Pink ombre nails! Sort of!

I loooooove the look of ombre nails. And ombre hair – as soon as mine is grown out, I’m going ombre! I haven’t decided what color, though. Maybe pink to match my current nails!

I got the inspiration from Happy Endings (I looked for a picture, but couldn’t find one – Jane wears blue ombre nails like this in the episode where she helps Penny buy a car), but, still being in a Valentine’s Day mood, I decided to go with pink to red. In the picture, the reds on my ring finger and pinky finger do look different, but in real life, they don’t look as different as I’d hoped – I should have used my Cinnasnap which totally would have done the trick. Also, the more I look at them, I like them, but they’re not quite all in the same family – I’ll have to pick my colors more carefully next time!

From pinky to thumb, I used Blood from Urban Outfitters, Sally Hansen’s Diamond Strength in Honeymoon Red, and Techno Girl, Seeing Pink Elephants, and Let’s Plie by OPI.

You know what more desserts need?

If you answered “goat cheese,” this post is for you! Goat Cheese Brownies!

There’s goat cheese in the brownies (in a sort of cheesecake layer marbled throughout) and in the frosting (though not in mine – I only had enough goat cheese for either in the cheesecake layer or in the frosting, but not both, so I substituted cream cheese for the goat cheese in the frosting and it seemed to work just fine). It’s very nice and sort of cuts through the sweetness of the brownie. I think next time I make these, I’ll leave off the honey-goat cheese (cream cheese) frosting because it sort of overwhelmed the flavor of the brownie – you could hardly taste the chocolate at all! Still, they were a success, I think – everyone I shared them with seemed to enjoy them!

The Italian enchilada!

I made a Veggie Cheese Stromboli the other night for dinner which is basically a pizza if you rolled it all up, hence the Italian enchilada! This particular recipe is nice because it has a sort of a tapenade as the sauce and the tart, saltiness of the kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes is balanced out by the rest of the flavors (in my case, provolone, spinach, and mushrooms because I don’t like roasted red peppers). I couldn’t get a very pretty picture of it – my kitchen is just so green (which usually I enjoy but it does make taking pictures of food in there kind of tricky), so you’ll just have to trust me that it tasted good.

Woo hoo, hearts!

I was never that into Valentine’s Day before, but suddenly I saw this post on Buzzfeed and now I’m like “Valentine’s Day, here I come!” I’m hoping to have some other crafty posts coming up soon(ish), but for now I have some nails to show off.

I followed the instructions here and it wasn’t too hard – the stickers didn’t want to stick to my nails very well, but once I got the hang of it, the painting went pretty smoothly. The part where I ran into problems was with the drying – I’m so impatient! I was doing well until I put on my gloves to go get pedicures with Rachel and things got a little mushed. I’m looking forward to trying it again with other colors, though!

It’s chili time!

It’s super cold out and I just feel like hibernating, that means…it’s chili time! Spicy Two-Bean Chili, to be specific, with my go-to favorite cornbread.

We got a lot more than 6 servings out of this recipe (Drew has given up on it) and around the weekend I got a craving for something I’ve never had, a chili dog! So I headed over to the co-op and got myself some veggie dogs. I really like most veggie substitutes, but they have yet to perfect the veggie hot dog – what is it about the flavor combination of donkey lips and pig tails and cow ears that is so hard to replicate?! But it’s still pretty good – I mean, it’s chili and cheese on bread with some extra protein thrown in there. I’m determined to get to the bottom of the chili leftovers!

What a lucky bitch!*

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

When I started this book, I kept thinking “Ugh, I’m gonna hate this lucky bitch” – I mean, she gets to eat at the most fabulous restaurants in New York City (in the 90s) on the New York Times payroll – jealous, much? But I didn’t hate her – she’s still a lucky bitch, but I definitely didn’t hate her.

She came across in her writing as funny and thoughtful and honest and, holy hell, does she know how to talk about food! It must be one of the hardest things to write about, right up there with music – how do you describe something in words that can be experienced with every sense except…well, reading isn’t a sense, but you know what I mean. But she definitely manages it – I could picture, smell, and almost taste every dish she wrote about, even the bad ones!

Part of the fun of the book is also the disguises she comes up with, completely disappearing into other personas in an attempt to dine anonymously – some bring out the best in her (Brenda) while others are the worst (Emily). I found her less pleasant identities a little awkward to read about as she really did go all out and very nearly become the characters she created, even the pretentious, rude ones and it wasn’t fun to read about her being horrid to waiters and every once in a while, her fellow diners. At her worst, Emily, it is Marion Cunningham of all people (not Ritchie’s mother, but the cookbook author instead) who brings her around and leads to one of my favorite moments in the book. I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s worth the slog through Emily’s night out to get to the end of the story.

