Category Archives: Books

Professing My Love for the Tartine Cookbook

So it turns out that when people in Seattle say summer doesn’t start until after July 4th they aren’t exaggerating. We turned our heat on in June for several days. It was crazypants time for these Texans. Rolland had started wearing shorts in May but had to retreat to pants shortly thereafter. June included shorts, and a refusal of long pants, plus a space heater in his office. Principles over rationality was a thing thing in the house for a while. All of this is a large build up to the fact that I could easily turn on my oven in June without fear of melting. Giddiness ensued.

Using this new found oven freedom, I immediately took requests from co-workers and dove into my Tartine cookbook to make Banana Cream Pie. I hadn’t realized how many steps would be involved, not difficult, but time consuming. This pie required:

  1.  Pie Crust
  2. Caramel
  3. Melted Chocolate
  4. Pastry Cream
  5. Whipped Cream

Now, the benefits included finding my go to pie crust from the Tartine cookbook. It’s super easy and now I try to have several crusts made and in the freezer for a quick quiche, pie, tart, etc. Quiche is hands down a favorite in our house and a favorite weeknight dinner with ham, cheese and a little parsley or other herb of choice. I use Susan Wittig Albert’s Tex-Mex recipe as my basic base and wing the ingredients after that. But, I digress.

IMG_4521Pie in progress. Crust coated with melted chocolate and caramel ready to pout on top of the melted chocolate. The bananas are kind of an after thought as they’re simply sliced and laid on top of the pastry cream then covered in whipped cream. Banana haters like my hubby could easily skip it and have a tasty cream pie.

I also had leftovers from said pie for a chocolate pie with the second pie crust and extra whipped cream. Plus, leftover caramel was used to top brownies since the fudgy goodness wasn’t decadent enough on it’s own.

Caramel brownies 4-17

I also used Tartine’s brownie recipe for this but it was almost too rich for me. It’s just too sweet in the sweet/salt ratio. I’m now considering making it salted caramel brownies… hmmm.

If you’re in the mood to take the baking up a notch, Tartine is a good book to add to the collection. It’s beautiful with gorgeous food pics. And highly useful in wooing co-workers to your will. Finished second chocolate pie with help from toddler. I also recommend one of these for a sous chef although she hogs the wooden spoon.

Chocolate pie
Sophy pie help

Note: I received no bloggery goodness for pimping out the cookbook. Or the weird Seattle weather, although only people from the South would really see this as pimping out the weather.

Further Note: I still don’t own Tartine Book 3 after desperate pleading to the editors in case anyone wanted to add it to my Christmas list.

Favorite Quote

I saw this quote on a blog post by Kelly Rae Roberts

We’re all just walking each other home – Ram Dass

It’s my new favorite quote. I’m contemplating it in tattoo format. Side note: I’m seriously cultivating a nice tattoo board and have yet to commit to permanent ink. Sigh. Ok, back on more of the topic. I blame my immediate love on it being truthful and exactly how I want us to approach each other. Also, I may be reading way too much Momastery. I love Glennon and her crazy approach to truth telling, sharing and love. Plus, I kinda just love being a monkee.

In a completely unrelated and non-spiritual topic, I’m stocking pile cookbooks like I’m gearing up to be on Top Chef. My latest are this, this one on a crazy Amazon deal and this one as a spur Costco purchase since it was the last one therefore it must be great. I agree my reasoning is not entirely sound, but paid off in this case. We have yet to discover all the terrific and amazing food that’s always being raved about here and have started cooking more to save money and to have tasty food.

Except tonight. We did have tasty pizza. 1 pizza = $27. This is not feasible as a long term meal plan.

Woo Hoo it’s Friday!

Because of that, it seemed like a good time to give a little reading round up.

Also, a sidenote that I love this little blog quickie by Anahata. It’s perfect and a reminder we all need to take time for ourselves.

