Friday, June 29, 2012

Swingin' Summertime

I think my Amazon account is trying to tell me something. This is what I found in my shopping cart this morning. Two glorious pin-up magnets, an April March CD, and some seriously geometric cat eye glasses.

This just goes to show you that spending a week watching Quentin Tarantino movies and L.A. Ink, listening to surfer rock and rockabilly beats, and generally feeling pissed off at things, will distill and make you think that you are a gritty, badass-chic from California circa 1962.

I still really want the April March CD...and the pin-up magnets. But those glasses could have been a serious mistake.

Summer does strange things to me, almost as if my senses were on overdrive. I have to be constantly engaged and my need for grittiness goes up. I start stockpiling my life with B-rated slasher horror flicks, 1960s crime and teeny-bopper films, more spicy food and booze, glitter nail polish (the really trashy kind), a near constant stream of profanities, and if I smoked...I can guarantee that I would resemble something like a female Raoul Duke.

So when the temperature gets as hot as hell, cool down with your pals Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin, and Jayne Mansfield and watch a few choice counter-culture movies (obviously while you booze it up, chain smoke, and paint your nails). These two are my current summer favs...

PS- Both of these movies are MST3K dubbed and on Netflix. Enjoy!
PSS- Have a swingin' weekend, babies!

Girl in Gold Boots (1968)
The Rebel Set (1959)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Reading (aka) Non-School Books

Tatterhood and Other Tales by Ethel Phelps
African Psycho by Alain Mabanckou
Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain
The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain
The Waters of Babylon by Stephen Vincent Benét
Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Wildwood; A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Helter Skelter by by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
The Tales of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft

What are you reading this summer?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Le Fin de La Semaine

Photo Credit to Melynda Seaton
Photo Credit to Bachman's Sparrow
Photo Credit to Pho-Pas
Friday night, cool jazz and hot coffee on patios under a waning moon, ghost stories, and art talk. Decoding American Pie late into the night which brought about thoughts of Babylon. Ordered the original short story on Amazon as a result. The Place of the Gods still lingers, a steel and concrete memorial. Post-Apocalyptic literature causes strange dreams. A stitch in time saves nine, what does that mean? Can I Google it? When did Google become a verb, when was it not? Saturday sunburn, Chic Habit, Tarantino and Anthony Bourdain. Legs the color of cherry tomatoes. Frozen margaritas to cool the burn, homemade tortillas and chili peppers. Oklahoma sunsets. Honky Tonk angels took flight that night, above the dive bar filled with cockroaches and whiskey soaked cherries. Sunday morning slowly comes around then jump starts to the future in a dark theatre, the smell of butter popcorn all around. Lunch in a turquoise Pho house, savory broth and noodles to ease away your thoughts, Vietnamese coffee is ambrosia. Cambodian zombies ate frozen yogurt filled with fruit, while hot and tired bodies discussed Murakami. Suntea caught the evening light, setting fire to the lemon discs inside. African literature paired with Queen singing an intro for the night. Monday always comes too soon.

In translation: this weekend was magical.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Level Up

Cue the gamer music. This has been a week of unlocked achievements, level ups and bonus points.

To begin with, I made lasagna this week. (I always start with food don't I?) There are no pictures of the cheesy masterpiece, but let me tell you, that glorious brick of cheese and noodles - which always haunted my culinary imagination as something unattainable or too difficult to make...has been conquered! (see what I mean about music cues!).

I have a love/hate relationship with lasagna. I can count on one hand the number of times I have had lasagna and actually liked it...none. Not once. Lasagna is something that I will eat at family dinners if it is made, but you will nevereverever catch me ordering it. Either the noodles have been cooked for too long, the tomato sauce is too runny/watery, the cheese is bland, there is too much meat, or (if a vegetarian option) stuffed with veggies I don't like. Believe me, I know this makes me sound like a picky eater, but I am really not! I just think that lasagna-making is an art and a difficult one at that. So, WHAT, you might ask, would make me want to make a lasagna?? The fear is paralyzing and lasagna just! Well, we were having people over and I thought "why not?!"

