Thursday, January 30, 2014

365: Week 4

22/365: I love being able to take notes in my cookbooks for future reference!

23/365: This is pretty much amazing and sums up my day perfectly.

24/365: The finished cookies for Colleen's bridal shower!

25/365: Food and decorations for the bridal shower!  The food was amazing!!

26/365: My sister's new little kitten, Adso, named after the cat in the Outlander series.

27/265: Pouring a cup of Pooh tea.

28/365: Atlanta had some freak snow this week.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Tea: Snow-ish Day

I think all my trips to Chicago have made me blasé about snow. I understand that Atlanta is ill-equipped to plow snow and that most southerners have little to no experience with driving in the snow.  However, I really think it's hilarious that grocery stores will be emptied out of necessities like bread and milk and that the entire city will essentially shut down.

It just really humors me to see the differences in how southern and northern cities react to the cold and snow :)

Eskimos have over 100 names for snow. And Atlantans have just one reaction. Panic.

This snow day won't be very different for me though. I still had to go to my only class of the day (which was a bummer considering the fact that I had a quiz), and I still have a lot of homework to finish.

The idea of a snow day is a rather glamorous one though, and I do plan on taking more time out of my day to luxuriate in the novelty. I like the idea of curling up next to a window with a cup of hot tea and a book. Snow can make any situation magical. Even walking to the mailbox at the end of the street felt more purposeful.

So that's my goal for the rest of my day. To do even the most mundane tasks with a sense of purpose and to appreciate the magic of the snow... Even if it is only a dusting :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Adventures in Baking

I mentioned on Friday that I'm not a baking aficionado.  I made my first ever pie back in October with the help of David and I've assisted my mom in making her famous chocolate cake in the past, but when it comes to baking cookies, my abilities have never really extended past Break and Bake.

I jumped at the opportunity to try my baking hand and offered to make the cookies for my sister's bridal shower.  Not only that, I was going to make both gluten free and regular cookies since there are several gluten intolerances in my family.

I did a lot of research trying to find the perfect recipes, and I ultimately settled upon a Betty Crocker gluten free sugar cookie recipe, and the Pioneer Woman's Favorite Sugar Cookie Dough recipe.  The gluten free cookies were made first so that the flour of the latter recipe wouldn't contaminate the kitchen.  I was especially nervous to make the gluten free cookies though because I wanted to make the cookies in the shape of J's and C's (the initials of my sister and her fiance), but the recipe called for forming the dough into balls.  I went out on a whim though and gave it my best shot.

Overall, the recipe was ridiculously easy.  However, the only wet ingredients were an egg, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a stick of butter.  The dough was too crumbly though, so I added a half teaspoon of water at a time until the dough began to take shape.  I added about 2-3 teaspoons in total.  Then I chilled the dough for an hour before rolling it out.

I rolled out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and proceeded to stamp out the cookies.  The dough was really hard to work with, and the letters had to be reshaped before being put on the cookie sheet, but eventually, it worked out.

The cookies baked for 6-7 minutes before they were taken out, and although they morphed in shape a little bit more than intended, they tasted amazing.  They did not taste gluten free at all

I recommend using butter cream frosting for the sugar cookies--it added the perfect touch!
After the gluten free cookies were done and put away, the regular cookies came next.  I used the recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays recipe book, but I altered it somewhat.  First off, I halved the recipe, and that worked great.  Secondly, I decided spur of the moment that I wanted to make lemon cookies instead of just plain sugar cookies.  I made the following substitutions: the original halved recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon orange zest; I used the zest of one whole lemon (not entirely sure how many teaspoons that came out too).  Also, the halved recipe called for 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon whole milk.  Instead, I used 5 teaspoons of lemon juice.

Thus, my lemon cookies were born.

After the dough was complete, I chilled it in the freezer for half an hour before rolling it out.  It was much easier this time to use the cookie cutters, and these cookies also cooked in the oven for 6 minutes exactly.  They maintained their shape much better than the gluten free cookies, and they tasted just as delicious.  They had just the right amount of lemon-iness, and they ended up being a huge hit at the bridal shower.  Many people said that they were very good!

Lemon cookies with cream cheese frosting--the frosting was a great complement to the lemon without overpowering it.
Overall, I'd say that I had a great first foray into the world of cookie baking :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Imminent Adventures in Baking

I've never been much of a baker.  I've always wanted to be able to whip up the perfect batch of cookies or a super airy cake, but I've never tried, so I can't attest to my abilities.  Well, today that will change.  My sister Colleen's bridal shower is tomorrow, and I volunteered to make cookies as favors.  Since I will be using cookie cutters (a "C" for Colleen, and a "J" for her fiance, John), I couldn't really cheat and use pre-made dough, so I'm going old school and using a rolling pin and everything.  I'll also probably wear an apron and smudge some flour on my cheek for effect.

