April 24, 2013

Worn on TV

Do you ever wonder where Jess from New Girl got that awesome dress she wore last episode? How about the jacket Mindy Kaling wore on The Mindy Project back in January? I do. ALL THE TIME. I finally ran across a great site called Worn On TV. They find either the exact match for an outfit or find pieces that are close to a match. They do this for 20+ TV shows. I only wish they had one for the character of Angela on Bones. Seriously though, go check it out. It's what I've always wanted but never had the time or the patience to compile myself.

April 22, 2013

White Kitchens

I have yet to be able to have a white kitchen - you can't exactly paint the cabinets in a rental. I just love the crisp simplicity of an all white kitchen. Along with some great windows, it adds a freshness to a home, don't you think?

                                            Contemporary Kitchen by San Francisco Architect Feldman Architecture, Inc.

                                           Contemporary Kitchen by Portland Architect Alan Mascord Design Associates Inc

                                                          Traditional Kitchen by Flemington Architect Pickell Architecture

                                                       Modern Kitchen by Toronto Interior Designer Croma Design Inc

April 19, 2013

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I stole this book off of my brother's Christmas list this past year, and after my parents purchased it for me, my mom even bought herself a copy. Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit, writes a compelling case for how habits work, how we form habits (both with and without conscious thought), and how we can change our habits even when it seems impossible. Duhigg includes a number of anecdotal stories such as why Americans began using toothpaste after centuries of deeming it unnecessary. And no, it's not because we wised up and realized it was better for our health to brush our teeth - you'll be amazed at what the reason really is. There's plenty of hard science in the book to satisfy those who want to know where in the brain habits form and how they do so. However, the book is not bogged down with so many statistics and scientific jargon that it would keep anyone from enjoying and learning from it. If you have any interest in why we do what we do, day in and day out, and how we can alter our own habits, The Power of Habit is a fantastic read.

April 17, 2013

A Day at the Beach

It's hit 90ยบ in Austin the past couple of days, and I'm longing for a beach getaway. These sandals and this floppy hat would be perfect for a stroll down the beach.

A Day at the Beach

April 15, 2013

Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese

We love macaroni and cheese at our house, but I occasionally feel a little guilty just eating it by itself. That's why this rainbow mac and cheese is perfect - it's nice and cheesy, plus it has a full serving of veggies! It's super easy to make (only requires one pot), and it makes enough for dinner and lunch the next day.

Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 3-4
Adapted from here

2 cups milk
2 cups pasta shells*
1/2 tsp garlic salt
dash of parsley
dash of black pepper
2 cups vegetables of your choice, cooked*
1/2 cup gouda, grated*
1/2 cup cheddar, grated
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
dash red pepper flakes

1. Combine milk, pasta, garlic salt, parsley, and black pepper in a sauce pan.
2. Heat mixture on medium, stirring often until pasta has soaked up most of the milk.*
3. Reduce heat to low.
4. Add in cheeses and stir until melted. Add a splash of milk if the sauce seems too thick.
5. Add in veggies and stir.
6. Spoon into individual bowls and top with red pepper flakes if desired.
7. Enjoy!

*Tips and Tricks
  • You can use whatever pasta variety you have on hand - it doesn't have to be shells.
  • I bought a 2-serving pack of frozen veggies and chopped them into smaller pieces once they had finished steaming in the microwave. If you have fresh cooked veggies by all means use them. I was just going for convenience.
  • Try to use freshly grated cheese rather than pre-grated packaged cheese. The freshly grated cheese will be less dry, more flavorful and will yield a creamier sauce.
  • You don't want the pasta to soak up all of the milk because the milk helps make the base for the cheesy sauce. When it looks like there's just a bit of milk left and it's nice and thick, that's when you'll add in the cheeses. This step took about 15+ minutes before I added in the cheese.
  • You have to make sure to stir the milk and pasta! It tends to stick to the bottom of the pan, and you don't want burnt milk and pasta pieces in your mac and cheese.

April 12, 2013

Oxygen by Carol Cassella

I found this book in the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble, and it was one of the best $6 books I've read. Carol Cassella is a practicing anesthesiologist who also happens to be a writer, and a captivating one at that. Oxygen is the story of Dr. Marie Heaton, an anesthesiologist, who loses a child patient on the operating table. Heaton works to find out what went wrong, struggles with immense guilt, and is nearly crippled with a lawsuit. All the while she is attempting to make amends with her ailing father who lives half the country away. Though not a first hand account of something Cassella has experienced, it is a story of dealing with loss - physically, emotionally, and professionally - as well as healing.

