Saturday, November 17, 2012

Well...I have nothing to say for myself. I totally crashed and burned on NaBloPoMo.

So...shall we move on? :D? :D?

My apologies to anyone who stuck with me through the first few days!

autumn in everything

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Today's post is another tag! I have a few more thoughtful posts queued up (as I keep promising, I know), but tonight this is a nice break from reading novels for class and writing essays on the phallus. Oh, how I wish I were kidding. Anyway, I hope you are finding this random updates interesting, rather than too Myspace-y. In honor of my favorite season, here's a 10 Fall Questions tag!


1. Favorite Fall lip product?

 Any berry or red lipstick. This lip butter from Revlon, in Berry Smoothie, is basically the perfect fall, berry pink color (and it's moisturizing!).

2. Favorite Fall Nail Polish?

 I have too many! Gunmetal grey, army green, inky colors, reds, purples. If I had to pick, it would be a class dark, dark purple--OPI's Lincoln Park After Dark. Plus I kind of love the name, since this was from the Chicago collection.

3. Favorite Starbucks Fall Drink? Okay, I confess, I used to be one of those crazed Pumpkin Spice Latte fangirls. But now, I just don't see what all the fuss is about. Somehow it's not as delicious as it used to be. But the random times I do go to Starbucks, I end up getting one of two things: a coffee frappuccino sans whipped cream, or a chai tea latte, iced or hot depending on my mood. This time of year I find myself ordering them hot more often.

4. Favorite Fall Candle?

 Oh boy. Don't get me started on candles. I'm generally obsessed with burning candles year round, and like to be seasonal with the scents. And candle season must boom during the fall and winter, because that seems to be the time of year people want to add cozy ambience to their houses and smell all those scents of apple, cinnammon, spice, and pumpkin. My long time favorite has been the Leaves candle you can buy at Bath and Body Works, but I also really like the cheap soy candle from Target in Cinnamon Cider. They both smell perfectly of fall. Do yourself a favor and smell these, if you're ever in either store.

5. Favorite Fall Scarf or accessory. I've been living in a leopard scarf I bought from BP Nordstrom (judge me) about a month ago, as well as an army green Moto Jacket from Topshop--which, sadly, it is now too cold to wear on its own.

6. Haunted house, haunted hay ride, or haunted corn maze?

 I'm going to have to say Haunted House and non-Haunted Hay Ride, because what the hell is a Haunted Hay Ride!? Haunted Corn Maze sounds like a lot of fun, and I'm kind of surprised I didn't go on one now that I'm up in the Midwest, but I guess it's okay that I avoided what's in the picture above. Because ever since I saw Children of the Corn, that's all I'm convinced is out in the cornfields of this part of America. You know, to help you out if you get lost in a corn maze. Which would totally happen to me. And then I would be murdered. Also Jeepers Creepers is out there, guys. 

7. Favorite Halloween movie? C'mon, who doesn't love Hocus Pocus? Classic. Also, I think this is technically a Christmas movie, but it's wonderful too. I also watch a lot of horror movies around Halloween time, just because I like a good scare. I'm weird, yeah.

8. Favorite candy to eat on Halloween?

 Um, any? I always loved Snickers, Skittles, and super sugary Bubble Yum. I'm a big fan of caramel apples this time of year, too.

9. What are you dressing up as for Halloween?!

 I was the Cowboy from the Village People this year. It didn't feel much like dressing up, being from Texas and having gone to Farm College and all, but I did borrow some real-live horse-riding chaps from a friend. Which was awesome. Plus, I was really warm all night. I wanted to be something super cute and fun, like everyone does, but I kind of ran out of time and we just went with the YMCA theme. It was fun!!

10. What is your Favorite thing about Fall? It's hard to pick because I love everything about this season, from the weather to the food to the family to the clothes and on and on. But, just to counteract some of the girliness, I'll pick a big favorite--college football season! Seriously, such an exciting year for the Aggies. Gig em.

i made something delicious: butternut squash & apple soup

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I'm still getting over October, November. But all this means is we are on a locomotive into Thanksgiving and Christmas, the holiday season. And that means COOKING DELICIOUS THINGS.

Fall is by far my favorite season, and Chicago has not let me down so far (though I'm pretty sure it's about to--time for a 'real' winter!). The trees have been beautiful, the weather perfectly crisp, and lots of yummy things are in season. This is the time of year for sweatpants, candles, sweaters, scarves, boots, baking, cooking--basically, it's nesting season. And boy do I love me some nesting.

Now that fall fruits and vegetables are in season, a trip to the grocery store is nerdly-exciting because of all the potential delicious dishes. Say that five times fast. Last night I was feeling poorly and decided to call it a night in, and since I always want to make soup from scratch and bake pumpkin-y things, I decided to try out one of my favorite online chef's recipes.

