Sunday, November 30, 2014

Skill Mastery: December Photo Challenge

With December fast approaching (tomorrow!) I'm getting into the holiday spirit! Nothing gets me in the mood for Christmas like snow, of course, all of our snow just melted. My backyard no longer makes me want to go frolic in the cold.

See ya, beautiful backyard.

Today is the day for Christmas decorating (excitement!) and I'm putting up the tree and lights despite that threat of cats getting into everything. My roommates and I should take bets on how long it will take them to knock over the tree, it's not an if but a when. 

Now that it's after Thanksgiving I can comfortably listen to Christmas music without feeling a mounting annoyance at the fact that retailers try to capitalize on holidays way before they should. But I digress. This Indie Christmas playlist is making up for the lack of snow to fuel my decorating spirit. Also this one.

The entire purpose of this post was to talk about the December photo-a-day challenge that I'm picking up. I mean, I take pictures all the time anyways, why not throw in a challenge for some fun, right? Below is the list and it seems like fun.

Join me if you like, we can compare photos! I'll be posting all of my pictures on Instagram as I take them and here on a weekly basis.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Events: Raclette

This party came about as a happy accident. I was talking about visiting my mom at work and all the delicious food that I was going to eat while I was there - let's be honest, I really only care about food, it's the reason I travel. I was describing Leelanau Raclette cheese to Caitlyn (because it's my favorite cheese) and Barb started talking about how much she likes Raclette. It took us a good five minutes to realize that while we were using the same word, we were talking about entirely different things. Thus, the plan to have a raclette party was born!

I know I linked it above but to clarify raclette is a cheese and a Swiss style of cooking involving (usually) a granite "grilling" surface. It reminded me of fondue in that everyone sits around the table and talks while their food is cooking. 

Barb hosted this time and provided all our delicious choices.

I baked Peasant Bread and brought the coveted raclette cheese (this is like a form of currency in my family. I had to fight off several members for the quarter wheel I got.) 

We started with some grilled onions to season the stone and then ate to our hearts content! Each person gets a little tray to put underneath to stone to melt cheese in and when the cheese it good and melty (I liked mine a little crispy around the edges) you scrape it off onto your meat and veggies as they finish cooking. Everything was so simple and delicious!

Caitlyn brought a Chocolate Mouse for dessert (so good!) and we all just relaxed and had a wonderful time. I can't wait to do this again!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Skill Mastery: Publishing

As of yesterday morning I'm officially a (self) published author. -insert fanfare-

Don't get too excited or anything, it's just a short story, but I had to design a cover and do all the formatting (not enjoyable) but it's out there and it's real and it even has an ISBN number! I had a crisis of self-worth a couple months ago, while trying to write up my author bio for an assignment, when I realized that I had nearly zero accomplishments as a writer. Nothing published in any form and very few finished projects that I was actually proud of enough to think about publishing. Leave it to school to make me have to get over that.

So here it is, in all its tiny glory.

(Click on the cover to get to the site)

It's free to read, so feel free to download it, and if you do I'd love to hear what you think either on Smashwords or you can leave a comment here.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Events: Parties

My coworkers and I (I work at Starbucks btw) love food. And parties. So we've had a lot of food-related get-togethers over the past few months. They usually turn out beautifully, even if we plan them last minute. So without further ado, here are our parties!

"Pretentious" Tea Party:
We had a "pretentious" tea party to kick off our party list. Each attendee picked out a tea to pair their food item with. Here's the delicious spread:

Tia made Black Tea Brined Chicken (easily my new favorite chicken) and a Cranberry Feta Salad, Caitlin made Vanilla Orange Biscotti, Ariel made Coconut Macaroons, Caitlyn made Fresh Fruit Tarts, Pickle Wraps, Lemon Bars, Watermelon Pickles...there was so much good food! I provided all the teas and place settings. We even made sure to all dress up and wear fancy hats, that seemed like a must for a pretentious tea party.

Baby Shower:
Caitlyn, Natalie, and I threw a baby shower for our co-worker Caitlin (who now has a beautiful baby girl!) Caitlin really loves anything French (she speaks French too) and so we decided to go with a Parisian theme for the party itself.

I whipped up the invitations.

Caitlyn made the decor and prepared most of the food. I baked and hand painted, thank you to my assistant who helped expedite the painting process, the cakes (Red Velvet, yum!)
And then Caitlyn stuck her arm in it (good job) but I didn't mind, the food coloring stained her skin so I got mine. Haha!

Here are a few of the lovely ladies who attended with the Baby Mama. 
(from left to right: Me, Caitlyn, Caitlin (baby), Tia, Andrea, and Amy)

Oktober Fest:
We also really like LOVE beer, so of course we had to have a party solely about our favorite beverage.
There was so much food and beer. I can't even begin to start on everything.

Ramen Party:
Instead of your traditional Halloween party, we decided to have a Ramen party instead. Ramen and I have a long an healthy relationship, unfortunately its nearly impossible to find ramen of any kind in West Michigan (yes, a Ramen shop recently opened up nearby, but it's not traditional ramen and this make my heart sad). Caitlyn and Chad lived in Japan for five years so they understand my love affair with ramen and shared my need for it.

Chad made the ramen from scratch (it takes two days) and it was pretty dang close to exactly what I wanted.

I made Onigiri (riceballs) and Caitlyn made Gyoza.

I told you we really love food. I'm so glad that I got in touch with this amazing group of people. We have so much fun any time that we get together.

Our last party is going to get its own post, so keep an eye out for that.



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Status Update: The Tl;Dr Version (Too long; Didn't read)

It's been a long while, hasn't it? I'm sorry. I've been a terrible friend. Can you ever forgive me? You can? We'll get past this and it'll be just like old times? I knew we were friends for a reason! So where was I? Ah, yes, updates!

I made some things:
So many perler beads, but I finally finished this! Three months later! (It's about 3 feet long)

Finally repainted the mirror I've had sitting around for months a year. Now it hangs beautifully in the living room.

I cooked a lot:
Black beans & Rice, Homemade burgers

Beer can chicken (with sides), Burgers, grilled salmon, corn, etc (this is what happens with my family)

Spaghetti & Meatballs, Pumpkin cookies

Peasant bread, Oktoberfest stew

Double fudge cookies (made by the cousin as I made more bread), Personal pizzas

Shrimp scampi

I moved, again, but now I live with friends (and crazy cats) and we have fun.

The first load of boxes, and modeling my collection of scarves (I have a problem) (and yes that's a person under there)

I went to New York & Seattle over the summer:

New York! (More on this later, probably)

Seattle! Featuring the Bridge Troll and the skyline! (more on this later too)

Some friends got married:
Lisa & David

Raina & Daniel 
(me with the bride, Daniel ran off somewhere)

And finally, I made my own change from this to this:

Yeah buddy!

All in all a good time! I'm break down some of these into their own posts as I have a lot of pictures from trips and parties that have been attended. 

Until next time!