Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Goals for 2011

I'm still working on finalizing my goals for 2011, but here's the list as it stands now.
  1. Start a business (any one of the 4 ideas I've got swimming around in my head).
  2. Be in the best shape of my life.
  3. Study for and take the GRE with satisfactory results (so... I'm thinking two to three rounds).
  4. Narrow down the list of grad schools to 5 that I'll apply to for 2012 enrollment.
  5. Complete my first 10K.
  6. Complete my first triathlon.
  7. Write in a journal daily.
  8. Have personal prayer and scripture study every day (I've become very bad at this).
Lots of these coincide with my 101 things, which I'm still working on...

Happy New Year!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Research Proposal

For my research proposal, I decided to compare and contrast The Return of the Prodigal Son as depicted by three different artists: Rembrandt, Tissot, and Chagall. I'm going to talk about their religious backgrounds briefly so there is some personal context, and then I will address their artistic style and a few formal elements--most likely color, lighting, and perspective.

Fun, right? :) You probably don't think so, but I am actually really looking forward to seeing how the paper turns out. My rough draft is due tomorrow, so I'll be spending a few hours on it tonight and polishing it up over the next few weeks. The concept of a rough draft is weird for me--I usually just sit down and write it out in one sitting or two straight from beginning to end and then have a couple of people look over it. This will be a new adventure in disciplining myself to just getting the general ideas down and getting the structure and flow together without worrying about my exact word choice and whatnot from the get-go.

These are the paintings I'll be discussing:

Tissot's


Chagall's


Rembrandt's


Ooh, they just give me chills.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Time

An incredibly old clock at the Cluny (Museum of the Middle Ages) in Paris.

There's never enough time to do all the things I want to do...

I want to start a business. (Not just any business, mind you. I've got two or three specific ideas in mind. Jennifer Johnsen, I'm blaming you. You're the one who got the wheels turning on the first idea, and it has just progessed from there.)
I want to go to culinary school.
I want to learn silversmithing.
I want to go hiking.
I want to learn Arabic.
I want to learn German.
I want to learn Italian.
I want to keep making jewelry.
I want to paint more often than I do.
I want to have perfectly organized belongings and surroundings.
I want to make healthy meals with fresh ingredients.
I want to go to the farmer's market every Saturday morning.
I want to read more non-fiction.
I want to learn how to take care of my car without having to ask my dad to do stuff for me all the time.
I want to understand politics.
I want to tell people how much I love, admire, and appreciate them more often.
I want to learn how to can food.
I want to learn how to sew.
I want to learn how to throw things away that I don't actually need.

In addition to all of the things I have to do... which I will not list for you. (Think work, school, working out, sleeping, etc; i.e., all of the boring things in life [except school, which is fascinating and awesome])

Wanting to do a million different things + having a generally impatient personality = some serious ADD.

I'm trying to learn how to put projects on the shelf that can wait, and focus my time on the things that I can do simultaneously (like developing business plans slowly as I work my way through school for the second time).

L'embarass du choix. I'm telling you. At some point it's got to stop.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm not Dead

Hi friends!
I'm not dead, I promise... just busy.

Right now these are the things that are taking priority over blogging:

  1. work
  2. school
  3. re-organizing, filtering through all of my stuff, and throwing away/donating a bunch of it. Too much stuff.
    1. Mostly I'm doing this because I moved home and right now my stuff is hijacking half of my parents' living space. But it will be good to just clear out the junk.
  4. my attempts to exercise more

So, at some point I will return. I think I'll try to post a bunch of new earring photos this weekend. I've almost finished all of the photographs (of ALL my earrings--yes I have officially finished the "wearing" stage of that project), so it's just a matter of getting them all posted.

Be back soon with some more updates, photos, and thoughts about my upcoming research papers...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

For My Next Birthday (in 6 months)...

... I'm giving myself the gift of being in the best shape of my life. 'Cause that birthday's a big-un. And because that's a far enough--but close enough--date (to motivate me to reach my goal, but give me time to see a significant change).

I registered for the Freedom Run 5K today, so I feel like that's a good place to start. A celebratory kick-off of my journey to a strong and healthy body.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Research Proposals

Since we've met a total of three times, it only seems natural that I would already have a research proposal due today for my art history class. Right? Because a week is definitely enough time for me to know which art objects in a span of 20,000 years I'd like to research.

All sarcasm aside, the real problem I face is narrowing down the things I want to research. My three possible topics were:
1. Comparing funerary masks of various cultures and the meaning/power that was attributed to them by that civilization.
2. Discovering (for myself--not all of humanity--obviously) what kind of link there is between abstraction in Mesopotamian art, and abstraction and pattern in Islamic art.
3. The iconography (meaning of the symbols) of Egyptian jewelry and cultures it was influenced by/influenced.

The second topic came to light because I asked a question last class period that my teacher didn't have a definitive answer to, so he said, "That would be a great research paper."

The third topic, though... is much more interesting to me. Hmmm, I wonder why...

So, I'm printing out #2 and #3 and taking both of them with me to class.

(Really, I'm turning in the Egyptian jewelry proposal, and keeping the Islamic art proposal as a backup in case my professor doesn't like my first submission. Wish me luck.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Double-Coconut Macaroons (not quite pina colada...)

This recipe is adapted from a recipe for basic coconut macaroons I found on Tasty Kitchen.

