Monday, October 20

Literary Libations: Thirsty Throwback

Are you ready for a blast from the past? I've had a busy, busy weekend. Not that I've been going anywhere, but I've taken on some freelance work which took up some extra time this weekend (it's good stuff, and I'll share what I've been working on once it's completed). In the meantime I didn't have the chance make or create a new savory drink, so I'm going to send you over to this post from last year at this time! I'm guessing you won't remember this post as it was before I had any followers and I'm pretty sure no one was reading my itsy-bitsy blog at that time. SO, go have some fun at Pumpkin Patch and try to remember that my photography skills have improved in the last year...

Today I am finishing up my report on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I just want to start out by saying that I loved this book, it was intriguing and mysterious, the characters felt absolutely tangible, and at points I think my hair stood on end. That said, this book needs serious trigger warnings. There are many points that deal with sexual abuse. All of it is portrayed in the worst light it could possibly be portrayed in, the perpetrators considered the lowest of the low and not worth saving. If you are extremely sensitive to such issues or are overly affected by what you read, I would suggest stopping here, please find some other, happier book. If, however, you are willing to plunge forward and delve into the dark inner sanctum of Larsson's work, read on.

I've covered a bit of the story already, but now that I know the direction the book actually takes I'm going to start from the beginning. Blomkvist is somewhat famous reporter in Sweden. Is is co-owner of the magazine Millennium and has just been convicted of libeling against a very prominent businessman. Blomkvist has presumably been set-up and is unable to defend himself, he therefore faces a three month prison sentence. Seemingly ready to slip into a depressive state, Blomkvist wants to cut himself off from the world and a job opportunity presents itself at just the right time. The beginning of the book is a bit slow, picking up as you go until it seems to snowball in the middle, gathering momentum with the turn of each page.

Henrik Vanger, the rich, ex-CEO of the Vanger Corporation hires Blomkvist to try and solve a mystery, the problem is the trail has been cold for nearly 40 years. Vanger's niece, Harriet, disappeared at the age of 16. The most intriguing part of this, however, is that she disappeared off of an island to which there was no exit. Henrik, the head of the Vanger clan, lives on Hedeby island. There is only one entrance and exit, a long bridge connecting them to the mainland. Much of the extended family has come over for a family business meeting when a tanker truck jack knifes on the bridge, effectively cutting the island off from the rest of the world for 24 hours. At this point Harriet is still on the island. She seems agitated and worried about something, she tries to approach Henrik for advice, but he is too busy to be bothered. Some time over the next several hours she disappears for good. No one claims to have seen her or know where she is. The island is searched, but no sign of poor Harriet is found. Henrik spends the next 36 year pursuing every possibility for her disappearance, but has found no evidence. The Vanger clan is a truly unlikeable bunch and Henrik is convinced that a family member must have murdered Harriet and somehow removed the body. Starting from age 8, Harriet used to give Henrik a pressed flower for his birthday every year. Since her disappearance he has received an anonymous pressed flower on his birthday every single year, Henrik is convinced that Harriet's murderer must still be alive and taunting him.

At this point The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo really hits it's stride. Blomkvist brings in Lisbeth (the girl referred to in the title) to help him with his investigation. She is a professional private detective, working for Milton Security, and an invaluable asset. Lisbeth is my favorite character in the book and also the character with the most baggage. She is consistently surprising and yet invariable in her actions and personality. As clues are uncovered, the past of the Vanger Clan proves to be even darker than imagined. If you want to read a truly thrilling tale, I would highly recommend Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. I've moved on to the second book in the series and am already enthralled. If you've read this book before let me know what your final impressions were below!

Friday, October 17

Fashion Friday: Well Traveled

Fall has always felt like the perfect time for traveling by train. A more leisurely journey where you can look out your window and watch the flaming leaves pass by. The world just seems more colorful and peaceful. A good book like Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie is an absolute must for train travel, as well as a great duffel bag, and a comfortable yet stylish outfit. Jamie (follow her on instagram: @browneyelovely) shows you the perfect outfit for climbing on board.

Beanie: gift (similar here); Sweater: Modcloth, sold out (similar here); Shirt: Target, sold out (similar here); Pants: basic black denim (similar here, here, and here); Socks: Target; Boots: American Eagle; Watch: Fossil; Bracelet: Lou Lou, sold out (similar here); Bag: Hershel Supply, sold out (similar here).

