Monday, November 8, 2010

On Their Way

Just a short, mostly picture post to show some outgoing I've put in the mailbox in the past few days... These are all very long overdue...sorry peeps!

For Belen...

Heading out to Megan...

To Lauren...

Above two are going out for Postcrossing, one to Montana here in the states and one to Lithuania.  It's been a while since I participated in Postcrossing so I thought I'd give it a go.

That long break really made me forget how much I enjoy writing!  Once I sat down and started writing letters & postcards and making envelopes I enjoyed it so much and was so happy I got back into the swing of things.  Sometimes breaks are just what you need to remind yourself how much you miss or enjoy something!

Hope this mail finds all of its recipients well!  Happy Monday everyone.

Friday, November 5, 2010


From here.  Do you guys fill up imaginary shopping carts on sites like this too and drool over things you really shouldn't spend money on?

It's another warm day here where I am... woke up at a decent time and got in a an hour of tennis and a nice breakfast out with J before he had to go to work.  I set up a desk area for myself (finally) after being inspired by a couple other bloggers here and here.  No more writing and working at the coffee table hunched over, or at the kitchen table with all my stuff strewn about.  I finally have a dedicated area with all my mail supplies, all my wonderful inbound mail to look at, etc., and a nice open desk space with room to do my thing.  And that's exactly what I did today!  I opened the window wide up, made myself an iced coffee, put on some music, and started rifling through magazines for good material for some handmade envelopes.  Check 'em out:

All 8 of 'em together...

A couple of my favorites from today:

From GQ mag...

Also from GQ

Dog food ad from a food magazine...

It really does make a huge difference to get a nice space set up for yourself to do your work.  I am so much more inspired to be creative and do good work at the desk now!  I can't wait to fill it up with fun stuff... I'm thinking of hanging favorite postcards, inspirational quotes (anyone have any good ones?), and fun art all over the place.  Once it's a little more exciting to look at I'll post some photos for you all to see.

Before I end this post I wanted to prove that I've made some headway on my list of outbound letters that need to be written, haha.  I had 10 letters to respond to, all in order, and of course they got out of order, so I just kind of randomly chose who I responded to first... and the winner was...

I tried to send a nice pile of goodies for Bianca since she sent me such a wonderful set of stuff in her last letter to me.  It's hard to match her level of wonder...ful...ness(?) haha, but I think she'll like what I sent along!  :)

I p-p-promise to get to work on the rest of my incoming pile of letters that need responses ASAP.  Until next time!

P.S. - See an envelope you like?  Don't hesitate to ask; I have more than I know what to do with so I'd be happy to send your next letter in one or just send you one for you to use however your please.  Leave a comment if you're interested!  :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

The soup in all its close-up glory.

The weather here has been very strange lately, and it seems every time I put the flannel sheets on the bed in preparation for cold weather, it heats up beyond belief.  You never quite know what to expect when planning meals because it could be hot, hot, hot during the day, but cool down considerably at night.  Shouldn't it just be cold, wet, and rainy in November?  Can't I just put away the shorts and t-shirts and bring out the coats, sweaters, and umbrellas?  Guess not.  The following recipe finds a perfect balance - a soup that isn't so stewy that you would regret making it if it turned out to be hotter than you expected, and at the same time would still warm and satisfy you if it got really chilly.  Like many of the recipes featured on my blog, it is an adaptation from an original recipe.  In this case, the original came from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) here.

I got about 25 meatballs out of my mixture at this size.


3/4 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs (from 2 slices white bread pulsed in food processor)
2 minced garlic cloves
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons half & half
1 egg
Kosher salt & pepper

Olive Oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
10 cups chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup small pasta (I used mini bowties)
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach


Preheat your oven to 350F.

To make the meatballs, combine ground turkey through egg, plus 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer.  (Some chefs may cringe at the fact that I made my meatballs in a mixer because it should be done by hand for a lighter, less dense meatball, but honestly, it saves me the time and mess or doing it by hand and mixes it really well, and I don't notice a HUGE difference if I do it by hand or with a fork.  Do it however you please, this is just my preference.  If I was at work and had foodhandler gloves handy, I'd probably just do it by hand, but at home, I tend to use my mixer).   After the mixture is well-combined, form into 1 to 1-1/4 inch meatballs and place on a parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, until thoroughly cooked and lightly browned.  Set aside for use later.

For the soup, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large soup pot.  Add the onions, carrot, and celery and saute until softened.  In this case, you just want the veggies to "sweat," not caramelize.  Keep your burner at medium-low and let them cook gently.  Once softened, add the stock and wine and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the boiling broth and cook until the pasta is tender (all pasta will vary, check periodically for doneness).  Add the dill and the meatballs and simmer briefly, then taste for seasoning.  Stir in the spinach, in batches if necessary, until just wilted, then serve.  Garnish with fresh parsley and/or dill, and Parmesan cheese if desired.

How romantic!  :)  I also made scallion biscuits and a simple green salad to go with the soup.  Such a nice meal...

Monday, November 1, 2010


Best.  Granola.  Ever.

I've known that granola like this exists, because I've eaten it many times, but I've never made it myself.  It's crunchy, it's sweet, but not too sweet, and my favorite part, it's got those big crunchy clusters you hear about in Honey Bunches of Oats commercials.  I knew there must be a secret to making this type of granola but I never knew what it was - until now.  I saw Alton Brown make his granola recipe and wanted to try it out, and after a couple minor changes, I got the granola I'm talking about.  The secrets I found, are the three Ts: temp, time, and turning.  I have never had the patience to wait around mess around with the granola for the amount of time this recipe requires, but believe me, it is truly worth it (and not actually as much work as my lazy self had assumed)!  Here is the recipe (like I said, adapted from the wonderful Alton Brown's here):

Close-up during one of the flips...


3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 250F.

In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, cashews, coconut, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine the honey, oil, and salt.  Pour the liquid mixture into the oat mixture and mix well.  Pour the mixture onto a sheet pan(s) so it is in an even layer.  (Make sure the pan is very well-greased or lined with parchment or wax paper to avoid sticking while turning and after the cooking process is done).

Cook for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure an even color and to avoid burning.  After the time is up, remove the sheet pan and let cool.  The mixture will still seem a little wet, but after it cools it dries out a bit and becomes crispy, crunchy, and gets those wonderful little clusters.  After the mixture is cool, break up to your liking and mix in the cranberries.

I try my very best to avoid dairy, so I enjoy this granola for breakfast with my favorite almond milk, but you can enjoy it with your favorite milk, yogurt, ice cream, or just dry as a snack in between meals.  ENJOY!  :)

Some other combinations for fruit/nuts you can try:

-Dried cherries & almonds
-Dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and pecans, tossed with some cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (perfect for the holidays)!
-Cashews, almonds, crushed banana chips, and crystallized ginger (tropical style)