Monday, October 31, 2011

Have A "Boo-tiful" Halloween!

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I've carved a Halloween pumpkin every year that I can remember and I will probably continue the tradition for my entire life. I like pumpkins to begin with -- their interesting shapes, their bright orange faces, their goopy innards. And there's just something about transforming a vegetable into a glowing work of art that appeals to me.

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Jarrod always likes to gets forced to carve a pumpkin with me every year, and Conan also gets his own dog-themed pumpkin.

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Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Julia Child Birthday Cake

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I celebrated my 26th birthday on Thursday by baking myself a cake fit for a queen, Julia Child's Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba) cake. This thin little cake is flavored with almonds and rum, and the frosting is rich and thick and buttery.

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I had expected the cake to be fudgey and dark-chocolatey and I was surprised to find it light and airy. It was yummy, but it was kind of a lot of work and, honestly, I was hoping for that rich, thick chocolate cake, so I'm not sure I'll make it again. Still, I'm glad I tried it and after reading Julia's autobiography I'm excited to try more of her recipes. Next up is the famous bouef bourguignon!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

"Go Lindsay, it's your birthday, we gon' party like it's your birthday!" Oh, wait. It really is my birthday! While I try not to be one of those people who flaunts her birthday around, I figure I'd take advantage of "my" day to share a few things about myself. When I went home to Colorado in July, my dad was midway through a project to scan all our old family photos onto the computer and I had a blast looking through them. These are a few of my favorites:

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I almost seamlessly went from being a military daughter to being a military girlfriend, then wife. I met Jarrod in college, when he was going to the U.S. Air Force Academy, and I always say he got lucky with me since I was already accustomed to the military lifestyle. Things have not been quite so easy for us lately, as we've been dealing with what I refer to as "the deployment rollercoaster," but even then I'm glad to be a military spouse. How many other jobs allow you to live all around the country (and globe) for free?

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The instant I came across this picture, I thought of baby "Carlos" from "The Hangover," one of my favorite movies. Other movies I could watch over and over again (a rare thing for me!) are "Shakespeare In Love," "Office Space" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." I also like all the "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" movies.

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This is me, about age 3, staring at the garbage truck. I loved watching the weekly trash pick-up. Very oddly, my brother (who's 8 years younger than I am and was born several years after I got over my trash-day excitement) was also obsessed with garbage trucks. For the longest time, he had his heart set on being a garbageman and, when he was a little older, would even go help the trash guys empty the garbage cans on our cul-de-sac. Must be genetic.

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Ah, curls. It's taken me 26 years, but I think I've finally made some semblance of peace with my hair.

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I can tell by the straw that I'm drinking something from McDonald's. As a kid, I adored cheeseburger Happy Meals with an "orange drink." When I was in early high school, I stopped eating ground beef (and pretty much all other meat -- sorry Mom) and just this year got back in touch with my carnivorous side. Jarrod and I don't eat fast food all that often, but a couple months ago I had my first McDonald's cheeseburger in over 10 years!

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I loved pumpkins then and I love them now. In fact, I love pretty much all holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July are my favorites.

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This picture of little me with poor Sally Rabbit just cracks me up. According to photo evidence, I toted the poor bunny around like she was a stuffed animal!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

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 Aloha, Wednesday friends! As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy this week for What I Wore Wednesday. One of the things I like about this whole project is that it helps me notice my fashion quirks. I realized recently that I skip wearing a lot of my nicer clothes because I want to "save" them for certain occasions, like meeting up with friends for dinner or going to a special event.  But why does that mean I shouldn't also wear my cutest tops grocery shopping or walking the dog? I'm going to try to be better about this in the coming weeks. For now, here's what I wore:

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Saturday
(Octoberfest dinner at Gordon Biersch and a Celtic music show -- a multicultural night!)
Top: Calvin Klein, Pearl Harbor NEX
Skinny jeans (my first pair ever!): 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Boots: Payless
Necklace (my birthday present to myself): The Vintage Pearl
Bangle: Hickam AFB craft fair (the same place I'm going to have a booth to sell my knitting in a couple weeks -- eek!)

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This is the back of the necklace. It was customizable up to six letters; I had trouble deciding what to pick, but finally went with "enjoy" to remind me to enjoy the moment.

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The quest for knee-high brown boots is finally over! Yes, they're a bit cheap-looking but they were cheap (on sale!) and they're really comfy.

