Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Autumn Mornings

As many of you may have realized (or maybe just you Mom), I like to think of myself as an amateur photographer. And by amateur photographer I mean, I bought a expensive fancy camera, some lenses, and now I walk around all hoity-toity with my camera around my neck. Mhm. But once in a great while I like to think I've taken a few decent photos. So today I'm going to subject you not to my nonsensical ramblings, but instead to my attempts at photography. The majority of these were taken Friday morning when it was particularly chilly.

So I hope you all enjoyed my post-history class adventure through the park. There'll be a real blog post soon enough. Maybe. We'll see. Haha.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why My Mom Took a Brick from the Backyard One Day and Wrapped it in Tinfoil

Sometimes my mother does funny things. In fact there are many times that I think she's insane. And then I remember that she's my mother and I'm related to her and therefore just as crazy as she is. If not maybe more. But it's ok. Because I love her. Which is very important. But that's not quite what this story is about.

One sorta rainy day this summer, my parents were visiting and we were all in the kitchen and my brother was making a sandwich. Out of nowhere my mother jumps off her chair, exclaims something about Tyler Florence, and disappears into the back yard. She returned a moment later holding a brick that she had clearly pulled out of the ground aloft. "Mom, what's the brick for?" "For your sandwich!" This is the part where we looked at her like like she was crazy. "Tyler Florence says everyone needs a kitchen brick. Here, I just wrap it in several layers of foil and we'll put your sandwich in a pan and it'll act like a panini press!" Now, I admit, she was on to something. "I feel like Tyler Florence has a nice, clean brick that he didn't just pull out of the yard to put on his food." "Just put the brick on the sandwich."

And that, my dear friends, is why I have a brick wrapped in tinfoil in my kitchen cabinet. And now, I'm gonna teach you how to use one.

Step One: Bread. I feel like that's all the explanation this step needs.

Step Two: Barbeque sauce. Yup. Not mustard. Not mayo. We're using barbeque sauce on our bread.

Step Three: Turkey. Ham or roast beef or really any type of meat would work. Also, mushrooms. Next comes cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Seriously. This is one of the best parts. Once you think you have enough cheese, add another handful. Then you have enough cheese.

Step Four: Melt some butter in a non stick pan on Low-Medium heat. I have mine set to 3. Place sandwich in pan. Do anything necessary to make sandwich fit in pan. Or... use a larger pan. That might work too. But it's ok if it's a little too big. It happens to the best of us. And me too.

Step Five: Take a brick. Any brick will do. Even one straight out of the garden. Just ask my mom. Take your brick and wrap it in several layers of tinfoil. Then place your brick atop your sandwich and press down firmly. Walk away and return in six or seven minutes. Or until you remember that you did have a sandwich under a brick on the stove.

Step Six: Flip sandwich. Should be nice and crunchy. Makes a nice "tump tump" sound when you tap it. 'Cause you will. You just gotta. Place brick back on top of sandwich and once again wander off to tend to your cactus or knit some mittens or do whatever it is you do. Will you knit me a pair of mittens?

Step Seven: Remove brick. And enjoy. Mmmm... Warm and crunchy and cheesy and barbequey. Delicious, actually.

So what did we learn today? 1. Bricks are good. Especially bricks in tinfoil. 2. I would like a fuzzy pair of mittens for Christmas. 3. Yes, I have a cactus.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fringe Vanilla and Cream Cheese Crescent Roll Bars

I don't win things. I'm sure you've heard someone say that before. But it's true. Raffles. Giveaways. Contests. Sports. Ok, maybe occasionally sports. Or maybe not. But that's not the point. The point is... It was my name, MINE, that she posted. My email to which she sent that fateful message. Alright, alright I might be just a tad melodramatic here. But how can you not be when you win a bottle of pure vanilla extract? Yes indeed folks. I WON!!! WHOO! Ahem. Excuse me. The lovely Fringegirl Tricia from The Domestic Fringe hosted a wonderful giveaway on her blog for a bottle of her very own Fringe Vanilla. I highly encourage you to check out her blog. She's fabulous!

So, when I received my bottle of premium quality Fringe Vanilla I, of course had to whip it out and bake!

...Or just smell it for a while. Come on. Everyone does this. Right? ...Right?

So! Step one for creamy, crescenty goodness. Gather the follow ingredients: Two packages of crescent roll dough, two packages (8 ounces each) of cream cheese, one beaten egg, one cup of sugar, brown sugar, and of course, vanilla.

Gather like so. Step 2! Cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla all go into a mixing bowl... And then you mix it. Duh. You know what else is fabulous about this recipe? It's the first one I made using my new kitchen aid stand mixer!! I love it. It's great. I got it for like, twenty bucks and it's practically brand new. Love.Love.Love.

Step three: Get brother to open crescent roll packages 'cause jeepers they're scary when they like pop open. No, this is actually a step. If there is anyone else in the house, I will make them open these things. Biscuits, pizza dough, crescent rolls... they're really scary.

Nice work, bro. I couldn't have done it without you. Seriously.