But mostly it’s a love letter to the food scene in New York City – and not because all of the restaurants are fabulous, they’re not and she includes those reviews along with the positive ones (I think there’s only one restaurant that receives a 4-star review included in the book, I don’t know how many she [or, for that matter, other reviewers] handed down over the years she spent reviewing for the Times). It’s a love letter to the vibrancy of the variety and options available in New York – she goes to super fancy restaurants like The Rainbow Room, Le Cirque, and the Box Tree but she also goes to noodle joints (though it sounds like those aren’t cheap either) and a friend of hers takes her on a food tour of New York towards the end of the book that sounds like heaven.

I wish I had the financial resources – or the job at the Times – to gain her level of knowledge about food and wines because it sounds like it brings the experience to a whole other level.

My rating: B+ (I would have given her an A, but I’m a petty, petty blogger who can’t bring myself to give such a lucky bitch an A even though she probably deserves it)

*[Yes, I know she’s not just lucky, she’s talented and worked hard to get where she is, but I’m going to comfort myself with the lucky bitch thing.]

Tacos!

I had my first tap class of the new session tonight so Drew threw together his go-to, lovely, quick dinner – Mexican Scrambled Egg Tacos. We also had a miscellany of tortillas hiding around the fridge and this was a good way to use them up. They’re super easy – scramble some eggs with onion and maybe some tomato? I’m not sure what he put in it tonight, it’s sort of a fridge-clearing recipe.

When you top it with some salsa and cilantro, who cares what’s in it anyway?! Yum is all that matters.

Kits!

I was working from home today and Arthur was doing his darnedest to distract me by being as cute as felinely possible:

So then I came into the living room to attempt to work on the couch and Josephine decided she wanted to burrow under the blanket and cuddle with me:

Oh, kitties, so cute and so warm and so cuddly!

Ooh, a ghost story!

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

And actually a pretty darn good one! Thrills, chills, just the right amount of gore, and a romance that’s not a love-triangle (even if it is a little predictable). The premise is that some ghosts actually can hurt or even kill the living and Cas, inheriting his ability from his father who was killed doing his ghosthunting job, comes to town to kill Anna Dressed in Blood, a job that should be easier than it turns out to be.

Cas is likable, his schoolmates who get swept up in his exotic line of work are cute and not the stereotypes they initially seem to be (well, the jerk-jocks are, but that’s allowed), and Anna is pretty much a total bad-ass. My only beef is that, SPOILER, the cat dies (offscreen, but still). The rest is good, engrossing and a quick read – and apparently there’s a sequel, Girl of Nightmares! I’m really not sure how everything is going to wrap up because at the end of the day Anna’s, well, dead, but I’m anxious to be along for the ride.

My rating: B (I dunno, I liked it and I want to read more, but I don’t really feel like it is quite an A-worthy book)

In which I make truffles! Or, wow, cocoa powder is disgusting…

We went over to some friends’ house on Saturday to watch the Packers destroy the Vikings and to catch up with some out-of-town friends who were visiting. One of those friends is vegan so when I saw this recipe for (Vegan) Chocolate Chile Coconut Truffles, I had to give it a try despite never having made truffles before. They turned out pretty well! They’re a little bit spicy (I had to use japones chiles since I couldn’t find any chiles de arbol) and then there’s a hint of cinnamon at the end, very subtle and very nice and the ganache sort of bursts out of the chocolate coating when you bite into them.

But, oh my god, I wish I could rinse them off – the cocoa powder is soooooo bitter! I don’t know if I used the wrong kind of cocoa powder or if it’s just my unrefined palate which does not appreciate bitter chocolate, but I can hardly eat them at all. Next time I would coat them in powdered sugar or something to sweeten them up a bit – maybe some toasted coconut would do the trick. Yikes! Fortunately Drew doesn’t seem too averse to them so they’re slowly disappearing.

What’s a good substitution for chicken? Quiche!

Being a vegetarian, I’ve never gotten to enjoy the classic 40 Clove Garlic Chicken, but you know what else you can put 40 cloves of garlic in? A quiche!

Apart from some structural difficulties, I think the hardest part of this recipe was peeling the 40 cloves of garlic and when you have a lovely live-in houseboy like I do, he takes care of that for you!

