Thursday, September 24, 2015

Veggie and Grain Fritters

Eating more veggies is always a great way to eat healthier.  Today, I'm going to share a recipe that's easy to customize and make your own, using your favorites grains and veggies, or whatever you have on hand.

You can make these with any grain- rice, quinoa, barley, farro, whatever you like.  And you can also use whatever veggies or cheese you like.  I've made them with sweet potatoes, zucchini, or regular potatoes.  If you don't like cheese, you can leave it out, but I think a little Parmesan, feta, or white cheddar add to the flavor.  Here's what I used for this batch:

Veggie and Grain Fritters
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup finely chopped broccoli
1/2 cup grated carrots
3 green onions
2 eggs
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Until everything is combined.

Form into patties, much as you would cheeseburgers.  Lay on a flat plate or cookie sheet.   I usually end up with about a dozen patties.  Then pop them in the fridge for anywhere from half an hour to overnight.  This gives the patties a chance to firm up a little.

When ready, melt a little butter or oil in a pan and pan fry each patty over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, then flip and fry for approximately another 3 minutes. When patties are done, you can serve them on their own or with a dip of your choice.  I like them with  feta dill dressing best, but you could use ranch or a little Greek yogurt if you prefer.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday- Fall TBR List

Today I'm linking up with The Broke and The Bookish.  Every Tuesday they have a book related topic to post your top ten list to.  This week is your fall "to be read" list.  Some of these I own, some I'm on the lookout for, but this is reading wish list.

10. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
9.   MaddAdam by Margaret Atwood
8.   Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
7.   A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan
6.   Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
5.   In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
4.   Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
3.   On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
2.   The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
1.   Faithful Place by Tana French

What are you planning on reading in the next few months?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Field Trip to Crystal Cave

A few weeks ago, one of my girl friends and I decided to take her son and go on a little field trip.  So we got up bright and early and headed to Spring Valley, Wisconsin.  It's about two hours from home and the place where you can find the longest cave in Wisconsin. 

Crystal Cave is pretty much the epitome of a grade school field trip spot.  It's situated slightly out of town in a nice grassy area complete with picnic area and flowers.  The building that houses the cave entrance was built in 1942.

Entrance to Crystal Cave
To get to the cave, you have to take some stairs inside the building that seem to lead to the basement in the cave.  Inside, there are chairs and your guide will give you a little speech about not touching the cave walls, don't be afraid if you see a bat, etc. etc.  And then your led down even farther.  At the deepest point, you're more than 70 feet underground.

Crystal Cave is very well lit, and the path is very smooth.  The cave temp is always a cozy 50 degrees.  Our guide explained that all caves are always the average of their year round temp.  So, caves farther south would be warmer, and caves farther north would be cooler.

I didn't really get any good pictures inside the cave but it's very pretty.  Your guide will show you stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, and even some fossils.  It was really interesting to go back as an adult and I think the hour was worth the $15 admission price.  The tour is very interactive with the guide stopping to ask questions and point out interesting things.

Once we were done with the tour, we decided to go "panning for gemstones" for an additional $6 when you buy your ticket you can get a token to get a  bag of sand loaded with gemstones and rocks and take them out to a sluice outside to see what your bag contains.  We cashed in our tokens and went panning.

My friend Danielle and her son, panning.
It was actually pretty fun, and I think my friend Danielle and I enjoyed it just as much as her son did.  Our tour guide hung out at the sluicing area and told us the names of what we found too, which was nice.

My rock finds.
So, if you're ever near Spring Green, which is a little over an hour east of the Twin Cities, I really recommend taking the tour.  It's educational, it's entertaining, and it's fun for both kids and adults. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Cross Fit and Food Ruts

I actually had a three day weekend this past weekend!  It rarely happens without having to use a vacation day.  So, Friday I did errands, had lunch with my dad, and made soup.  Saturday my mom and I got up at 4am to head over to St. Cloud, Minnesota, to watch my baby brother compete in The Granite Games.  The Granite Games is a cross fit competition that draws competitors from all of the US and even some international competitors.  His team did really well and ended up winning!  I'm so proud of him! I didn't take many pictures, but here's a short clip from his Instagram account of some of his training.

