Friday Finds ~ February 19th, 2010

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This was my favorite meme to put together.  I like looking at the book covers and putting them all together.  It makes me want to go to the book store!  Friday Finds is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  While browsing fabulous book blogs,  Amazon.com, Washington Post.com, NPR.org, various other places on the Internet, and getting recommendations from friends, these are the books that either made it to my wish list this week or I downloaded the samples on my Kindle from Amazon.com.

   

   

Sayonara by James A. Michener
Horns by Joe Hill
Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
The March: A Novel by E.L. Doctorow
Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan
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My Addiction

I have many things that I love to do during the week.  Going on Facebook, reading, watching Food Network and HGTV, talking on the phone, playing with the dog and hanging out with Hubby and driving in Lucy (my Ford Escape) but there is one thing I love to do that has become a bit of an addiction.  I call it an addiction because it isn’t always a good thing.  We live in Northern Virginia, in a wonderful community and neighborhood.  We chose to build our house here because of those two things and are very pleased with it all for the most part.  One of the things that is in our community is Wegmans Grocery Store.  That has become my addiction! 

After living in Okinawa from May 2005 till May 2009 and having to rely on the base commissary or the alien yet cool Japanese grocery stores out in town for food and supplies, Wegmans is just heaven and it’s only two miles from home.  I get tempted to go almost daily and buy (that’s the problem, you have to buy things to get them out of the store!) fresh bread, soups, pasta sauces, anything from the Market Place (prepared meals), fruit, olives from the extensive olive bar and many other beautifully displayed items for our new kitchen.  I can’t even get into the HUGE wine section that takes up a quarter of the store!

Friends of mine in Okinawa would cry about missing stores like Target and Walmart.  Bookstores and shoe stores.  I found that shopping online from these types of stores really eased the need for shopping in person while living in Oki but I always missed nice grocery stores.  In 2006 I visited my relatives in Kirkland/Redmond Washington and one of my aunts took me to the flagship store for Whole Foods.  Well we walked in the double sliding doors and I just about cried.  Actually, my eyes did well up!  The store was gorgeous and the selection was so extensive that I got depressed thinking about the small amount of pasta sauce choices (I know I can always make my own) that was waiting for me back at the commissary in Okinawa.  The produce section seemed to glow and the prepared foods and deli departments were calling to me.  Aunt Jamie asked me to select some dishes for dinner that evening and I remember having the largest, most delicious couscous that day. 

I think Wegmans is the average checkbook holders Whole Foods really.  Their store name products are awesome and fill my pantry.  I am eating their arrabiata sauce on angel hair pasta for lunch right now and enjoying every spicy bite.  Dinner tonight will be a beef stew from Martha Stewart’s website and, oh darn, I have to (yes, MUST) go to Wegmans when I’m done eating lunch and typing this post to get some fresh chibatta bread to dredge through the stew tonight. 

What are you making for dinner tonight?

Sunday Salon ~ May 31st, 2009

Long time no see!  Sorry about that.  Hubby, Rocky and I have been back in the good ‘ole U.S. of A. for almost three weeks and have been very busy, as you can imagine.  We’ve been buying a car, getting phones, reconnecting with old friends, getting familiar with the area again and house hunting.  We found a house but have to wait for it to be built so we will be staying with my in-laws through the end of the summer till the house is ready.  It will be lovely though and so worth the wait. 

Olive Kitteridge: FictionOf course with all the distractions and things-to-do my reading and blogging have fallen to the way side.  I have missed blogging and decided that a Sunday Salon post was the best way to get back on the blogging wagon and start June the right way.  I just started reading the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Olive Kitteridge last night on my Kindle and though I’ve only read a few screens worth of it, I like it and am reminded of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

This Wednesday evening Hubby and I will be attending a reading/book signing event with George Pelecanos at a local Borders Books.  Hubby is a big fan of Pelecanos and he is resides in my hometown of Silver Spring, MD.  It should be a great evening.  We missed Michael Connelly’s event at the same Borders last Tuesday but Hubby had just started his new gig that day and going out for the evening would have been a little much. 

Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux KingI’m also excited about two new releases this week.  Dave Matthews Band will be releasing their latest studio album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King this Tuesday and I plan on driving around with the volume all the way up and listening to it from beginning to end that day.  (UPDATE: I just got our tix to see DMB at Nissan Pavilion on August 8th!!!) 

 

 

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite TreatThe second thing that I will be picking up this week is Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.  I can’t wait to be in our new gourmet kitchen so I can make cupcakes and cookies till my heart and stomach’s content. 

 

 

 

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. 

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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?

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!

Early Birthday Cookies!

Today I made some cookies for the hubby since he won’t be here for his birthday next week.  He LOVES chocolate & peanut butter so I made Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies from Martha Stewart’s Cookies Cookbook.  Oh my goodness where these easy to make and even easier to eat!  Hubby was so tired when he got home today and to see him sink his teeth into one of these huge cookies and see the smile spread across his exhausted face was all the thanks I needed. 

When I was transfering these pics to the computer I was reminded of some pics I had taken last weekend of Rocky.  I just love it when he is relaxed and resting at the foot of the bed with us.  He looks a bit annoyed with the camerawoman though.

 

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\”