Monthly Archives: May 2013

Quest to Read Them All – Wicked Business

I continue on my quest to read every book I own, and I have to tell you I’m really enjoying this journey.  I’m trying to spread the type of books I’m reading out and get a good mix of genre, age range and style.  This week’s installment is by one of my current favorite authors, Janet Evanovich.  I love her witty style and the fact that she just doesn’t seem to take herself to seriously, even though she’s a New York Times Bestselling Author 20 times over…  I’m a huge fan of her Stephanie Plum novels (not so much the movie version).  I am interested to read her new book The Heist, which she coauthored with Lee Goldberg.  It will join the ranks of my To Be Read List, but this entry is about her second book in the Wicked series!

Wicked Business paperback

Wicked Business

I love Lizzie and Diesel.  I even have a soft spot for Carl & Cat 7143.  Wulf is kinda cool too, and even Hatchet is growing on me – psychotic as he may be.  This installment in the series was quite well crafted.  Just to recap Lizzie and Diesel are unmentionables and on a quest to prevent Wulf and his minion from getting their hands on the SALIGIA stones.  The stones represent the 7 deadly sins and are supposedly connected to Pandora’s Box, which is an interesting underlying theme of the series.  Each individual book addresses a specific sin – the first book, Wicked Appetite, dealt with gluttony.  This one is centered around the search for the stone representing lust.  It had an interesting twist with the addition of an alternate villain, Anarchy.  She allowed Evanovich to explore the depths of Wulf’s character and create a dynamic level of interaction between the three main characters similarly to the interactions between Stephanie Plum, Morelli and Ranger in that series.

Overall this was a great book and I can’t wait to see which sin Lizzie and Diesel are searching for next and what crazy high jinx await them along the way.

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Who Can Tell Me What These Numbers Mean?

I’m on a roll!  I just posted my catch up entry from yesterday, and am rolling right along to today’s topic.  I loved this week’s project and hope you all enjoy it too…  I promise it won’t be as controversial as cutting up a book!

This week I took an idea from Pinterest and changed it a bit to suit my decorating style and personal needs.  I found this cool pillow that had latitude and longitude coordinates listed on it, which I really got a kick out of.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I am quite particular, in case you haven’t realized that by now.  I decided to tweak it a bit and make it my own.  I went with a specific location, not a more generic city.  I went with a light colored fabric with a distinctly contrasting trim instead of white letters on a black background.  But the biggest change I made was in the shape of the pillow.  I made it a standard bed pillow size, because pillow forms are ridiculously expensive and you can get a decent bed pillow at Target for less than $10.

Here’s the step by step…

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Step 1:  Measure everything and cut the fabric and trim to size.

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Step 2: Trace the numbers on the previously cut fabric.  I got the latitude and longitude coordinates online.  I entered the address and poof the site popped out my coordinates for me!  Gotta love the magical powers of the internet!

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Step 3: I used fabric paint (black and sparkly silver paint mixed together) to fill in the numbers I had just put on the fabric.

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Step 4: is to sew the pillow case.  Me I am so not a seamstress, so I mailed the fabric and trim to my good friend Willa and she whipped it out quick as could be for me all for under $20 including postage!

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Step 5: Stuff the pillow into the cover and put it on the bed!

What do you think?  Can anyone figure out what the address that these coordinates belong to?  It’s very near and dear to my heart!

 

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Filed under check-it-off-the-list, family drama, projecty type stuff, self improvement

Tasty Tuesday – The Late Edition

Ok, I know it’s no longer Tuesday, but the craziness that is my life happened to intrude yesterday, and I just couldn’t get my post done…  But I’m bound and determined to keep up with this project, so better late than never…

I’ve headed back to Pinterest for my next kitchen excursion.  This week’s recipe is actually 2 separate dishes, because I don’t eat red meat and the rest of my crew likes it!  I chose to make 2 grilled recipes for this week’s installment because of the holiday weekend and the unofficial beginning of the summer barbecuing season!

The first recipe I made was for a grilled caprese chicken dish.  I did something very unusual for this recipe – I left it completely alone and just followed the directions exactly.  It was a very straightforward meal, and was surprisingly yummy!

First I cut up all my ingredients – fresh mozzarella, beefsteak tomato, fresh basil and boneless skinless chicken breasts.

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Then I brushed the grill down with olive oil and cooked the chicken.