While I have no desire to start doing cross fit, it was a good reminder that I needed to get back to clean eating.  I do okay, for the most part, but I still swipe the occasional candy bar or bag of chips out of the vending machine from work when I'm hungry (or if we're being honest- bored).  So, I'm planning a defense against the vending machines and pull of junk food.
  1.  Pack healthy and filling lunches.  No one likes to feel deprived, and watch everyone around them eat tasty junk foods while you nibble on flavorless lunches.  I signed up for Craftsy's Big Bowl Vegetarian Meals  (affiliate link).  I've watched the first two videos and am really looking forward to trying them.
  2. Pack healthy snacks.  For now I subscribe to NatureBox and love getting my snacks each month, but I'm looking for recipes to make on my own.
  3. Drink lots of water.  Water helps you feel more full, keeps your energy levels up, and is great for your skin.
I think if I follow these three steps, I can eliminate most of my junk food snacking, and get back into eating healthy all the time.  Any tips on eating cleaner?  What have you found works best for you?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Few Favorites- September Edition

So, I've been finding all sorts of cool things online lately, and thought I would share a couple with you.  Here's some of my recent finds.

  1. I read Kisses From Katie a few years ago, and still check in on Katie Davis' blog every now and then. The Masese women in Uganda make these necklaces and Katie's organization sells them, with the proceeds going to the women so they are able to make money and improve their standard of living.  This one is called The Lucy.
  2. I still have yet to make a quilt, but this Framed Quilt tutorial from Silk Road Life looks appealing.  It's made with precut layer cakes and looks pretty simple.  Some day... 
  3. The Alice Shopper Tote is a free pattern I found of Craftsy.  I haven't made it yet.   But, I did print the pattern off and intend to make it very soon.
  4. I love this quote from Van Gogh!  Loving people is not always easy for me, but I'm trying and it's a good reminder.  This was made by Etsy shop MB Art Studios.  It's no longer available, but they have a ton of other pieces for sale.
So what do you think?  Anything catching your eye this month?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Books N Bloggers Reveal from: abookolive

We've just finished the third Books N Bloggers Swap of the year.  But it went out with a bang! I was partnered with the lovely Olive from abookolive.  She's a video blogger on Youtube so it was so fun to watch her videos and get to know her.  Videos are a fun media and Olive does a great job with it.  Watching her talk about books made me want to read everything she was reading.  We do have very similar taste which was fun and unusual!

So for those unfamiliar with Chaotic Goddess' Books N Blogger swap, it works like this.  You send your partner one book off their wishlist, one book you've read and think they'll enjoy and one book that you have not read, but think would be up their alley.  So do you want to see what Olive picked for me?  You know you do!

So, for a book she's read that she thinks I'll enjoy, she picked Naomi Novik's Uprooted.  It involves a wizard called Dragon, and a girl trying to save her beautiful friend, but her friend may not be the one in danger...  I love books with a fantasy element in them, and this one looks right up my alley.

For a book from my wishlist, Olive chose The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.  This book involves space travel and something horrible happening to the whole crew.  There's only one survivor.  What happened?  Only Father Emilio Sandoz knows.  I've been warned this is a depressing book, but I'm still looking forward to reading it.  It's gotten good reviews on Goodreads and I think it sounds really interesting.

And finally, for the books she's read that she thinks I'll enjoy, Olive picked Faithful Place by Tana French.  I love the Dublin Murder Squad and adore Tana French!  I've read three of her other books, but hadn't been able to get my hands on this one yet.  Frank Mackey is a detective with Dublin Undercover and this book involves what happened to his girl Rosie, who he was all set to run away with 22 years ago.  But, Rosie never showed.  Now her suitcase has been found and the question is, what happened to Rosie?  Frank Mackey is a main character in The Likeness (my favorite of Tana's books so far) and Olive says this one is pretty awesome.  So I can't wait to read it.

Finally, she sent me an awesome metal bookmark with the quote "Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow".  That's a pretty good mantra.  I'm a bookmark user all the way, so this will be put to good use.

So if you want to see everyone's link ups, head over to Chaotic Goddess' page or just click the picture below.  And if you like books, check out abookoilive's channel.  Olive does a great and she'll help you find your next favorite.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September Goals

We've made it through the first week in September and I still haven't shared my goals for the month!  Or how I did on August.  (Spoiler alert- it wasn't that well.)  So let's just dive right in.