Starting from the top, a beanie is a great way to keep warm while waiting for the train. Layers are a must because you never know what the heating or AC will be like in a train car or plane cabin, so using a thick warm cardigan over a plaid shirt creates an easy and casual look that is also stylish. Jeans or jeggings are always a great starting point when going on trips. You don't want pants that are too stiff, but you want to make sure they will hold up to a long day of traveling.  Add tall socks and boots to keep your toes safe and warm. Safe travels, everyone!

Wednesday, October 15

Food Inspiration

There are so many yummy food blogs out and about today. I have some favorites that I regularly gather inspiration from (and most importantly recreate the recipes from) so I thought that I'd share them with you today! Hopefully you will find them as inspiring as I do!

Joy The Baker

Yeah, I've mentioned her several times because she's basically the goddess of food. I love her because she makes grilled cheese sandwiches elegant and trendy while simultaneously producing cookies that even Pinterest is jealous of. She also recently came out with a cook book named Homemade Decadence that I definitely plan on buying. Her pictures are stunningly glorious examples of true food and the voice she writes in makes you want to be best friends.

Chocolate Covered Katie

Katie is one of the most inventive food bloggers I've read. She's constantly taking unhealthy and delicious recipes and making them healthy and delicious recipes. She does things like using pumpkin in Mac and Cheese to cut back on the heavy cream and calories and teaching you how to bake your oatmeal days in advance so you never have to have the early morning breakfast munchies again.

A Beautiful Mess

I could never leave out A Beautiful Mess, they just know how to be so seasonal and festive with all of their dishes which makes my holiday loving heart nearly burst with joy. They also know how to use alcohol liberally which is never a bad thing around holidays. Currently for all us fall and Halloween obssessed ghouls they have Candy Corn Jell-O Shots, Pumpkin Spice White Russians, and for a twist on classic apple pie, try their Apple Pecan Pie made right in the apple! Mmmm, don't forget the vanilla bean ice cream.

Is there a recipe above that you just have to try? What websites and recipes have been inspiring your inner foodie? I'd love to hear all about it!

Monday, October 13

Literary Libations: Pumpkin Spice Latte & One Lovely Blog Award

Do you remember when Jamie suggested everyone go get a Pumpkin Spice Latte to celebrate fall? I still hadn't picked one up because I was in the midst of a dilemma. You see since I began drinking my coffee black (a little over a year ago) most of the specialized, overly sugary drinks have become a little too much for me. Often times they give me headaches. I love Pumpkin Spice Lattes in the fall, though, they always seem so festive, so what to do? It's so simple I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before, but I simply got 2 pumps of syrup instead of 4. It still has a lot of delicious pumpkin-y goodness, but it isn't headache inducing and it's much lower on sugar. Best of both worlds!

I'm still working away at The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, it's amazing and I'm loving it so far. Every spare moment I find myself reading. Next week I will give you my final over view as I'm sure I'll be done with the book by then.

This past week I was nominated for The One Lovely Blog Award by Chelsea of Chowing Down By The Bay! I want to thank Chelsea for the honor of the nomination and tell you all how awesome her blog is, you should definitely check it out! She has a lot of awesome food and fashion posts, two of my favorite topics.

The rules of the award are:
1) Thank the person who nominated you.
2) Share seven things about yourself.
3) Nominate some bloggers you admire.
4) Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know.

So, without further ado, 7 facts about me (I'm going to try and list things I haven't shared before):
1) I'm a Doctor-Who-A-Holic. If that wasn't a thing, it is now. I love the show, something about it just captures my imagination. I don't have a favorite doctor, but my favorite companions were Amy and Rory. I'm currently also obsessed with Selfie largely because Karen Gillian is in it and I loved her role in Doctor Who so much. I even have a little paper craft Tardis and Dalek that sit on my desk. Yup, so now you know how cool I am.

2) I used to think I was a cat person because growing up I always had cats. I adopted a dog last year and found out that I'm definitely a dog person. He's lovely, but any time Hubby and I decide to watch TV he feels the absolute need to squeak one of his many squeaky toys over, and over, and over again. If we put them away for 30 minutes to have a bit of silence, he frequently whines. Unfortunately it's extremely cute, so we let him get away with it.

3) I'm a bit obsessed with holidays and generally decorate extravagantly for all of them, including the not very important ones like Valentine's Day. I've picked up holiday themed reusable grocery bags to store the decorations in, that way I can tell at a quick glance which bag has which decorations.

4) I'm always pretending that I have goals to get fit, but generally those goals are short lived because I like food, candy, and sitting on the couch a little too much. Then I blame it on the fact that I'm working a day job, blogging, and freelancing so I don't have time. But I do have time, I just choose not to do it. Oops. But hey, at least I walk my dog every day. That counts for something, right?

