Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Resolution Smesolution

My New Year's resolutions are non-existent this year...

And that's really ok with me. Every year I come up with some goal that I am certain to toss by the wayside by the 'teens of February. By March I have browbeaten myself to a point of promising to start resolutions anew, only to fail by summertime.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

This new year is going to be celebrated with a list of aspirations:
~Try to sleep at least 7 hours a night
~Tell Shug how much I love him every day
~Volunteer my time again
~Read a few books I love and don't have to study
~Write more
~Forgive myself more
~Become more acquainted with gratitude
~ Give Ruby more kisses

Are you making New Year's Resolutions?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

Via Shug.

Yes, please.

I could look ever-so-amazing schlepping my books to class.
From JMBCanada's Etsy shop.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Magic Peanut Butter Cookies

Having to eat gluten-free can mean using all sorts of weirdzies flours like garbanzo bean flour, fava bean flour, arrowroot, and potato starch. Gluten-free baking can be more of a science experiment than anything else. My years of chemistry classes are finally paying off..!

To whip up this little cookie, it is so not mandatory to have a good grasp on organic chemistry - it's a gluten-free cookie recipe that's comprised of normal ingredients!!!

I know, I was excited myself.

Magic Peanut Putter Cookies
Makes ~24 cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth...I like smooth)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, peanut butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl. Mix well and then fold in chocolate chips. Portion out tablespoon amounts of dough onto a nonstick cookie sheet. Use a fork to press the cookies flat and create a crisscross pattern on top. Bake for 12 minutes or until slightly golden brown on top.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly on the pan since they will be a little wiggity. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a cookie rack. Pat yourself on the back for making gluten-free cookies without one trip to the grocery store!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Something to look forward to...

Now that the holidays are over, I'm excited for the new First Aid Kit album to come out in 2010!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Was your holiday wonderful?

Ours was!

Ruby spent the day un-stuffing her new stuffed animals.

What did you do?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Holidays!

I hope you have a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!
Tell the people you love how thankful you are to have them in your lives.

I know I am.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Almost there!

Here's a little holiday table scape I did in the dining area.
Better known as "Ruby's Room."

Since we never get to eat in there, I thought I could at least decorate!!

I hope all of your shopping and preparing is winding down!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Serves Me Right.

Remember how p.o.'d I was a week or so ago because Shug kept on buying himself stuff during the holidays? Well, after serving myself a big ol' slice of hypocrite pie, I decided to buy myself something before Christmas: a new camera.

This camera was supposed to make my dreams come true. It was miniature, cute, vintage-looking, digital, uber-portable, cute, came in a fancy-schmancy wooden box, weighed mere ounces, and it was cute. Did I mention how cute this camera was? I wanted, nay, I NEEDED this little beauty to be perfect. Why? Well, I didn't consult Shug about purchasing it...I just up and bought it myself...Without consulting the world's expert-on-damn-near-everything-camera about it!

Annnnd, let's just say that I have learned that cameras that are cute don't always take the best pictures....

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
It's being shipped back today...Shug's gloating has added the insult to cute camera injury.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A movie you should really really see: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson and I have had a, how shall I say, turbulent relationship. Just when I started caring about movies I found Bottle Rocket. It was insane, funny, quirky, and heartfelt - all the things I loved about movies in the SAME MOVIE!!! My teenage brain couldn't handle all of the cinematic goodness. Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums left me just as enraptured. But when The Life Aquatic and Darjeeling Limited came out, I started realizing I was seeing the same story over and over and over again. Familial angst, an outcast trying to work his way back into family graces, redemption and a killer soundtrack were starting to be the formula from which Anderson built his quirky cinematic experiences.

Is The Fantastic Mr. Fox any different? Honestly, not by much. So why should you see this movie, then? Well, just like all of Anderson's other movies, the visual beauty and attention to detail will leave you wishing the movie were days longer.

In a world where CGI is the go-to for animated movies, the art of stop-animation has gone the way of typewriters...only eccentrics feel the need to hammer out their work in a slow, meticulous and difficult method. But therein lies the worth and inherent loveliness of these antiquated methods. The personality given to objects still touched and molded by human hands is unrepeatable by computers or machines. This is why Mr. Fox and his compatriots look so real in the world created by Anderson and his animators.

These animals have personalities all their own, many in line with their taxonomic rank (the nerd in me is swooning as I type that). They also have ridiculous senses of humor, nervous tics, and endearing flaws. The existential question that is inherent in every Wes Anderson flick is battled by Mr. Fox, but the way he goes toe-to-toe with his conundrum is honest and believable for a talking fox that writes for the local newspaper.