Double-Coconut Macaroons

14 oz bag of shredded coconut
3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 whole egg whites
1-2 tablespoons pina colada drink mix

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour a baking sheet.
Mix all ingredients but the eggs and drink mix.
Add in egg whites and drink mix at the end.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes.

I am not a fan of coconut, but I made these for a Hawaiian luau-themed potluck, and everyone really liked them. I had a couple, just to test them... and I have to say they were pretty tasty.

The intent was to create a pina colada macaroon, but the pineapple was missing. So next time I think I'll mix some finely diced pinapple into the cookie mix and see how it goes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cuban Braised Beef and Peppers

I'm just going to say this in advance: You're welcome.

My mouth is watering right now just thinking about this. You have to make it.

Cuban Braised Beef and Peppers
from Real Simple magazine, issue unknown

  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 wedges (I used 2 medium shallots)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1.5 pounds flank steak, cut crosswise into thirds

  • 1 cup long-grain qhite rice
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  1. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, oregano, cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Nestle the steak among the vegetables. Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
  2. 25 minutes before serving, cook the rice.
  3. Using two forks, shred the beef and mix it into the cooking liquid. Serve with the rice and top with avocado and cilantro.

That's it. Simple but incredibly flavorful and tender. The only change I made was to use shallots instead of onion--just because that's what I had on hand.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sophie's Chopped Salad by Bobby Flay

This recipe was featured in Shape magazine in Aptil 2008.

  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 T canola oil
  • 3 c finely chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup nicoise olived, pitted and coarsley chopped
  • 3/4 cup mix of 1/2-inch cubes reduced-fat white cheddar cheese and 1/2-inch cubes reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (3 oz total)
  • White and blue corn tortilla chips for garnish
  • Chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)

In a blender, blend the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified. Set aside.
In a large bowl add everything else except the chips and chives. Toss together.
Dress lightly with the vinaigrette and garnish with chips and chives.

In my humbe opinion, the chips shouldn't be optional. That crunch would be sad to miss out on.

Doesn't store well. Obviously. Serve it right away.

Tropical Shrimp with Ginger-mango Relish

This recipe also makes one serving of Couscous with Shrimp and Asparagus.
From Shape magazine, August 2007

Tropical Shrimp with Ginger-Mango Relish
-serves 4

  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons each salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and patted dry (I used frozen pre-cooked--I don't recommend taking that route)
  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 4 tablespoons crystallized ginger, slivered
  • zest of 1 line
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Lime wedges (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large shallow bowl, combine 2 teaspoons oil, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add shrimp and toss to combine, then spread in a single layer on a large cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until shrimp are just cooked.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine mango, red onion, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, and remaining two teaspoons oil and toss to coat.
Place 5 of the cooked shrimp in a covered container and refrigerate until you're ready to prepare them for the Couscous dish.
Divide remaining shrimp among four dinner plates and top with mango relish. Serve with lime wedges if desired.

Nutrition (5 shrimp and 1/3 c relish)
-218 calories
-7 g fat
-14 g carbs
-25 g protein
-1 g fiber
-79 mg calcium
-3 mg iron
-330 mg sodium

The shrimp and relish alone is NOT dinner in my opinion. 218 calories? I don't think so. I ate this with quinoa. Tasty and full of great nutrients, including protein.

Couscous with shrimp and asparagus
Serves 1
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 medium asparagus spears, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons couscous
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 5 cooked Tropical Shrimp, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
In a 1-quart saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add asparagus and return to a boil. Stir in couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 8 minutes. Fluff lightly with a fork.
In a medium bowl, combine parsley, lime juice, mustard, oil, and lime zest. Stir in shrimp and couscous mixture. Serve warm or chilled.

Nutrition:
302 calories
8 g fat
38 g carbs
19 g protein
5 g fiber
83 mg calcium
5 mg iron
599 mg sodium


Okay. I loved both of these. The relish is delicious. But of the two, I preferred the second. So I might just make the Tropical Shrimp and relish, and use all of the shrimp in the second recipe, then serve it with the relish on top.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Whole-wheat linguine with Cherry Tomato Sauce

Yum. I loved this, and highly recommend it--but only if you like olives. I didn't have whole-wheat linguine, so I just used whole-wheat spaghetti.

From Shape magazine, issue unknown

Whole-wheat linguine with Cherry Tomato Sauce
3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 pound whole-wheat linguine
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

In a medium mixing bowl, add tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, garlic, olives, salt, and crushed pepper. Let mixture sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Cook linguine in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain into a large colander, then transfer to a large bowl.
Toss linguine with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Place the tomato mixture in a sieve over a bowl to drain the excess liquid, then lightly toss the mixture over the pasta. Add the basil, toss again, and serve.

per serving (2 cups):
518 calories
19 g fat (4 g saturated)
74 g carbs
18 8g protein
2 g fiber
193 mg calcium
4 mg iron, 472 mg sodium

Cold Curried Chicken Salad with Cranberries

from Shape magazine November 2006

I tried this, but apparently Shape editors shop at a grocery store that is better-stocked than mine... because I had to make up a cranberry relish, and it was a complete failure. If you're more comfortable making a fruit relish than I was, and if you give this a try and like it, let me know what you did, and I'll give it another go. As it is, this isn't a recipe I'll revisit.