WARNING: You come to my house for dinner, you will eat something experimental or made for the first time. You are a guinea pig. A much loved one, but a guinea pig nonetheless.

My recipe for success? By slightly altering the lasagna recipe in this book (which I am using to death!) I made a lasagna that I loved. I scrapped the nutmeg and instead added some extra pepper, dill and fresh basil, I added minced garlic to the cheese mixture, and spinach between the layers. I also cooked my noodles al dente which I think helped too. Also, this was a dish I prepped before and was able to pop in the oven as soon as I got home. Grant's wonderful contribution to this dinner was a fantastic roasted asparagus dish with toasted sesame seeds. So great! I will ask him what he did and post the recipe later!

Easy, Peasy, NO-Fear Lasagna

1 lb. lasagna noodles
2 tsp kosher salt (1 for the boiling water, and 1 for the cheese mixture)
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup minced garlic..or to taste if you are a weirdo and don't like garlic that much...weirdo.
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp pepper (I used cracked pepper)
1/2 tsp dill
1 cup fresh basil
1 large bag of baby spinach
1 large jar of killer tomato sauce (I used Earth Elements Farm Foods Marinara Sauce. It is Oklahoma made and has some fantastic flavors like shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and fresh herbs).
1 lb mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan


  1. Heat oven to 375*.
  2. Bring lasagna to a boil in a pan on the stove (add salt). Do not over boil, just cook until barely soft and "chewy". After it is cooked drain and set aside to cool.
  3. In a separate, large mixing bowl combine the ricotta, eggs, other half of the salt, pepper, garlic, dill and basil. Stir to combine.
  4. Spoon a bit of tomato sauce to the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish.
  5. Layer the pan with noodles.
  6. Spoon on cheese mixture.
  7. Sprinkle spinach leaves.
  8. Slice the mozzarella and lay it in 1" chunks around the pan.
  9. Repeat layering until all ingredients are gone. I got about 3 layers out of this method.
  10. Sprinkle the top generously with grated parmesan cheese.
  12. Cover with foil tent and back for 40 minutes.
  13. Remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until cheese is slightly brown.
Enjoy! FYI - Lasagna lasts up to 4-5 months in the freezer.
PS - The lasagna was a hit. ::squee::

Also, I got some very exciting news this week! I have a Teaching Assistantship lined up for next semester! I am so excited! I have a stipend and a tuition waiver! I feel like I have some room to breathe now! I will be helping with an art appreciation class for undergraduates called Understanding Art. I am going to have to pull out my old copies of this and this! Maybe these students will actually read these books, unlike me when I was an undergrad. Oh, Karma...I guess I should have known that I would have to crack them open at some point!

Anyway, I was so excited when I got the news, that I called Grant at work and we 'OMG'd' together for a few minutes before he had to get back to being a serious professional. I was walking on air! When I got home that night, Grant surprised me with a succulent! I have always wanted one but never thought we could grow one in the house. But, out on the balcony in the half shade, I think it will be quite happy!

I feel so ready for the next level...and so does Bosco..although her game of choice is Skyrim...and always if Grant is playing. ::loves!::

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sunset Bubbles

The Obvious Choice
This weekend, my dad and step-mom came to visit Grant and I for Father's Day! It was a wonderful for us to see them and for them to roadtrip down just to see us! (Can you tell that was a giddy sentence?!) We were so excited for them to get here! We cleaned the house, Grant found an awesome wasabi pea trail mix for my dad, and I eagerly wrapped a memory-card picture frame for his new office, I made double-fudge brownies (to go along with the cold cans of DDP in the fridge), and we were so thrilled to finally venture out to POPS together! We all stuffed ourselves with Italian food and episodes of Portlandia, and my dad surprised me on his special day by taking me shopping! He is such a goofball!!! I almost cried that my dad wanted to spend the afternoon shopping with me at the mall. It meant so much to me. I was so excited just to spend the day with him!I love my dad. He is the king of awesome. No one in this world makes me laugh or smile in quite the same way that he does. I am one very lucky Pooh Bear.