As part of that taking care and getting ready for the weekend, I’m continuing to pretend I have a summer vacation and have jumped into some summer time reading. I may have a little too much summer reading at the moment but I’m determined to get some of them complete. It didn’t help that I got sucked into Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books. I had read the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons back when the craze swept the world but the follow up just sat on my shelf and when I saw there was now a fourth, Inferno, I got a little obsessed with catching up. Oy! I read the Lost Symbol over the 4th, which seems appropriate and timely, now I have Inferno on the kindle app ready to go.

Also on the night stand and/or my iPad mini  that are partially complete:

On deck if I finish any of the above or decide to jump into another book are the following:

This does not include any of my cookbooks I’ve been eyeballing waiting for it to cool enough to turn on the stove. I’ve also been eyeing my stock of travel memoirs since nothing says summer like a road trip! I have no idea what’s happened. It had been that I would never dream of starting a book until I finished the one I had going, I would even not read for a while if I was stuck trying to get through one and now, look at that list! It’s crazy.

Anything else I should be adding to the list?

Summer Break

It’s been pretty busy around  the house lately but I’m still super excited for summer. Every year I still think I’m going to get out for the summer and decide to over plan when not much really changes with our schedules except less traffic. Not to minimize the importance of less traffic
cause that’s awesome!

But we’ve made some changes around the house that have made it feel a little more special. We’ve started eating al fresco for all meals at home. This was partially to save our dining room rug from the toddler but we also wanted to enjoy our nice patio. We’ve cleaned up the yard and all the debris that had accumulated in the nooks and crannies. A small furniture rearrangement has made it seem roomier and the grill area has a space all to itself making it easier to keep Sophy fingers away. I still want to get a little more color via retro styled seating. Similar to these.

I have a long list of recipes I want to work on from Salty Snacks: Make Your Own Chips, Crisps, Crackers, Pretzels, Dips, and Other Savory Bites, Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk, The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux, and a bunch of other cookbooks I’ve amassed.

I’m also stock piling these jars. I’ve currently got a couple in the refrigerator with basil simple syrup and another with lime juice for spontaneous Basil Lime Coolers. My new favorite drink. Sophy’s a fan too. 

Super quick recipe is:

1. Simply Syrup: add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water along with 5-6 basil leaves (substitute with mint or any other favorite herb here) and heat until sugar dissolves. Let cool and use immediately or store in a container in the refrigerate.

2. Juice limes: we do an entire bag at a time. Costco or Sam’s is your best bet for large inexpensive produce for this. You could also do grapefruit, orange juice, etc. 

3. I also add carbonated water that Rolland carbonates using the soda stream but totally optional.

4. Mix the above into a pitch or in a glass of crushed ice to taste. Sophy and I like tart so I do about 2/3 juice to small amount of syrup and water. Sophy’s has about 1/4 juice and 3/4’s water with a tiny bit of sugar.

Tasty summer goodness.

Odd and Random

I’m tired. Not just need more sleep and I’ll be fine tired but burned out and I’m pretty sure it will never end tired. So… I’m going to talk about pretty things that make me happy.

My Land’s End purchases were fantastic especially the chevron dress and the Joan dress. Rolland approved highly of both.

These shoes are greatness. I’ve discussed lots my inability to walk in heels without risking death but for these I might risk it. LOVE.

I’ve also got this great little book,The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes ,
on the way

I saw it last weekend at Anthro but couldn’t justify the full price when Amazon is soo much cheaper allowing for more future book purchases along with super cute baby clothes.

Our house is also into 1st b-day planning which isn’t much really. Ordered a few super cute party elements, also via Amazon (I pay for prime and I’m using it!), and found some cute plates/cups. I need to compare with party supply before ordering. I hate to ship if I don’t have too…. ignore book purchase above since saving $12 bucks is “have to” in this era of fiscal frugality.

Also loving this print from Zutano. Frankly, I love most all of Zutano but wait for sales. Sophy could go to college or be a super cute baby with these prices.

Tomorrow equals Trader Joe’s and Rudy’s breakfast tacos. Giant yum! Ok, 9:45 on Friday night and I’m heading to bed. Maybe it will help take the tired edge of just a little.