This is the video, if you are interested. I came across Bruno Albouze on a search for a demonstration of the best way to cook eggs over easy (which was all I pretty much ate for the month of September, strangely enough). I was hooked by his bizarre, yet incredibly awesome accent (I may have rewatched the above video just to hear him say "butternut" a few more times) and fun approach to cooking. He just seems really nice and endearing, and I hope he gets more well known. But moving on.

This recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple soup from scratch came up in my subscriptions, so I gave it a try. I LOVE butternut squash, yet have never tried working with it myself, and as mentioned before, this season just makes me want to make batches and batches of soup like I'm looking after Oliver Twist. The ingredients and spices involved sounded scrumptious, so here is my take on the step-by-step recipe from above.

Here are some things you'll need.

You'll need a nice butternut squash. I went crazy at Whole Foods with the produce, but it's just too good! Oh, and a nice knife is probably more important for this step. Chop it up in quarters, and gut your squash as well. That sounds vaguely inappropriate.

Do not chop your thumb into quarters, like I tried to do. Make sure you put on a bandage if you do nick yourself!

Chop into chunks (again, not your fingers).

Peel, core, and chop up two sweet apples--I used Gala. Look like a crazy person.

Scrub and chop two medium carrots as well. Impersonate a deranged Bugs Bunny. No, I am not cooking in the nude.

These are your choppins. A smidge of advice, a large, good, solid cutting board makes all this a lot easier.

Melt butter and olive oil in a large stock pot.

Make sure, for the most part, you're working over medium heat. Oh, and can I just say, I LOVE gas ranges. And forgive my creepy stock pot reflection.

Chop up a medium yellow onion, and please do a better job than I do. I got the pieces of smaller, but I swear with onions, they defy the notion of "practice makes perfect". I swear I've chopped a million onions and they always look like a cat tried to cut them up with a blunt knife. Also they usually make me cry because even if I cut them the 'right' way, it doesn't matter. Onion rage over.

Cook onions in oil and butter for ten minutes, then add in diced garlic and cook a few more minutes. Can I just say, garlic is SO good. I love garlic so much.

In those ten minutes, I peeled and washed potatoes for mashed potatoes. Nom.

 Now that your onion/garlic is nice and good, add in all your chops, and then your spices as well. Don't forget salt and a generous amount of pepper.

 The recipe calls for "curry spice, turmeric and cardamom--plus an optional pinch of saffron", but this Curry Powder (and I'm assuming all curry powders/spices) contains turmeric and cardamom already. So, I just used this--I'm not sure if I read the instructions wrong or what. Also saffron is always stinking expensive, so yeah.

 Mom's mashed potato method. Wash them good, then cover with water and boil, and cook until done. Works every time.

 Cover your choppins' with water, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 40 minutes.

I found that it took about the same amount of time for the potatoes to get soft and 40 minutes of simmering. I fixed the potatoes right up until the soup was ready, so it worked out perfectly.

 Other tips for a cozy, lazy Friday night in. Super comfy, soft sweatpants, "boyfriend" style so they have a giant crotch area and are basically fat pants. Fluffy pink boot slippers.

 Cinnamon candle in a creepy fox-fall leave holder.

 A good movie. My roommate and I ended up having an impromptu couch marathon with this one, then Bridesmaids. Not a bad Friday if you ask me!

Drain your potatoes when ready, still letting the soup kick away.

 Mashed, adding in butter, milk, salt and pepper. Done!

Should be looking mighty tasty by now! Make sure to keep tasting, and adding salt and pepper as you see fit.

 Final addition: apple juice! Recipe calls for a cup and a quarter, I believe, but add as much to get your desired consistency. For the record I feel like the amount was a bit too much--the soup wasn't as thick as I would've liked.

Finally, blend with one of them fancy soup blender things. Feels very official, don't cha know. I may have overblended, because my soup ended up more watery than thick, but this also could've been too much water and/or apple juice. After you've blended, make sure to strain.

And there you have it! I served with toasted sourdough bread and mashed potatoes. Yummmmm!

Optional garnishes: dollop of sour cream, toasted pumpkin seeds (I used my roommate's from pumpkin carving!), and a dash of cinnamon. End result--something hearty, simple, delicious, and very healthy and fall-appropriate. It makes enough to freeze a good batch, as well. Enjoy!

Screenshot of Bruno's recipe.

obscure questions and screaming deadlines

Friday, November 02, 2012

Uh oh, look who's squeaking in under a tight deadline...precisely a quarter till November 3, and here is my very short day 2 post of NaBloPoMo!

I promise my content is being thought of and worked on--in fact, I had a nice little blog session mapped out for tonight but it turned into a movie marathon on the couch with my roommate. I had a lot of photos ready and everything but, well, you know. 