I'm going to get two baking adventures for the price of one though because I'm also going to be making a batch of gluten free cookies (my sister, Mary Bridget, and my niece, Hannah, both have celiac disease).  I'm pretty much terrified by this prospect because I know so much can go wrong in gluten free baking, namely that the cookie will crumble to pieces and taste horrible.

So, it's going to be a big evening of baking for me.  I figure, worst case scenario, I'll just smother the cookies in frosting to mask any discrepancies.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

365: Week 3

15/365: This blanket brings back a lot of memories for me.

16/365: Earl Grey Water Droplets.

17/365: Thinking about these double pointed needles...

18/365: Growing taller and bigger.

19/365: Sisters' Weekend toes :)

20/365: Staying warm with fun textures and prints.

21/365: A little surprise came in the mail :)  My sister's getting married in March!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Tea: Sister's Weekend

Sometimes you just need an excuse to get away. My sisters and I started making that excuse six years ago when we started what we have dubbed our annual sisters weekend.

Every January, we trek our way up to Blue Ridge to Serenity in the Mountains, a spa and cabin-esque resort that has a lot of bang for its buck, especially when it's split amongst six people.  We proceed to have a weekend of gossiping, catching up on every detail of each other's lives, eating (of course), and some mild pampering. Our tradition is to all get pedicures together, and the estheticians always remember us.

The weekend always turns into lots of laughing, a little bit of crying, and tons of stories. And this year, we broke our rule and invited a boy... Well, my sister's precious ten week old baby boy that is :) We all took turns taking care of him while his mom got some much needed rest, and none of us were complaining; that dear boy is so loved. Sorry, Luke, you'll be too old to come next year ;)

Monday, January 20, 2014

English Class and Assigned Reading

In high school, and maybe even some in college, it seems like there is always some form of unofficial book list that most teachers and school curriculums follow. A lot of high schoolers read books like A Catcher in the Rye, The Lord of the Flies, and Of Mice and Men. Other favorites include selected works from Dickens, Austen or Brontë, Orwell, and the occasional Homer.

But when I compare my high school reading lists to those of other peoples' high school experiences, I discover that I oftentimes lack a solid "classics" repertoire.  Yes, I read the three aforementioned novels; yes, I read both The Iliad and The Odyssey in the 12th grade, but I still have yet to read the complete works of Jane Austen, I have yet to read a single word by Tolstoy, and I don't even know what 1984 is about.

So this year, I would like to read more classic literature.  I've already started this by planning to read A Tale of Two Cities this month, and other books that I would like to read at some point this year include:

- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
- My Antonia by Willa Cather
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
- The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

If you had to suggest a "classic" for me to read, what would it be and why?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five Skills I Wish That I Could Put On My Resume

The Spring semester career fair is in just over a week.  I really dread this time of the semester as it's a time when I'm really forced to face the inadequacies of my resume.  So instead, I like to think about all the things I'd like to put on my resume just to show all those campus representatives that I'm actually a really cool person even though they're not exactly work-specific skills.  Maybe I'm just well-rounded ;)

1. I knit a lot, and I think I'm actually quite good at it.  If I somehow did manage to bring this up in an interview, however, I think I could swing it my way in favor of something more work appropriate--knitting shows patience, precision, and attention to detail, and these are not just knitting skills but work skills and life skills in general.  Plus I am known to make really rad gifts.

2. I make an amazing cup of tea.  I have all of my ratios down, and I'm pretty good at knowing when to pour the tea once it's done steeping.  I will offer you a wide range of things to complement your tea--sugar, honey, lemon--even though I'm partial to cream or milk myself.

3. I have 46 cover videos on YouTube.  They don't have outrageous view counts or anything, but for the most part, they have been well-received, and that makes it worth it to me.

4. Once I'm asleep, I can stay asleep through almost anything, most notably, a fire alarm.

5. I have been published in Georgia Tech's literary magazine every year since my admission.  I'm hoping to round out my senior year and my Tech career with a perfect batting average.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

365: Week Two

8/365: Continuing to work on the Scalloped Table Runner for my mom

9/365: Having a throwback to Summer 2012 when David and I used to share a can of these after lunch :)

10/365: The cutest nephew ever.