We were sad to see them go at the end of the day, and Grant and I stayed up talking about the awe-factor of our parents. We got lucky as far as the gamble for parents goes. We sipped our coffee in the living room late into the night and thought that we just might make it, years down the road with a family of our own, if we could be half the parents that ours are.

Here are some fun pictures from our weekend. Some I took and some I didn't. I hope everyone had as much fun this weekend as we did!

We also bought a ton of soda while we were at POPS. Below is a list of all of the brands and flavors we got!
  1.  HotLips Raspberry Soda (my personal favorite, there are real raspberries inside!!!)
  2. Cold Mountain Cream Soda (For Lisa)
  3. Cold Mountain Black Cherry Soda
  4. Orange Fanta (For Dad)
  5. Dry Lavender Soda
  6. Dry Lemongrass Soda (For the hubsters!)
  7. Lester's Fixins Coffee Soda
  8. Americana Root Beer
  9. Celon's Mythical Cream Soda
  10. Snake River Sarsaparilla
  11. Cock 'n Bull Ginger Beer
  12. Dry Rhubarb Soda (Also, for the hubsters)
Wall of Soda

Thursday, June 14, 2012

To Every Season Churn, Churn, Churn

Remember how I said a few posts back that this cookbook was going to help me live out my domestic fantasy? Well, it does! Since getting the book I have already made homemade butter twice! I am actually planning on making more this weekend for my family when they come visit us for Father's Day! Look at me! Proud butter maker! However, I should confess, that my lovely Kitchenaid did most of the hard work. Fantastic rewards turn over too! Not only do you get butter, but you get fresh buttermilk! Let me tell you, we had some amazing pancakes after this fun experiment!

Butter Recipe:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Place all ingredients in bowl of stand mixer (if you don't have a stand mixer you can still use a hand might take longer, I am not sure). Set mixer setting to medium high and put a towel over the mixer to stop liquid from flying everywhere. Mix ingredients until the buttermilk separates from the butter.

This step took longer for me than the recipe said it would. Separation took nearly 7-8 minutes versus the 2-5 that the author claimed. No worries though. Also, if you beat the mixture for too long and it starts to separate into butter soup (I did this the second time) just keep whipping will reform.

When butter is done forming, take the butter mass and hold it separate from the buttermilk as you drain the milk into a container. Squeeze the butter mass until all liquid is removed, running cold water through it to help. When the water coming out/off the mass is clear, you can stop.

Buttermilk 3 days in fridge (or you can freeze it)
Butter 1 week in Butter Bell or sealed container at room temp, 2 weeks in the fridge (if not longer).

We used our butter as a spread on small sandwiches made of crusty french bread, roast beef slices, provolone cheese, red onion, a little horseradish sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. They were amazing! (No pictures of those exist, they ::cough:: did not last very long).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

These are a Few of My Favorite Things...

Or, really just some of my "new" favorite things!

This set of trivets. They are about 5" high and made entirely of cast iron and have a big 'TAIWAN' stamped on the back. They belonged to my great-grandmother and my mom acquired them at some point when we were living in (or had just moved into) our apartment  in the late '90s. I love these little things! I think they are adorable...and they make we want to cook something small just so that I could use a tiny serving dish and place it on top of one of them. (Don't you love how I hang things at my house?? Thumb tacks, classy!)