So, a la Myspace circa 2005, here's a short, sweet survey I found of "Obscure Questions". Whatever, I'm trying to not crash and burn at NaBloPoMo on only the second day. This counts dang it!

  • 1: What eye color do you find sexiest? Brown eyes have a 'boring' reputation, but I find they are quite sexy on (in?) a guy. That, and green. But there really aren't a lot of options. And I am possibly biased having brown eyes myself.
  • 2: White, milk, or dark chocolate mocha? Dark chocolate completely. The darker and more bitter, the better.
  • 3: If you could get a Sharpie tattoo on your back, what would it be? A panther. And then I would die of Sharpie poisoning--if this is such a thing.
  • 4: Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it? Small. I could talk about this for a while, but the short answer: yes, very much. I was glad to be safe, to always have friends, to know pratically everyone and be known by everyone, all the memories, the strength of community, and all the time I was nurtured there and was able to grow up, move away, and see the world outside of that small town, and both appreciate/understand/respect/learn from everything it meant to me.
  • 5: Your favorite adult as a child? (and not your parents, if they were your favorite) One of my aunts/uncles
  • 6: What kind of smoothie sounds really good right now? Chocolate malt shake. Which is totally not a smoothie.
  • 7: Most embarrassing moment from your elementary school years? I think I wet my pants in kindergarten, in the computer lab. Why were we in the computer lab?
  • 8: Most embarrassing moment from your middle school years? I wore a back brace for a year.
  • 9: Most embarrassing moment from your high school years? Boy dramas and emo music.
  • 10: Pirates or ninjas? Why? Ninjas. Because I'm half Asian? No, pirates have scurvy and drinking problems. Ninjas are silent and deadly, like the worst kind of farts.
  • 11: Have you ever climbed a tree more than twenty feet off the ground? No.
  • 12: Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing set? Yes and yes. Still have a swingset in the backyard.
  • 13: If you could have any pet in the world, illegal or not, what would you get? Honestly...a dog and a cat? A CATDOG. No, just a cat and a dog. I'm not crazy. I don't want a white tiger as a pet.
  • 14: What's your most favorite part of your body? I kind of like the whole package, which sounds super conceited. But I'll take the bait. Also this is way too personal, and hopefully anyone I'm related to is skimming over this question, but I would have to say my small boobs. Which is, I know, a weird answer, but I really like them. Suck it, societal beauty standards in America!!
  • 15: What's your most favorite part of your personality? I'm genuinely concerned about being a better person to and for people, particularly the ones I love. If you meet me, I will care the shit out of you. :D
  • 16: Madonna or Lady Gaga? Neither? Both? Who cares? Gaga. Madonna is kind of a thief, right? 
  • 17: Have you ever watched the Superbowl all the way through? Of course! Probably every one since around the beginning of high school, when I actually became interested in football.
  • 18: Have you ever watched any major sporting event drunk? Ha, are you kidding? I went to a huge public state school for college. The sporting events I was drunk at probably outweighs the sporting events I was not drunk at. Boom, answered.
  • 19: What's the most delicious food you've ever eaten in your life? This is like an impossible question. Something my Mom made, for sure. Or, Southern cooking from my aunts.
  • 20: Margarine or butter? Which did you grow up with? Butter, butter.
  • 21: Whole, skim, 1%, or 2% milk? (Did you know they make 1 1/2% milk?) I like skim, and whole on occasion (and in baking).
  • 22: Which continents have you been on? North America, Europe.
  • 23: Do you get motion sickness? Any horror stories? Thankfully, no.
  • 24: Backpacks or satchels? Satchels?
  • 25: Would you wear a rainbow jacket? A neon yellow sweater? Checkered pants? No, yes, no.
  • 26: What was your favorite cartoon growing up? Sailor Moon. It was a lifestyle, people.
  • 27: If you had to have a cow or a pig, which would you take? Why? Cow, for sure. Milk? And baby cows, possibly? Who wouldn't want that?
  • 28: If you had to look at one city skyline for the rest of your life, which would it be? CHICAGO!! Or London? Does London have a skyline? I'm going to say Parliament and Big Ben, then.
  • 29: Longest plane ride you've ever been on? 10 hour plane ride to London, from Houston.
  • 30: The latest you've ever slept? Probably like 7PM after a night of drinking, or when I was younger, after staying up all night at friends' houses. But then I don't think I even slept that late...
  • 31: Would you buy a sweater covered in kitten pictures? Would you wear it if someone gave it you for free? No, and no. The whole ironic/hipster/lololo I'm so funny in my ugly sweater has kind of been beaten into the ground.
  • 32: Do you pick at scabs? Yeah. I collect them in jars to give to my future boyfriends.
  • 33: Favorite kind of bean? Kidney? Black? Pinto? I love black beans, and soy beans, and refried beans. And red beans.
  • 34: How far can you throw a baseball? About as far as I can throw a tomato. Because they are the same size and shape.
  • 35: If you had to move to another country, where would you move? South Korea in a heartbeat.
  • 36: Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? Vietnamese? Korean? Nepalese? How was it? Yes, yes, yes, no. Delicious, delicious, super delicious, I want to try.
  • 37: Small, liberal arts school or public university? Why? Public university! More affordable, great quality instructors and more variety, more exposure to different peoples/cultures/ideologies/etc., better sports, alumni network.
  • 38: A relationship with love or one with sex? Love.
  • 39: Do you eat enough vegetables? I like to think so, yes. I do the 4 a day rule (4 veggies, 3 fruits). 
  • 40: Do you like horror movies? How about thrillers? I really do, despite how scared during and after I am. 
  • 41: Would you scratch a crotch itch in public? Gross, no? There are more complicated actions involved
  • 42: Do you swear in front of your parents? Not really.
  • 43: Coolest thing you've ever been for Halloween? A little ghost.
  • 44: If you could change your natural hair color, would you? To what? God, I'm boring. I wouldn't change it.
  • 45: Do you want to get married? Have kids? Yes and yes. When the time is right.
  • 46: Do you use a reusable water bottle? If not, you should. Absolutely I do! I use those Camelbak bite valve ones which are also BPA free, which is apparently something important.
  • 47: City or nature person? Nature, even though I am currently one of them city folk.
  • 48: Have you ever used something other than "makeup" as makeup? (Like paint? Markers?) I don't think so...I do use lipstick as blush quite often though. Does that count?
  • 49: Can you walk well in high heels? Even if you're a guy? Yes. I've run quite a few times in heels and not snapped my ankle/died, so I think I'm doing pretty good.
  • 50: Post 5 awesome things about yourself. BRAG AWAY! Badass cook. Funny. Smart. Love to laugh. Big heart.