Step four: Take one package of crescent dough and lay it in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. You could prolly do this in a 9x9 or whatever size pan you had on hand. This is sorta tricky as the dough sometimes tear or doesn't line up well, but just squish it around until it covers the entire bottom.

Step five: Use your spatula and get the cream cheese mixture onto the base layer of dough. Try and make it an even layer but if you eat a few finger-fulls... I'm not telling.

Step six: Layer the second package of dough over top of the filling. This can be pretty tricky but you just gotta fumble through it until you find a way that'll work for you. It's not too hard.

Step seven: Bake for 30 minutes or so. Oh, did I mention your should prolly preheat your oven to 350 degrees? 'Cause you should probably remember to do that. That usually helps. Hm. After it's done in the oven, let it cool. Duh. You don't wanna burn your mouth. And then I throw mine in the fridge 'cause I like mine refrigerated. But if you don't... that's cool. I respect your decision. I think it's a mistake, but I will respect it.

Step eight: After it's chilled in the fridge for... I dunno, a while, cut yourself a slice and enjoy! Ok, maybe two slices.

But seriously. These bars are great. Fringe Vanilla is great. And The Domestic Fringe is really, really great. Like, not just great. Like, so.really.fabulously.amazingly great. Go. Go look. You won't regret it. I promise. :)


Thursday, August 11, 2011

That's It. He's Gonna Die.

One of the most exciting parts of my trip to Costa Rica was the Crocodile Tour. It was towards the end of our trip and when our Director said we were taking another boat tour I know I wasn't the only one groaning. I figured we'd only see a crocodile from a distance and it'd splash into the water and be gone before we got a proper look at it. After being on our tour bus (nicknamed the "Black Stallion") for a while I was tired and thought this boat ride would be a chance for a nice long conscious nap. You know. The kind of nap where you're not actually asleep but you're so zoned out and not paying attention you might as well be. So I was not exactly jumping out of my seat to get off the bus and down to the boat.

At first, the trip started off something like this. "Look to your right. Do you remember what that bird is called?" And everyone would mumble back "Great white egret" or "It's an Anhinga." I was thrilled. Really.

Can't you tell? So thrilled. And then our guide says "Oh, wonderful! Here's one of the big boys. Up here to the left. The locals call him Osama." So of course everyone is peering eagerly off to the left as we keep getting closer... and closer... and closer. This is Osama the Crocodile.

Yeah. That's a 16 foot crocodile. Maybe... twenty feet from where our captain takes the boat. This croc is over sixty years old. And chubby. But what happened next is where the story gets interesting. Our captain José Gets.Out.Of.The.Boat. WHY WOULD YOU GET OUT OF THE BOAT!? There's a sixteen foot male crocodile nicknamed 'Osama' and a 9 foot female crocodile sitting right there! WHY?? Well, to feed the crocodile, of course! How silly of me.

Ok, yeah that's a different crocodile. Because he got out of the boat TWICE. He's insane. And then two more female swam up while he was feeding the female next to Osama and he was trapped. So he had to step over Osama and weave through the other three females to get back to the boat. I was pretty convinced the next picture I'd be taking was gonna go a little something like this:

Fortunately, José did in fact not get his arm bitten off. I still think he's insane. And I was pretty certain he was gonna die. I mean, I was hoping someone else knew how to drive a boat because I was convinced we were not gonna have a captain. I mean, really. What sort of person GETS.OUT.OF.THE.BOAT?? GET BACK IN THE BOAT! PLEASE! So in conclusion... Crocodiles are scary. In fact they are so scary, I think I might need entire tub of therapy frosting to get over this one. Yup. The entire tub.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

To Guanacaste and Back Again

So folks, it's been a while. Ok, ok. It's been almost a year. But can you blame a girl? It was my senior year at high school and I was busy with scholarships, and... and schoolwork!... and... and fun. Yeah, fun. Haha. And I moved too. I moved out of my parents' lovely home and am now living in a house they own right next to the campus my brothers' attended and I am now a student at. College! Eek!

Anyways... In July, my mom, grandma, and I traveled to Costa Rica as a sort of graduation present from my grandmother to me. It was incredible! I'd never been out of country before nor had I been to the ocean. Psh. Now I'm a world traveler. See?

That's me. On a zipline. Waaayyy up high in the trees. My mom and I went through Pura Aventura for our ziplining and I must say they were great. The guides were funny and really good at their jobs. They even took a few of us upside down on one of the lines. Now that's a little freaky.

For the actual tour itself though, we took Caravan's ten day tour. What a fabulous company. They had all the connections to get us into the coolest places and before the general public. Our tour director was amazing too. He knew we had to get up half an hour earlier on our first day if we even wanted a decent change at seeing the crater of the Poas Volcano.

Yeah. That's a volcano.

My only regret is that we didn't get much time to really experience day to day life. Sure, we saw cultural performances and met some of the Tico people but many days were spent on the bus looking out at the real Costa Rica or standing on the hotel balcony looking out over the city. I wanted to be out there. I wanted to really experience the people. You know what that means right? I'll just have to go back some day.

So look forward to some exciting, stupid, and funny stories of our travels in the next few weeks. And, as the Ticos say, ¡Pura Vida!