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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Res-well, goals, for 2012:)

1. Lose Weight
     This isn't so much "lose weight" as it is get more toned and fit into some of my smaller clothes.  Ideally, I'd be training for a 5k, which I still may do, but I hate running with a passion.  I think I'll settle for being able to do any Jillian Michaels workout without stopping.
     It's not that I'm unhappy with the way I look, I just believe I would feel better and have more energy if I lost ~20 or so pounds.  I also want to stop eating so much salt and baked goods.

2. Make all As next semester.
     Next semester will be my hardest one yet.  Because of insane laziness and one really hard teacher, I made two B's for Fall 2011.  A B in a subject that I could have easily earned an A in, is just unacceptable to me.

3. Get accepted to all my transfer schools.
     This one is partially out of my reach, but it's still a goal.

4. Assorted blog goals.
     Post more and get more followers.  Because I love talking to people and getting to know people from all over the world:)

5. Stop stressing the small things and go to Church more.
     One is connected to the other- I feel more at peace when I regularly attend Mass.  This also aligns with Cal Newport's low maintenance lifestyle that I want to incorporate into my own.

Do you make resolutions?  If so, what are they?  Here's to another year!

Until Next Time,


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Touch Me I'm Going To Scream

Anyone remember the show "Dinosaurs" from the early 90s?  This reminds me so much of it!  It's so cute, and I'm absolutely obsessed with the song. I've just discovered the band, although I heard of it a few years ago.

Are you a MMJ fan?  Are you a fan of the music video?  Let me know in the comments!

Until Next Time,


Monday, December 26, 2011


Christmas is my favorite holiday (although I know very, very few people who don't share the same sentiment).  In a household like mine, which moves around so much, we don't have as many traditions as other people (since we're in different places so frequently), but some things always stay the same: being with family.

Christmas has stretched the gamut in my family: when I was little and we lived in Germany, we never had extended family around for Christmas, but it was always lovely and cold.  From there we moved to lower Alabama, where there was never snow.  Fast forward to the year we all had the stomach flu and Christmas dinner wasn't more than chicken noodle soup.  Speed ahead again to us living in Hawaii and going to the beach on Christmas Eve and eating pineapple pancakes for breakfast.  Or the several Christmases that my father was away in other countries and it was just my mom and I.

Somehow though, it's never lost it's magic.

This year was no different.

On Christmas Eve we built a sugar cookie house (since none of us particularly care for gingerbread).  It was our first time and we were aiming for something adorable like this:

Apparently we aimed too high, however, and we ended up with one that collapsed moments after we built it:

We certainly won't be winning awards any time soon.  At least it tastes good, I suppose:)

Following the cookie house disaster, we went to midnight mass at a new Church.  I'm more than a little embarrassed to say that this is the last time I went to Church was in Austria (in *cough*2007*cough*cough).  It was a lovely service, and I'm sure we'll be back soon.

The next day was, of course, filled with lots of amazing presents:)

          The Abigail bedspread from the Vermont Country Store that I've been absolutely dreaming of for almost three years.

All the media I asked for: Rain by Somerset Maugham, The Iliad & The Odyssey, The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope, A Vegan College Cookbook by PETA, and in the way of DVDs: a biography of Napoleon, The Hole, The Hangover, North and South, The White Ribbon, Season 1 of My Hero, and The Last Stand of the 300.  Moulin Rouge CD as well:)  

What has to be my favorite gift of all:  A vintage sapphire ring from the 1960s.

Pictures just don't do justice as to how vibrant it is in real life. 

I also got a dress that I'll show off later, since I can't find a picture of it online.  Packages from certain family members haven't arrived yet, so I may update later with those:)  

Of course what Christmas is complete without a huge delicious meal?

We had a Tofurky (which I will always love, sorry to the haters!), a small mountain of mashed potatoes (made by moi!), a green bean casserole (completely by scratch, again made by me), rosemary rolls (made by my lovely mother), and lots of desserts and Chardonnay to go with it.  

It was a spectacular meal, and almost completely from scratch.  It turns out that it's actually not that difficult to make a "Cream of..." soup.  Cream of Mushroom is surprisingly easy!  I used this recipe.

