Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mid January Slush and 10k Training

So a couple months ago I had the brilliant idea of running a race again.  With my best friend.  She's pretty in shape and runs a lot and I would like to be in shape for my wedding next year and for general well-fitting clothes.  So I texted her asking if we could run the 5/3 Bank race this spring.  She replied all excited and said that we should run a 10 k.  Yay right? It sounded like a good idea, but I haven't really aggressively ran since high school, which was almost 4 years ago….ugh I'm getting old.
But today, I began my official training program! I only ran 1.5 miles, but it was a big deal for me!  Now its just a matter of sticking with the training and hopefully I will be able to drag myself across the finish line.  After I stumbled and slid through the slowing melting snow-turned slush, I apparently had a lot of endorphins pumping in my veins because then I did a bunch of crunches and squats.  Walking up and down stairs is going to rough tomorrow.
I'm reading Shonda Rhimes' book right now (post coming soon) and she has a whole chapter about fitness.  Loosing weight is a daily struggle.  Eating healthy is important, and its important every day, not just on the days we are feeling ambitious.  Every time we make a decision about working out (or not) or putting something in our mouths, we are choosing to be healthy or choosing to live like the rest of America.  I think that eventually it will get better, but only after we form habits that will benefit us.  I love nutritious foods, however I'm a pastry girl at heart.  Put a place of wood-fired croissants in from of me, fresh from the oven (or let's face it even day-old ones) and they will be gone before I can even count them.  Learning how to treat myself in moderation with my favorite foods will be hard, but in the long run it will be very beneficial.  So here's to keeping out resolutions and eating only one croissant a week.  Baby steps.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Us by David Nicholls

The story of how I came upon picking this book up is quite interesting.  I was traveling around Italy and Scotland earlier this summer, and I found myself at the end of the two week trip at an airport in Scotland, waiting 4 hours for my next flight to arrive.  So I wandered into this little airport bookstore to get some mints and a water and I found myself drawn to the bookshelves.  I picked up this book and one other (because it was a buy one get one sale!) and started reading immediately.

This is the story of a man named Douglas who lives in England.  His wife is considering leaving him after their son leaves for college and in an effort to remind his wife of why they got married in the first place, he takes his family on a trip around Europe.  Until he messes things up and his family begins to fall apart.

I really like how this story is written.  It flashes back very abruptly but in a way that makes sense.  You definitely have to have some idea of the language in England to get some of the humor. It's a really great read especially when you are traveling, or in the mood to travel but your bank account doesn't agree.  After I finished reading this, I actually saw this book on one of those Pinterest lists of like top 20 books to read in your twenties.  I'm ahead of the curve! I'm a trendsetter! Or I just picked up a good book by chance….Nah I'm a trendsetter.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

This is the kinda book that you carry around with you everywhere just in case you find yourself with 5 minutes to kill.  It's the kind of book that you neglect your to do list all week until you finish it. It's the book that you finish 10 minutes before the Superbowl starts.  It's the book that you curl up with on the couch as snow softly falls outside and read by the light of your Christmas which is yes, still up since I live in an apartment with little storage (and it's just pretty!).

In case you can't tell, I love this book.  I originally read it back in high school, but that was a long time ago so I decided to reread it.  I love it even more the second time! As a rule, I generally don't reread books very often.  I have a large stack of unread and lonely novels waiting for me to unlock their secrets and bond with their characters.  But this book is the exception.

Written by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife tells the passionate tale of a husband and wife who are bound in the romantic web of the husbands ability to time traveler.  Unfortunately, he doesn't control his abilities and therefore often leaves Clare alone, sometimes leaving her to see another age of her.  As confusing as this sounds, Niffenegger does an excellent job of keeping you in the loop, except for the twist ending.  Clare and Henry's love is stronger than time itself and as the story unfolds, this becomes more and more evident as you read.  You really need to read this book if you haven't already and then see the movie which is next on my list!  It's the perfect read to get you in the Valentine's day spirit.

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

Do you ever have those days where you just want to go back to being a little kid because everything in your life requires you to be adult and responsible?  Me neither.  But sometimes you just need a break from all of the stress of daily life.  I picked this book up out of the pile of books my mom gave me a couple years ago that I hadn't gotten around to reading yet.  The cover looked cute so I gave it a read.

