Of the Kitchen Variety

[bad picture, good recipe]

I'm really, really hungry right now. I have been very busy today and went for a run, and now my husband is apparently coming home late, so I can either wait for him to eat dinner, go snack, or I can write about food (because words just always satisfy an empty stomach).

The third option it is. Blogging about food instead of eating it is the new diet plan.

Recent Recipes Tried
Last week I somehow managed to try three new recipes, all good, and all options to bring the next day for lunch. The first was Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, Wild Rice Soup, which I thought was delicious but was way too involved (and made way too much for my sized crock pot). I prefer crock pot recipes to have as few steps as possible, and this one required a bit of effort. Quinoa Taco Bowls with Tomatillo Avocado Salsa was delicious and easy. The salsa was definitely the best part and would be great on other things as well. And the final was Tomato Cream Pasta with Grilled Cheese Crumbs, which was a basic tomato sauce with mascarpone, plus tiny chunks of bread sauteed in olive oil and butter until crunchy and then mixed with some mozzarella (see picture above). How could you go wrong? 

Restaurant Lust
We used to attempt one new restaurant a month, but that's not a practical endeavor since having a kid. I recently read about Curtis Stone's LA place, Maude, which sounds super awesome, as it should be, considering it was LA Weekly's Best Restaurant of 2015. They only seat a super-limited number of people a night and the entire meal (it's a price fixe one) is centered around a certain ingredient, like "lime" or "truffles" for the month. Reservations on weekends are basically impossible, but a girl can dream. 

Kitchen Essentials I Need
The list of things to replace seems endless right now: 
- new cookies sheets
- a larger food processor 
- a better broiler pan 
- garlic press
- an 8x8 non-stick pan
- a springform pan 
- a coated flat-beater for my KitchenAid Mixer 

Kitchen Gadgets Tempting Me
- An Instapot
- A griddle that spans two burners
- New plates and bowls 
- A second Keurig for work (so indulgent, but it would make work that much better)

Recipes on Deck 
I'm hosting a small brunch on Saturday for some friends and their kids. There will be six adults and five kids (who may or may not eat at this weird time or day), so nothing too crazy, but still something to look forward to planning. Some things I'm considering:
- a frittata 
- our family's Honey Horns
- Some sort of potato hash
- French toast casserole 

Bookish Discoveries

Happy Sunday! Hopefully this is a three-day-weekend for you- there's nothing like knowing that your week is Monday-less. Meanwhile, I have a few cool new things I've discovered lately that I thought I'd pass along.

The Handmaid's Tale Series
I seriously just found out that this Hulu Series was being made. I always have reservations about books turned movie/TV, but I am excited that Elizabeth Moss is Offred and that Alexis Bledel is also also going to in it. They will obviously have to add a lot to the story and characters for this to work as  show, which sort of preemptively bothers me, but I will definitely watch a few episodes. 

Serial Reader
I honestly don't remember where I heard about this app (Facebook? A blog?), but I love that you can get chunks that read in less than twenty minutes delivered to your device every day, for free (I upgraded for a few dollars so that I can read ahead, though). I am currently rereading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and am hoping my students take advantage of it to pace their outside reading obligations. I don't plan on reading anything for the first time, but it's a great way to revisit old classics I read in college and high school.

Moonlite- A Bedtime Story Projector
A friend posted this online the other day about a Kickstarter project about a little manual turn wheel that goes over your iPhone that projects pictures from stories on the ceiling. The story itself, as well as buttons for sound effects, appears on your phone for you to read as you make the pictures appear above. It was a little expensive, but I love the idea and think Sawyer will love it occasionally as a treat in his dark room. Plus, it reminded me of a 21st century View Master, which I loved when I was a kid. It's was fully funded on Kickstarter, but you can get it on Indiegogo

Lovepop Cards
These are really pricy for a card and I haven't bought one yet, but they are so cool and I know I'd love to get one. There are a variety of intricate pop-up cards that seem to run around $12, give or take a few bucks. 

Productive App
I feel like the Productive App is my answer to bullet journaling, at least in terms of habit tracking. This app (it's a couple bucks for unlimited goals and features) allows you to set goals that occur in whatever time frame you desire, determine labels, colors and icons, and provides stats on your productivity. I am super list and goal-oriented, so this is a dream come true. 

[some examples from my own setup]

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. Day three of second semester: caught up on grading. This means I have graded 133 quizzes on their break-work reading, 133 Gregor from The Metamorphosis models (also from break), plus the accompanying reflection form, and 80 quick assignments from TOK. I have been utilizing every spare second at work and am sticking to my grading schedule. I am determined. 

2. I am hoping January isn't setting the precedent for 2017 in terms of domestic money-sucks. We have to replace our pool sweep, supposedly need several thousand dollars worth of repairs on our heater (this might be far less, from what my gut and uncle are telling me; I have a second opinion in the works for Monday), and our dog needs a currently harmless gum growth removed before it becomes too large and gets infected. 

3. My child is sitting on the ground threading pipe cleaners through a colander singing "Rainbow Connection." We are not used to all this rain (but thankful for it).