This movie could have been a preachy sermon about conserving our resources or the damage done by corporations to local markets, but instead we are made aware of these issues without being bludgeoned by them. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a fairytale for adults and kids, where the element of human flaws is celebrated and showcased with stop-motion forest animals.

Stop what you are doing and see this right now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


It's ridiculously cold and gloomy outside today.

I'm battling the smog by:
eating gluten-free cinnamon toast with cream cheese
taking a snoozer with Ruby
watching PiƱero
making a yummy dinner with Shug
and talking on the phone with my sister and my mumma.

I hope the sun is shining and the snow is sparkling where you are.



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gift Guide: Terrariums

Aren't these globes beautiful!
They would make the perfect home for a terrarium.

I love this site, terrain, since it has such a great inventory
do-it-yourself terrarium kits!

What a unique gift this would be!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A year ago today...

...Shug asked me to marry him!

It was the biggest surprise of my life.

And the best.

He was so thoughtful and sneaky when planning on how he was going to pop the question...
This is one of the roses he gave me that day.

It's a good thing he asked, 'cause I'm pretty sweet on him.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Baked Potatoes with Spiced Turkey

Brrr! Baby, it's cold outside! I've been craving stick-to-yer-bones dinners like nobody's business, but hearty doesn't have to mean unhealthy. This dish was created with both of these details in mind: satisfying and not heart stopping!

Since school is out for winter break, Shug and I have turned our attentions to a very important pursuit: catching up on Dexter episodes. So, if you have a little extra time this evening to bake the potatoes, this dish will come together in the time it takes to watch an episode of your favorite show!

Baked Potatoes with Spiced Turkey
Serves 4
4 Russet baking potatoes, scrubbed clean with skins left on
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt
1 pound ground turkey breast, extra lean
1 onion, minced
2 carrots peeled and diced
1 1/2 t of ground cumin
1 t chili powder (or more if you like it spicier)
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 can of crushed unsalted tomatoes
1 T tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Sour cream (optional)
Pumpkin seeds for garnish

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Rub the cleaned potatoes all over with olive oil and sea salt. When they are all covered, throw them into the oven and let them bake for about an hour or until easily pierced with a knife. (Thanks, Joanna, for this neat way to cook potatoes!) Go back to watching your show.

When the potatoes are about 15 minutes away from being done (you may have to pause the show for this little bit of cooking), heat another squidge of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and carrots and saute until soft. Add all of the ground spices and the bay leaf. Sauteing the spices will infuse the olive oil with it's flavor and make your dish have a little more depth. Throw in the ground turkey breast and break up with your weapon of choice. Once the turkey is all cooked through, add the can of crushed tomatoes with all of the juicy goodness and the tomato paste. Mix until well incorporated and let simmer on low for a few minutes to heat the sauce through.

Sidenote - There is an amazing invention I've discovered! It's a tube of sun-dried tomato paste! You can squeeze out the amount you need like toothpaste and you can just stick the tube back in the fridge. No more throwing away almost an entire can of tomato paste when all the recipe calls for is a tablespoon! Ok, I'm finished with that unpaid plug for tomato paste in a tube.

Your taters should be piping hot and ready to come out of the oven. Place the potatoes in serving bowls and slice them open with precision, try to make Dexter proud of your knife skills. Pinch the outside of the potatoes and push in so their guts get all squishy and soft. Give the guts a little extra squirt of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Divide the turkey mixture between the potatoes and dress with a bit of the shredded pepper jack, sour cream, and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds. Go finish your show and enjoy your dinner!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spring Awakening: A Review

First, I'd like this to be a cautionary tale to all young, technology-loving travelers: if you choose to bring three apparatuses for picture-taking along on your trip, try ever so much to remember at least one of them when you go places...! Cameras left at your accommodations will be of no service to you when you are out on the town doing things that need visual documentation! That is why Shug and I only have iPhone pics to commemorate our action-packed trip to Denver...Live and learn, kids. Live and learn.

With that bit of business out of the way, let's get on to Spring Awakening! All of the horrors that keep young folk away from musicals were pleasantly absent from this show...While the cast was breaking into song every other line, the music was really, really, good! I think we have Duncan Sheik to thank for that since he wrote all of the music for this adaptation of a German play written in 1891. I found myself thinking I'd like to listen to this music outside of the theater...but, well it's WHAT these crazy kids were singing about that prolly means I won't be blasting it in my car with the windows rolled down anytime soon.