April 11, 2013

Orange Chicken with Asian Slaw

Our first year of marriage I decided to try my hand at replicating the orange chicken from Panda Express. It was a total disaster, and I still consider it one of my top five kitchen failures. It may have held the top slot for a few years, but my zucchini lasagna of January now takes the cake in terms of my kitchen flops. Needless to say, I've been reluctant to attempt to make orange chicken again. Today changed all that, and I think I've found my new favorite recipe.

I found this Asian slaw recipe on Pinterest, and I thought orange chicken would be a great pairing for it. I bought a package of Asian slaw/salad at HEB, and when I pulled it out again tonight I realized that it had everything included that the recipe above calls for and even came with its own dressing. So I didn't make the slaw recipe I found, but it's still in my repertoire to try. 

I knew I had to try this orange chicken recipe I found today, and she really nailed the Panda taste. In fact, I think it might even be better than Panda's high sodium, high sugar version. I'll definitely be making the chicken again, and I think I'll sub in some Splenda to cut the sugar calories and try to sneak in some low sodium soy sauce while Lars isn't looking. (That man sure does love his salt.) We decided to eat the chicken over the slaw, and it was delicious all mixed together. It made more than enough for us to have dinner and for me to have lunch for tomorrow. I used two chicken breasts rather than a whole pound of chicken, but I didn't change the sauce proportions of the recipe. It was a fabulous 500 calorie dinner. Fear of making orange chicken = conquered. 

April 9, 2013

Living with and Learning from Failures

If we were to follow this advice we wouldn't be so hard on ourselves when we don't get things perfect the first time, and we all might be a bit more wise. I struggle with wanting not to fail, but I've been striving to live by the sentiments of this quote. It can be difficult, yet I appreciate having the opportunity to learn from my small (and sometimes large!) failures every day. It's looking like I'm going to be extremely wise one day.  :)

April 8, 2013

Bedroom Quilts

I've built up some confidence by sewing my first quilt so I've set my sights on quilting Lars and I a new bedspread. Now if I can only get us to agree on a color scheme and a design... I've been pooling my quilt inspiration, and here are a few of the ones I love so far.

I'm not quite ready to go crazy with triangles and hexagons, so I'll be keeping it fairly simple by using a majority of squares and rectangles to design the quilt. I'm hoping to come up with a final design soon, and I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

April 5, 2013

The Heavy by Dara-Lynn Weiss

When I first read Dara Lynn Weiss' article in Vogue about putting her young daughter on a diet I was intrigued to say the least. I ordered The Heavy, her memoir chronicling their family journey thus far, the day it came out and was not disappointed. It was refreshing to read someone's own tale of their parenting struggles in a world that too often pits parents against one another and fails to realize that everyone's journey is different. In Dara-Lynn's memoir you will read about how she is at first in denial of her daughter's health issues and then her daily battles as she wades through the often murky waters of parenting a child who needs to watch what she eats.

I do not know the Weiss family, but I know families in their same situation. I also know that childhood obesity is a huge problem facing our nation. Yes there are kids who are chubby and will grow out of it come puberty, but you are far more likely to run across clinically obese children with high blood pressure and who are at immediate risk for diabetes. I think it is admirable that their family did what was right for them. I do think it would be interesting to see how her daughter, and their family, is doing 10 years from now. The book only chronicles a year of their weight loss process, and it leaves you wondering how things will be for them down the road.

For me this book was not only about parenting, but also about simply making difficult decisions that are right for you but that may not be understood by those around you. It offers honest insights to the struggles of both recognizing when there is a problem in life and choosing to fix the issue. Neither of those processes is easy. The Heavy is a fast-paced, enlightening read that I believe most people (parents or not) can relate to whatever the issues they face in their life.

April 1, 2013

A Month of Meals - March Overview

So after planning out meals for the entire month of March here, I figured I should do a follow up and show y'all how it went. This is the before meal calendar:

And here's the after:

As you can see I made a number of substitutions, especially as the month went on. I tried to stick to using the ingredients that I had purchased each week, simply swapping one recipe for another that used the same. There were also a few times in there that I wasn't feeling like cooking so we grabbed a pizza one night and Lars made me his famous Kraft mac and cheese another night.

All in all I really enjoyed the experiment. It was nice knowing that not only already had dinner planned each night, but I also had the proper ingredients for said dinner. I didn't end up saving any money as I had hoped. We don't spend a whole lot on groceries though, so I can't really say that I was surprised. I've already made my April meal plan, and I tried to plan this month with what I have on hand in mind. We'll see if I can manage to save a little money in April and if I stick to the plan any better than I did in March.