Sunday, November 28, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful SymmetryHer Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I mixed thoughts on this book. About 1/2 in I absolutely loved it and would give it 4 stars. However, by the end, I really didn't like where Niffenegger was taking the plot and I would give the 2nd half 2 stars. If you do the math, that leaves me with a 3 star rating. I know a lot of people loved Time Traveler's Wife, well, I wasn't one of them. I liked the flow of this book better and and I definitely felt the characters were stronger and more independent. I don't want to spoil it, but it was the last 1/4 of the book that really bothered me...way, way too unrealistic and almost not worth the mystery set up in the beginning.

Despite all of the above, the narration was wonderful!

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kitchen Dilemna

If you follow my blog, you've probably picked up that I love to be in the kitchen. That being said, I'm trying to determine what to do with our new kitchen. I took some pictures tonight and it's currently a dumping ground while we paint, so please disregard the mess.

Here's the kitchen walking in. I like having the space behind the stove and all, but I'd like some more counter space.

And as you can see, this wall is completely open.

As is the dividing wall...

So I'm left with deciding how to use that extra space. It's definitely enough space for a little table or a breakfast nook, but since the kitchen is directly next to the dining room, I really would prefer more counter space over a place to sit.

My initial thought was to add another row of bottom cabinets along the length of the long wall. However, I'm having trouble matching the cabinets. I know the current cabinets are aged, and they'll not be directly next to each other, but I still want to get as close as I can. I can't lie, the thought of redoing the whole kitchen has crossed my mind, but that's just not in our budget right now.

Another thought is purchase a kitchen cart or island, but I'm not falling in love with any. So, I'm trying to decide if I should settle on a kitchen cart for now and eventually redo all of the cabinets when we have the money, but I don't know when that will be...or if I should just try to find cabinets that are very close and go ahead and put in cabinets on the opposite wall.

Any thoughts or other suggestions? Also, any tips on removing wall paper?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We're Homeowners!!!

It's been a whirlwind of the past couple of weeks. Regardless, Joe and I are ecstatic to say we're now homeowners! Hopefully I'll be able to update the blog with our projects, but needless to say, Intern year has been just a wee bit busy.

Grand Finale

The Grand FinaleThe Grand Finale by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really, same old plot, different characters.

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Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms, #1)Graceling by Kristin Cashore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book! I truly didn't want it to end. I'd love to write more, but busy, busy, busy. Oh, and I loved the narration. Some of the music in the background was a little too much, but I loved having different voices for the characters.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


HonoluluHonolulu by Alan Brennert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is no doubt better than Brennert's Molakai, and that was pretty darn good too. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and I find myself reading a lot of stories set in Europe. I loved listening to the stories and struggles of the Asian characters and their transition to living in an American settlement. It's amazing how some individuals can be experiencing something so different than others somewhere else in the world during the same time period. I loved the character development, and I really felt Brennert captured emotions on all levels. If you're looking for a touching and inspiring story, I definitely recommend Honolulu.

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Stitch Pink!

I know I'm not the only one who's been affected personally by breast cancer. I was on call this year for Baltimore's Race for the Cure, and couldn't participate. When I saw DMC's Stitch Pink Campaign, I saw another way to help! Unfortunately, this meant I had to put my current cross-stitch project aside, but that's another story. I've been working on this blanket for almost a year and realize the pattern has too many color changes. The kicker, the baby for whom I'm making the blanket is already 4 months old.

I digress. I mailed my cross stitch blocks last week and was wondering if they received them. Today, DMC's blog posted a picture of the blocks they've received thus far...

...and I'm happy to see mine in the pile. So, since they're all alike, how do I know which two are mine? If you look closely at the two blocks in the utmost right corner, you'll see the images are surrounded by a raised rectangle--yup, that's from my annoying hoop for this project. It'll disappear after they stretch and steam the fabric. I'm excited to see how the quilt they're using these for turns out!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Banana Cake with Hazelnut Ganache

This cake was an epic fail. Since our current apartment living is only temporary, I didn't unpack my round cake pans and I tried to bake the cake in a 10x13 springform pan. The outer edges of the cake were chewy and the inside was just raw. I think the cake could have had some potential if I actually used the proper baking utensils.

The ganache on the other, OMG! I used half and half instead of heavy cream. It was still good, but I little too thin, plus I don't think I stirred it enough. Even if you don't try the cake, you must try the nutella ganache on something! Ahh, so when blogging this, I found the original blogger updated it to reflect US Nutella since that sold in Europe is thicker...recipe below in the updated one.


Recipe adapted from All Recipes


* 3/4 cup butter
* 1 1/2 cups white sugar 10.5 ounces
* 3 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup sour milk - buttermilk
* 1 cup mashed bananas - 3-4 bananas
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 10.63 ounces
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder


1. In a large bowl, mix together butter or margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, soda, and baking powder. Add these dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Add sour milk and bananas to the batter. Beat together well.
3. Line two 9 inch round cake pans, or one 9 x 13 inch pan with wax paper; the pans can be greased and floured instead, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 17 to 20 minutes for the layered cakes, or for 25 to 40 minutes for the sheet cake.

Recipe from Pam's Pantry

1/2 cup Nutella
1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy cream

Cook in heavy-bottomed sauce pan over MEDIUM heat*, stirring constantly until the mixture is completely smooth (~7-10 minutes). Let ganache cool slightly (~5 minutes). Pour over warm cake. Let the ganache cool completely before serving.

*Do NOT use HIGH heat; if you rush this, you won't like the results.

Note: If the mixture is too thin to set up as a typical ganache, simply re-warm it and stir in a handful of chocolate chips (preferably semi-sweet) until smooth. Also, I have not tried to whip this frosting, so I do not know if it can be used as a substitute for whipped ganache.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Irish Born

Irish Born (Born In trilogy #1-3)Irish Born by Nora Roberts

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Born in Fire: So far I've finished the first book in the trilogy. I have a sweet spot for anything Irish and I loved how this book took me back to my Irish vacation. Galway was my favorite stop on the trip, and I love that this is set in the West Country. That being said, I didn't fall in love with the book. I felt like the love story was a little forced. I'm really looking forward to reading about Brianna's story next and seeing how some of the previous plot lines develop.

Born in Ice: It was nice learning more about Bri's story, but the plot is so predictable, I couldn't enjoy it.

Born in Shame: I've opted to not read the third in the trilogy. I can already tell you excactly what will happen before I even pick up the first page.

Overall, I liked reading about characters set in Ireland, but the storyline was too predictable for me and the characters were sometimes annoying.

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