11/365: My amaryllis starting blooming :)

12/365: Notes and tea.

13/365: A completed and blocking table runner.

14/365: Yarn for a new knitting project.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day!  Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)

I am so happy to say that I finally finished my Scalloped Table Runner!  I started making this as a Christmas present for my mom, but I ran out of time and ended up wrapping an unfinished project to put under the tree for her to open so that she knew she had a gift coming soon.  My knitting slowed down some once the New Year hit, but I finally was able to make the last of the table runner, and it's currently blocking.  I used KnitPick's CotLin yarn which is cotton and linen, so it has a lot of structure, and I'm hoping it will maintain its shape well.

I got a lot of yarn for Christmas, so now I get the pleasure of picking out a new project!  What are you knitting right now?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Tea: National Hot Tea Month

I found out yesterday that January is National Hot Tea Month, and my inner tea geek is rejoicing at the excuse to drink more tea (not that I really needed an excuse)!

One thing I would like to experiment with though is cooking with tea.  Tea, like wine, is chock full of tannins and can be used to bring out flavors in food.  Plus, how good do these recipes sound:

Chai-Spiced Shortbread Cookies Recipe
Chai-Spiced Shortbread Cookies

Blackberry-Black Tea Sorbet Recipe
Blackberry-Black Tea Sorbet

Smoked Tea Duck Recipe
Smoked Tea Duck

My mouth is watering at the thought of that sorbet!

Monday, January 13, 2014

I have lived... my parents' house.  First in the room that overlooks the cul-de-sac, second in the room that looks out into the backyard, transitioning from baby blue to light lavender walls as I transitioned from childhood into young adulthood.  I walked to elementary school everyday and wished on plastic ceiling stars by night, and they're the same stars that I still wish upon when I'm home for a weekend or a break.  Life continues to go on, but some things still remain the same. my freshman dorm, where I lived with a stranger for the first (and hopefully last) time and where I took my first tentative steps into semi-adulthood and independence (three and a half years later, and I'm still kind of working on that).  I had my first relationship within those walls, I had my first break-up within those walls, and I met some wonderful friends too (a birthday shout-out to the lovely and dear Molly).  I laughed a lot that year and I cried a lot that year, but mostly I just worked on figuring out who I was. a dorm style suite with three other amazing women. We had a spider infestation, we had an ant infestation, we had our toilet overflow, and we had a doorknob that fell off every time you opened the door. But despite the state of disrepair of the rooms, we persevered and made it through a couple hard semesters of class. That was also the year that David and I started dating, and that I would not trade for anything. assortment of campus housing apartments in which I always decorate my room the same way, so it always feels like the same room even when I change floors or buildings.  The room is small, but I like to keep flowers in it to make it feel more like home.  Currently, my amaryllis is blooming.  This is where I study for tests and plan for the future.  This is where I talk to David when he’s driving home from work.  This is where most of my crafting takes place, so I try to make a place that always fosters my creativity.  This semester will be my last few months in this room, and I’m excited for future places lived.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Spicy BBQ Whiskey Sliders // The Pioneer Woman Cooks

For Christmas, David gave me The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Recipes cookbook, and I made it a personal goal on my list of 14 things to do in 2014 to make one recipe a month from it.  Last week, I was in Chicago, and I figured what better time to try out a recipe than in the Windy City?  I had picked out a recipe ahead of time (so that I didn’t have to lug the whole cookbook onto the plane with me), and when David asked me what I wanted to cook for dinner one day, I conveniently already had a suggestion on hand – since my usual response to that question is “I don’t know” or “I don’t care.”  I asked how spicy BBQ whiskey sliders sounded to him, and he agreed that it would make a great dinner.  As a bonus, these were so easy to make, and we already had most of the ingredients that we would need on hand!

Just as I had anticipated, this was a really simple recipe that had a lot of bang for its buck.  It made 12 sliders and only took about a total of 30 minutes to prep and cook from start to finish.  And you guys, these sliders were soooo yummy.  They had just enough spice and just a taste of whiskey, and I was in burger heaven.  The Pioneer Woman also recommends making these with bison instead of beef, and I bet that would make them even more heavenly. 

My first recipe of the year definitely gets a big thumbs up.

Of course, David is saying that because he helped cook that this shouldn't count towards the 12 recipes I will be making this year, but I say it does :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

365: Week One

One of my unofficial goals of 2014 is to take more pictures.  Granted that most of these photos will be taken on my phone, but I've always wanted to do a 365 photo project, so I figured that there was no time like the present!  I plan on posting photos from the past week every Thursday, so stay tuned :)

1/365: Happy New Year from Kerry and David from Chicago :)

2/365: Tapas dinner from Ba-Ba-Reeba.  Plus caramelized bananas and chocolate orange mousse for dessert. 