I definitely think that this book is geared toward younger readers than myself, like preteens and teens, however it was a nice "fluff" book to read in between heavier novels (check out my next post on The Time Traveler's Wife).  It is super easy to read and I finished it in less than a week, even with being in school 4 days a week.  Sometimes its nice to just read a book that doesn't require you to look up fancy words or think about the hidden meanings.

The main character is Emma, a baker who ends up working for a business tycoon who recently left corporate life and bought a hotel in honor of his late wife who used to work there.  The author centers around God and how God is trying to repair Jackson's heart from the devasting passing of his late wife by introducing Emma into his life.  Basically a love story, this book takes a new path to exploring the love concept by tying in Emma's 'divorced' parents.  A perfect read with Valentine's Day fast approaching!

I really liked this book because at the end of each chapter, there is either a recipe or tips on cake decorating.  Some of the recipes are definitely some I will have to test out such as the recipe for Espresso Fondant.  Overall, I would recommend this book to any Christian women who needs a break from serious and heavy books.  Plus it's nice to get lost in a fictional characters problems rather than dwell in your own.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen

Recently I have been reading a new book that I picked up in the Seattle airport coming back to Michigan from a family trip to Alaska.  My mom and I were originally drawn to it because of the cover, depicting a gloriously lopsided stack of pancakes covered in melting pats of butter and dripping with syrup.  I had never read anything by Kate Christensen before, but now I will definitely look into some of her other books.

This book is unlike any book I've ever read before.  It's written with such detail and passion and it made me wonder if I could recollect my own life as well as Kate did hers.  I love books that feature food along the plot line, making your mouth water with every turn of the page.  Passages like the following are the type of writing that made my stomach gurgle in hunger as I devoured this book.

"One night the entire supper consisted soley of boiled zucchini, boiled potatoes, and homemade bread and cheese.  They called the zucchini courgettes, but they didn't fool me: I knew that stuff when I saw it.  I remembered a;; too well the horrible stuff from our Phoenix backyard, the zucchini bread at the Threefold guesthouse.  I sat down with disappointment and dread.
And then I tasted the zucchini.  It was sublime, subtly multidimensional in flavor and velvety in texture, not like succhini at all but some fair like, delicate thing of palest green, very fresh, with an herblike essence." -- An excerpt from Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen

Sometimes I had to remind myself that this was an autobiography and not a novel.  In a way, reading this book was like having a chat with an old friend.  Each chapter was its own little one-sided conversation over a meal or a great cup of coffee with a friend.  Because of this, I often enjoyed this book with a pot of strong espresso and a dash of heavy cream while reading.

This book reminded me of how food plays a huge role in shaping every person's life, even if you don't think so.  Food is nourishment, it soothes us, or for some, it can be a source of pain.  Everyone can relate to food in some way.  Food brings memories, little flashes of our past captured in tastes and flavors.  And it brings people together, uniting them in a common source of love.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014: A Year in Review

As we gathered with friends and family over the Christmas holiday, we began to discuss what our favorite parts of 2014 year.  We went around a circle and each person shared what their favorite part of the past year was.  I think I got jipped (is that how you spell that?) because I went after Kevin who said the same thing I wanted to say.  Our favorite part of this past year was the fact that I moved to Grand Rapids and that we were able to live in the same city (not to mention the same state) for the first time since we graduated high school….in 2012.  I feel like our relationship really grew since I made the move and it's much easier to test out recipes on him when he can actually be present to taste them.

But with all of the favorite things come all of the least favorite events.

I spent a majority of 2014 being in my twenties which brought along a lot of difficulties in and of itself.  Twenty is the weird age where you are too young to drink and party and reserve rental cars but too old to go to the theaters to see pixar films and shop at aeropostale.  And being in culinary school where I'm learning how to make a reduction sauce with port but I can't practice it at home because I can't purchase alcohol yet.  I experienced a lot of growing pains this year, struggling to find the balance between finding my own way and being on my own in my own apartment and still leaning on my parents financially when needed.  But as I look back, I just feel blessed overall to have such an amazing man in my life who supports me and cares for me, as well as incredible family and friends.

