Monday, November 19, 2012

Week 14 Donna Hay: Autumn Feast

I found out Saturday that some extended family and out of town friends were going to be coming over for dinner.  I volunteered to make a Donna Hay meal as it would be fun entertaining and I needed to check another one off of my list.  Upon review of the meals I had left, hoe could I not chose Autumn Feast considering the season outside.

The table was set and dinner as served.

The Menu:

pancetta with blue cheese and pear
Best laid plans would have been pears with this salad, but alas dessert called for figs which I am sad to say are not in season right now.  I opted to have the pears go with dessert and used a black apple to the starter salad.  The pancetta was cooked under the broiler which made clean up a cinch and was no time to cook at all.  The flavors blended well and the mixture of textures was perfect.

garlic roast lamb cutlets on a bed of roasted potatoes and zucchini

lemon butter pan spinach
What could be easier than roasting dinner?  A quick chop of the potatoes and zucchini, pop them in the oven.  Brown the lamb then toss that on the veggies in the roasting pan topped with a delicious honey-mustard and mint dressing.  Everything came out cooked perfectly, and again that honey-mustard combination was a hit.  The only snafu was I called several places for lamb cutlet but was unsuccessful.  I ended up buying a rack of lamb and separating out the pieces.  I think next time I may try to order the meat so that there are thicker pieces.  The spinach side, how can you go wrong with spinach and lemon?  Next time I need to keep the spinach pan on low to keep hot for serving and needed to make much more as I could have had the whole serving myself!

fig pie
So you may notice something missing in the picture.  You see, this was my sister's piece that she was sitting and enjoying and then happened to remember I needed a picture.  I guess that meant she liked it?  I did too.  Not too sweet at all.  As I mentioned earlier this was suppose to be a fig pie but there were no figs available to I morphed dessert into a pear tart.  I modified Donna's shortcrust recipe by adding less flour and butter and adding a dash of sugar and vanilla.  I tossed the pears in about a tablespoon of sugar before baking and topped with honey just before serving.  I felt it was the perfect sweetness and my guest loved it.  Again the brother-in-law declared the meal "Perfect!" and said I must make it again soon.

Another great Donna Hay!  Hope you enjoyed the pictures by everyAugust.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Lucky Dozen

So this post has been a long time in coming.  In late September I had one of those moments when I hated ever piece of clothing I owned and stared gape-mouthed at my closet loathing everything.  It was then that I remembered an old article from years past in the magazine Lucky.

The article showed how with 11 articles of clothing (accessories, jewelry, and shoes was not included) you could make 31 different ensembles for the month.  After looking at my budget and realizing that purchasing said 11 articles of clothing not was out of the question, I took it upon myself to chose the Lucky Dozen from my current wardrobe.  I sent my sister a challenge to do it with me (thank goodness for sisters) and I was set for the month of October.  I altered the Lucky Dozen challenge a bit in that the outfits chosen would be worn Monday - Friday and the weekend could be whatever we felt like.  I have a hard time wearing dresses and skirts on the weekends when jeans are of so comfortable.

So here was my Lucky Dozen from my wardrobe.
(L to R, Top to Bottom): Pink Silk Blouse : Nordstrom, Grey A-line Skirt : Khols, White Button Down : Gap, Jeans : Kut From the Kloth (Nordstrom), Black Sheath Dress : Old Navy (old dress from my sister), Grey Boyfriend Blazer : Gap, Grey Slacks : Gap, Black Cardigan : J Crew, Khaki Skirt : from my sister, Purple Blouse : Norsdstrom, Orange Sweater Turtleneck : Banana Republic

I went about assigning a number to each piece of clothing.  My sister had the genius idea to fold note cards in half, cut a slit in the center, and label a number and stick it on each corresponding hanger. (See, this is why you need other people.)  Here is an example ensemble:

Day 1:

