Monday, March 28, 2016

Big Bowls Hearty Vegetarian Meals Class Review

I love Craftsy.  I've talked about it here and here and here and probably even some other times.  I just made Babka (using the recipe and techniques I learned in the artisan bread making class a few years ago) for Easter brunch this Sunday.  The other day I was checking out my Craftsy profile and realized I've enrolled in thirteen different classes!  But I've only taken two all the way through.  So, I decided I should go back and finish some of the other ones!

I focused my attention on Big Bowls Hearty Vegetarian Meals because this class was a little out of my comfort zone, but not beyond my skills.  When I signed up for the class, I was in a bit of a food rut and looking for some new ideas.  This class definitely supplied them.  It was six different lessons- each featuring a whole grain topped with unique veggies and proteins along with homemade sauces or seasoning mixes.  In this class you learn how to cook farro, wild rice, beans and rice, bulgar, black rice, and quinoa.

I made the traditional style beans and rice and was really impressed with the tips provided and step by step instructions.  I also made the farro recipe which was topped with a savory mushroom ragout.  It was super tasty and it was fun to use a new type of mushroom.  The black rice with Mediterranean peppers was good, but not a favorite.  I guess I'm just not that big of a fan of cooked peppers and tomatoes.  The wild rice bowl involves marinating and baking tofu, which I'm interested in trying.  I've never been a big fan of tofu, but think a marinade might help.

The recipes are very clean, with very little canned ingredients and a wide variety of spices.  It really gave me a lot of ideas for trying new vegetables and incorporating more whole grains in my diet.  If you're new to vegetarian eating, or just trying to eat cleaner, this class may be just the thing you need.  The instructor, Martha Rose Shulman really walks you through every step of the way, provides lots of tips for getting the most flavor out your veggies and how to cook them.

If you're interested in learning more, just click the link to be taken to the class page.  You can take the class at your own pace, and your access never expires, so even after you're done, you can always go back and review if you want to see something again.  There's also a super handy printout that includes all the recipes.

Note: All links are affiliate links, which means if you click on them, and then decide to purchase the class, I receive a small commission.  However, all thoughts are my own.  I paid for this class myself, and would not recommend anything I did not feel confident in.

Monday, March 14, 2016

March Goals

March is flying right by.  It's going so fast, I feel like I'm barely holding on to its coattails and being dragged along for the ride.  This past weekend was my first weekend off in a month and it was spent just recovering from the week.  I was at work past 1am twice in the last week (normally, I'm done by 11:30pm and in bed sleeping by about midnight).  So, it wasn't a super productive weekend.  But, if I don't post my March goals soon, it's going to be April.

But first, February.. It was actually a pretty successful month.  Here's a recap:

  • Read Four Books. Success!  I read these four.
  • Exercise five times a week for 20 minutes a time.  Success!  Actually enjoying the treadmill?!  I never would have thought it was possible.
  • Morning Pages.  Failed!  Wrote maybe five times tops.
  • Celebrate Valentine's Day. Did great!  I left treats for my husband every day in his brief case from the 1st to the 14th, I sent Valentine's cards, and made goodie bags up for my coworkers that had to work that day at the hospital.
  • Try hand embroidery.  Really enjoyed it and will show you my first project soon.
  • Daily devotions.  Did pretty well.  Missed a few days here and there, but not many.
  • Make curtains for office and kitchen.  Fail.  Started the kitchen curtains but didn't get anywhere near done.
So, I was pretty happy with my success rate.  Always room for improvement but pretty solid considering February can be mind numbing in Wisconsin.

For March

  • Read four books.
  • Daily devotions.
  • Exercise five times a week for 30 minutes a time.  Thirty minutes didn't seem like that much of a stretch, but it's been stretching me.
  • Finish kitchen curtains.
  • Plan meals.  I feel like I throw out a lot of food, and eat more processed than I should, so I thought if I do better about planning, it should help.
  • Make one item of clothes for me.  Since I've lost some weight, I've noticed a lot of my clothes doesn't fit.  I found a dress I had cut out over a year ago, so I think I may finally sew that up.
  • Write daily in some form.  If it's not daily pages, than blog posts, letters to friends, or something else.  I got 642 Things to Write About for a birthday gift, so I'm going to try to give that a shot.

 So what are you shooting for in March?  Head over to the link up at My So Called Chaos to see everyone's posts.

Friday, March 4, 2016

March Reading List

In February I got through about 2 and half books on my list and finished up the January list.  This month I have a whole new group I pulled from my shelves to read. Here's what I'm hoping to get read:

Selected Stories by O. Henry- My classic literature pick for the month is by my favorite short story writer.  I've loved O. Henry since high school, crying through the pages of "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Last Leaf" and marveling at the twists he can pull in just a few pages.  If I could write one story as good as his, I would be happy.