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Sunday (Football breakfast buffet with friends... because the NFL games start while I'm still fast asleep in Hawaii. We got to see Tim Tebow lead the Broncos to an amazing come-from-way-behind win!)
Top and hat: gifts
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Nordstrom
Flip-flops: Target

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Tuesday
Embellished tank top: Old Navy
White tank top: Target
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Earrings: thrifted
Necklace: The Vintage Pearl
Flip-flops: Target

pleated poppy

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies With Maple Frosting

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Maybe it's due to the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2010 when I only got to make one pumpkin dessert all fall, but this autumn I'm all about pumpkin! I had some canned pumpkin leftover from my pumpkin frenzy last week, and I wanted a quick recipe to use it up. I found these pumpkin-pecan-chocolate-chip cookies from Bakerella; the name alone got my mouth watering so I figured I'd found my winner.

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I followed Bakerella's recipe for the cookies, but by the time I was done with my 6 1/2 dozen (whew -- the recipe was only supposed to yield 4 dozen!) I didn't feel like spending time on her fancy brown butter maple frosting. So I just made a simple maple buttercream with 1 stick of butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring. The cookies are delicious -- the texture is like a slightly softer chocolate chip cookie. I used Ghirardelli bittersweet baking chips, which is a nice (but oh-so-rich) complement to the pumpkin and maple.

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The poor neighbors and Jarrod's co-workers probably think it's my single goal in life to fatten them up. Their arteries may get clogged, but at least their taste buds will be happy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stained Glass Halloween Cards

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I'm a snail mail fanatic and I send cards for pretty much every possible occasion. When I was younger I frequently made my own cards, but lately I've been doling out $2+ per card for convenience's sake. (Ugh!) I was feeling crafty this October so I decided to fashion some handmade Halloween cards.

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To achieve a stained glass look, I painted one side of a piece of wax paper in each color scheme I wanted. For my pumpkin cards, I mixed several shades of orange. I just used simple brush strokes with different brush sizes. This is a great part of the project for kids (or kids at heart) to do.

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Your finished wax paper sheets will look something like this.

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While the paint dried, I cut out words and pictures in my cardstock. This would be a fabulous place to use paper punches if you have them. Unfortunately, I don't have any Halloween ones, so I used cups to trace circles for my pumpkins and moon, and drew my ghost and "Boo!" free-hand. Then I used an X-acto knife to cut them out.

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I cut the wax paper to fit behind the cut-outs on the front of each card and glue-sticked them in. (For even more of a stained glass look, glue the wax paper so the unpainted side is showing through the design on the front. I had planned to do that but ended up liking the painted side better.) Then I cut some orange printer paper to size and glued that to entire inside of the card. To finish up, I used black paint to decorate my cards and a calligraphy marker to write clever cheesy phrases inside. Hope you all have a "purr-fect" Halloween week!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: "My Life In France"

"My Life In France" by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
Originally published in 2006
My rating: 5 out of 5
Image source

I absolutely adored every page of Julia Child's memoir, "My Life In France." The book starts in 1948 when Julia and her husband Paul move to la belle France for his job with the USIS and focuses especially on their time in Paris, but also follows them as they move to Marseille, Germany, Norway and finally back to the U.S. We're with Julia as she discovers and cultivates her love of food, meets all kinds of interesting characters and friends, pens cookbooks, and enventually shares her passion through her PBS TV show, "The French Chef."

In the introduction, Julia writes: "This is a book about some of the things I have loved most in my life: my husband, Paul Child; la belle France; and the many pleasures of cooking and eating." These three things are exactly what the book is about, and can you imagine much better reading than a book about love, Paris and delicious food?

Julia's descriptions of scenery, shops, people and food are magical. The tone of the book is very conversational and I felt like I really got to know Julia through her words. Phrases like "cookery-bookery" (cook-book writing) and "manuscripple" (cookbook draft) appear often in the book and lend it an honest, light-hearted, personal feeling.

Rather than continue to gush about how much I enjoyed "My Life In France," I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Of course, I made many boo-boos. At first this broke my heart, but then I came to understand that learning how to fix one's mistakes, or live with them, was an important part of becoming a cook. I was beginning to feel la cusine bourgeoise in my hands, my stomach, my soul."

On relaxing at their vacation house in Provence, La Pitchoune: "It was the cool, early-morning layers of fog in the valleys; Esterel's volcanic mountains jutting up out of the glittering sea; the warming Provencal sun and bright-blue sky; the odor of earth and cow dung and burning grapevine prunings; the colorful violets and irises and mimosas; the olives blackening; the sound of little owls talking back and forth; the sea-bottom taste of Belon oysters; the noisy fun of the marketplace; the deeply quiet, sparkling nights with a crescent moon hanging overhead like a lamp. What a place! The very opposite of a hornet's sting indeed."