Cold Curried Chicken Salad with Cranberries
2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup lowfat mayonaise
3 Tbsp cranberry-orange relish (Shape says "bottled on shelf or fresh in deli section")
2 cups mixed baby greens

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except greens. Toss well, cover, and chill for 15 minutes (can be made the day before). Divide salad in half and place over each serving of greens.

per serving
388 calories
11g fat
28 g carbs
45 g protein
3 g fiber
65 mg calcium
2 mg iron
474 mg sodium

Monday, June 21, 2010

Coming Soon

So... the supper club idea died a quiet death. For a couple weeks in a row a bunch of people told me they could make it, and then canceled the day of. So I bagged that idea because it was just causing stress in my life. Instead, I've just been making two or three new recipes each week. Almost all of them have been excellent.

So, here's a selection of the recipes that I'll be posting soon:

-curried chicken salad (I might have to try this one again before I post. It was a failure. Mostly because I tried to improvise with little to know understanding of how to make a homemade orange-cranberry relish.)
-Cuban braised beef
-sweet cherry and apple salsa
-Parmesan-crusted tilapia with lemon-pepper green beans

I also bought a couple of new cookbooks that focus on making large batches of food and then freezing most of it for later use. I thought with starting back to school that kind of cooking would really work well for me. Haven't started using that method yet, but when I do, you'll be the first to know how it goes.

I forgot

that at the beginning of the semester I would have to get a new student ID card.

Ew. Should have thought to pause and re-apply some makeup.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

With Both Feet

A while ago I posted about all of the different options I was thinking about for school.

Well, I made a decision, and I start classes on Monday.

I'm currently going back to BYU as a Post-Bac/Evening student, taking prerequisites to get into the Art History and Curatorial Studies MA program. My end goal is to work in Museum Educational and Family Programming, and I would also love to teach part-time (maybe full-time eventually. We'll see.).

So that's it.

At least for now. There is the one hurdle of actually getting accepted to deal with. GRE, here I come.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Broccoli and Three-Cheese Lasagna

This is a delicious vegetarian lasagna, and I didn't miss the meat once while eating it. Quite possibly because there was so much cheese. :) Actually, I think the broccoli made an excellent substitute for ground beef.

The recipe says it serves 4, but I can't imagine eating 1/4 of this in one sitting. I cut it into 9 pieces and ate it for lunch (and some dinners) for a week. Next time I'll probably make it 6 portions, if for no other reason than I don't want to eat it 9 times in a week.

From Real Simple December 2009


Ingredients:
-1 15-oz container ricotta (1 3/4 c)
-1 lb. frozen broccoli florets-thawed, patted dry, and chopped*
-2 1/4 cups grated mozzarella (9 oz)
-1/2 c grated Parmesan (2 oz)
-Kosher salt and black pepper
-1 16-oz jar marinara sauce
-1/2 c heavy cream
-8 no-boil lasagna noodles
-2 T olive oil
-4 c mixed greens
-1 T fresh lemon juice

-Heat the oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, broccoli, 2 c of the mozzarella, 1/4 c of the parmesan, 1/2 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper. In a small bowl, combine the marinara sauce and cream.
-Spoon a thin layer of the sauce into the bottom of an 8-in square baking dish. Top with 2 noodles, a quarter of the remaining sauce, and a third of the broccoli mixture; repeat twice. Top with remaining 2 noodles and sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan.
-Cover tightly with an oiled piece of aluminum foil and bake until the noodles are tender, 35-40 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is golden brown, 10-15 minutes.
-Remove from oven. Let set while you toss the greens with 2 T olive oil, 1T lemon juice, and 1/4 t each salt and pepper..
-Enjoy.

I may or may not have stopped paying attention halfway through the assembly instructions for the lasagna and added an extra layer. So mine had the cheesy broccoli mixture on top, topped with even more cheese, but no sauce. And it was still awesome.
I want to call this no-fail lasagna.

Oh, and it's a good idea to maybe line your oven with aluminum foil for this. Or place some under the baking dish you use--mine spilled over the sides a bit.

*Really make sure to get the broccoi all drained and well-dried. Any excess water will mess with the consistency of the lasagna and make it runny and slightly gross, which may or may not traumatize you when you cut into it the first time.

Spiced Pork Chops with Red Cabbage and Raisins

This recipe is from the November 2009 Real Simple.

Ingredients:
-3 T olive oil
-4 bone-in pork rib chops, about 1-inch thick (2 lbs total)
-1 tsp ground cumin
-Kosher salt and black pepper
-1 onion, sliced
-1/2 small head red cabbage, thinly sliced (~6 cups)
-1/2 c golden raisins
-1/4 c red wine vinegar
-1/4 c chopped fresh dill

-Heat 1 T of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium hear. Season the pork with the cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, 6-8 minutes per side.
-Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 T of oil in a 2nd large skilled over menium-high heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasioinally, until softened, 3-4 minutes.
-Add the cabbage, raisins, vinegar, 1/4 c water, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Cook, covered, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 6-8 minutes; stir in the dill. Serve with the pork.


Okay, I didn't use bone-in chops. I probably should have, but I ended up loving them anyway, so who really cares?
I did not, however, love the cabbage accompaniment. Maybe with a bit of sugar thrown in for good measure to cut through that red wine vinegar, but WOW that stuff is strong. The cabbage was actually more enjoyable after a day or two, but I don't think I'll make it again. I will make the pork chops again, though.

Giada's Simple Bolognese

I bought a package of Giada's Fusilli col Buco at Target several weeks ago, and decided to try one of the recipes from the back of the package: Simple Bolognese.

So easy. So good.