happy NaBloPoMo!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hi all. 

So November seems to be a pretty ambitious month for a lot of people. It probably has something to do with everyone panicking in some weird way about the end of the year. I mean, No Shave November? All that means is I see way too many patchy beards and dirty 'staches, and I already see enough hipster facial hair out in Bucktown.

Seen on a daily basis at any given moment west of Damen.

Actually, I can totally imagine all guys my age waking up and looking in the mirror near the end of October and thinking, Oh God, it's almost December!? I have to see how molest-y my mustache actually looks! I mean, girls basically do No Shave November like, all winter. Shorts season is about two seconds in Chicago, and besides, no one's seeing these legs but me. Basically I will have fur by the time April rolls around, you can bet on it.

Oh, and Election Day is this month--I've done an absentee ballot again this year, and wept silently on the inside as usual for a good few of the Texas candidates. I mean, we have this guy, for crying out loud.

It's so dumb, I can't even get into it and I especially can't properly segue into my next, and final point. November is a big one for a lot of writers as it is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. 

The goal is in the name--in one month, people try (and often succeed--a bestseller born of NaNoWriMo was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen) to write an entire novel, submititng a certain word count every day of November. The finished product is 50K words minimum, or the typical length of a standard novel. There are a lot of variations on it, with various methods of accountability and reward, but if anything it's more of a community of writers' support. 

I've considered doing it before, but opted out this year because I'm basically doing NaNoWriMo next semester, when the only class I'll be taking is my program's Novel Writing seminar. It's the first of its kind and structured after NaNoWriMo (our professor even referenced it in the syllabus), and when the class went up for registration it was like the newest version of crack and my peers and I were all major junkies. I think we're just a bunch of masochists.

I'll be submitting 20 pages a week for 10 weeks and I'm not sure yet what I'm going to be writing an entire novel about quite yet--I mean, I do know, but I haven't decided yet--so there's no way I'll be doing NaNoWriMo this year. Writing one novel in 10 weeks is crazy, but two within a three month span? Count me out--to say the least! However, I am doing a spinoff started by BlogHer--NaBloPoMo.

NaBloPoMo is even simpler. National Blog Post Month means posting on your blog every single day of November, which I think will be a fun challenge as I tend to be pretty lax on here. The issue isn't anything uncommon--I have a lot of ideas, I take a long time to write anything, I am really busy, and so on. But I'm challenging myself and holding myself accountable, so if you are interested, stick along with me!

They do allow for some cheats, such as posting only photos, or tags, or blogg-y things like that. But I'm going to try and put out thoughtful, well-written content to the best of my ability. Hooray!

If anyone else out there is doing this, or thinks it would be fun, let me know! See you on day 2.

Like us on Facebook

Flickr Images