The main stumbling block was the aforementioned structural difficulties, in other words, my crust. Instead of using the gluten-free crust included in the recipe, I decided to go for the puff pastry that she mentions was used in the original recipe. Well, two things there: a) I forgot to prick the pastry so the whole thing just puffed right up like a balloon and b) I also forgot how much puff pastry shrinks so I was left with really just a base crust with not much in the way of sides. When I poured the egg and cream mixture over the crust, cheese, and garlic cloves, it promptly overflowed the crust, ran down underneath it, and leaked right out of the bottom of the tart pan. After overcoming my initial kitchen paralysis, I got out a different pan, covered it with foil, put the tart pan on it, used the foil to reinforce the tart pan, and poured the leaked egg mixture back into the tart pan. And it pretty much worked!

I think it turned out quite nicely and I was pleased that I finally got to experience something with 40 cloves of garlic in it!

Two birds with one stone…

I’m behind on my movie reviews! First up…The Hobbit.

I had been sooooo excited for this and then the mediocre reviews starting coming out. Dun dun duuuuun! Of course I still wanted to see for myself and, I hate to say it, but the mediocre reviews were kind of right. There are wonderful things about it, namely Martin Freeman as Bilbo – he’s fantastic, I just want to cuddle him through the whole movie. Actually all of the acting is good, but, as everyone will have said by now, Bilbo’s scene with Gollum is the highlight of the movie. I think the main problem was just the pacing – there are parts that are very exciting and just as enthralling as any of the LOTR movies, but there are parts that drag and things that got added in that I don’t think needed to be added in. I am a little bit peeved that they’re stretching out The Hobbit into three movies when they did LOTR in the same amount of film time. It’s just unnecessary and it certainly feels a little money-grubbing. Not that it’ll keep me from seeing the rest of the movies – I’m so super excited for Smaug in the next one. Oh, lovely Cucumberpatch, you were made to voice a dragon!

Then Drew and I saw Hyde Park on Hudson. And it didn’t really bowl him over and I was, frankly, a little disappointed.

We both really liked Bill Murray as FDR – he really is a very good actor (I don’t know why that always surprises everyone, myself included)! I really liked the royals (though I kept expecting the king to be played by Colin Firth every time he came on screen) and the interactions between both the king and FDR and between the king and queen and would have liked to see more of those relationships or more of the political goings-on surrounding the visit. The weak link for me was definitely Daisy. I didn’t like her and wished we could have known more about her (maybe that would have made me like her more). I didn’t buy the relationship between the two of them – I found her to be quite naive and definitely didn’t seem like someone that would challenge or even interest someone like FDR. The other women he surrounds himself with (Eleanor and his secretary, Missy) are intelligent and seem immersed in the political world, people that FDR could talk to as an equal. Maybe that’s why he gravitated toward Daisy, but the movie rushes the relationship so much that it left me just not believing it. So, yeah, kind of a meh movie, this one which was a bummer because I’d been so looking forward to it.

Nails and new TV!

I had a big meeting at work today, so I thought I would paint my nails for the occasion (you can’t go to an important meeting with chipped nail polish!) – I wanted something subtle and neutral but still sparkly so I went back to an old favorite combination:

I couldn’t get the lighting to show the color accurately – it’s really more of a salmony color than it looks here and it’s a bit lighter and brighter. It’s an Urban Outfitters polish in Cocktail and I think the glitter polish is from Urban Outfitters as well, but there doesn’t seem to be a name on the bottle – it’s a multi-size glitter in a super light pink-but-only-barely base.

And, yes, that’s Courteney Cox on the TV in the background in a new season of Cougar Town, Tuesdays at 9:00 CST on TBS. Yay!

And, sigh, yes, I still have my Christmas tree up. Don’t you judge me!

New Year’s Resolution #2

Read. More. Books. (For fun, that is.)

Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked by Derek Landy

This is Book 7 in the fantastic Skulduggery Pleasant series and it certainly doesn’t disappoint! It has all the characteristics we’ve come to expect from Skulduggery and Co. – witty banter, Dickensian names, fights, chase scenes, mystery, spying, and, of course, magic.

As usual, the magical world (and the mortal world) is in danger from a big bad (or in this case, a big good) who is trying to destroy it for various reasons and it’s up to Valkryie and Skulduggery to save the day. But I think we’re nearing the end of the series, or at least near enough that Landy needs to get his ducks in a row for the big final showdown I’m expecting and he certainly follows through – I had to read the very last chapter quite a few times before I was so excited that he was actually going to go there. It involves a character that I’ve always found a little creepy for, until now, unfounded reasons and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

My rating: A