"...our viewers would learn far more if we let things happen as they tend to do in real life -- with the chocolate mousse refusing to unstick from it's mold, or the apple charlotte collapsing. One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed."

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook -- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!"  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

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Aloha, Wednesday friends! I had a wonderful week full of pumpkins and knitting, and I did fairly well with my outfits. They're still on the boring side, but I did manage to forego jeans several days, and one of those was spent at the dirty pumpkin patch (lots of fun pictures here). I'm going to continue to try outfits outside of my comfort zone next week. Wish me luck! As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday.

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Wednesday (doggie playdate)
Top: Old Navy
Shorts: American Eagle
Earrings: A new gift from a friend! They're Native American-made of turquoise and pipe rock.

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Thursday (shopping)
Top: Old Navy
Skirt: Old Navy
Belt: Forever 21
Earrings: Target
This outfit might not seem like much, but it's majorly out of my comfort zone and I felt really awkward in it. I've never worn one of the skinny belts around my waist before!

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Friday (get-together at the Officer's Club)
Top: Style & Co., Pearl Harbor NEX
Jeans: (new!) 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Earrings: Kohl's

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Saturday (pumpkin picking)
Tank tops: Target
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Nordstrom
Necklace: The Pleated Poppy
Flip-flops: Target

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Monday (errands)
Top: Target
Shorts: American Eagle
Earrings: Bealls Florida
Bracelet: Aloha Stadium Swap Meet

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Tuesday (another doggie playdate)
Top: Old Navy
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Earrings: Kohl's
Necklace: The Vintage Pearl

pleated poppy

Monday, October 17, 2011

I've Got A Fever, And The Only Prescription Is More Pumpkin

I love pumpkins, and my weekend was all about the magical orange symbols of October!

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We went to the pumpkin patch at Aloun Farms in central Oahu on Saturday. I never imagined the most authentic, pick-your-pumpkin-from-the-vine patch with acres upon acres of pumpkins that I'd go to would be in Hawaii, but sure enough Aloun Farms is a pumpkin wonderland!

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Giant pumpkins!

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White pumpkins!

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Monsters! Jarrod's and my pumpkins both weigh in at close to 30 pounds! Conan's is much more normal-sized at 9 pounds.

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I used the white pumpkins and gourds we bought at the pumpkin patch to make a Halloween centerpiece.

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For a get-together Saturday night, I made this amazing pumpkin dip, which I served with gingersnaps.

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I also made chocolate cupcakes with orange frosting and pretzels to resemble pumpkin stems.

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And I got a wonderful suprise in the mail -- a package from my mom containing this super-cool pumpkin with our last initial!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Inspiration: Red

My love affair with the color red began in high school. Things were great until my senior year when I got a job at Target, which I had for the next four years up until my senior year of college. After being forced to wear red shirts several times a week for years, I was sick of the color and actually donated every red shirt I owned as soon as I got a new job. But red and I have slowly been falling back in love ever since. Red is such a bold, bright, eye-catching color and so many different shades fall into the red family. I'm excited to share some of my favorite red things with you this week for the Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop.

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Most of our furnishings are neutral shades like tan, but red is my favorite accent color. Even Conan likes red!


I'm planning to buy this adorable red sign from Barn Owl Primitives for my kitchen.

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This is one of my favorite places on Oahu, Makapu'u Lighthouse. Many of Hawaii's lighthouse have red domes like this.

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Because I'm a military wife (and daughter), red makes me think patriotic thoughts.

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This is one of my favorite family pictures. It's from Fourth of July 2010.

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The Byodo-in Temple is a gorgeous Buddhist temple on the east side of Oahu. You might recognize it from "Lost."

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With my brother when I went home to Colorado for a visit this summer. We're at Red Robin --YUMMM! (Sadly, there are no Red Robins in Hawaii.)

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Red cinder cones at Haleakala Crater on Maui. Hawaiian dirt is red (and notoriously hard to get off clothes) because the volcanic ash and lava that formed the islands has a very high iron content, which has been oxidized (basically rusted) over time.

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This awesome pencil urchin is one of the neatest things we've seen snorkeling in Hawaii. I love the red color in the center.

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One of the only things that grows in the lava fields of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island are these small trees with red flowers. They're called ohia trees.

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Hawaii has an amazing variety of beautiful red flowers. It was tough, but I managed to choose just one picture to show you. (Otherwise, we'd be here all day!)

Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!
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