The Little Paris Kitchen

I’ve discovered a new favorite show that my husband can hate. And he does. A lot. Although to be fair Rachel Khoo never stood a chance since he hears the french music playing and bee lines it out of the room. That man seriously has issues with the French. It’s not right. Also, anyone want to visit Paris with me? He claims to never return. London? London he loves and will visit any time.
… Anyway, I love The Little Paris Kitchen on the Cooking Channel and can’t wait for the cookbook The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes to come out. I may, in the interest of frugality and minor torture, make it my Valentine’s Day present request. So far the recipes look relatively easy but fancy enough for a nice dinner if you use the good china. Also, being on the frugality train I love the Paris eye candy to help nip in the travel bug. It doesn’t really work but I still like the eye candy. 
So far, there have been a few new offerings for the late winter that look pretty good. I’m really looking forward to Danielle Bryk’s new show on DIY. I loved what she did with her house on Family Under Construction. House and Home has a gallery of a few finished rooms. Luckily, the husband loved this one so we can both watch. I’m hoping it will help keep the home organization and improvement momentum going. Additionally, I want to paint everything white – another hated of the husband’s. For the love of God, never bring up Sarah Richards. He’ll lose his poop. 

Anything else new I can’t miss?

Camera Love Continues

Continuing with my camera love I now want to go here. Instead I had to settle with this purchase Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids since it is a little more budget and baby friendly.
I’m making the most of my instant camera love and can’t wait to find some creative uses for pictures of this little cutie.
HA! Not what you expected, sometimes she resists photos and is not an angelic little creature who poos silk. Nope, that poo is stinky and gross. Additionally, she has taken to screaming. For no reason. Just ’cause. Forcing you to distract her with something sparkly. …  I’m starting to become uncomfortable with the turn of the conversation and where she may have gotten the sparkly distraction gene. You have to admit, that pigtail and tantrum is cute as hell.

Moving on! We had an incredibly relaxing Wednesday for my final vacation day yesterday. We wisely used our time and caught up on Top Chef watching all 8 episodes (maybe 9) on our DVR. So now let me say that John Tesar is a little ferret and I’m happy he’s off my TV.  Also, I’m loving Stefan this time around. Much less irritating to me than on his previous season. Now, off to watch Selling New York and heading to bed early. This working stuff seriously cuts into my play time!

Weekend Planning

Super excited that I know have Bouchon Bakery in my hot little hands! Well, depending on the recipe having hot hands wouldn’t be a plus but I’m pretty sure you get that I love myself some hyperbole. I actually picked it up at Barnes and Noble yesterday with a my member discount it was $45 vs Amazon’s $30 but I wanted to support one of the sole brick and mortar businesses left even if they are a giant chain but not $15 bucks worth. From now on, online ordering is it. Also, I clearly have a lot of pinions…also not surprising to anyone who knows me.

I’m also super excited that Beadfest is this weekend in Arlington. Larger shows are great for finding some harder to come by beads and findings. The International Gem Show is in Ft Worth in February and I’ve marked it on my calendar. I’m ready to spend some time in the studio to finish up a couple projects and then get started on some new goodies.

I got Solder Technique Studio: Soldering Iron Fundamentals for the Mixed Media Artist at B&N with a coupon – only exception to new frugal book buying policy – and want to make everything!

I’m back on the handmade bandwagon and want to make at least 1 thing for everyone for Christmas. The likelihood of this is a solid 20% especially with Sophy but we’ll see. I can’t wait until she’s old enough and we can do projects together. Also, projects handmade by Sophy would be big hits with the fam for gifts.

Anyone else have fun weekend plans?

p.s. Cool weather has hit Texas and I got to wear my new motorcycle jacket and snuggle under extra covers. Baking and soup creation are on the docket as well. Also solid 20% on all of my weekend plans but dreaming of major productivity is almost as good as actual productivity.

