Sunday Salon ~ February 8th, 2009

Just over three months.  That’s how much time we possibly have left in Okinawa before moving back to our hometown area of D.C.  It’s been a whirlwind of a stay here.  We arrived on this tiny sub-tropical island in May 2005 and have enjoyed so many aspects of living in a foreign country, traveling, experiencing new cultures and building lasting friendships with wonderful people from all over the U.S. 

While living here I have been able to read more books than ever but as the time winds down, I am thinking ahead to working again and getting back into the busy lifestyle that goes with being a Washingtonian and it’s getting harder to concentrate on the words in front of me.  I’m excited about the future and have found memories of the past.  It is the present that is challenging.  All the things there are to prepare for an international move, spending time with friends we may not see for a long time or ever again and finding the time to concentrate on reading when my head is spinning around the to-do list that never seem to end. 

I finished reading The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee last week and I am currently working on writing my book review.  I started a new book but feel that I need to take a break from reading for a few days.  I would like to make one more quilt before we move.  I made one the first year we were here and would like to take advantage of the time left to create another one for our new home in the States.  I keep procrastinating on deciding on a fabric medley and ordering it though.  We’ll see what happens. 

dig-in

This weekend I found myself baking again.  Yesterday I made Parmesan Pull Aparts from my February 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine.  They were easy to make and delicious, though a bit rich.  The recipe does call for a cup and a quarter of freshly grated Parmesan cheese after all.  Today I broke out my Martha Stewart Cookies Cookbook and made a batch of the Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They are so good!

What have you been up to this weekend?  Do you have any big changes looming on the horizon, waiting for you too?  When big changes are making an impact on your life how do you deal with them?

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Sunday Salon ~ December 21st, 2008

Only one more Sunday in the year left after today.  It’s hard to believe that 2008 is almost a mere memory and a new number will round out the year.  With the new year just around the corner, so is my 34th birthday.  I am a New Year’s Baby, minus the big ears.  I am not freaking out about the number 34 as I was a couple of months ago when I came across the first gray hair I’ve ever noticed on my head.  I immediately went to the store and purchased hair dye to cover that little bastard up.  I will have to get another box soon since his friends decided to join him as my roots are beginning to show. 

The new year will also find me attempting a much needed, devoted attempt at dieting.  I’ve asked Santa/Hubby for a new pair of Nike Shocks so I can start walking in addition to dieting.  I do have a goal which is good and is actually a huge motivation for me.  In June I plan on attending Fan Fair, now called CMT Fest, in Nashville, TN with my friend Jesse (the one who got married in D.C. last month) and I would like to be comfortable wearing short sleeve shirts and not being self conscious about my arms the whole time.  We’ll see what I can do.

But I am not dieting yet and that has been apparent over the last few days.  With the holidays upon us, I have been a baking fool and Hubby has been making some delectable dishes.  Today I made both Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Bread and Banana Nut Bread (with coconut) and yesterday Hubby made Tyler Florence’s Mac & Cheese.  That Mac & Cheese came out of the oven looking so pretty, bubbly and perfect I had to take a pic and share it with you below. 

mac-n-cheese

I have been reading too this weekend.  I am almost done with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I could have been finished by now but I am enjoying the story and it’s characters so much that I have been taking my time.  It’s also the 33rd of 33 books I will have read this year.  I had made a goal for myself back in January to read 33 books for the number of birthday’s I have celebrated.  I will be doing a top five or top 10 list (I haven’t decided yet) of the books I have read this year by the end of it. 

What reading goals did you make for yourself this year?  If you didn’t will you be making one in 2009?  Also, did you eat anything mouthwatering this weekend too?  Do tell!

Sunday Salon ~ December 7th, 2008

It’s been a busy weekend for me in the kitchen.  We had dinner guests over this evening and one of the dishes on the table was a Triple-Chocolate Peppermint Trifle.  I got the recipe from the December issue of Martha Stewart Living and let me tell you what, that thing was awesome to eat but a pain to make.  In all the excitement I forgot to take a picture of my own creation so here is the pic from the magazine and MarthaStewart.com

I also made Snickerdoodles again for my little friend Madi since she really liked them when I brought some over to her house a couple of weeks ago.  Now she has her own box of cookies to enjoy.  In addition to those yummy eats, I made Peppermint Bark and I think I could give Williams~Sonoma a run for their money this season.  I used a recipe by Paula Deen but added a good dose of Peppermint extract to the white chocolate. 

This Wednesday I am participating in a cookie swap and have to make six dozen cookies.  I have chosen to make Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies.  The recipe is a bit time consuming because you have to chill the dough so many times but it will be worth it.  I start that challenge tomorrow. 