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson- Larson writes such compelling nonfiction that reads like fiction.  I loved Devil in the White City, so when I found this one at Goodwill for half price, I snapped it up.  This book is about William E. Dodd who was America's ambassador to Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler.

Gracious Living in a New World by Alexandra Stoddard- I found this one at the thrift shop, dust jacket long since gone, stain on the cover, but inside surprisingly pristine.  This book is all about how to have a calmer, kinder, gentler, sweeter, and more gracious life in our increasingly busy world.  It was published in 1996, but I'm sure there are still lessons to be gleaned from it. 

And finally, after sitting on my book shelf for over two months: The Secret Place by Tana French- Do you ever resist using something because then it will be gone?  Like, perfume you love the smell of, but you only wear it on special occasions so it'll last longer?  Or like a piece of fabric you don't want to cut into because then it'll be gone, and what if what you make doesn't do it justice?  That's kind of how I feel about this book.  Once I read it, there's nothing left by Tana French for me to read until she writes another book.  But I see her next book is expected to come out this August, so I'm going to take the plunge and read this one.  I really like Stephen in Faithful Place, so I'm interested to see how he does in a more leading role.

 What are you reading this month? 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February Book Recap

So February was a mixed bag as far as months go. I got a lot read, didn't add anything new. I celebrated my 33rd birthday (which in itself is a mixed bag). Got a lot accomplished, but was also off work a lot- which is part of why I was able to get so much accomplished. And, our family dog, Gus, which my parents got when I still lived at home, before I had even met my husband, unexpectedly passed away.

Books Read
February Book Recap

But, lets focus on one of the positives.  Here's what I read:
  • C.S. Lewis: Through the Shadowlands by Brian Sibley- This was my favorite read of the month.  C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors and I really enjoyed getting a kind of peek into his life and especially into his marriage.  It's always interesting when you picture someone a certain way and then see another dimension of them that changes how you view them.  I also liked getting more of an inside look at his Inklings group and what went on there.  It's an inspiring story, but sad in parts too.  I cried at more than a few points. 
  • Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman-  This book was interesting, but I felt the story got a little out of control at the end, and unrealistic.  There was a lot of Norse mythology and symbolism from the author in this book.  It felt a little heavy handed at times, like one of the character getting scares in his palms that they compared to the stigmata.  From the point of view of someone who works in health care, I didn't really buy the cause and that he survived the "accident", but who knows, maybe he was supposed to represent Christ and how he changed afterwards represented a resurrection of sorts.  Others may like all the symbolism, but for me, when I read a mystery, I just want a mystery.  And I felt like this book could have been a great story without the extra sprinkles- it's the story of a high school kid who shoots the town sheriff and the effects it has on his pregnant English teacher, his father, and the town in general.  What had he planned?  Why had he done it?  The dust jacket said Maltman is a creative writing teacher and it shows.  It's not good or bad, it just shows.  If I stumble across another of his books, I'd probably pick it up because he writes well and keeps you turning the pages, just not my preferred style.
  • Life Sentences by Warren W. Wiersbe- I just realized this is the second book called "Life Sentences" that I've read in the last few months.  This is nothing like Laura Lippman's book though.  Wiersbe's book is 63 mini character studies of people from the Bible.  They were interesting and offered new insight into their lives and backgrounds.  Each was only a few pages long, so I read one with my morning quiet time.
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Evey-  I really liked this book, and it was a fast read, even though it was a decent size book.  I had first heard of it when I was paired with Jolene of With A Little Help From My Friends in a book swap, and she had requested it.  Basically, the meat of the story is about an older couple who have moved to the wild Alaska of the 1920s, they are unable to have children and are barely surviving at making a homestead for themselves.  Mabel, the wife, is despairing, even though it was her idea to move to Alaska, her husband fears he's too old for the back breaking work and is worried they won't last another year there.  Their relationship is strained and almost to the breaking point, but one night, the snowflakes are falling big and fluffy, and in a moment of lightness, they make a snow girl, just for fun.  The next day, they're visited by a girl with a red fox who is wearing the mittens they had put on their snow girl and seems to be from the woods.  As the story progresses, you only get more and more confused about the girls origins- is she an orphan, a fairy, or just a delusion of two desperate souls?  The Snow Child is partially based on a Russian folk tale.  I was sad with the ending, but it was definitely worth the read.

What I acquired? Nothing!  I was a good girl this month, but I don't expect it will last through March.  There's a library book sale in my friend Lori's town, so I'll be checking that out this month!

2016 Totals
Read 7
Acquired 6

And here's a picture of Gus.  He loved to ride in my Outback.  (Probably because it usually ended with a trip to the park or McDonalds.)  He was such a good boy and already missed!

Gus Dog
Gus, my parents dog, riding in my car last summer.