I hope everybody as fantastic of a holiday as I did!  

Until Next Time,


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Red Beans & Rice with Corn Bread

It's so difficult to cook for picky eaters.  We have a list running in my house divided into three parts: "Make Again, "Do Not Make Again (Ever), and one labelled "NITH" (Not In The House, referring to my fathers frequent business trips).

Because, ladies and gentlemen, for once it isn't the child who is the picky eater...but the parent.  Since my mom and I became vegetarians, we've expanded our culinary scope to include dishes from around the world.  For reasons beyond my imagining, my dad hates this and doesn't like most of what we cook.

For the first time in a month or two though, I was able to add another dish to the "Make Again" list- Red Beans and Rice w/ cornbread!  I made a version of this early in the summer, but it was too spicy.  These recipes aren't my own, unfortunately, but I've been thinking of ways to improve them.  The beans, for instance, are far, far too salty.  I've been thinking of making my own Cajun seasoning blend and using a tablespoon of homemade (without salt) and a tablespoon with the store bought kind.

For broth, I use Better Than Bouillon, which is totally delicious but also a little salty.  Enjoy!

Red Beans Recipe:

1 pound of dried red kidney beans
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
3 tablespoons canola oil
11 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight in water and drain.  Peel the onion and chop the celery and onion into small pieces- I used a food processor for the onions, and chopped the celery very finely.  Sautee the onion and celery in the hot oil for ten minutes over medium high heat.  Add the beans and vegetable stock, then bring to a boil.  Add the garlic powder, bay leaf, & Cajun seasoning, then simmer on medium-low heat for three hours (I know, I know!  But it's sooo worth it!)

During the last hour of the beans cooking, make the cornbread:

1 1/2 cups soy milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 sugar
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Combine the liquid ingredients, then the dry ones and mix until just combined.  Pour the batter into a greased eight or nine inch square pan and bake in a 350 F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until done.  Makes nine pieces.

While the cornbread is baking, make the rice.  Making rice is really basic, but for those that need a recipe:
1 cup white rice
1 1/2 cups water

Combine the water and rice in a saucepan and bring to a soft boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for twenty minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

The recipe serves six, so it's great for a family dinner, dinner party, small potluck, or for someone who likes to make a LOT of food and keep it in the freezer.

Recipes from "Teens Cook" by Megan & Jill Carle

Until Next Time,


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Date a Girl Who Reads

"Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes."

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Winter Break Reading List

Yesterday I posted my top picks for my lovely readers- who I assume are in my general age group- to read over Winter Break, a time when many people try to read (and some fail, lured by television).  I promised to post my own reading list, composed of books I've never read (or attempted to read and failed).

1. "Lucrezia Borgia" by Sarah Bradford.

If it isn't apparent by now (and since none of you live with me, and have to put up with my obsession-of-the-moment, it probably isn't), I'm more than a little obsessed with the Borgia family and the Renaissance.  Instead of being historical fiction, like I usually read, this is non-fiction (and surprisingly good, at that!).  I'm a quarter of the way through and I started tonight.  It's very good, although it focuses more on the family as a whole than on the specific person (Lucrezia) that I expected when I started to read.  Nevertheless, it's pretty good.

2. "Rain and Other South Sea Stories" by W. Somerset Maugham

I'm a HUGE fan of "Rain" and was so thrilled to find a copy of it and more short stories, so I added it to my Amazon Wishlist for Christmas.  Unfortunately, I opened a box that I wasn't supposed to open et voila....saw that this is one of my presents.  This is one that I won't get to read until 25 December or later, but I'm still looking forward to it.

3. Bede's "Ecclesiastical History of England"

Another non-fiction book?  How dull!  Surprisingly not.  I received this last year for Christmas and never got around to reading it (although my depressingly sedentary summer allowed for a lot of reading, very little of which I actually did), so I made it a resolution to definitely read it before I go back to school.

4. "Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll

Since two of the other three books are such serious, non-fiction books, I thought I would include something more fun.  I never read this when I was little, even though it's supposed to be a children's book.