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In the mean time I have been reading Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World by Vicki Myron.  I won a copy through Library Things Early Reviewer Program earlier this fall.  This book is so great and touching that I have already cried at least once per chapter.  I’m not very far along yet, and don’t see myself really having any good reading time in the next few days, but I try to read a chapter a night before fading off to sleep.  Let’s just say that my dog, Rocky, has been getting even more hugs on top of the plethora I give him each day because of Dewey. 

Well, as you can tell by the looks of this blog, I am in full Christmas mode here in Okinawa.  I’ve got the Christmas tunes synced on my iPod and I created two different Christmas playlists on my iTunes program and I have some favorite holiday internet raidio stations picked out on iTunes radio.  One of my favorite versions of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is sung by Jewel and her Mother.  I’ve included it for you below.  Enjoy!

A Little Baking and a Little Singing

Today has been a busy day in the kitchen for me.  One of my close friends here in Okinawa is taking the kids home for the summer and has asked me to make her some of Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cupcakes.  These cupcakes are simply AMAZING but are tricky to make.  There are a lot of big steps and things tend to get a bit messy.  Well, now I am exhausted but the cupcakes do look amazing.  I highly recommend making these delectable treats when you need a fancy cupcake to knock everyone’s socks off.  It has worked for me every time. 

   

Last night AFN started to air the new “Nashville Star”.  It began airing in the States last week on NBC.  Some of you know that I auditioned for this season via a video recording audition.  The U.S. Military and DOD employees and their dependants were allowed to submit a recorded video audition tape that was then compared against all other tapes from military installations all over the world.  This included ships, bases, and everything in between where eligible persons may be stationed. 

The hubby and I were settled in for two hours of prime singing entertainment because that is what we expect from this show and have been fans over the last few seasons that aired on USA Network.  Well, last night made us wonder just what about my video audition wasn’t good enough.  I will continue to watch as the new season goes forth this summer but as of the first night’s performances, there wasn’t much there. 

I’d like to share with you the two songs I cut when I did a demo in Nashville in 2002.  It’s hard to believe that it was that long ago because I can still smell the cedar lined recording studio nestled into the Brentwood, TN suburbs.  It was an amazing experience.  Karen Brandt\’s Demo Recording of \”Sorry\” & Karen Brandt\’s Demo Recording of \”You\’re Not Here To Miss You\”

Cookie Marathon ~ Week 4

After this week I’m going to cut down on the baking and only make a cookie recipe every two weeks. The hubby is starting to complain about the yummies every week and I am using so much butter, it’s a bit ridiculous.  Plus it doesn’t help that last week on Martha Stewart Living it was Cupcake Week and I couldn’t resist making two of her cupcake recipes in the last week.  Her Coconut Cupcakes and her White Cupcakes.  DELICIOUS!!!!!  (Sorry there aren’t any pics… they were gone in an instant!)

Today Rocky and I had a lovely day of making Martha Stewart’s Almond Horn cookies from the Martha Stewart Cookie Cookbook and reading BOOMSDAY.  Tomorrow I’m going on a guided tour with friends of the local Japanese Love Motels.  It should be interesting and I will report on what I learn right here on Planet Books.

The Almond Horns turned out pretty well on their own but would probably be better accompanied with a cup of coffee or tea.

Cookie Marathon ~ Week 3

Today the hubby took the day off in honor of our four year wedding anniversary last week.  We took advantage of a beautiful and quiet Monday and drove up north of Nago to a quaint little restaurant on a montain top overlooking the East China Sea.  It’s called “Pizza In The Sky” and it is a pain in the neck to find as well as takes an hour and a half to get to.  Thank goodness the salad and pizza were as good as I remembered!  The hubby liked the view and atmosphere as well as the food.  The dining is mostly outdoors and the view is breathtaking. 

After returning home the hubby took care of the lawn and I made my fourth cookie from “Martha Stewart’s Cookie Cookbook“.  They’re called “Cashew Caramel Cookies” and OH MY GOODNESSS….. they are awesome.  You take the cashews and put most of them in the foodprocessor and pulse till they are finely processed.  Then you take 2 Tbsp’s of conola oil and add that till you have a nut cream.  Cashew Butter.. kind of!!  These cookies were great naked and drizzled with caramel.  Check them out below.

Cookie Marathon ~ Week 2

My newest hobby is making a cookie a week from my new

Martha Stewart Cookie Cookbook.

          The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share (Martha Stewart Living Magazine)

Well today I made her Macaroons and boy are they tasty!  I love, love, love coconut and this was just the easiest recipe to whip up and bake.  Forming the cookie peaks was a messy task but so worth it in the end.  Check out these little mountains of yumminess!!!