These songs were all about S-E-X. The whole spectrum of sexual interaction was explored: from damaging and sad (incest) to comical and uncomfortable (masturbation) to enlightening and loving (losing their virginity). There was also some sadomasochism, a gay relationship, and an abortion thrown in for good measure. Dude, I KNOW.

There were only a few times I was a little uncomfortable with the subject material, one being only the second or third song into the performance. The masturbation scene left practically nothing to the imagination, I mean, homeboy was singing and moving to the beat of the song in his pajamas...and as the "crescendo" neared the entire audience seemed to be covering their faces with their hands. I didn't really know what we were in for...

Thankfully, nothing really got more visually explicit than that...The songs tried to explore the turmoil and change the characters were going through, but with SO much to cover in subject material, there wasn't really much time left over for character development or a storyline.

The set design and the lighting were probably my favorite aspects of the show. I wish the picture above did it more justice, but the warm lighting and eclectic mix of old and new pieces added to the theme of the show - the clash of antiquated ideals with new and fresh perspectives.

Seeing that the last musical I attended was close to twenty years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the performance and that also doesn't give me much room to criticize a successful show...But just like my dad said to me after the show, "I'm always the critic..."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gift Guide for Him

All on Etsy.
I love the organic feel of these gifts.
Boys are so difficult to shop for!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Early Christmas

Shug and I had the best weekend in Denver!
We went to visit my parents, eat delicious food, and play Wii!

I was a little sad that I wouldn't be able to spend Christmas with them this year,
but my parents decided to have Christmas a little early and flew us out to Denver
for a long weekend!

Some highlights:
  • Eating a Denver omelette IN Denver (see above)
  • Seeing a Broadway musical (culture!)
  • Drinking champagne and playing Wii with Mom and Dad
  • Eating the BEST bison tenderloin ever
  • Walking around downtown Denver at night
  • Diamonds and pearls
  • Serious shopping with Mom
  • Beautiful holiday window displays
  • Morning coffee in our jammies until noon
  • My new glitter snowman globe
  • I found a gift for Shug!!!!
  • Just getting to spend time with my parents! They're fun!
I may be a little biased, but Denver is a pretty cool city.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Need. Not want.

How amazing are these hanging sculptures by Maureen Shields?
I could see these hanging in my weird stairwell.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Cards

I hope Christmas cards don't go the way of the rotary telephone!
I love this tradition of checking in with relatives and friends far away once a year with glitter and paper!

All on Etsy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Love

We are going to see this tonight!
I'll tell you all about it next week!

I'm not really a Broadway musical type of gal, but the subject material of this show makes it on my "must-see" list!

And P.S.
Schools out for the holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Presents and Presence

Some people would say I'm obsessed with finding people the "perfect" gift. Shopping for the holidays begins on December 26th for me. All year long I keep a running list in my head about what would make the recipient sublimely happy. I don't want to just give something the person would get for themselves...I want to do better. I want to give a present that is so unexpected, yet somehow perfect EVERY TIME.

Perfectionist much?

Take Shug, for example. I want to give this crazy kid every bazillion dollar camera the world and Russia has to offer. But since we're in a recession, we've imposed a $50 limit for each other this holiday.

Do you know what you can get for $50?


I've discovered everything amazing-cool-awesome-jawdropping-beautiful-creative thing is usually well above the half-Benjamin mark and to make matters worse, Shug has gotten the "I'm just gonna buy myself a few things" bug...Doesn't SOUND so bad, but just wait.

Shug has a short-list of "Things Necessary for Supreme Happiness." Quite a few of these things actaully are under the fifty dollar limit, so like a resourseful wifey I went a picked up one of the things on the list. Because that's what wives do, I'm told.

Attempt #1 - Guitar from Costco. Every time for the past few months, after we've stocked our cart with month's worth supplies of sun-dried tomatoes and laundry detergent, we'd swing down the musical instrument aisle and Shug would crane his neck as we passed this acoustic guitar like he was watching a childhood friend left behind through a rear view window. After the twelfth time this happened I went and bought the damn guitar. TWO days later I come home to find Shug practicing "Stairway to Heaven" or whatever on a new guitar from Costco. "WTF, babe?!?!" I asked calmly. I had thought he'd found his present and opened it up, but NOOOOO, he just went to Costco and bought himself the guitar. Result - Guitar returned.

