Monday, July 27, 2009

Things I'm Enjoying Right Now

1. Arrested Development: We borrowed the series from our friends, Laine and Adam, and just started watching it a lot the past few weeks. We're still on Season 1, but we really like it so far. It's also a fave of Marissa's, so I don't know why it took me so long.
2. Exercising: I resurrected my Polar HRM the other day and I'm really enjoying kicking into high gear. I've been taking Les Mills' BodyPump class at my gym for a little more than two months now and I really love that as well.
3. Makeup: This is a relatively new and minor thing, but I'm trying to relearn how to wear makeup again. I don't have a lot of the basic tools (brushes and things) or the basic skills (liquid liner still is not my friend), but I'm enjoying it so far. I'm trying to take better care of my skin as well.
4. Cooking: I decided about a week ago that Ryan and I were going to avoid shopping until August. I figured two weeks would be enough time to deplete our well-stocked pantry a bit. It's been fun cooking a bit more again. So far I've made steak, honey mustard chicken and blueberry pancakes.

Book #32: Columbine

Columbine Columbine by Dave Cullen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amazingly, Dave Cullen was able to cut through hundreds of thousands — maybe millions? — of paperwork to write the authoritative journalistic work on Columbine shootings. From the first page, this book was riveting. Cullen breaks down the hysteria and misconceptions surrounding Columbine. He tells the stories of that day (and the ones before and after) so well. I think this book is a must-read for any journalist, educator or historian.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book #31: Made in America

Sam Walton: Made In America Sam Walton: Made In America by Sam Walton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sam Walton's book was much more pleasant to read than I thought it would be. Written in the years before his death, the book gives a brief history of Wal-Mart and also serves as an ode to Walton's self-made principles. I felt that a large part of the book was spent answering his critics — those who called him cheap and who thought Wal-Mart could have treated their employees better — and at times the book came off as defensive.

I grew up going to Wal-Mart (Wally World as my mom still calls it whenever we're in Great Bend) and now I live in Wal-Mart's playground, so it was interesting (and humbling) to see how the company came to fruition. I was also surprised to learn that the Topeka store that my family frequented when I was in high school was one of only two HyperMart concept stores in the country.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Yummo

I told the hub that I would make dinner tonight, so I went digging around in our treasure trove of a freezer and came up with about 1.3 pounds of frozen sirloin. Yea! I was so excited because we're trying to make it until August without grocery shopping (beyond the perishable essentials) and I was sure a bland chicken dinner was in my future.

Ry and I really like steak, but because we are a grill-less home, we usually make ours stovetop-style. We do have a Foreman, but that sucker that I just had.to.have. has been put away in a cabinet for years.

But a friend changed all of that when he printed me out his go-to recipe for steak cooked indoors:

Sirloin Steak
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Prep Time: 2 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 16 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak, 1 to 1 1/4-inches thick
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
Preheat oven on broiler setting. Make foil 'snake' out of aluminum foil to use to keep oven door slightly ajar so that broiler won't turn off if it gets too hot. Brush steak with oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Place a piece of foil on the bottom rack as a drip pan. Place another rack in the position above this and put the steak directly on this rack. Cook steak in this position for 5 minutes. Flip steak and cook for another 5 minutes. Move rack with steak to top position in oven, moving rack with foil and drippings just underneath, and cook for 3 minutes. Flip 1 last time and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer steak to wire rack and rest for 3 to 5 minutes. The above times are for medium doneness. Adjust cooking times up or down as desired.
The steaks came out wonderful and juicy. I served it with some steamed asparagus, salad and my favorite frozen rolls. We also finally cracked open the bottle of wine I brought home from Israel. (Proof that we're not big drinkers — that bottle has been sitting on my countertop since my return in March.)

It was my first time using my broiler, but it was so easy that it might have to become a regular addition to my very limited repertoire. The only downside to using the broiler was that it made throwing in my favorite rolls a la Pillsbury a little more difficult. I think next time I'll cut down the cook time because the steaks came out well-done (perfect for Ryan, but not so much me).

The rest of the weekend is going to be spent cleaning and working out (me) and working in the yard and studying (him). It's catchup weekend I guess.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Book #26-30: Emily Giffin books

There is something satisfying about knowing you have read all an author's books. Even if she's only written four: Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof and Love the One You're With.

The past few weeks I have been devouring Emily Giffin's books. Every time I go to Borders, I seemed to be drawn to her books' covers (I guess I do judge a book by its cover). Finally, I gave in and picked up two of her books at my library and reserved the other two.

It's not that her books are fantastic. What they are is tried-and-true chick lit. They're all set in New York. The protagonists all have to-die-for careers. Etc. Etc. I did like that for the most part the protagonists are all very much adult. These aren't characters who live *fabulous* New York lives. For the most part, the protagonists are very relatable and easy to root for.