Ingredients:
-1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
-1 medium onion, minced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 celery stalk, minced
-1 carrot, peeled and minced
-1 lb. ground beef chuck
-1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
-1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
-1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

In saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot; saute until onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Increase hear to high, add ground beef; cook until no longer pink, breaking up large clumps, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, parsley, basil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Stir in cheese; season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 1 quart

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On Being Normal

Have I ever shared my theory about normalcy with you, friends?

Here it is, in all of it's profound glory:

Everyone is awesome.
Everyone is average.
Everyone is awkward.

I'm convinced it's simply a matter of what situation they are placed in. There's a painfully awkward kid in all of us, there's someone who's boringly mediocre in each of us, and there is an all-out rock star in each of us.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you're ever feeling awkward or non-descript, remember that you're truly awesome. (And remember that when you're talking to someone who is showing their awkward side just a bit [or a lot], that given the right stimuli they could blow you away with how brilliant/funny/kind/etc. they are.)

Sometimes I have a hard time remembering this.

Just food for thought.

Hello, again!

Wow, I knew it had been a while since I'd posted anything here, but I didn't realize it had been six weeks.
Yikes.

I do have a couple more great recipes to post here, but it probably won't be this week.

Just checking in to say hello and that I'm still alive.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Staying Positive

Wow. It's so easy to get bogged down in the cares of life, isn't it?

These days I'm trying to really focus on a few things:

1- Why people are awesome
2- Why my life is awesome
3- Making progress--however I can make it happen

The end.

(And I think it's really time for me to change my blog name and header pic, don't you?)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Last Week I Helped an Old Man and His Wife

They were bringing a 20-year car out of winter storage and the battery had died, so he was using a mid-size SUV to tow the car with her behind the wheel.

Well, no power steering + aging muscles and joints = difficulty making the car turn sharply enough to make corners.

As I drove down the street I take to get home from work one night, their towing difficulties were causing a slight (okay, total) roadblock. There was no way they were going to make the turn through the intersection without making it a 3-point turn.

Which I assumed meant they needed some help backing the car up so they could complete the remaining 2 points of their turn. So...

1) I pull over and hopped out to see if they needed a quick push backward.
2) The husband says his wife was just having trouble getting the wheel turned enough without the power steering available.
3) I, thinking "Yay! I'm helping old people!" jump into the driver's seat and give the wheel a good crank or two until the car is straightened out in the road. I prepare to stop at any moment and hop back into my own car.
4) The old man keeps driving down the road.
5) I start to panic because--thinking I would only be needed for about 30 seconds total--I not only left my car unlocked, but running. With my purse inside.
6) I watch anxiously in the rearview mirror, just knowing that some 14-year old kid is going to come steal my car.
7) The old man stops, gets out of his car, and explains how we wants to maneuver getting the car into their carport. He is not in fact taking me to the nearest mechanic and leaving his wife to fend for herself as I feared, but is simply towing the deadmobile to their house which is only another few doors down the road.
8) I can't relax until I am back to my car and can confirm that, yes, it is exactly where I left it and yes, I am able to get back in it without calling a locksmith.

True story.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Doing Dinner Moroccan Style - 3-16-10

After a brief break in weekly dinners while I recovered from a business trip and the ensuing madness, I decided to do a Moroccan-themed dinner last week.

It went over extremely well. Yum. I will definitely be visiting these recipes again.

Hummus
from my friend Adrian
-1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinzed and drained
-1/2 c. plain fat-free yogurt
-2 T lemon juice
-3 garlic cloves, crushed (or 1 t jarred minced garlic)
-2 t olive oil
-1 T water
-1/2 t salt
-1/2 t. cumin
-1/8 t pepper

Purée in food processor until blended but still slightly chunky.

Okay... so this didn't seem to have much flavor in my opinion. I think I added too many chickpeas because I was confusing the amount of chickpeas in the hummus with the amount in the chekcen stew. So I ended up adding more liquid, and it wasn't very flavorful. Lesson: read the instructions while making the dish. Don't rely on memory.


Moroccan Chicken Stew
-8 chicken thighs, skinned
-1 T vegetable oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-2 large garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 t turmeric
-1/4 t cinnamon
-1/8 t red pepper (I used 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
-4 whole cloves (I omitted, just because I thought I had them in my pantry and didn't realize I was wrong until it was too late to go buy them)
-2 bay leaves
-4 c chicken stock
-16 oz. canned whole tomatoes, quartered, with juices
-1 medium green pepper, sliced into 1-inch pieces (I did about 1/2-inch dice)
-2 carrots, sliced (thinly!)
-1/2 t. salt
-19 oz chickpeas, drained
-4 cups cooked couscous
-1/4 cup raisins
-1/4 cup sliced almonds

1. Pour the oil into a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook about 2 minutes until onion is soft but not brown.
2. Add turmeric, cinnamon, red pepper, cloves,and bay leaves. (At this point your kitchen will smell amazing!)
3. Immediately add chicken and stock. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid boils.
4. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 25 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, chickpeas, and salt. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are tender.
6.Ladle stew over 1/2 cup cooked couscous. Sprinkle with raising and sliced almonds.

Soooooo good. One thing I would change, though, is to do something to add more flavor and color to the chicken. Maybe browning the chicken for a few minuteswith some garlic, onion, salt, and red pepper flakes before transferring it into the pot with everything else... it was cooked through, but just didn't have as much flavor as everything else.


Moroccan Lemon Cake
I don't really know what about this is Morocco-specific, but it was yummy, so I'm sure I'll make it again.

