Books make me happy

April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

These last few weekends I was away visiting family and friends and everyone kept asking me what my favorite part about graduating has been so far. This is a tough question, as EVERYTHING about graduating is just about perfect. It’s the simple things, like having an established routine and having the time to cook dinner, that make me happy. Or being able to go out for drinks with my fabulously fun co-workers on a Tuesday and meet my girlfriends for a movie on a Wednesday. I was always the busy friend. People would text me things like, “I know you’re really super busy, but if you can get out of a meeting early do you want to take 20 minutes to get yogurt?” I always dreaded those weekly meetings and mandatory requirements that kept me from seeing my favorite people!

Now, I have weekly things that I do, like dance class at Ballet Austin or kickboxing with my co-workers, but if something more fun and exciting comes up, I can push my workout to later or skip the dance class. I love the flexibility. It’s something that I’ve never had before in my whole life and I’m relishing in the delicious feeling of choice.

Aside from gallivanting about town, I take tremendous pleasure in plopping on my comfy, overstuffed couch and reading a juicy book. Yes, I’m one of those girls who loves her beach reads. BUT they’re usually substantial beach reads. Like the ones, with complex plots and only sort-of predictable endings. I forgot how much I enjoyed reading when I was busy studying for tests and staying at practice until midnight. Now that I have free evenings, I’ve turned a page in my life (oh yes, I like puns) and started picking up more books!

For other girly girls (and maybe guys) here are summaries of my most recent favorites. They’re making a movie out of Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. I saw a few clips and heard from Kate Hudson on the Today Show this morning. It looks ADORABLE, and very Hudson-esque. She plays the mean girl. P.S. She coyly showed off her massive sparkly rock from her new fiancé. Someday, if I fall in love with a handsome rock star can I have one too?! I’ll probably be at the movie opening night with my ladies…we’re obsessed with Giffin’s books and they’re all lovingly dog-eared from being passed back and forth.

#1 – Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Summary: Something Borrowed is the story of goody-two-shoes Rachel, an attorney transplanted from small town suburbia to New York City. Feeling incredibly old, on her 30th birthday, she watches as her childhood best friend and party girl, Darcy, gets trashed. After a few too many drinks and a life of jealously and frustration, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy’s fiancé. ***I should mention that Darcy is a PR girl and this book follows the stereotypical, shallow “publicist” type description. As a very serious, but still fun, PR girl myself, I always hate it when we are described like this. Yeah, we have our fun and enjoy our cocktails while wearing cute clothes, but we aren’t dummies.***

Back in law school, Rachel set Darcy up with her best guy friend, Dex, and watched as Darcy worked her high-heeled booty into his life. They were the perfect, attractive couple that everyone wished they could be. Years later, Rachel looked on with confusion as to how he could love her. Dex was handsome and Darcy was gorgeous, but Dex existed on a level that Darcy wasn’t even capable of. Still, she didn’t mean to wake up in bed next to him.

She tries to put the night past her, but she can’t suppress her deepening feelings. She’s in love with him and there’s no way to make it better. As she helps Darcy pick out wedding shoes and the perfect pout-worthy lipstick, she discovers that her own happiness might just have to come first for once.

***This incredibly real story makes you think about your own life and evaluate the choices you’ve made. You’ll think about the pain and the love you’ve experienced in your own relationships, best friends and boyfriends included. I laughed and cried and occasionally felt uncomfortable. All feelings that come with a fantastic book.***

#2 – Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis

I virtually met Stacey a few months ago when I corresponded with her regarding her blog, The Polymath Chronicles, for a work reason. Her blog is delightful to read and if you’re an aspiring foodie, simply enjoy eating, or just like peeking into strangers’ lives, you’ll enjoy your time on her site.

When I learned that she’d also penned quite a few novels, I immediately ordered two. I started with Good Enough to Eat and it made me feel more comfortable and warm than any other book I’ve ever read.

Summary: After losing nearly half of her body weight, Melanie was happy and finally healthy. Then one morning she woke up to a cheating husband and a life she never asked for. She didn’t know how to handle what was just thrown at her and felt like nothing could ever be good again. Fortunately, when tragedy strikes, friends and family pick up the pain and make everything better.

As part of Melanie’s life-transformation a few years before, she opened a healthy, pre-made food company that focused on creating delicious meals that people trying to lose weight would actually enjoy. After her ex’s indiscretion, she immersed herself in her work and her friends surrounded her with love.

While visiting a Holocaust museum, she meets a fellow Jewish man and the two experience a surreal moment, remembering their families’ pasts. Their relationship grows, allowing Melanie to discover what she really wants out of life.

Through a cast of unique characters, scenes filled with almost tangible moments and a real-life ending, Good Enough to Eat will rock you to a calm state of mind.

Go forth and read.

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Mama Said Mama Said

April 15, 2011 § 3 Comments

When I was thinking about this post, the song Mama Said Mama Said by the Shirelles, kept running through my head. Probably because whenever I cook I’m thinking about what my mom would do or what my mom would say.

