Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Baking bread!

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you my biggest accomplishment to date: I made bread from scratch! Baking bread has been on my bucket list for a few years now and I never just buckled down and tried it. I'm so glad I did!

Truth be told I used the recipe and method from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It was so simple! The only needed ingredients were yeast, water and salt. The recipe makes three loaves and you can store the dough in the fridge for up to two weeks, so you can have fresh bread whenever you want. Next up: Experimenting with more recipes in the book, as well as the more difficult ones in The Breadbaker's Apprentice.

You can listen to Peter Reinhart's TED talk on the art of baking bread here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Revelry Review: Secret Daughter

South Asian Author Challenge, Book 2/5: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

This novel tells the story Kavita, a woman from a small village in rural India who is forced by her husband to surrender her newborn daughter to an orphanage. In their culture, sons are prized and daughters are seen as simply another mouth to feed and dowry to pay. At the same time, Somer and Kris, a childless couple in California, are seeking a way to finally become a family. They decide to look at adopting and go to an orphanage in India that Kris' parents recommend. These two stories become weaved together in a novel that spans approximately 25 years.

I loved this book. It's a touching and beautiful portrayal of what it means to be family. It deals with ideas of love, loss, roots, culture clashes and a sense of belonging to a place. The characters were all well-developed and I identified in some way with every single one of them. I loved that a novel that begins with a story about how little girls are seen as worthless morphs into a novel about what it means to be a woman and all of the roles that woman may take on over a lifetime regardless of where they are in the world.

You can also read this op/ed by the author on the 100 Million Lost Girls of India.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Delicious Dishes.

Last Friday night I made Chef Chloe Coscarelli's panang curry with tofu. It required a lot of chopping but it was so worth it! I can't recommend this recipe enough. I added red and yellow bell peppers and green beans to her recipe. I also pan fried the tofu before adding it in. It was like dining at a Thai restaurant without having to leave the house!

Monday, July 12, 2010


We had such a fantastic weekend! One of my friends from college came to visit from Texas. It was full of laughs, memory making and new adventures. I love the friends that you can see after much time has passed and it feels like you just saw them yesterday. In the very best way possible, I felt like a tourist in my own city this weekend. I need to get out and explore more often!

We started with a visit to the new Nationals baseball stadium to see them take on the Giants.

We got to see Strasburg pitch and purchased tickets for when the Nationals play the Phillies in a few weeks (I can't wait--the Phillies are my team!!)

On Saturday we headed to the Tim McGraw concert!

You can see why this weekend was affectionately dubbed "Big Beer Weekend 2010".

Jesse preferred a giant plastic guitar that was half margarita and half strawberry daiquiri.

On Sunday we went over to the National Harbor for lunch at Rosa Mexicano and some wandering.

This is where they moved The Awakening sculpture.

Much to my very excited surprise, they opened an entire store dedicated to peeps here! It's a shrine to the ooey-gooey sugar-coated marshmallow goodness.

Love me some peeps!

When we got home, Jesse and I watched my beloved Spanish team beat the Netherlands in the World Cup Finals (Viva la Furia Roja!), made some dinner and watched Burma VJ. So many good times were had this weekend! Hope you enjoyed your weekend too!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Money Talk Course

On Wednesday night, I started a course called "Money Talk: A Financial Guide for Women" that is being offered by my county. For $20 (plus $5 extra to bring your significant other), you get five two-hour weekly sessions on all things finances taught by a financial counselor, as well as one session taught by a accountant/attorney. They even included handouts and the book in the cost of the course. The topics of the sessions will be: financial basics, investing basics, investing for retirement, insurance basics and planning for future life events. As a bonus, it's held at the local library, so I can check out a ton of books on the nights I am there and stop buying them!

Since Jesse and I are both at the beginning of our professional lives and just moved in together, I thought it would be a great idea for us to both attend. We can use it as a way to get ourselves financially together individually, but also set goals together and talk through money stuff. I've read a lot of books on finances, including several by Suze Orman, On My Own Two Feet and Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money With Your Honey by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, and a few others. However, the benefit of having a live teacher to ask questions, as well as a roomful of people interacting and telling anecdotes, is above and beyond anything I have gotten out of those books.

In the first class we started with looking at how we view money at the moment. She had us fill out a "Money Coat of Arms" with four sections plus a middle section for a money motto. It was admittedly a little cheesy but the content got me thinking a lot:

One thing I do well with money: Pay bills on time and always more than the minimum

One thing I don't do well with money: Budget! Save! (Okay, that's two.)

One way that I enjoy spending money: On hobbies, like yoga, reading, crochet and cooking

One way that I have a hard time spending money: On responsible adult items I hate to have to fork out cash for because it makes me resentful, like dental procedures and eye glasses.

My money motto: I had a hard time with this one. Currently, or at least the last few years, it seems like it was "Spend like you're dying". Now it's more like "Be responsible and cautious but don't forget to live."

Some members of the class shared their responses. I was surprised to hear so many women say that they have a hard time spending money on themselves. That is SO NOT my problem! We also talked about creating a budget (she calls it a "spending plan" since the b-word turns so many people off!), setting SMART short-term (1-3 years), intermediate term (3-10 years) and long-term (10+ years) financial goals, credit card basics, ways to increase your cash flow and decrease expenses, organizing your financial paperwork and more.

This course fits in nicely with my long-lost but about to be revived "Sweat and Save" plan. The only thing I did for that in 2010 on the save part was to pay off my credit cards (they have since seen a little damage but nothing that can't be paid off again quickly). Hopefully this interests at least a few of you. I plan to blog about the remaining four sessions as well. If you live in the Arlington, VA area, I highly recommend you check this course out! Contact me for more information.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Revelry Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

On the train ride back from New Jersey this past weekend, I started and finished The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. I've seen this novel reviewed everywhere--magazines, blogs, newspapers, etc--so I was anxious to read it.

The story revolves around the life of Rose, who has an unusual skill: she can taste emotions in her food. This talent first develops when she is nine years old and is eating her mother's lemon cake, which she says tastes like absence and hunger. At first Rose tries to get rid of this ability by avoiding eating anything that is not pre-packaged and made by a machine. The story follows about 10 years of Rose's life and as she grows up, she learns to use the talent to her advantage. Along the way the reader learns about Rose's family through her peculiar skill.

Steeped in magical realism, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake lets the reader into the ins and outs of a family through food. A sense of loneliness and disconnect seems to pervade Bender's writing. While I wasn't completely blown away by this one, I continue to think about the book's lonely, quiet moments long after reading the last page.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Jersey

I spent the long 4th of July weekend in NJ with my family, friends and Jesse. For the first few days I couldn't stop checking out the sunsets in my Mom's backyard. City living can make you forget how beautiful nature can be.

My Mom and I did a little cooking, a little eating, a little wine drinking and a lot of catching up. I took this picture after saying, "Hey, Mom...pose for my blog!" and she responded, "How do I get to a blog?" Ha. Also? Please ignore the fact that she is already in her pajamas and has crazy lady hair.

This is the Ocean City beach. So, so pretty but so, so full of tourists. I miss this place a lot when I am not there.

Hanging out on the boardwalk for a bit. We spent our July 4th seeing two movies at the only drive-in movie theater left in NJ! I had never been to one but it was SO much fun! Hope you all had a great holiday too!