-4 eggs
-1.5 c sugar
-1/2 c vegetable oil
-2 c flour
-4 t baking powder
-1/2 t. salt
-1/2 c milk
-2 T fresh lemon juice (I would double this)
-zest from 1 or 2 lemons (definitely 2)
-1 t vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. Grease and flour a small bundt or tube pan (I used a fluted tube pan).
3. Zest and juice your 2 lemons.
4. With electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs until thick. Gradually mix in the oil.
5. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt, then milk.
6. Beat until smooth, then stir in lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.
7. Bake for 40 minutes until tests done.
8. Let cool for 7-10 minutes. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a spatula, turn onto a rack to cool. Serve.

The flavor of this cake was very subtle, so I would double the lemon juice and zest next time I made it. It was still tasty, but I want a stronger flavor.

Surprise! InStyle magazine's heavenly orzo dish

I bought the March InStyle at the beginning of the month and found the most delectable recipe on the last page of the magazine.
Who knew they had recipes in InStyle? Not me.
Regardless, I'm glad I saw it, because this dish is truly the "Truffle Heaven" they dubbed it.

Created by Chef Amanda Freitag, officially called Truffled Orzo with Asparagus.

-1 bunch standard-size asparagus (or use broccoli)
-1/5 cups orzo
-2 T extra virgin olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 T unsalted butter
-2 T grated Parmesan cheese
-1 T grated pecorino Romano
-2 T black truffle butter*
-salt to taste
-1 t cracked black pepper

*If truffle butter is unavailable, you can make your own by combining 2 T softened butter with 1/2 t of black truffle oil.

1. In a 5-quart pot, bring salted water to a boil.
2. Place washed asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute; remove with tongs and set aside. Keep water boiling.
3. Cook orzo in same pot for 7-9 minutes; drain in colander; set aside.
4. Trim the tough stem ends off asparagus and discard. Cut remaining asparagus into 1/4 inch thich slices and reserve.
5. In a medium pan, heat oil, then sauté garlic until golden brown.
6. Add asparagus to pan; add cooked orzo.
7. Continue cooking orzo over low heat and add heavy cream and [plain] butter, stirring constantly.
8. Add cheeses and stir until they melt and combine.
9. Stir in truffle butter, salt, and pepper. Serve in a bowl family-style. Top with more parmesan if desired.


The flavor of this dish is so amazing. I felt like it was subtle, but complex and fresh. So good.
I used white truffle oil because I couldn't find black truffle oil. Maybe you'll have better luck with the truffle butter. :)

Butterscotch Brownie redemption - 2-18-10

Okay, so a few weeks ago the plan was to make healthy kung pao chicken with bok choy and fried rice.

As it turns out, the kung pao was gross (in my opinion--my friends liked it well enough), the bok choy was okay, and I bought fried rice because I didn't have time to make it. Meh.

But that night I also discovered the wonder of Butterscotch Brownies. Which redeemed the whole evening for me.

Yum.

Butterscotch Brownies
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

-8 T (1 stick) butter, plus extra for baking pan
-1 cup brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 t vanilla extract or 1/2 t almond extract
-pinch of salt
-1 cup all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350* F.
2. Grease 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.
3. Melt butter over low heat. Transfer to bowl and use electric mixer or whisk to beat in the sugar until very smooth.
4. Beat in egg and vanilla; stir down the sides occasionally.
5. Add salt and gently stir in flour (no electric mixer this time).
6. Pour into greased pan (will be very thick, you'll have to spread it).
7. Bake until just set in the center, about 20-25 minutes.
8. Cool on rack before cutting. Keeps for 24 hours.

You should make these right now. If you can't make them now, make them soon.

You're welcome.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coming soon...

-The Incredible Orzo and Asparagus Wonder with Truffle Butter (that's how I like to refer to this lovely side dish, anyways... yep, it was that good.)

-Fail: "Healthy" Kung Pao Chicken with Bok Choy and Fried Rice (I'm okay with public failure. I know you'll still be my friends.)

-The only redeemable part of the aforementioned Fail: Butterscotch Brownies. (Love. Them.)

-A report on this week's menu: Moroccan chicken stew over couscous; bread and hummus; lemon cake (and possibily mint tea)

What have you been cooking lately? Got any goods to share?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Change

I like change. I crave it. It's refreshing and renewing to me.

My college roommates used to joke about me being pregnant all the time because I always wanted to move our furniture around in different configurations. When I owned a house, the artwork on the walls changed about every 6 months.

So. Why bring this up? Well, I just realized today that it is an important factor to consider as I'm weighing different career options.

My most recent career decision is Museum Studies. And I happen to think it's a perfect fit for me.

For the past 6 months or more, I've been trying to decide between art, education, and public administration.

Museum Studies combines them all. I decided I would really love to be the education director of a museum--coordinating workshops, seminars, school tours, creating curriculum based on permanent and temporary exhibits.

Think about it: I would be involved in education (check), surrounded by art and constantly thinking about/researching/talking about art (check), and the content I develop would change regularly, as would the people to whom the information is presented (check). Art, education, public administration, and change.

It's been a long time coming... but I feel really good about it!

So, to help get some experience under my belt, I am volunteering as a docent at both the Springville Museum of Art and the BYU Museum of Art. I'm really excited.

(I just hope it doesn't mean another 4 years of undergrad studies before I can do a Museum Studies Certification.)

Keep your fingers crossed for me! ('Cause I'm going to do it all while working full time.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seen in My Backyard...