Now looking forward, I am excited about many things.  Hopefully this year I will graduate from the program at the local community college that I am attending which will land me with my second Associate's degree (yay!).  Kevin and I will both be turing 21 within the next couple of months which is sure to bring a lot more traditional risotto dished to this blog.  Also, we just started booking things for our trip out East which is happening this summer.  We are super excited because it will be Kevin's first time on a plane and his first time out east! Now I can finally show him where I lived for a little over a year and he can meet the amazing friends I made!  I am also going to Italy for 10 days or so through a Study Away program at school where I get to make pasta in Italy! In preparation for my trip, I am learning Italian through Rosetta Stone (hopefully it works!).  Kevin will be starting his Senior year in the Fall of 2015 at GVSU which seems crazy to me!  It seems like just yesterday we were walking across the football field in our cap and gowns receiving our high school diplomas.  I'm sure that many other amazing and exciting things will happen in 2015 and I'm so fortunate to be able to experience all of these things with Kevin by my side. And I got a new cookbook for Christmas that I have already dog-eared several pages of recipes to try, so this year is sure to bring many new recipes and posts!

Cheers to the New Year!

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

"We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” 
                                                                                                                                                            ― Aldo Leopold

Photo courtesy of

I came across this book because Kevin had to read it for his Natural Resource Management class at GVSU.  He had read and actually enjoyed it which isn't the case for many books that are assigned to us throughout our educations.  He passed it along to me to read and at first, I was a little apprehensive.  I mean come on, I'm a culinary girl, not really a hunter or a naturalist.  I do enjoy camping and hiking but I had never really pursued the subject.

If you have never heard of Aldo Leopold, which I am sad to say I hadn't, he is an amazing person.  He was born in 1887 and grew up in Burlington, Iowa.  He graduated form Yale Forest School and pursued a career in forestry by working in many National Forests.  He eventually ended up in Wisconsin, which is where many of the stories told in the book take place.  Unfortunately, he passed away in 1948 while fighting a wildfire on his neighbors property.  His writing style is amazing, but it can take some getting used to.  To read more about Aldo Leopold and his mark on history, visit .

This book is a collection of various stories and contemplations of Mr. Leopold's, narrated by himself.  I am not very familiar with the lingo of conservationists, so I had to look up a couple of the words used to know exactly what he was referring to.  I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would.  It really opened my eyes to the effect we are having on nature and how precarious ecosystems can be.  He has a way of opening your eyes to new things, even though you may have looked at them for years.

"Early risers feel at ease with each other, perhaps because, unlike those who sleep late, they are given to understatement of their own achievements.  Orion, the most widely traveled, says literally nothing.  The coffee pot, from its first soft gurgle, under claims the virtues of what simmers within.  The owl, in his trisyllabic commentary, plays down the story of the night's murders.  The goose on the bar, rising briefly to a point of order in some inaudible anserine debate, lets fall no hint that he speaks with the authority of all the far hills and the sea."                               Excerpt from A Sand County Almanac  
                                                                                                                                         (p. 59-61)

Mr. Leopold also knows very well how the circle of life goes.  He even discusses the decision he faced between digging up a nearby tree to his prize white pine.  While reading this book, I would often curl up on my couch with the porch door open and listen to the sounds of nature.  There is a little pond outside my window and a family of ducks and geese have arrived with the coming of spring.  I listened to the birds chirping and I found a new appreciation to the sometimes obnoxious way geese communicate.

I love the way he writes, his language is so simple yet it conveys a certain reverence to nature.  I highly recommend this book to anyone, as it will really open your eyes in a new way.  He also appeals to the foodie side of me.  This next excerpt shows how truly amazing nature is to all living things.

"Every region has a human food symbolic to its fatness.  The hills of the Gavilan find their gastronomic epitome in this wise: Kill a mast-fed buck, not earlier than November, not later than January.  Hang him in a live-oak tree for seven frosts and seven suns.  Then cut out the half-frozen 'straps' from their bed of tallow under the saddle, and slice them transversely into steaks.  Rub each steak with salt, pepper, and flour.  Throw into a Dutch oven containing deep smoking-hot bear fat and standing on live-oak coals.  Fish out the steaks at the first sign of browning.  Throw a little flour into the fat, then ice-cold water, then milk.  Lay a steak on the summit of a steaming sour-dough biscuit and drown both in gravy.
'This structure is symbolic.  The buck lies on his mountains, and the golden gravy is the sunshine that floods his days, even unto the end."                                        Excerpt from A Sand County Almanac
                                                                                                                                   (p. 151-152)

You can find this book on Amazon, or at your local library.  
                                                                                                                                     Happy Reading!