5. BONUS "Ada or Ardor" by Vladimir Nabokov

I've tried four times to read this book, and I just don't know if it's ever going to really happen.  It doesn't make much sense, and too many people have the same name (more than one person named Demon is just way too much for me).  Ugh.  I usually love Nabokov's work, but this is just a definite miss for me.  I'll give it another try-if I feel like it and if I have time- and if I can't get through it again, I'll dust it off and set it on the book shelf.

And maybe try again in another year.

Until Next Time,


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top 6 Books to Read over Christmas Break!

With Winter Break looming, a lot of people are swearing (for what feels like the millionth time) to pick up one or more good books and be a total bookworm over the break.  Too often though, we get caught up with friends, food (this one especially!), and all the television that seems to have accumulated on the DVR/Netflix queue.

1. "Katherine" by Anya Seton
For those looking for an excellent historical fiction novel that incorporates a little bit of everything, "Katherine" by Anya Seton is perfect.  It really does have everything, I'm not lying: forbidden love, romance, exotic destinations, battles, heartbreak, bloodshed- the list goes on.

For those that are huge history nerds (like myself), it's really fascinating to get a good look at the life of a secretly influential woman- from her line came royals like Henry VIII.  Her children by John of Gaunt were labelled the Beaufort's- a descendent of this line eventually placed her son Henry VII on the throne of England.  Pretty distinguished for the descendent's of a sheltered convent girl!

2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

"Lolita.  Light of my life, fire of my loins.  My sin, my soul.  Lolita."

Penning those immortal words, Nabokov could have hardly known he was in the process of writing a modern classic (and my favorite, all time book).  Although controversial, it's lyrical beauty is astounding, and enchants those brave enough to read it.

I'm already on my second copy (although I could say that about many books, including "Katherine"), and this book goes everywhere with me.  Whenever I'm asked what I would bring if I was stranded on a desert island, this book is always my number one answer (although it's tied with a cellphone that has reception & the number of the Coast Guard!).

(I also heartily recommend the 1997 movie version starring Jeremy Irons.  In my non-professional opinion, it's far more true to the book, and spirit of the story than the original Kubrick version)

3. Pillars of the Earth/World Without End/Fall of Giants

Basically, any of Ken Follet's historical novels.  Depending on your reading speed and the length of your break, this may take you longer than expected.  Believe me, it's well worth it.

World Without End is sort of a sequel to Pillars of the Earth, so if you only have time to read one, pick "Pillars".  Both take place in the Middle Ages, and are absolutely fantastic.

Fall of Giants is about WWI, so it's much more modern- something that isn't usually a plus for me, but works for this book.

(Pillars of the Earth has a miniseries, which as a fan of the book, I didn't particularly care for.  It also deviated from historical fact more than I would like.  If you're not totally fanatical about one or both of those, then I recommend it as well.)

4. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

Less of a lighthearted book, but something that everyone should read at some point, even meat eaters.  I believe wholeheartedly that one should be informed about the choices they make, and the food that you put into your body is something that impacts every part of you.

5. The Crimson Petal and the White

I love the Victorian era, but I rarely find modern novels about the time period that I actually enjoy.  I really like classics, but there's already two on the list, and I didn't want to overload it with Dickens, Collins, and Gaskell (although, Oh my God, yes.  Those three ROCK).

The Crimson Petal and the White is the story about a prostitute named Sugar and her journey through London Society.  It can be a little difficult to explain because there's so much going on, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable-although dark- novel.

I've also heard that somebody is making/has made a miniseries of this starring Romola Garai (my favorite modern actress) as Sugar.  If anyone has seen it, let me know how it is!

6. The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker

Less well known than the other books, this one is no less good (at least in my opinion).  It centers around a young woman painter named Francesca, who is apprenticed by the painter Johannes Vermeer(!!!).  Unfortunately for her though, her father's gambling addiction leads their family into serious debt that could threaten her future happiness.

I basically love anything with Vermeer in it, like "Girl With a Pearl Earring" or many of the other novels that involve him, but this is definitely one of my favorites.

I really think one of my favorite things about Winter Break is the opportunity to do so much uninterrupted reading.