August Recap

  • Sew three large things, or seven smaller.  I did sew a few small things, but only five.  And none used up much fabric, so hopefully I can remedy that soon.
  • Write and/or walk for at least an hour a day.  I started.  But it wasn't an every day thing.  And I really fizzled the second half of the month.  But, I feel like at least I did something.
  • Get back on track with my eating.  It's been better, but still not where I want it to be.  I think I too often reach for something quick and easy instead of making a real meal.  I blame part of this on the fact that I eat most of my meals alone because my husband works days and I work second shift.  But, I got some new cookbooks to check out, and I'm going to do better.
  • Focus on being encouraging, not complaining. I think I did pretty good on this one.  Morale at work has been pretty poor lately, and even though I haven't wanted to be there, I try to have a good attitude when I do.  I try to focus on what I can do to make my coworkers lives easier.  Keep everyone's spirits up.  And, get all my work done.  We've been busier, so that helps because a big part of my problem is boredom when the census is low.
  • Do a little soul searching. I did a little bit.  I've been trying to decide if I want to go on for my bachelor's degree and if so in what.  My husband has a very good job, and we're in a remote area here, so there's all these factors to consider- cost of two more years of school, viability of finding a job in my field when I'm done that is in the area, will the job pay enough that it would make going to school worth it.  I don't know.  I've been checking out options online.  But, I'm no closer to any answers.
  • Plan Christmas shopping and tackle half of it.  November is National Novel Writing Month and I'd love to try it.  Then we're into December and want to actually enjoy the season and  I don't want to spend it rushing around trying to get my holiday shopping done.  So, that gives me September and October to get it done.  I've already made my list.  :)
  • Plan for a craft fair.  My friend Annie makes earrings and we have this big brainstorm that we should start doing some of the local craft fairs.  Her with her earrings and me with my sewing stuff.  There's an indoor fair in December and we thought we could try it out and see how it goes, but we need to get some stock made.  I've got a list made for that one and have started some projects too.
  • Stay ahead of schedule for school.  My last class for my associate's started September 2.  Everything is laid out and I have all future due dates wrote in my planner, so I think this one will be very doable.
  • Advertise on other blogs.  The reason for this is two fold.  I want to help support other bloggers and I think it will help hold me accountable and keep me posting if I know it's possible someone may be stumbling across my blog.
  • Devotions.  My days feel so much fuller when I start them by reading some devotionals and a passage or two in the Bible, really think about what I want my day to be like, and wrap it all up in a prayer.  I'm trying to get back into that habit.
So what are your goals for September?  If you're a blogger, you can link up with hosts My So Called Chaos and A Peek at Karen's World monthly link up.

Monthly Goals

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September 2015 Reading List

It's time for another month of mysteries.  And a wide variety of them at that!  Here's what I'm hoping to read in September:
  • Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith.  Goodreads describes it as such, "Stalin's Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law, but when a murderer starts to kill at will and Leo dares to investigate, the State's obedient servant finds himself demoted and exiled. Now, with only his wife at his side, Leo must fight to uncover shocking truths about a killer--and a country where "crime" doesn't exist." I don't read a lot that takes place in Russia, not on purpose, it just doesn't come into my path very often.  But, this book sounded very interesting.  And I love that it's Leo and his wife against everyone else.  There's also a movie on Netflix, starring Tom Hardy as Leo, Noomi Rapace as his wife (who played Lisabeth Salander in the original "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" movies), and Joel Kinnaman (previously of "The Killing").  It just released this year, but I'm guessing it must be kind of a mess because it has some big names in it, but I don't recall ever seeing a preview for it.
  • The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl.  Pearl writes historical literary mysteries.  I've read The Poe Shadow and The Dante Club and enjoyed both of them, so I'm interested in what he'll do with Dickens world.  Goodreads describes it as, "Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dickens’s untimely death reaches the office of his struggling American publisher, Fields & Osgood, partner James Osgood sends his trusted clerk Daniel Sand to await the arrival of Dickens’s unfinished novel. But when Daniel’s body is discovered by the docks and the manuscript is nowhere to be found, Osgood must embark on a transatlantic quest to unearth the novel that he hopes will save his venerable business and reveal Daniel’s killer." Pearl has a way of  bringing cities and people to life and this one looks pretty promising.
  • Life Sentences by Laura Lippman.  I read What the Dead Know a few years back and while it was really interesting and kept me up too late, I remember feeling a little let down by the end.  But, it was more a personal thing, not a problem with the author. So, when I found two of her books on clearance at Goodwill a few months back, I snapped them up.  Goodreads description of this one is, 
    Author Cassandra Fallows has achieved remarkable success by baring her life on the page. Her two widely popular memoirs continue to sell briskly, acclaimed for their brutal, unexpurgated candor about friends, family, lovers—and herself. But now, after a singularly unsuccessful stab at fiction, Cassandra believes she may have found the story that will enable her triumphant return to nonfiction.