My autoharp. I got a crazy notion in my head to start playing autoharp around Christmas this last year. Two of our new Norman friends said that they could teach me too! To date I have only had two lessons, but I hope to rock out again with my fantastic music teachers. I do practice on my own, and so far I can play five songs! And no, I don't just strum...I am really trying to learn to use my finger picks. My autoharp is a reissue of a 1930's Oscar Schmidt model. It is solid black and has sharp angles which helps me hold it better. Her name is Jetta. I like to think that she is a dirty mouthed old lady who drinks too much, but also makes homemade cards for all of her friends and family for Christmas. I imagine that when I mess up a chord or I drop my pick  into the hole (which happens when I am strumming), that she just smiles and tells me to just get my shit together and that everything will be okay.

A book of Art Nouveau tiles. I love Art Nouveau. Yeah, I know. I am supposed to be a "serious" art history grad student, but you know what (?!?) I have a soft sport in my heart for Art Nouveau and Edwardian illustrative art which no amount of academia is going to mess with! I found this great book at the library one day when I was purposefully looking for a distraction. I had recently spent some thought on making tin-can lanterns/candle holders for the balcony, and was sketching a few pattern ideas early in the day...and then I found this book! I cannot wait until I get some free time later this summer when I can translate a few of these designs onto tin candle holders.

National Public Radio. I cannot tell you how often I get to a point in the early mornings, when I have been up all night typing or reading for class, when the coffee stops working and I have already cleaned everything in the house...and I still have to stay up, that I turn on my radio to NPR and I get a new jolt of energy. Thank you NPR for being so awesome. If you like NPR as much as I do you should give them some money! It is public radio after all! Just click on the link and help keep fellow grad students like me going!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Growing UP

Our summer garden is in full glory right now! After finals were over I spent some play money on our balcony garden, resulting in many fuchsia colored inpatients, ivy starters, and a fantastic new hydrangea! A few weekends ago Grant bought us some marvelous vine monsters from the Farmer's Market which add some wonderful vertically to our outdoor space.

Oh!!! Guess what??!! Since it is summer, our balcony - in the northeastern corner, gets late afternoon sun! Can you believe it! Grant has given me the 'A-OK' to experiment with some herbs in a window box that would get the benefit of summer sun for most of the day! I feel like that little bitty patch of sun if just for me and I cannot wait to enjoy it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Staples

On my way to class this morning I was thinking a lot about summer. Being an Oklahoma grad student I think summer hits me differently than other people. You see, mid-terms (mid-March) to finals (early May) is all one climate controlled season to me which I usually spend indoors, chained to a desk and my laptop and surrounded by research. So, when "summer" actually gets here, for me, that is the day of my last final.

Then there is the Oklahoma weather. There is winter in Oklahoma and there is summer in Oklahoma, with a few brief and pleasant 50-60ish degree days thrown in between. So when summer arrives, you know it. You really can't miss your bare legs being scalded on your car seat - when the day before you could have napped in your car. Or, when a week ago forgetting to water your plants everyday was fine, today means life or death for those pretty perennials.

Summer always catches me off guard and my "summer-approaching-indicators" are sometimes the only thing that reminds me! For example, the 90's pop and early rock songs on my iPod rapidly increase. I start yearning for cute wiggle dresses, fun sandals, naps with cool sheets, B-list horror movies, lemonberry slushies (yup, the kind from Sonic) roadtrips, bright/weird colors of nail polish, magazines by the pool, trash TV, and walks to the Farmer's Market. I have already bought a few new shades of nail polish - ones that I hope will compliment a tan when I get one this year! Mint green, lilac and a pretty buff color, but my favorite is a color that looks like a polyester pantsuit that my grandma wore in the 1970's, a soft pinky-lilac color with just enough pop. The color looked like sherbet in a bottle, it looked pretty, and it was I bought it!

Summer is also the time when Grant and I try new recipes that might be more time consuming or adventurous than our usual repas. This week we are making sunflower butter, thanks to some inspiration from a dear friend. I will post pictures and details when we get around it it!! We are also making veggie burgers with bacon and spicy mustard. Neither of us has ever made been burgers before and I am not sure if my falafel experience can count, so we are going to try it! I have also recently ordered a lovely book which helps me sustain the fantasy that I live in a world in which I wear heels every day and am also a fabulous chef of amazingly simple goodies. I can't wait to make our own homemade spicy mustard!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Le Café

This is for Traci (hugs, habibi! and thanks for reading!)