Attempt #2 - Remote controlled helicopter from the pushy kiosk salesman at the mall. When holiday shopping with Shug's little sisters a week or so ago, we pass said kiosk and the light in Shug's eyes blinds us as he talks about how cool a remote controlled helicopter would be. We have to stop since we can no longer see where we are going. He grabs me and I squint from his bright stare. "You got one for me! Didn't you!" he posits, "I can just tell by the look on your face!" Result - Helicopter returned.

Attempt #3 - The best robe in the universe. Shug loves Twitter and apparently Twitter loves Shug, because three days ago he just won a DAMN ROBE in a Twitter contest. Result - I cried and robe was returned.

So nobody is getting anything for Christmas. Period.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

White Christmas

Do you see why the white Christmas tree would have been oh-so-perfect?

Well, I guess I can hold out for next year...!

We had our first official snowstorm of the year
even though we had an extra snow-free month this year

How many more years until I can retire to Florida?

While I despise the cold,
I do love the glittery sparkle you can almost hear
when the sun comes out and hits the freshly fallen snow.

I love this so because my vantage point is usually from inside,
accompanied by a scalding hot beverage
and four layers of polypropylene and wool.

Photos via Canadian House and Home.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Decorating 2009

Last Friday and Saturday I ran around town trying to find the proper supplies to make my decorating dreams come true for the holidays.

I originally wanted a white, sparkly, fake tree.
Unfortunately, the guy at Modern Display told me I should have ordered my tree in September of 1998 to get a WHITE tree.

Silly me.

This little silver tinsel tree was winking at me from the corner of the display room packed to the gills with fake evergreen boughs.

I thought I could give it a proper decorating and took it home.

P.S. How happy does our naked lady look?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Shug's Polenta Salad

Those of you who have the pleasure of knowing Shug in person also know that he cooks about two things: leftovers and t.v. dinners. It's not for lack of ability or the excess dribbles of machismo, it's just he's never really learned how to cook. When there are days I know I won't be home until 8pm, I always ask Shug to "take care of dinner," which usually means delicious take-out of some kind and my favorite bottle of wine.

So last week, when I passed dinner responsibility over to Shug, I was expecting some styrofoam clam shell brimming with heaps of Pad Thai or Tibetan spicy potatoes, but Shug had actually PREPARED dinner for us. Yes, it's true, and no, it's not the apocalypse.

Shug made the most delicious and healthy meal in under 30 minutes! So today's recipe is all Shug's!

Shug's Polenta Salad
Serves 2 hungry folks or 4 appetizers
One tube of prepped polenta, we like the sun-dried tomato and basil flavor, sliced into 1/2 inch discs
6 ounces of goat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
White wine vinegar
Juice from half a lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
Pinch of dried basil
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1/4 cup of sliced sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
Heaps of fresh spring greens

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. On a cookie sheet that has been prepped with extra virgin olive oil, plop down the polenta discs and give each one a little more love with the olive oil. Put cookie sheet in the oven and let bake for ten minutes.

While your polenta is crisping up, portion your spring greens into bowls. Add equal portions of the sun-dried tomatoes to each bed of greens. To make the dressing, add equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar to a small container you can lid and shake. Add the lemon juice, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Shake it like a polaroid picture. Set aside.

Pull the polenta out of the oven and quickly add a dollop of goat cheese to each disk. Return to oven for 5-7 minutes or until the goat cheese is all melty and awesome. Remove polenta from the oven and portion the disks evenly onto the bowls of spring greens. Dress with the Italian dressing.

Kiss the cook.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Too bad kitties grow up to be cats...

I don't really like cats, but I love a kitty now and then...Happy Sunday!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Where have you been all my life, lady?

Hell to the yes.

Sleeping in Style

How stylish is this little bed?
I think it would look so great with the rest of our house...
And with Rubes inside of it!

Found at swanky KimptonStyle for one arm and one leg.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If I had a million dollars...

...I'd get my mumma these for her birthday!
Happy birthday to the nicest, most loving, imaginative, creative woman I know!
When I've signed my book deal these mittens will be on their way;)!
I hope you enjoy your day with a good book and a nice dinner with Dad!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tipping Etiquette Revistited

Those outside of Utah may be surprised to know that Utahns are OBSESSED with Mexican food.

Now before you non-Utahns allow your heads to explode, I'll qualify that statement with the KIND of Mexican food we 'Tahns love: we love practically spice-free, cheese-laden, super-cheap "Mexican" food. We line up in herds each night for tortillas you could wrap around your head and "salads" with enough melted cheese on it to make nachos blush. This classification is such a far cry form the original goodness of foods like carne asada and carnitas, a "true" Mexican food fan would tear up and throw their plate of Mexican-Wannabe food to the ground.