4. George Lucas has decided on LA for the home of his new museum and while I'm sure there are probably political or social or environmental reasons I should be angry I'm just plain excited. I think it's seven or so years away, but it'll fun to track the progress when we make our yearly or so visits down to Exposition Park for the other museums that are there. 

5. I am going to a conference Friday and Saturday and I get to (have to?) stay overnight. I'm of course a little excited because I'll have a lot of alone time, since the Friday session ends by three or four and I am not close to any of my colleagues from my actual site who are also attending. I am not exactly wowed by the city we will be staying in, though, so part of my feels that it's one big hassle to get everything squared away here at home for thirty-six hours away in... Cerritos. 

6. I just got Kafka by Robert Crumb and David Mairowitz, the short graphic biography of Franz Kafka, since I'm teaching him at school and have always meant to read more about his life story. Hopefully it's good and I can pass it along to my students to read for outside reading!

7. The knitting guy who makes himself sweaters to correspond with his travels is the best. I saw the article a few days ago, and when my husband sent it to me today he said that Sam Barsky is my "spirit animal." I don't think I'd take it that far, but he's still pretty awesome.

8. I had a really hard time getting through Obama's Farewell Address. Actually, I started crying before he started talking. If we were trading him in for someone else it would be a tiny bit better, but I have such respect for him and will miss his humanity, compassion, and humor.

9. I am still reading The Nix and am still a huge fan. I wish it was longer than 600 pages- it's that fantastic.

10. Last weekend my friend and I took Sawyer to Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley, which I will now associate with the most aggressive ducks and squirrels I have ever seen. They were coming right up to us begging for food! This is why you DON'T FEED THE WILDLIFE!!!! The park itself is awesome- a true mile square of playgrounds, walking paths, golf courses, archery ranges, and sports fields. 

Top Ten Tuesday- 2016 Releases... in 2017?

I am not one of those readers who's necessarily current on new releases- sure, I might own them, but I sort of just read whatever I feel like. Maybe it is the newest McEwan... or maybe it's a Patchett from eight years ago. Nonetheless, there were a TON of releases last year that I was super excited for and didn't quite get to, which is perfect, since that's what The Broke and the Bookish are asking us to list this week! Go-go reality check!

1. Hagseed by Margaret Atwood- I am so fascinated by these Hogarth books! I think I might want to reread The Tempest, first, though, so that's part of the hangup. 

2. The Terranauts by TC Boyle- Considering I'd list this guy in my top authors, it's embarrassing how few of his books I've actually read. 

3. Zero K by Don Delillo- I even went to his reading last spring!

4. The Barbarian Days of Surfing by William Finnegan- I was so into this book as a summer read. And then summer ended and it didn't get opened. 

5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi- Everyone had nothing but amazing things to say about this. How was that not enough?

6. Nutshell by Ian McEwan- Ian, buddy, I'm so ashamed.

7. The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra- I'm sure I will get to it this year, since short stories fit into busy spots in my life well. And there are never any shortage of those!

8. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett- I was SO excited about this book and then it sort of fell off my radar during November and December. I even forgot to ask for it for Christmas! I have gotten it since and see it being read in the next month or two. 

9. Swing Time by Zadie Smith- I will say that I have to be in the right mood for Zadie, so hopefully this will happen then year. I have had White Teeth for forever and haven't been able to get into it, yet I loved On Beauty and Changing My Mind. 

10. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin- I read The Palace Thief many, many years ago and enjoyed it, but I sort of forgot about it until my husband picked tis one up last month. 

A Secret Resolution

I guess it's not really a secret is you write it for all to read on the internet, right? Technicalities aside, this resolution isn't necessarily one that I'm posting on social media or talking to my mom/husband/colleagues/friends about, mostly because it's a pretty massive undertaking that I decided in the parking lot, alone, of Target this morning, trying to chug the rest of my Starbucks so it would't get cold as I shopped. I got a size bigger than normal and added an extra shot (I had a lot to do today, okay?), so maybe this is purely the caffeine talking. 

I'm going to write a novel in 2017. 

It might be total shit, but this is the year. I am thirty-three years old and this has been something that I've wanted to do since I was like seven. So, for twenty-six years I have wanted to write an actual novel and it's never happened. Sure, I've started many, but none have been finished. I don't like the feeling that I'm one of those people that are all talk, so this is the year. The doing, rather than the talking and hoping and assuming and procrastinating, will happen. 

January will be spent mentally accepting this fact, as well as figuring out what idea I will develop, since I have a few that I've been thinking about over the years. February through October will be spent writing. Let's say this book is going to be 65,000 words (so very, very, very ballpark); that's 7,222 words per month, or 236ish words per day. I write blog posts and emails longer than that. November will be spent being smug and happy that I am finished. December I will edit, and then I can work on becoming a published, incredibly wealthy, author in 2018 (that's what happens when you write your first book, right?). 

In terms of accountability I'm not sure what I'm thinking quite yet. Monthly check-ins here? Weekly word count totals that are set as reminders on my phone calendar to nag me? Bribery? I have been using the same Fossil work bag since I started teaching eleven years ago... 

236 words a day for nine months. Some days more, some days less. At this very moment I feel like this is incredibly doable, despite lamenting approximately 482 times a day both verbally and mentally about how I don't have enough time as is. But how awesome would it be to end 2017 know that I finally did it?