...a few days ago.


Nice, right? There were two additional deer to the right a little more, but they were hidden from the camera by a little tree in the backyard.

They just sat there and chilled for an hour or so.

Pasta with Brie, Mushrooms, and Arugula 2-11-10

Last Thursday's menu was awesome. Awesome, I tell you!
Ahem.

Without further ado, I will provide you with the picture I took two days later (after reheating my plated food twice because I set it up and then realized that my camera battery was dead... so ignore the sweating mushrooms, please).



I will not be writing up the recipes in full. Because they're already written up in full. Elsewhere. And I can't condone duplication. (Forget the fact that I did last week. And the week before.) Especially when I dislike what Blogger does when I try to use bullet points.

Pasta with Brie, mushrooms, and arugula
from Real Simple November 2009
Love it. Absolutely will make it again. (Even though I'm technically allergic to mushrooms.)

Artichoke and Tomato Bruschetta
from Shape magazine
Ambrosia. This stuff is truly incredible. I made it again this weekend because I liked it so much. Mmmmmm... (oh, and I used canned artichokes. Couldn't find any frozen arti hearts at Target.) (And I'm pretty sure I put in more garlic than was called for. But really, that can only be a good thing.)

Apple Crisp
from the Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen food forum-thingy
I found this recipe to have great flavor, but there wasn't nearly enough topping, so I ended up having to make a second batch of topping. And the topping as given in the recipe turned out too moist, so I just made up a new version on the second go-round. Added a bit more flour and some old-fashioned oats. I really like what the cranberries and lemon do for the flavor, though. Gives it a bit more tartness than a regular crisp.

So, there you have it. All-around a delicious meal. Even if I did char the crostini when I broiled them.

This week I was feeling a little Asian persuasion... so on Thursday we're having a healthier version of Kung Pao chicken with fried rice and a side of bok choy, and then we're having butterscotch brownies for dessert (I know... SO super Asian. Xie xie.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Get ready... you'll love it.

This week's menu changed a little because I didn't have the guts to do soufflé, and no one had fresh cranberries for a pear and cranberry crisp.

So, we had rigatoni with brie, mushrooms, and arugula; tomato and artichoke bruschetta; and apple crisp.

It was sooooo good. Seriously. I could eat that bruschetta until I explode.

I don't think I'll get the pics and recipes up today, so stop back tomorrow for the full report.

Friday, February 5, 2010

SOLD! (or, 17/101)

So, last night I sold my first paining ever! It was #17 in my list of goals to accomplish before fall 2011, and now I can check it off the list!
Jessica saw this painting hanging around in my room, and offered to buy it outright. She picked it up on Thursday when she came for dinner.



Thanks, Jessica!

Mahi-Mahi with Citrus Tomatoes - 2/4/10

Once again, I forgot to take pictures. So I'm relying on the websites of the magaines from which I tore the recipes. (And I have assigned two regular Supp-ers to remind me to take a picture of my own plate each week.)

Halibut with Citrusy Tomatoes and Capers
from Real Simple, November 2009
-1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, sliced
-1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
-1/2 cup fresh orange juice
-1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped*
-2 tablespoons capers
-salt and pepper
-4 6-oz pieces boneless skinless halibut fillet, or some other firm-fleshed white fish


1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, orange juice, parsley, capers**, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer until some of the tomatoes begin to break down, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skiller over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with the tomatoes.

*The recipe doesn't call for chopping the parsley. After making this dish, I will definitely chop it in the future. Otherwise the parsley sort of clumps together, and taking a big bite of parsley just isn't tasty to me.
**If you don't like capers, I think the tomato... relish?... would be great without it. I go back and forth with capers, but in this case, the tomatoes were slightly too caper-y for my taste, so I would reduce the number of capers by 1/3 to 1/2, or rinse them and add them in the last minute of simmering so their flavor stays localized more instead of infusing the whole mixture with caperiness.


Grilled Vegetables with Basalmic Dressing
from Shape magazine, issue unknown

-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
-2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
-2 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
-12 ounces asparagus, trimmed
-1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
-1 1/2 cups lightly packed arugula, chopped*
-1 cup mixed baby greens*
-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped*

1. In a medium bowl, whisk first 4 ingredients to make the dressing. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat barbecue or indoor grill to medium high. Brush onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus with 1/2 of the balsamic dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until just cooked through, turning occasionally (8 minutes for onion, zucchini, and yellow squash; 5 minutes for asparagus). Allow to cool slightly, then cut vegetables into bite-size pieces and place in large serving bowl.
3. Add roasted bell pepper, arugula, and greens; toss with enough remaining dressing to coat. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley.*

*didn't do it.

So... I really strayed from the recipe on here, because the original was more of a salad-y presentation. I just wanted the veggies. So basically we just brushed them with the dressing, grilled them, and served them as-is. Yum-o. We forgot to toss them with additional dressing, which would have been even better.


Easy ice cream cake
From Real Simple, issue unknown

-1 cup heavy cream
-2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
-6 ice cream sandwiches (3.5-4 oz. each)
-2 1.5 oz. candy bars or ½ cup chocolate chips, chopped


1. Line and 8.5x4.5-inch loaf pan with a piece of wax paper*, allowing it to hang over on both long sides.
2. In a large bowl, beat the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.
3. In the bottom of the pan, arrange 3 of the sandwiches in a single layer, cutting them to fit as necessary. Spread with half the whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches and whipped cream.
4. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the chopped candy bar. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least one hour and up to one week.
5. Holding both sides of the paper overhang, lift the cake out of the pan and transfer to a platter. Discard the paper, slice the cake, and serve.