Mid-Week Recommendation


 I bought The Happiness Project not long after it came out but have just started reading it. I am loving it. Gretchen Rubin’s writing style is perfect for me. Conversational and anecdotal for what worked for her and clear instruction that this is what worked for HER. Apply appropriate type of planning to your own life since her happiness isn’t your happiness. I’m also loving the reminders that it’s important to take care of yourself. That said I went to bed very late last night but previously I had been doing better! I swear. For like, two days I was asleep before 10pm with walks being taken. We’ve also been eating at home and it’s been tasty and wallet friendly. But last night  I was working on a jewelry project for a friend and got totally inspired. Damn day job is interfering with my creative muse!

This weekend includes big plans for cleaning out and organizing. The studio, inside and out, since the weather is gorgeous and we can work in the garage without risking heat stroke. The house will get back under control so say we all… little Battlestar Galactica throw back there since I don’t want to lose my geek street cred, and I want to rid it off about half of the crap that has totally taken over. Big goals people, big goals!

Next, I promise more Halloween pics with cute babies.

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I love myself some sci-fi and fantasy as long as it’s not all horror and gory filled or just giant bugs and horrible weather disasters. Seriously, when did a tornado or earthquake not caused by aliens or some weird cryptid animal become science fiction? Mystery, angst, romance I’m totally sold. Add in gorgeous locations or fantastic costuming as a bonus and I’ll write a blog post highlighting your awesomeness. Mostly I’m outing my love for Urban Fantasy and if you know me, that closet door was mostly wide open which was a walk-in with seating.

Sooo… Syfy, who has finally convinced me the re-branding wasn’t totally stupid and I often start to spell all sci-fi that way, has some good programming. But, I am still bitter about the loss of Eureka (insert sniffing here) and the Dresden Files which now that I’m getting started I really, really miss The Chronicle  and am kind of nostalgic for Stargate even if they did beat that horse to death a couple of times. I’ve got a little Battlestar Galactica angst as well. Also, I have started to get kind of pissed at Syfy for torpedoing a lot of great programming. 

Ok, I’m over it.

The new season of Haven is getting ready to start and I’m crazy happy about it. It’s set in Maine, has lots of paranormal goodness with pretty people. What’s not to love? They also have a pretty great twitter feed with Dave and Vince but I had to pare down the twitter following and just follow the Herald.

image via Syfy

The latest seaon of Lost Girl has just wrapped up and won’t be back until January. I’m pretty sure you can catch up via episodes on Syfy. This one is filmed in Toronto so the scenery is pretty typical urban environment but the sets are pretty good and the costumes are fantastically leather badass with boots to match. There’s been some romance angst that can get grating but I’m willing to give it another season before I decide if it’s irritating or not.

image via Syfy

The whole family is a fan of Grimm on NBC but they’re a pain in the ass to try and swipe a photo so they just get a link.  This one has fairy tale quotes, moody Portland locations, cute main characters and awesome set design/houses. In a quick cross over, if you love the fairy tales and also graphic novels then Fables is the series for you. Greatness.

In case TV isn’t your favorite, I’ve got a few book recommendations that fit my criteria for good fantasy and have had releases this fall. Seanan McGuirre has two series that are huge favorites. The October Daye series and the Incryptid series which feels a little campier to me but that could just be that the lead character moonlighting as a dancer/cocktail waitress. And by dancer I mean ballroom not stripper. I’ve also started Celia Jerome’s Willow Tate books and they are total camp. Not un-enjoyable but I have to be in the mood or I just find them irritating and want to smack everyone. I’m pretty sure that’s not what she’s going for when reading. 

A few more favorites are Kat Richardson, Ilona Andrews who does a lot of awesome stuff for e-versions and I’m primarily a fan of the gunmetal/Kate Daniels stuff so can’t speak to any of her other series, Carrie Vaughn, and Laura Anne Gilman.I could list a ton more but these are the latest I’ve been reading. 

There’s something about the onset of fall and the approach of Halloween that seems to especially embrace the typical spooky/angsty/moodiness of fantasy. For me, that’s primarily  urban fantasy and the first Harry Potter with floating pumpkins, which has a lot of great talent embracing the genre right now. I’m striking and soaking it up while the iron is still hot. Sorry for the poorly constructed sentence there but you get the idea.