Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's beginning to taste a lot like Christmas

Just to prove that alcoholic beverages aren't the only thing I make from Pinterest, here is a picture of the Christmas bark I made as gifts for my co-workers:

Jonathan and I have decided to fore go extraneous Christmas gifts this year. We're trying really hard to refocus on what the holiday is truly about. It's been very difficult to not buy him a present (and i did cheat and buy a few minor stocking stuffers- I'm a recovering consumer-holic. Oh well, it's good for the economy). In lieu of Christmas gifts, we are donating money to a cause near and dear to our hearts. Living Water is an organization that builds water wells in third world countries. Think the draught in Texas is bad? It's nothing compared to Ethiopia. You stop complaining about your dry skin and dead lawns when you realize that in East Africa, they are dying of dehydration. So aside from essential Christmas gifts (aka for my sweet little nephews), we committed to giving every dollar that would normally go to a Christmas gift to Living Water. Because I think that's what Jesus would do. And that's the whole point.

But still, it has been a hard adjustment and it was pretty "Grinch" of me to decline participating in Secret Santa at work this year. But I made up for it by gifting a scrumptious Christmas treat that I creatively call "Christmas Bark". Super creative, huh? It's a pretty simple to make, extremely delicious, and perfectly fattening. What you need is:

Cookie Sheet lined with wax paper

About 14 Christmas Oreos (and by the way, they make them in peppermint too. I'm just saying.)

About 1 1/2 cups of pretzel sticks

Any other red and green goodies. I used holiday m&ms and sprinkles, but you could really improvise here and use whatever you want.

1 1/2 pound of almond bark (or white chocolate. I did a batch with both and preferred the almond batch, but to each his own)

First step: crush pretzel sticks and oreos and spread evenly over wax papered cookie sheet; add candy of choice

Second step: Melt almond bark for about 1.5 minutes and then in 10 second intervals until it is completely smooth.

Third step: Pour melted goodness over cookie sheet. Immediately add some candies/sprinkles/decorative edibles to mixture while it's still melted.

Last step: Let it cool. Refrigeration speeds this process up substantially. Once it sets, you can break into pieces and set in airtight storage container.

As a side note: Notice how I use a lot of estimations in my directions? That's because baking is a science, but cooking (i.e. pouring melted chocolate over pretzels and cookies) is an art. My mom was seriously measuring out the pretzel sticks. She's a scientist. Judging by the creative genius that came up with the name "Christmas Bark", I am obviously an Artist. Take your own liberties. It's supposed to be messy and asymmetrical. Just trust me on this one: You cannot mess this up.

This treat is seriously easy and undeniably festive. Your coworkers with thank you. And then blame you for their diabetes.

Get Your TigerTators Here

Because you aren't a true fan unless you eat LSU Tiger themed snacks.
By the way, these were not bought in Baton Rouge, but instead found at the Houston Heights Kroger. I bet it drives the Bama fans crazy. Which is awesome. Especially since one of them went out of their way to harass me at Kroger for using my LSU Grocery bags. And not in a joking, friendly "tiger bait" way, but more in a, "if you beat us in the national championship game, we will poison all the oak trees on your campus" kind of way. Class Acts.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Historical Fiction

It’s coming down to the wire again. Here we are on the last day of November (seriously, where did November go?) and I’ve got 60 pages left to finish The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. If this were one of those 31 day months, it’d be no problem, but as it is, I’ve got to find about an hours’ worth of time today to meet my reading deadline.

Well hello there, lunch break!

For December it’s on to my first Michener as I tackle Hawaii. I always like to read at least one historic novel before I visit a place, and since Maui is on the agenda for January I figured I’d attempt the guru of all historic novelists.

I’m a travel junkie, but a full time job and limited funds make my actual travel ability much more infrequent than I’d like. I’m adding places to my list at a much faster rate than I am checking them off. Reading is a great way to be a fly on the wall of a place I might be unable or too intimidated to travel to.

The Historian has added several spots to my travel wish list including the French Alps, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Kostova’s vivid descriptions allow me to at least travel there in reverie.
(French Alps...sigh....)
Some other books that I have read that either enhanced my travel experience or inspired me to dream of a new locale include:
-Outlander (series) by Diana Gabaldon- I originally started the saga as a way to learn some Scottish history before our 2009 trip. It’s a great resource for learning about the history, language and culture of Scotland. As the series goes on, you get a glimpse of the influence of the Scottish on early American history and culture, especially in the Appalachia region.

-Angela’s Ashes
by Frank McCourt and A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle: Ireland.
-Molokai by Alan Brennert: Molokai, Hawaii
And this sounds really cheesy, but the Twilight series really made me want to visit Washington State and the Pacific Northwest.
There are loads more, but I’ve got some reading to get to. What about you? I’d love some pointers on new books.

ps. I tried to publish this on November 30, but the internet was down. Since I'm new to this whole blogging thing, i can't figure out how to back date it.

So Long Albert

"St. Louis Cardinals fans must feel like that dude in the second "Indiana Jones" movie who gets his heart ripped out of his chest."- David Schoenfield
You nailed it, David. That is exactly how I feel.

So long Albert Pujols. It's been nice knowing you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

San Francisco

What did you do this weekend? I walked over the Golden Gate Bridge. Without a Xanax. It was terrifying, but the views were magnificent. When Jonathan gets back from San Francisco, I’ll share more pictures of our latest honeymoon adventure.

I call all of our vacations honeymoons. I’m hoping to recreate whatever lovey-dovey look we had which encouraged people to treat us specially when we were on our original honeymoon in Peru. It doesn’t work. On our flight to Peru we were given a free cocktail. The hotel we stayed in baked us a “Honeymoom” cake.
Since then we have been to Jamaica, Scotland, Mexico, San Antonio, Ireland, and now San Francisco and not one single person has asked us if we’re on our honeymoon. And we milk it too. We make sure to hold hands in the airport, I rest my head on his shoulder when it's cocktail time on the plane, Jonathan always puts his arm around me when we’re checking into hotels, but it’s fruitless.

I guess we've lost that loving feeling. Or we aren't 23 years old anymore. Whichever.