*I would recommend plastic wrap instead of wax paper. The wax paper tore to bits as I was trying to pull it off from around the corners of the cake. Yuck.


Overall, I don’t think I will make this cake again. Maybe for little kids, but the texture of it was just too dry and crumbly for me. It was easy, though, so that’s definitely a bonus.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fugliness

So, my best friend has a supremely unflattering picture of me as her profile picture on Facebook. (Well, she's in it, too. But still. SHE looks cute.)

Yep.

That's all.

If it's there come Monday, we might not be friends anymore.

(Kidding.)


(Kind of.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Broiled Chicken with Provencal Herbs - 1/28/10

For the inaugural meeting of the Thursday night supper club, I decided to go with something that sounded simple.

  • Green salad (no iceberg allowed, y'all)
  • Broiled chicken with provencal herbs
  • Quinoa salad with slivered almonds and dried apricots
  • Creme Brulee
Well, sounding simple and being simple in practice are two completely separate issues. The process of cooking any portion of this meal wasn't complicated at all. However, adding them all together was a little... chaotic. Add in the fact that I had never made either the main dish or the main side dish--and that I was cooking (by myself) for anywhere from 9-12 people, and you won't be surpised to hear that I was on the verge of ordering pizza when help (i.e., the guests who are also great friends) arrived and rescued me from myself. (And the smoke alarm, which just wouldn't STOP.)

Ahem. So. Despite the chaos and all of my nerves, it went incredibly well. The food was delicious, the company was great, and...

I completely forgot to take pictures.

So here's my several-days-later shot of the chicken and quinoa salad. Try to ignore the grody-ness of the chicken skin. It was really plump, crispy, and delicious on Thursday. (And that salad is to die for. Everyone loves it. You will, too--unless you detest cayenne pepper.)




Here are the recipes:

Grilled or Broiled Chicken with Provençal Flavors*
from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (10th anniv. ed.)
~serves 4~


  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh lavender leaves (optional)**

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 8 bay leaves

  • 1 whole chicken, 3-4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of parts

  • lemon wedges

  1. Heat the broiler to moderate heat and put the rack about 6 inches from the heat.

  2. Combine herbs in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add enough olive oil to make a paste. Loosen the skin of the chicken and slide a bay leaf between the skin and the meat of each piece, then insert a portion of the herb paste. Re-form the skin over the flesh and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

  3. To broil, start with the skin side down, making sure the pieces do not burn, until the chicken is nearly done, about 15 minutes.*** Then turn and cook until done, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

  4. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with the lemon wedges. (The bay leaf is not edible.)
*Okay, so I took some liberty with the name. I like mine better.
** According to Mr. Bittman. Not optional according to me. The lavender gives an amazing flavor. (But I have to admit I used dried herbs and just cut the measurements to 1/3.)
*** Do NOT brush with additional olive oil before broiling. This will cause a falling-out with your smoke alarm.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Apricot
also from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (10th anniv. ed.)
~serves 4~

  • 3-4 cups cooked quinoa, cooled

  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vinaigrette made with white wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  •  2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne (start with 1/2 tsp. and add more if you want more heat) (or omit it altogether)

  • salt

  • freshly ground pepper

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  1. Put the quinoa, apricots, almonds, and scallion in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and sprinkle on the spices, salt, and pepper. Use two big forks to combine, fluffing the quinoa and tossing gently to separate the grains.

  2. Stir in the cilantro, taste, and adjust the seasoning or add a little more dressing. Serve at room temperature (can be refrigerated for up to one day).
Classic Vanille Crème Brulée
from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 8 to 12 tsp sugar
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300*F. Have a medium saucepan of boiling water ready. Line a shallow baking pan with a small kitchen towel.
  2. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise down the middle and scrape the seeds into a 2-quart saucepan. Add the cream and the split vanilla bean, stir to mix, and set the pan over medium heat. Warm the cream until bubbles form around the edge and steam begins to rise from the surface. (Watch for a skin to form, because it will trap the steam and you'll think it's not ready.) Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, about 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt and the 1/4 cup sugar untili the mixture is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk, about 5 minutes*. Gradually add the cream mixture, whisking until blended. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Divide the mixture among four 4-oz. ramekins** and place the ramekins in the prepared baking pan. Add boiling waterto fill halfway up the side of the ramekinis. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake until the custards are just set around the edges, 30-35 minutes.
  4. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days***.
  5. To serve, sprinkle 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar over each custard. Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar by holding the ramekin in your hand and carefully waving the flame over the sugar until melted and golden. (It also helps to rotate the ramekin so the melted sugar doesn't cover up non-melted sugar and make a hidden, gritty layer under the caramelized sugar.)
  6. Serve immediately. (Don't caramelize sugar on custards that won't be eaten right away.)
*Or about 1.5 minutes with a blender. Hello.
**A funnel is extremely useful for this task. Buy one.
***Or like an hour.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thursday Night Supper Club--The details and this week's menu

Alright, people. Thursday Night Supper Club is officially on!