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While the chicken was getting all those pretty grilled stripes I made a simple balsamic reduction infused with a bit of butter.  Then it was time to put it all together!

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Next time, and yes there will totally be a next time, I’m going to put the cheese on while the chicken is still on the grill so it gets a bit more melty…

Now for the second half of our Memorial Day grilling extravaganza – Rolled Stuffed Steak!  This wasn’t exactly a recipe.  The pin I chose just brought you to an image.  It was a multi stage image, but there were no specific directions, so I got to improvise!  One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen.  I chose to take my steak in a Matambre type direction.  Matambre was an experience I first enjoyed when I was visiting friends in Colorado, back when I still ate red meat.

So, because there was no recipe I’ll give you my own directions here:

First I gathered everything I’d need:  carrots, celery, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, Pepper Jack Cheese (or regular Monterey Jack Cheese for the nonspicy among us), flank steak, olive oil, salt & pepper.  (You can use anything you really want as the filler in these.  The Matambre I enjoyed in Colorado had some Kielbasa and jalapeno pepper instead of green pepper.)

Next I prepped everything.  Julienne veggies and sandwich sized pieces of steak.

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Once I was all prepped and ready to go I started stacking and rolling the steak.  I put a little bit of everything inside the steak and rolled it up into a neat little bundle.

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Once everything was all rolled up and pretty I put them on my olive oil basted grill…

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I made sure to season prior to grilling everything – my grandmother always said that the key ingredient in all recipes is salt & pepper.  I’m a firm believer in not overstimulating you grilling food.  Put it down, let it sit there and get all brown and grilled on one side and turn it over and repeat the process on the other side.

I took them off the grilled, plated everything on my fine china (gotta love the paper plate!) and served them along with the chicken and some grilled asparagus.

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Overall it was a very yummy dinner!

 

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Quest to Read Them All – Ninth Key

As you may know, I’m on a personal quest to read every book I own…  This week’s book is Meg Cabot’s The mediator: Ninth Key.

This is the second book in the series, and was just as much fun to read as the first installment.  Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors.  She writes for a very broad audience – everything from tweens to adults.  The Mediator series is geared towards a teen audience and is centered around Susannah a sixteen year old high school student who can see, speak to and even touch ghosts. She’s is a New Yorker who has been relocated to Carmel, CA when her widowed mother remarries.  The part of this series that I enjoy the most is the continuing underlying story woven into the fabric of all of the books.  While each individual book has a primary story arc, the thing that keeps me interested and coming back for each subsequent installment is the evolving relationships between Suze and Jesse and Suze and Doc.  The books are written in the first person perspective from Suze’s point of view.  Some of the situations Susannah finds herself in are very far fetched, farther even than the whole talking to ghosts element.  Really, what teenager is going to find themselves being stalked by an adult who is convinced that he’s really a vampire?  If you take everything with a grain of salt or can manage to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the story as a fun and jovial excursion then this is yet another success for Meg Cabot!  I’m looking forward to seeing what crazy things happen to Suze and how she manages to smooth out Father Dom’s ruffled feathers over her current living situation.  (Because really what priest wouldn’t be upset about a cute boy sharing a teenage girl’s bedroom without her parents knowing he was there, even if he is a ghost?)

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Snapshot Saturday – Vacation Fun

The Birdman

The Birdman

Snapshot Saturday has arrived and along with it Memorial Day weekend.  I was torn as to what to post – should I do a tribute to the holiday, something that memorializes all of the veterans I have loved and lost, or something to honor my grandfather-in-law’s 80th birthday?  I simply couldn’t decide which photo to use that would satisfy my needs appropriately…  So I copped out and decided to go with a tribute to the beginning of the summer vacation season!  This is a shot from our most recent family vacation to Sea World Orlando.  He was part of the show at the Dolphin Theater!  It was great – kind of a combination of an aquatic Cirque du Soliel and a zoological performance.

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Could I really do that to a book???

I guess the answer to that question is yes, yes I can and in fact actually did do that to 7 books.  What horrible thing did I do to desecrate a book, or actually 7?  I cut pages out of each of the Harry Potter books.  I know this may make your head hurt, I took me months of hemming and hawing to actually accept the fact that I was really willing to do this to objects I value on multiple levels.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…  So today’s Wednesday and that means it is Pinterest project day.  This week’s project is Harry Potter Coasters.  I’ve seen hundreds of different versions of these on Pinterest.  Everything from quotes to House Emblems.  All of them were cool, but none of them were exactly what I wanted.