    When Cassandra was a girl, growing up in a racially diverse middle-class neighborhood in Baltimore, her best friends were all black: elegant, privileged Donna; sharp, shrewd Tisha; wild and worldly Fatima. A fifth girl orbited their world—a shy, quiet, unobtrusive child named Calliope Jenkins—who, years later, would be accused of killing her infant son. Yet the boy's body was never found and Calliope's unrelenting silence on the subject forced a judge to jail her for contempt. For seven years, Calliope refused to speak and the court was finally forced to let her go. Cassandra believes this still unsolved real-life mystery, largely unknown outside Baltimore, could be her next bestseller.
  •  Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan.  This one has been on my reading list for quite a while, so I was pretty excited when I found it in a used bookshop while on a road trip a few months back.  One of my friends read it, and she said it was interesting, but really wouldn't tell me much about it.  Goodreads blurb says, "The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls."

    So after a month of mostly nonfiction, I'm looking forward to curling up with some mysteries to kick off autumn.  What are you reading this month?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

August Book Recap

August was a good month for me for reading.  I didn't feel like doing much so I spent a lot of time curled up with a book.  Here's a reap of what I bought and what I read.

I made it through all my August to read books except The Tipping Point which I am currently reading, and I even snuck in two old picks that I hadn't read in the month I was shooting for.  Sarah's Key was on my June reading list, and Me Before You was supposed to be read in May.  But, I finally got around to both of them this month.

First up, let's talk abut what I read:
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch was not at all what I was expecting.  It was more a biography than anything.  I think this book definitely gained traction because Randy was dying when he wrote it.  Everyone wants to feel like they will have something that outlives them and in Randy's case, his children were so young when he found out he was terminal, he felt like he wanted to leave some words of wisdom, stories, and such behind for them.  I don't want to sound like I'm ragging on this book, because you gotta respect the place it came from, it just wasn't as amazing as it was hyped to be, but still worth the quick read. 
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was good.  It stuck with me for a while after I put it down.  I'll be honest, I pretty much read it because I like to read the book before I see the movie, and I heard they're filming the movie version of this one right now.  It was an interesting read, had good characters and I really liked how they developed and grew.  Even the secondary characters were at least decently fleshed out.  I don't want to give anything away, so if you haven't read it yet, it's worth the read. 
  • Unafraid by Susie Davis was reviewed by me here. 
  • Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott was pretty interesting.  It's a collection of biographical essays.  I like her.  She reminds me of my friend Chris, who's a massage therapist.  They always seem to be able to find the good in people and they have very clear ideas of who they are.  I'm excited to read more of her writings.   
  • Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rossay left me with mixed feelings.  A whole spectrum of 'em.  I had never heard of the Vel d'Hiv Roundup during the German occupation of France, and I don't really understand why not, because it's sounds pretty horrible.  The book alternates between Sarah's story during the round up and Julia's story taking place sixty years later.  The book was suspenseful and heartbreaking, yet had a few happy points too. The ending is what really turned me off.  It felt like De Rossay's editor told her the story needed a little more romance so they slapped together this not really believable chain of events to tie the two stories together even more and give Julia a happy ending.  It was worth the read, but the ending really didn't feel realistic in my mind.

What I Acquired:
For once it's the same amount as what I read.
  • Missing You by Harlan Coban was on my book wishlist.  I don't remember why or when I put it there, but when I saw the book available on Bookmooch, I figured I'd snap it up. 
  • The Garden of Beasts is by Erik Larson, one of my favorite history writings.  I already read Devil in the White City and really liked it.  I had also bought a copy of this one for Jolene when we were paired up in a previous CG Books and Bloggers swap. I found it for a couple bucks at Goodwill and had to get it.
  • A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rossay was found on the same Goodwill trip.  I hadn't read Sarah's Key yet, but this was on clearance for .99 so I thought I'd take a chance on it.
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson was acquired when I won a blog giveaway over a Just Bee and came with a super cute mug too.  I love the shape of it.  Anyways, Hannah had all good things to say about this book, and sense I like fantasy stories, I was super happy to win it.
  • Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott arrived in the mail yesterday.  It was another Bookmooch find.  It's fiction, but sense I liked  Traveling Mercies so much, I'm interested to read more of her works.
2015 Totals
Read: 30
Acquired: 42

What about you?  Did you read anything good last month?  Let me know!