1. I put together outfits I never would have thought of and ended up getting a lot of compliments during the week.  I guess my wardrobe was a bit better than the previously thought humdrum of clothing.
2. Time saver.  I cannot express to you enough how much time and energy the Lucky Dozen was each morning.  The biggest time consumer in the morning for me is choosing what I am going to wear.  With the Lucky Dozen I just chose a day on the list the night before and knew what I was going to wear.  Somehow knowing what I was going to wear and knowing the look would have the "put-together-look" I love took such a weight off of my mind.
3. I discovered that the khaki skirt was not up to scruff for me and I needed to donate it when I was done (I did).  The grey jacket is great quality, color, and style, but I need to have it taken in and tailored a bit for me.  The purple silk top is great, but I just didn't love how it looked in some of the looks and I am questioning how often I would wear it and if I should keep it in my closet.
4. I really liked this experiment.  So much so that I am doing it again for November with some altered pieces.

I am not saying I am a completely changed person, but after getting the book "Lessons From Madam Chic" wear the author Jennifer Scott talks about French fashion and how French women have a 10-piece wardrobe for each season I did go into my closet and got rid of 5 bags of clothing that were either too big, too worn out, did not fit me correctly, or just made me feel frumpy, and donated them.  Needless to say, my closet miraculously now has room to breath and choosing my outfits has become a heck of a lot easier.  Okay, and the compliments I get aren't bad either.  Hope you are inspired to step up your wardrobe and create new outfits you never imagined before.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon GreatnessEat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book because I had read "Ultramarathon Man" by Dean Karnazes and also "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall and enjoyed both. This book also told the story from the voice of an ultra runner but and had some fun running stories and gave a little insight to the thoughts and workers of an elite athlete. Although I did enjoy reading this book I interpreted it as non-emotive information rather than a book written from passion. Not to say Scott is not a passionate guy, I just think his passion is running and not writing. He chose the title "Eat and Run" to talk about how he chooses the vegan lifestyle and is still a top performer in the running world. I felt that the "Eat" part of the title felt like an afterthought of the book with bits and pieces added in to make the book differ from Dean's ultra book. Most chapters talked about running and then had a recipe at the very end. I guess I did not feel the unity of eat AND run as the title implied.

But overall if you enjoy books on running I think you will like this one. My favorite line was when his friend Dusty informed him that he had just stepped on a rattlesnake unbeknownst to Scott as he was in the zone and gunning for the victory. Now that is concentrated dedication.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review: Wild by Cherly Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have noticed a theme in my life being that feeling of being trapped and just wanting to through some clothes into a backpack and just take off and see where the road takes me. If you can sympathize with me then you too will love this book.

Written during the time of the O.J. Simpson trial and grunge music, at the age of 26, Cheryl finalized her divorce to her college sweetheart, knelt goodbye at her mother's grave, and said goodbye to Minnesota for the last time in order to endeavor the famed Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Had she ever backpacked before? Nope. Any kind of experience of day hike? Nope. Had she even worn hiking boots before? You guessed it, no. Despite her lack of experience, Cheryl managed a solo hike and survive the 1,100 miles from the California/Mexico border to the Oregon/Washington border.

Her memoir details adventures of rattle snakes, to charging Texas Long Horn Bulls, to only having 2 cents in her pockets and miles to go before the possibility of new food all while dealing with personal turmoil. Through her sojourn, Cheryl not only set out on the Pacific Crest Trail, but also in life. One cannot help but to self-reflect and philosophize when you have just the trees, God, and yourself. Through her commentary I could not help but to cheer her on when she lost her one pair of hiking boots and continued in duct-taped sandals. There were times I wanted to strangle her for hitch hiking to get around obstacles in which she put herself in some questionable situations. I also might have screamed when she recounted a night with the frogs. The book in and of itself felt like a journey.

All throughout the book I was enraptured and couldn't wait to see what was around the next bend, and especially if she made it. The only bad part about this book is I found myself consulting the PCT guides and now I need to go buy a backpack and some hiking shoes. Would I recommend this book. I think so.