 How about you? Do you have a winter reading list (I'll post mine later, these are just suggestions for anyone interested)?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Borgia Faith & Fear

First off, I'm extraordinarily happy to say that I'm done with finals!  Technically, I only had two- for my other classes, I had to write a paper and (for German), go to a German restaurant with the rest of my class and order in the language.  In better news, I didn't have to take a mathematics final!  Anyone with a grade above a 90% was exempt, and guess who made a 95 in the class....?

I've been celebrating by watching a fantastic tv show on Netflix that I'm pretty sure never aired in the U.S: Borgia!  I thought at first that it would be a cheap knock off of Showtimes The Borgias- boy, was I surprised!  Everything about it is perfect.  The characters look insanely like their historical counterparts.  Take Juan/Giovanni for example:

                                        French actor Stanley Weber...

                                        Juan Borgia, Second Duke of Gandia

Not thoroughly convinced yet?

                    The (absolutely delicious) Mark Ryder as the infamous Cesare Borgia

          The real Cesare (who, I'm not gonna lie, is pretty good looking for a Renaissance painting)

Obviously, this has nothing to do with the actor's talent, script writing, or the amazing sets.  It's just an example of how well put together this show is.  Now that I've seen it, I don't know if I still care about seeing the American show about the Borgia family.

Since I'm a huge Jeremy Irons fan though, I'll give it a watch:)

Have you seen Borgia?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Costume Jewelry!

Three cheers for a souvenir that can actually be utilized on a regular basis!  I found this ring at Old Tuscon and just had to have it.  I loved it so much I just had to share it!

As you can see, I took the picture over my (dreadful)  Macroeconomics textbook.  I did this because, once again, it's final's season, which accounts for my lack of posting, etc. on my blog.  I wish I had more time, but alas- I have a ton of studying to do, especially for the aforementioned economics.  It'll take everything I have to pull an A out of this class, but I'm really hopeful about it:)

Are you in the midst of finals as well? If so, good luck!

Until Next Time,


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Review of Boscia Makeup Break-Up Cleansing Oil

A while back (just before I found Erno Laszlo, actually), I used Boscia skin care products, which for the most part are really phenomenal.  Specifically, I used the little acne kit with the cleanser, toner, treatment, and moisturizer, which balanced my skin out quite nicely and made it really pretty...for awhile.  It seemed like every time I would find a new skin care regimen, my skin would break out horribly after ~six months using it, almost like an allergic reaction, which is why I switched to Erno Laszlo (used for a year, nothing bad!  Love it!).

Anyway, I read on Makeupalley that this particular product was really spectacular, and after having a great experience using the OCM (Oil Cleansing Method), I decided to give it a try.

It's actually a really innovative idea- the product is an oil that you rub into your skin and then rinse with water.  It can wash off all makeup, and there's no need for a cleanser afterwards!

I was so excited to try it that I used it the very night I bought it.  I marveled at how there was nothing on my skin after I swiped at it with a toner pad.  All my makeup was gone!

Flash forward to the next day...

Hives.  Deep acne.  Surface acne.  Overall redness.

It seemed like there wasn't an area of my skin that wasn't negatively impacted by this product.  It burned to put any products on, so I ended up skipping school for almost a week while I recovered from the damage.  Obviously, this product went right back to Sephora.

To this day I have no idea what caused such an inflammatory reaction, but I quit using Boscia products and skipped to my current routine, which is pretty fantastic.  I know that this is a rare reaction to this product (if the reviews are anything to go by), but I just had to share my awful experience with the product.

Sorry if it was too graphic for anybody.

Have you used this product (or anything else from the Boscia line)?  If so, how do you like them?

Until Next Time,


Friday, December 2, 2011

Cold Weather & Mike Posner

How awesome is that!?  I bought my car in Hawaii, so I've never seen it get cold enough to go into the negatives.  I know that -0.5 C isn't really that cold, but just a taste of things to come:)  

Cold weather always brings to mind great music, and for me, nothing screams winter like chill, jazz-type music.  

As in, Mike Posner, one of my favorite "chill" artists.

I know this album came out ages ago, but I'm still hooked, especially on "Deja Vu" and "Bow Chicka Wow Wow," the music video to which I included below.


Until Next Time,