So in my hankering the other night for some quality Mexican-Wannabe food, Shug and I found ourselves at a local fave, La Puente. La Puente is the kind of place where for under $20, you and your date can eat enough to last until next Thursday. If you drink the firewater, you'll still get outta there for under $20, with just a few less leftovers.

There's a little quirk about many Utahns: they don't know/don't want to know/pretend not to know how to tip. The average gratuity for a meal of, oh say, $20 is around 2 bucks...yes, 200 pennies...for waiting on a table of Utahns whose sour cream needs could not be satiated with five extra sides brought throughout the course of their meal.

Those who know me well also know of my dependence on the service industry. I've paid my way through school a few times with tips and gratuities. I'm STILL a slave to this industry even as I reach the end of my twenties and a graduate degree. Those who are in the service industry alongside me also know there is a code of tipping that shan't be deviated from...25% is where you START and you can go up from there if the service was better than expected. This really isn't such a jump from the standard 15-20% that regular janes and joes are supposed to tip...but in Utah, it's leaps and bounds above the standard 5-10% tippage.

Our server at La Puente was AMAZING. He had at least 12 tables accommodated and served their extra sour cream in a jiffy. He brought out my margarita with a sidecar of extra goodness and ice saying he "didn't want to waste the rest, so you might as well drink it!" Our chips were bottomless, as was our salsa. Honestly, he was the best server I'd had the pleasure of encountering in awhile.

So, in accordance to service industry tipping etiquette, I left him $8 for our staggering $25 bill.

While I was finishing my margarita, he returned to our table and removed his wallet and started fishing through a thick pile of business cards. He removed a card that looked like it had been taken in and out of his packed wallet a number if times, the corners of the card burnished down to rounded, fuzzy edges. It was his own "Buy 10 meals, get the 11th free" card to La Puente. He sheepishly explained that we, "could get a meal if it were under $7 for free the next time we came in," as he slid the card across the table to me. He gave us a quick smile and hurried off to another table in dire need of its third bucket o' chips refill.

It was such a sweet gesture, I was speechless. Shug and I looked at each other and we shook our heads. We didn't tip so we could get our server's free meal card. We looked out at the other tables in the restaurant and could tell it had been a lean night of tips before we'd arrived.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Lemon Rosemary Mashers

How was your holiday? I hope you were able to squeeze in the teeniest bit of time for yourself! I barely managed to take a little time for myself last night to watch an amazing documentary (which deserves a post all its own later this week!)

I've managed to move up the what-dish-are-you-bringing-to-Thanksgiving-ranks since Shug made our relationship "official." Instead of store-bought rolls or salad, I was allowed to bring *gasp* the MASHED POTATOES this year!!!!!!!!!!! See! Marriage has all of these hidden perks!!! The treasure chest overfloweth, I tell ya.

Anyway, I wanted to knock socks off in the mashed potato department and I had the lovely opportunity to give these hallowed mashers a "test run" with the company at Friendsgiving. And the results were great! All the friends gave my new recipe the green light for my family Thanksgiving the following week.

But wouldn't cha know, that these mashers were just too stinking "weird" for the palates of family politely picked at their mounds of taters, but as I helped with the dishes, it was these molded peaks that were hitting the trash can...! Thanksgiving fail.

I've been demoted back to salad, FYI.

So, I urge you to proceed with caution with this recipe and think about your guests and what appeals most to their "ideas" about what potatoes should "do." Are they a dish all their own and can stand up to the robust flavors of their accompanying dishes? Or are they merely a blank slate, a medium to hold overly-salted gravy and turkey on the way to the mouth? THINK about it.

Lemon Rosemary Mashers
Serves 8-10...or two people with leftovers for days since no one would eat them
7-8 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into large chunks, unpeeled
8 cloves peeled and cleaned garlic
1 brick Neufatchel (sp?) cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary plus a few more sprigs for garnish
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water, garlic cloves, and the potatoes to a boil, making sure all of the potatoes are covered with water. Boil for 45 minutes to an hour or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Drain potatoes and garlic and return to the pot.

Add the butter, Neufatchel cheese, sour cream, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mash your heart out. When your arms get tired, take a break to finely mince the rosemary leaves that have been cleaned from their stalks. Add this to the potatoes with some pepper. Mash until it's all incorporated. Take a quick taste to see if you need any more salt, since you boiled the potatoes in the salted water, you may not need to add any!

Transfer to serving dish and add the extra rosemary sprigs for garnish. Pray your guests are the open-minded-about-potatoes-crowd.
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