As most of you know Grant and I love coffee. Coffee is the glorious little drug that I don't think that we could ever give up. I know it is terrible for us, I know we should cut back, but dang is just so good.

As a matter of fact I am drinking it right now!

One of the best perks (chuckle, do you like my joke!?) we have found from combing our favorite coffee haunts is that these establishments occasionally either sell or give away their old imported coffee sacks. What is even cooler, is that these sacks aren't just plain burlap (although they usually have those too) sometimes you can find ones with fantastic graphic designs on them from their region of import.

In college, our friends Jenny and Andrew were the first to use these sacks as a means of decorating their new home. All of our group of friends thought it was super swanky and could not wait to do the same.

We are all disciples of the coffee bean...and yes, we know we are a bit cultish about it.

So, you get a fantastic coffee sack and what do you do with it? Well, if you are Jenny (who has a fantastic crafty blog you should all check out then you make the coffee sack a fantastic work of art to hang on the wall!

There are a couple of ways to do this, but here is the easiest. Buy a large, pre-stretched canvas from your local craft store (the kind with the wooden frames on the back) and staple the coffee sack to it for instant wall art! Eureka! One trick of the trade, make sure you center your coffee sack on the frame and staple each side in the MIDDLE first! This ensures make that you don't twist the coffee sack while you staple it and end up with a crooked picture. You can get any size canvas you want and crop the picture accordingly. Also, a staple gun will make this project take no time (or sweat) at all.

Another fantastic idea is to make throw pillow cases out of the coffee sacks. I would only do this though if you find a sack that is on the softer side...burlap is scratchy y'all! I saw this done at a truly chic furniture boutique in Norman 405 Imports. They had their pillows paired with a 1930's French style deco furniture setting, and I will be honest, it looked divine...I just don't think the hubby would have gone for it!

You also don't have to stick to just coffee sacks, there are some awesome potato sacks out there too!

Also, get creative! If you embroider or sew, embellish the design with your own artistic touch. This is also a cool idea for plain burlap that you want to jazz up! Add ribbons, buttons, charms or whatever you want to make your art item unique to you.

If you really want bang for your buck, take your sack and cut it down its side seams. This way you can "frame" the side with a graphic design or make a pillow out of it, and you still have an entirely plain piece of burlap to deck out however you want. Talk about two cool ideas for one!

What are some of the things you have done with coffee/potato sacks?

Friday, June 1, 2012

When the Storm Comes

I am so glad to get back to blogging! Finals nearly did me in and with the start of the summer class sessions immediately after the close of the semester, I was pooped! Believe it or not I was actually writing some posts during those long crazy nights spent typing at the library, so I apologize now for the numerous "back-dated" entries to come.

So much has been happening in our lives since the semester ended! We have already traveled up to St.Louis to visit some of our nearest and dearest. I planted our summer garden. We got two new little kittens in our house. We made homemade butter (amazing!). Watched the entirety of Jersey Shore on Netflix. Picked fresh blackberries at my parent's house. Went to a picnic. Watched the NBA finals at our favorite burger joint (Thunder Up!!). Had our first serious power outage in Norman during a massive thunderstorm. And we are currently in the process of planning an amazing exodus to Colorado for a camping trip in August. But what I am most excited about is getting to explore our new town a little more while a have a "limited" break from school.

First on the to-do list for exploring Norman...
Spend an afternoon at a park! Any park!
Visit the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Downtown OKC.
Go bowling.
There is a French/Vietnamese bakery in OKC...and I WILL find it!
Find a community garden to contribute to.
Find a good coffee shop.

That sums my list up right now, but I am open to suggestions!!
I love summer.