This Thursday's menu is:

-Broiled Chicken Provençale
-Quinoa Salad with Dried Apricots
-Lemon Crème Brulée or Chocolate Tuiles with Vanilla Custard

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you'll get the update there, too. But if not, here are the details:

-If you know me and trust me in the kitchen, you're invited. :) Bring a friend (or spouse, o' course) if you feel so inclined.
-I'll make dinner every Thursday and you bring a few bucks to help pay for ingredients and whatnot.
-The cost will NEVER be more than $8-$10 per person, and I'm hoping to keep it more to the $4-$7 range.
-I'm NOT going to make money off of you--promise. The cost will be evenly divided among everyone who comes to dinner, including me.
-This isn't some weird self-promotional thing and I'm not trying to sell something to you.
-You don't have to participate every week (obviously).

I'll send out the menu every week by Monday, you let me know if you're coming by Tuesday night, and I'll have a seat and a plate for you on Thursday night. :)

Let me know if you want to join in!

If you're not interested this week, let me know if the general idea appeals, and I'll put you on my list of people to include in my weekly menu email.

Woo hoo!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bookbinding

Today I found a bookbinding tutorial online. I can't wait to try it out to make my own unlined journal.

I'll report back soon on how it went. Wish me luck. :)

10/101 - Read one (auto)biography every six months

I have read the following autobiographies to fulfill item #10 of my 101 things.

1) Actually, the first one I don't even remember. I don't remember the title, and I don't remember who it was about. But it was funny.

2) Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman.

3) Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Russell Freedman.

I actually read the Lincoln biography last night. It's a children's book. Yep, that's how I roll. I'm really loving the Eleanor Roosevelt book by Freedman (also a children's book), so I might end up reading another biography or autobiography on her life. That's actually why I decided to read the Freedman books. They were short, so if I found someone I was particularly interested in through reading his books, I could go find some more in-depth materials.

That's it for now! All in all I will be reading 6 (auto)biographies before the end of the challenge.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Test Kitchen/Dinner Group

To help me resolve my little recipe problem, I decided to start a weekly dinner group/test kitchen combo.

Basically, I'm going to make at least one recipe from my (ahem) archives each Thursday and invite all of my Orem/Provo peeps for dinner every week.

I was thinking I would send out a weekly email with the plan for the main dish, a side-dish sign-up list with a couple of slots, and then let everyone else know to bring $3-$8 to help pay for ingredients, depending on how exotique the ingredients are. (So... if it's lobster, everyone brings $8-ish. If it's tortilla soup everyone brings $3.)

What do you think? Is it tacky to ask people to bring money? Should I just have them bring ingredients? If it were you, what would you prefer?

Would you participate in something like this if someone else was hosting?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sibling Inspiration: Amy

Amy has started running.

I used to love running, but not so much anymore.

I want to love running again. Come to find out I have not only diabetes in my family history, but a history of heart attacks at an early age.

For months I have had this couch-to-5K running plan saved in my external hard drive and eventually posted on my wall.

So today I put each week's workouts on a 4x6 index card so I can easily prop up an outline of my workout on the treadmill at the gym.

It's a nine-week program, and I'll be running indoors only until the spring. (I don't do inversions.)

The idea is to not only lose weight, but to increase my health altogether and have an established running habit before I (potentially) move away to graduate school.

Wish me luck. Join me if you'd like. It will do your heart good. (Mine, too, since I'll know I'm not doing this alone.)


Another goal I've set for myself that's inspired by Ames: Journal keeping. I'm only good at it when it's require for getting good grades in school. Lame. Amy is great at it. So, I'm going to buy myself a new little journal that I can carry with me wherever I go and see what happens.

Get Cooking!

I got "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman. I think she was the one who said she learned to cook by just cooking her way through his book, and it inspired me.

Not only am I going to learn how to cook "everything," but I am also going to become a creative cook and ingredient-combining guru with the Ingredient Bible, which I bought for myself because it's my birthday.

So, if you would like to be a guinea pig, let me know and I'll invite you over for dinner, lunch, breakfast, or brunch.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

L'embarras du choix

At a ward activity with my church in Paris, there was a potluck with some of the most delicious-looking foods I've ever seen.

As I stood before the buffet-style setup trying to decide where to start, a member of the bishopric came up beside me with the same "Where do I start?" look of hesitation on his face.

"Ahh..." he says, "L'embarras du choix." Roughly translated, that conveys the idea of "overwhelmed by my options" or "spoilt for choice."

And that's the perfect description of my life right now. Really, where do I start?

I've been thinking a lot about graduate school, but for the life of me I can't settle on one program over another. It's kind of distressing, mostly because the deadlines are all coming up soon, and I'll need to get cracking on the GRE for some of the applications.

I feel pulled in several different directions. These are the programs I'm thinking of applying to:

-French studies
-French Teaching
-Language Acquisition
-TESOL
-MPA
-Literacy Education

If I did either of the last two, I would want to do both and end up working for a non-profit with a focus on literacy education (either K-12 or adult ed). But I also feel like I should work in that field for at least a year or two to determine whether that's something I would want to do as a full-time career.

I think with French Studies or French Teaching it's almost a no-brainer that I at least apply, but the catch with that is I don't think I would want to teach secondary, so I would have to also do a doctorate. Yowza. I'm 28. You do the math.

They're all sort of related, having to do with literacy, teaching, and language... but they're all different enough that they don't really overlap. Except maybe Language Acquisition and TESOL. Those probably have some significant overlap in the theories I would study.

So, I'm not gonna lie... I think I would love them all. I'm not really making salary a part of the decision, because choosing a career based on how much I would make is a recipe for disaster (based on previous experience).

That's all. Just needed to get it off my chest.