Monday, June 27, 2011

Books: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

I've been having trouble reading books lately.  The difficulty isn't so much with the reading part, it's the concentration part.  I have at least a dozen books in my queue, but I can't seem to finish any of them.  It's a bit disconcerning, considering I used to read several books a week.  Reading was my thing; now, it seems like I can't even get through a magazine in one sitting. 

Less than a week ago, I bought Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby on a bargain table for $5.  I'd been wanting to read it for a while, and I wasn't disappointed.  The book was straight-foward and well-written; the important part is the story and Hornby doesn't beat around the bush or withhold details from his reader.  I loved the English seaside past-its-prime town where two of the three main characters live, a place much like my own hometown which has seen better days but used to be something great.  In a way, Hornby's characters are like that, too; they are past their primes and trying to figure out if they are destined to be in fledging relationships for the rest of their lives or if they can salvage something special for themselves in some way.  Music is important to Hornby and Juliet, Naked revolves around it, a melody always playing in the background.  The story itself is quirky but true, and when the book ends, there is no clear-cut conclusion, which just adds to the realistic messiness splayed across the pages. 

Once I started, I couldn't put this book down.  When I read the last page this morning, I closed it gently and smiled.  I'm back on track, or so it seems, thanks to Juliet, Naked

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We Shall Have Our Colors and Eat Them Too

I haven't had much luck with rainbow cakes.  My Easter cake with the green and pink layers was cute, but the Mother's Day cake with layers in varying shades of pink was a disaster.  As I psych myself up to try this awesome dobos torte recipe (I've been looking for a seven-layer cake recipe for months and this one that Smitten Kitchen featured a few days ago looks perfect), I can't help but want to give the rainbow layer cake one more try.  I mean, who wouldn't want some of this at a dinner party:

Or this one at a birthday celebration:

And of course, I couldn't pass up a piece of Flag Cake on July 4th:

I just love festive desserts...have you ever made a rainbow layer cake?  If so, share your secrets!

Photo of pink gradient cake from Call Me Cupcake; photo of 28-layer cake from Darius Monsef; photo of flag cake from Glorious Treats (via Babble)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Official Muppet Movie Trailer!

I cannot WAIT for the Muppet movie to come out in November! This is one film that we'll be seeing at midnight the night it's released along with all the other cool kids...

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Magazine Love Affair

Two months in and we're still organizing our new place.  There are just a few boxes left but were running out of room so I've decided that I really need to get rid of things that I've been keeping for inexplicable reasons.  Mixed in with books, old bank statements, receipts and postcards, I've found over 15 magazines that I need to read, re-read or go through to tear out 'important' articles. 

As of now, I receive five magazines in the mail. Most are monthly, but my favorite, New York, comes every week.  Lately, they've been piling up quickly and I haven't had much time to tackle the stack.  When I'm shopping, I find it hard not to throw Real Simple on the conveyor belt.  And I almost never leave Barnes and Noble without a few magazines.  I love fresh ideas and glossy pages.  It's such a great thing to support these publications but I ultimately end up with way more reading material than I can get to.

Someone I know who used to work at a bookstore once told me that when the new magazines come in, the store employees have to rip off the front covers and ditch the rest.  How painful does that sound?  If that was me, I'd have to restrain myself from shoving dozens of issues into my purse to take home.  I'm coming around to the idea of online magazines though and as the publishing world becomes smaller, I think that fewer and fewer magazines will be publishing hardcopies.  Does anyone else have a pile of magazines that needs to be read?  Am I the only one who rips out articles in almost every issue I read?

Photo of my reading material

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Excessive Peanut Butter and Jelly

I bought my sister-in-law, Kristine, the Baked cookbook for Christmas this year. I really want to check out the actual bakery in Brooklyn but haven't gotten there so when I saw Brown-Eyed Baker's post on Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, which are made from a Baked recipe, I knew I had to make them.

There are several layers to these bars so there are different phases to this recipe.  First, the bottom crust is pressed into the bottom of a pan and put into the freezer for while to set.

I made the peanut butter filling (which I'm calling peanut butter mousse), slathered it on and used seedless raspberry jam for the jelly layer.  I love that the crumbs on top included oats.

Full disclosure: these are the most delicious bars I think I've ever had.  BUT, I cannot believe how much butter and peanut butter the recipe called for. I was scared that my heart would start cramping after my first bite (I'm kind of kidding, but not really).  That said, I would so make them again to bring to a party.  My co-workers came back for seconds and that's a sign that they are a real crowd-pleaser.

For the recipe, visit Brown-Eyed Baker. And let me know if you've ever been to Baked!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Then there was one...

I've only had three hubcaps on my car for the last few years.  One day, the front passenger side hubcap was on my car, and the next day, it was just gone.  I didn't think it was a big deal so I never replaced it.  But this morning, as I left my condo and headed out to my car, I noticed that both hubcaps on my driver's side has disappeared. 

How long has it been like this?  There was a really bad storm last night so my first thought was that they flew off in the 60 mph winds, but now I'm not sure.  Would I have noticed if they flew off while I was driving on the highway?  And here's the most important question: should I purchase new hubcaps for my car or just take off the lone hubcap that still clinging to that back tire? Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sprinkles, for Real

Almost five years ago, when Anthony and I were in Phoenix, Sprinkles was opening a location in Scottsdale but we were a few weeks too early.  I remember being so disappointed because I'd heard great things about the place, but just within the last couple of months, Sprinkles has headed east.  There is one in Washington DC and another store just opened on the Upper East Side.

The cupcake craze might be waning but I'm still on board.  I'm not a huge cake fan so cupcakes are the perfect size dessert for me and I'd love to try Sprinkles since it was the first all-cupcake bakery. And after seeing a photo of the inside of the store, I'm in love with the giant stools that look like frosted cake.

Has anyone ever been to a Sprinkles bakery? I wonder how the cupcakes compare with Crumbs...

Photo courtesy of New York Times

Monday, June 6, 2011

This is why...

we don't shop in bulk.

This box of Cheerios is so large that it doesn't even fit in a cabinet.  I'm glad our BJ's membership is a free 60-day trial.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

NYC in Motion

New York is one of the greatest cities in the world, and it's one of my favorite places.  This time-lapse video from filmmaker Josh Owens is spectacular. So much happens on such a small island and Owens catches the beauty in all of the small things that make Manhattan great.  I especially love the traffic as it funnels in and out of the streets.  What's your favorite part?

Mindrelic - Manhattan in motion from Mindrelic on Vimeo.

Via Gawker, via New York magazine