It seems like everyone has an opinion about everyone else's life these days (oh they're getting married really young, or why aren't they married yet, etc.) When it is really up to the individual to live their life in the way that best suits them. In the book the Oxenreider family chooses  to home-schools their children for a season or two so that they can pursue their passion of traveling. While other people may not understand their decision, it's okay because it make sense to them and their family.

Overall I really like the stories she shared and I liked that the chapters were crazy short. This make it feel like I was flying through this book and allowed me to read a chapter here and there, on my lunch break or waiting for water for boil for dinner, etc.

I look forward to her next book.