3/365: Tea, bacon, and a homemade frittata for brunch.

4/365: Learning how to shoot a bow and arrow!

5/365: Saying goodbye to Chicago and its plenitude of snow.

6/365: A class schedule for my last semester as an undergrad.

7/365: My amaryllis is about to bloom!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Yarn Along

Happy Wednesday and Happy Yarn Along Day!  Linking up with Ginny from Small Things :)

As I was leaving for Chicago this past week, I discovered that I didn't have a weather appropriate hat to wear in the very snowy Windy City.  In a pinch, I brainstormed what to do, and grabbing some wool and cashmere yarn that I received from my parents for Christmas, I whipped up a quick ear warmer while I was on the plane.  Obviously, it was completed quickly, but it definitely served its purpose well.  I crocheted it in the "knit stitch" so as to have a thicker finished product, and I am so glad I did.  I even got some compliments on it--that to me is the best reward.

Hope you're staying warm, wherever you are!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday Tea: The Start of My Last Semester As an Undergrad

I can't believe that I have finally started my last semester at Georgia Tech.  Freshman year feels like it was yesterday, and much like my Spring semester of Freshman year, we are again getting harsh cold weather and snow flurries.  That's some pretty awesome symmetry, if you ask me!

I spent the last few days of Christmas Break in Chicago with David, and the cold up there makes Atlanta's recent weather feel like nothing.  While I never saw negative temperatures while I was up there, I did see more snow than I've ever seen in my entire life combined.  Having never experienced that much snow though, I kind of loved it.  We ventured outdoors several times (mostly for food), but in general, we spent much of our time indoors (with the exception of me making a snow angel in the middle of a Chicago sidewalk--zero regrets).  We watched lots of movies (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, This Is the End, and Pacific Rim), and we made lots of food.  And, of course, we made lots of tea to help keep us toasty.

My flight back to Atlanta Sunday was greatly delayed, but I was thankful that the flight wasn't outright cancelled as most of them were that day.  Instead, I got a lot of reading done while I waited around at the airport, and eventually I made it home.  I think I brought the cold weather with me though.

My classes this semester seem to be a mix of both good and horrible, but really only time will tell how they will turn out.  I'm only taking three classes, so hopefully I won't get too bogged down with work, but on the flip-side, I'm also hoping that the extra down time won't make me lazy. It's probably going to be a toss-up between the two, but I'm hoping the new year and new semester will bring some balance. For now, I'm starting things on the right foot by staying organized and trying to establish a new daily routine. I don't have any classes until 12, so the hardest part will probably be making sure I still wake up early enough and not waste the day away in bed.

Oh, and I'm drinking some organic ceylon from the Dekalb farmer's market. What kind of tea are you drinking today?

Monday, January 6, 2014

On My Bookshelf: January

Like I did last year, I have the goal of reading 30 books this year.  It probably doesn't sound like a lot to some people who have the ability to just devour books whole, but I barely scraped by in finishing thirty books in 2013.  I'm hoping to do even better than that this year, and one way I am hoping to do this is by semi-planning in advance which books I am going to try to tackle every month.  I'm hoping since it's the beginning of a new semester that I will be able to read three books this month, even though I do have quite a few things going on outside of class every weekend of January.

Fingers crossed though that I find the time to get these books read:

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  This book was recommended to me by David's mom, and it's been in my reading queue for a while.  I started it in the wee hours of the morning of the 1st after not being able to sleep following a New Years party, and just a few pages in, I liked it immediately.  Since my flight home from Chicago yesterday was so delayed, I managed to read about a fourth of it on the plane, and I'm eager to find out what happens next!

Things Pondered by Beth Moore.  This book was one that I discovered on a whim, and I am definitely interested to read it.  It's not too often that I read a non-fiction book, but I was drawn to this one because it is one woman's reflections on loss, love, the seasons of grace, and life as a woman of God, all in the spirit of remembering and honoring Mary as she pondered and treasured her memories as the mother of Jesus: "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  I have an unofficial goal of reading more classics this year, and I figured why not start with the greatest writer of the Victorian period.  I've also wanted to read this book since I was about eleven when I picked up a copy in Barnes & Noble because I liked the cover.  My parents talked me out of it, but I'm pretty excited to give it a shot given that I am now twice that age.