5) Have I told you that I'm obsessed with pizza? But I'm weirdly specific about it. I love pizza, I could almost eat it every day (I normally eat it only once or twice a week, because will power), but I only like pepperoni pizza. Nothing else.

6) I really like love free things and am normally super stoked when someone gives me something for free. Occasionally I don't want something, though, and I always feel an odd, crippling guilt at refusing free things (even if it's someone clearly just cleaning out junk from their basement, who probably wouldn't be insulted because they don't want it themselves) so I either end up taking it even if I don't want it, or I end up blaming my refusal on someone else. "Oh, that chair is so lovely, but Hubby doesn't like that color for some odd reason, who knows why, so I better not bring it home."

7) I hope one day to work from home by freelancing, blogging, and perhaps writing a novel or two. I actually have a novel that I've been working on, on and off, for about 2 years now. I often take long hiatuses because life gets busy, but I hope to eventually finish it. I've scrapped it and started from the beginning twice now, though, so it might take a while. Once it's finished you all will be the first to know!

Bloggers I'm nominating (in no particular order) are: A Very Sweet Blog, What To Style, Le Stylo Rouge, and Upbeat Soles.

All of the above bloggers are amazing, please check them out! They have very well done, informative, and beautiful blogs!

Friday, October 10

Fashion Friday: Football Dos And Don'ts

Hello guys, it's Jamie here (Instagram: @browneyelovely) and I'm super excited about football season! I'll be showing you how to tailgate and cheer on your team the right way, with the Dos and Don'ts of football fashion. GO COUGS!

The Dos and Don'ts of Football Fashion:

Do pay attention to the game.
Don't worry if you have no idea what's going on.

Do be aware that you will likely be standing and cheering all day. Choose your footwear appropriately.
Don't forget that games, especially at night, can get quite chilly. Make sure to bring a sweater just in case!

Do rock your team colors.
Don't be afraid to go all out!

Do accessorize, accessorize.
Don't forget that the most important part is to HAVE FUN!

For team apparel don't forget that Victoria's Secret has a lot of cute sports clothes and your university book store also has sports clothes!

If you are having people over to your house for football and food, don't forget about some easy meals: Beef Brisket Sandwiches, White Wine And Garlic Chicken, BBQ Sauce Basted Ribs, and Green Chile Stew.

Wednesday, October 8

Ridiculously Practical Meals: Beef Brisket Sandwiches

I've been loving BBQ meat lately, can you tell? A couple weeks ago's meal was BBQ Basted Ribs and now we are having another BBQ beef. But guys, it's because it tastes amazing! All that barbeque sauce soaks in and just makes the most tender meat that falls apart in your mouth. Yum! Plus if you want to mix up the flavor a bit you can always just use a different sauce. I used the same one because it's my favorite and the bottle I had was 38 oz., which is huge!

Tip: If you are feeding a family of four or more use a full 3-4 pounds of brisket, but if, like me, you are just feeding yourself and your Hubby go ahead and cut it in half, freezing the other half for a later date.

You will need a crock pot, 1 3-4 pound beef brisket, 2 medium onions, 1 16 oz. bottle of barbeque sauce, soft rolls, and any toppings you want on your sandwich. Start by slicing your onions and then lay them across the bottom of your crock pot. Slice your brisket into 1/2 inch or smaller slices going against the grain, place the slices in the crock pot. Add one cup of barbeque sauce to the pot. Make sure to mix it around the meat so that sauce gets on all sides of the slices. Put the lid on your crock pot, set it to low heat, and cook for 9 to 10 hours.

After the 9 to 10 hours are up set the meat on a plate and drain out all the sauce and juices left in the pot. Try to retain the onions. Once that is done, add the meat back into the pot, pour in the rest of the barbeque sauce, mix it all up so everything is evenly coated, place the lid back on, and cook on low for 30 minutes.

After those 30 minutes are up you can finally stop wistfully sniffing the air. Prepare your sandwich rolls (I simply added a sharp cheddar cheese), top with lots of meat and sauce, and chow down. Hubby said he wanted me to make this again, which is really good because I have another half a brisket in the freezer!

The crock pot has felt like a life saver lately. This week our work schedules don't line up, so I've been able to throw something in the crock pot which magically switches to the 'warming' mode when it's done cooking. That way I can put together my little meal when I get off of work and Hubby has his dinner readily available and warm when he has his dinner break. Hint: Next week's post is another crock pot meal. If you don't have a slow cooker run out and get one now. Just do it. Do you use your crock pot a lot in the colder months? If so, what is your favorite crock pot recipe?