Cereal is getting really really old so I’m trying to cook more often, at least 2 times a week. I tried and failed to cook fancy Food Network recipes and decided to stick to my comfort zone of mom-approved recipes. When I moved into an apartment my mom made me a notebook of all of my favorite recipes that she’s been cooking since I was little. Things like sloppy joes, banana pudding and seven layer dip are all in there and all remind me of special nights with my family or big 4th of July parties with the neighborhood.

They’re all things I watched my mom cook and that I maybe won’t mess up when I’m making them myself. So far, I’ve made her King Ranch Chicken, taco salad, guacamole and chicken in a crescent. Chicken in a crescent is one of the BEST comfort foods I’ve ever had. My mom rarely made it because it takes about 45 minutes and we were all about efficiency in the Wiley household, but when she did I would dance around the kitchen until it was ready. My two favorite things, crescent rolls and cream cheese, play a big role in this meal. It’s not incredibly healthy, but this is comfort food and not some of that organic crap.

Here’s a picture of the delectable goodness so you can see how much you NEED this for dinner before you make it. ***No, this is not my photo. I was too busy freaking out about the fact that I forgot to soften the cream cheese before I added the other ingredients to take pictures. Those food bloggers with mad picture-taking and cooking skills are far too impressive for me. I stole this off of the Pillsbury website .***

While this photo has nasty pimento in it, my mother’s delectable version leaves that nastiness out. However, I did think that my mom made this recipe up from scratch and was slightly disappointed when I realized she got it from Pillsbury many moons ago. I plan to trick my kids someday too and make them think I’m a culinary genius.

Next time you’re craving warm deliciousness in your belly, think about this creamy treat. I want it again already and we just had it last week.

Recipe:

1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
 
3 Tbs. margarine or butter, melted
 
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
 
1 Tbs. chopped fresh chives or onion
 
1/4 teaspoon salt
 
1/8 Tsp. pepper
 
2 tablespoons milk
 
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
 
3/4 cup seasoned croutons, crushed
 
Directions: Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, mix softened cream cheese and 1 tablespoon softened butter; beat until smooth. Add chicken, onion, salt, pepper and milk ; mix well.

Separate or cut dough into 4 rectangles. If using crescent dough, firmly press perforations to seal. Spoon 1/2 cup chicken mixture onto center of each rectangle. Pull 4 corners of dough to center of chicken mixture; twist firmly. Pinch edges to seal. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush tops of sandwiches with 1 tablespoon melted butter; sprinkle with crushed croutons.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Cause Earl had to die

April 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

My friends and I are kind of obsessed with winning things from Do512. It’s not unhealthy, but we do get a super high from getting that tweet saying, “Congrats, @KristenWiley, you’ve won tickets to tonight’s show!” We win suprisingly often and I fear that once more people get with it and hop on the Twitter bus, these happy times will come to an end. But for now, I’m milking it for all it’s worth.

So anyways, in a span of 5 minutes, I won tickets to see the Coveters at Momo’s, and a girlfriend of mine won a gift card to Enzo for Tuesday night karaoke. We celebrated with some tweets and then moved the conversation to text to avoid any more dorky, annoying Twitter back-and-forth.

Scorcese and I pulled our sleepy selves off the couch on Monday night to go see the Coveters and after a few minutes decided it was totally worth it. They were up-beat, soulful and all around charming. They brand themselves as “a side project of rotating artists,” with the adorable Warren Hood and the talented female lead, Suzanna Choffel, who was entertaining, if not slightly annoying. The drummer, Jeff Botta had more personality than any drummer I’ve ever seen and I found myself watching him more than anyone, even when he was drenched in sweaty wife beater. Supposedly, they play often. Their website wasn’t updated, but I’m sure they’ll be around.

Tuesday night we headed over to Enzo on W. 5th for karaoke. I’d never heard of this place and apparently it’s not exactly the most happening bar on a Tuesday night. This is fortunate because as we were walking in, I tripped and fell on my face….I’m used to this, but it always hurts worse when it’s a packed bar!! (Totally sober, for serious).

We commenced mojito drinking and kept mentioning the possibility of trotting up to the stage to sing, without ever actually doing anything about it. It was a sad little stage, with a middle-aged man quietly singing and dancing to himself while he DJed. Not exactly calling out for a fun-filled night of Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls, BUT THEN after a few drinks and some persuasion from some old men (50-year-olds) we worked up the courage and started picking out our songs.

The boys went first, picking some crowd-pleasing boy band song and impressing us all with their pop-star dance moves. Scorcese is scary good at dancing like Justin Timberlake.

Following the boys was tough, but my friend and I got up there and belted out Goodbye Earl, a favorite by the Dixie Chicks. Seeing as how my country twang gets a little worse when I’m tipsy, country songs are really the only way to go. We all proceeded to make fools of ourselves, especially when the DJ would shout out “KAMIKAZE” and select a pair of us to sing a random song of his choice. He picked Girls Just Want to Have Fun for me and my friend. Stereotyping much?! I’m kidding, that song was my ring tone for like seven years.

We stayed until midnight when they shut down the jams and we couldn’t sing anymore. I loved being able to sing with just my friends and not worry about a crowd, but I do hope for the sake of the business that more people come on Tuesday nights. I’ll probably come back, it was fun! And my karaoke could definitely use some work.

Come join me! But only if you’re not judgmental and if you also are a terrible singer.

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