So I went ahead and ordered some well used copies of the books online, because there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to damage any of my copies of the books.  (I have to admit that I’m a bit of a freak considering I have each of the books in hardcover, paperback, and the original British hardcover editions.)  I love the images that were used as the chapter introductions, but I couldn’t decide which individual chapters to use.  I was stuck – if I followed my heart I’d end up with 28 coasters…  So I went to the powers that be around my house and got some advise on how to narrow down my options.  We decided to use the title page art work for each book and then select one chapter image that really was representative of the entire series.

Now that I’d chosen the images I wanted to use I could get down to the actual act of making the coasters.  There were no directions for this project, because I’m me and changed what I had originally pinned to suit my needs.  So I had to wing it.  I took the directions for another coaster making project and modified them to fit my own needs.

I gathered my supplies – the books, 8 4×4 porcelain tiles, cork contact paper, modge podge, a sponge paintbrush and an exacto knife.  The entire project took me about 3 hours, because you have to allow for drying time.

First I cut out the pages I had chosen.  This gave me real pause.  It made my heart hurt.  I’m an English teacher by trade and a book lover to the core, so this was a hard choice to make.  I resigned myself to it, because I knew that the books had all been read before and were going to be used for multiple crafting purposes.

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Then I trimmed the pages to fit the 4×4 tiles, coated the tiles with modge podge and laid the pages on top of each piece.

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Then I coated the top of each coaster page with 3 applications of modge podge.  Making sure to allow each coat to dry completely before moving on to the next application.

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1st coat

1st coat

2nd coat

2nd coat

 

final coat

final coat

Once I had completed the decoupaging I adhered the cork contact5 paper to the back of each coaster to make them slip resistant.

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Now that they were backed and coated I was all finished!  It was really a fairly simple project and I can’t wait to make some similar coasters with varied themes.

Here’s a shot of the finished product…  What do you think?

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Tasty Tuesday – Lots of Ravioli

This week’s recipes were a bit of a departure for me…  I didn’t get them off Pinterest.  Recently I went to a taping of The View with Gwen and my cousin, Stephanie.  It was such great fun!  The episode aired last Friday, May 17th.  The guests were Arsenio Hall, Roger Daltrey, Jackie Hance (the mom who lost her 3 daughters in the Terror on the Taconic accident), and Wayne Brady was the guest co-host.  Now, considering all that, my favorite part was Whoopi Goldberg’s segment “Whoopi’s NYC” where she took the audience on a video tour of one of NYC neighborhoods – Chelsea.  In this segment we got a chance to see the Highline and Chelsea Market.  As part of the tour of Chelsea Market, Whoopi had a food tasting with Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina and let me tell you it looked like a totally phenomenal experience.  Rana’s was quite generous and gave each of the audience members some free samples of their fresh ravioli, which is where I got my recipes and most of the ingredients for this week’s installment of Tasty Tuesday!  Me I have no idea what it actually tastes like, because I don’t eat pasta of any kind, so while I prepared a lovely meal I didn’t actually eat any of it…

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Now dessert on the other hand, I actually tried! And let me tell you it was really, really good!  It was also ridiculously fun to prepare!  I got to flambe!

flaming food!

flaming food!

It was a first for me and one I’d really like to try again!  Rana’s also gave us a sample of Chocolate Ravioli.  They were a chocolate dough filled with a chocolate ganache.  The recipe they included was for a raspberry currant rum sauce, now you all know how well I follow directions, so it won’t really surprise you when I tell you that I altered the recipe slightly.  I used blackberries instead of currants, mostly because my supermarket only had these raisin looking things they were claiming were dried currants, which wouldn’t have worked at all with the sauce.  I also had 3 packages of ravioli to work with and therefore tripled the amounts of the ingredients, which meant I used altogether too much rum.  Man was the sauce boozy.

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The ravioli was really phenomenal, but I won’t be using the same sauce when I make this dessert next time.  I’m planning on using a white chocolate raspberry sauce and can’t wait to take a trip to Chelsea Market and buy my ingredients!

Anybody ever tried the food from Chelsea Market before???

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Filed under bucket board, family drama, mixed up crazy world, self improvement, tasty tuesday