Monday, July 21

Literary Libations: The Pink Lion

Chilled drinks and hot summer days go together like storm clouds and rain. Loosely based on the White Lion Cocktail, I made my drink with ingrediants I already had lion around the house...

For my drink I used 2 parts white rum (Bacardi is my rum of choice, but use whatever you have in your pantry), 1/5 part triple sec, 1 part lime juice, 1/5 part raspberry syrup, and 2 tsp fin white sugar. Then I threw everything into a shaker with ice, shook until cold, and strained into a glass filled with frozen berries, add a straw, and you're done!

Last week I had just started reading The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a pen name for J.K. Rowling) and gave you a quick summary. Now that I'm most of the way through the book I thought I'd tell you what I think of the story so far.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Unlike many mystery novels, Cormoran Strike novels keep you guessing the whole time, but don't seem so far fetched that you wonder how the heck the detective could even parse the evidence together. There are so many possible suspects, all with decent motives, not to mention surprise twists as new evidence comes to light and new characters step from the shadows. The mystery in and of itself is a wonderful reason to read The Silkworm.

The mystery revolves around an author, Owen Quine, who has suddenly disappeared. He does this frequently, traipsing off with his mistress, so no one is overly concerned at first. Eventually Owen's wife, Leonora, hire Strike to find her husband and bring him home to help support their handicapped daughter, Orlando. When it turns out Owen isn't at a writers conference or his mistress's house people start to become a little concerned, but it isn't until Strike finds Owen's brutally mutilated body in his abandoned second house that the family and the literary world begins to realize all of Owen's past.

Just before his death Owen had finished a new manuscript, Bombyx Mori, which insulted pretty much everyone he new, including big wigs at his publishing firm. The police are blaming Leonora, saying she had motive and opportunity, but they have yet to find enough evidence to arrest her. Strike doesn't believe Leonora could be behind the murder and is racing against the clock to find evidence against someone else.

Beyond the case, Strike and his beautiful assistant, Robin, continue to develop their relationships from the first novel, The Cuckoo's Calling. This gives the book many layers of interest and development. The characters feel real and relatable. Even if I knew who the murderer is (which I don't, yet) I would keep reading just to see where Robin and Strike's lives take them.

Thursday, July 17

Strawberry Lemonade

On Monday I talked about making Watermelon Lemonade. Really it can be any flavor of lemonade, so long as you can find the flavored syrup for it. Since the watermelon syrup has to be ordered I bought some strawberry syrup (this is the exact strawberry syrup I got) to tied me over. Monday's pictures only showed McAlister's lemonade and I understand being unsure if you can really re-create the same results at home, so I thought I'd show you how my strawberry lemonade turned out.

Start by filling your glass with ice. Add the syrup. For most glasses I only use 3 pumps of syrup, but since this was a large glass I used 4 pumps. Top up with chilled lemonade! This is absolutely delicious and you can see it also makes a pretty ombre effect. Perfect for summer!

Wednesday, July 16

Ridiculously Practical Meals: Lasagna Grilled Cheese

'Quick and Simple' is my after work dinner mantra. I thrive off of meals that are delicious and under 20 minutes to make. In looking for inspiration there are some people that never fail to deliver and one of those people is Joy The Baker. For today's recipe I just went ahead and made it as is, with only one accidental alteration.

Yes, I accidentally altered the recipe. You see, I had originally intended to make this recipe last week, but some unexpected things came up. I had already bought all of the ingredients when I was originally planning on making this for dinner and when it was postponed I didn't even think of the basil going bad. Unfortunately when I pulled it out of the fridge it was dark green in color and no longer the type of freshness I require (it was also floppy and gross, bleck).

Despite the basil set back, the end result being that I simply skipped adding basil, the dinner was absolutely delicious and definitely well received. My husband doesn't even like grilled cheeses and he liked this one, although he did mention that the tomatoes made it. Just imagine how he'd of felt if I'd have had all the ingredients! This is such an easy recipe I think I may play around with it in the future. All you need is bread, unsalted butter, olive oil, part-skim ricotta cheese, basil, salt & pepper, cherry tomato (Joy uses canned tomatoes, but I used fresh ones and they turned out perfectly), and shredded mozzarella cheese. For the original Lasagna Grilled Cheese recipe be sure to visit Joy The Baker by clicking here!

Tuesday, July 15

Impromptu Posts: My Favorites

It's been a long time since I did a post about what I'm loving, so I thought it was about time to update you on my current favorites!

I finally got a chambray shirt! It's about time, right? It is soooooo soft and breezy. I absolutely love it. I got this pale softened chambray shirt from Loft. I also want this darker chambray shirt.

Right now I'm loving the cloth bacon bag I got from Whole Foods. The cloth is durable enough that I'm not afraid to fill it to the brim with very heavy items, plus it's cute! I bring it with me to work so I don't forget to take it to the grocery store when I go shopping afterward. On one side it has a picture of bacon frying and on the other side it says "bring it home."

I've been enjoying The Silkworm by J. K. Rowling the last couple days. You can read Monday's post to find out what it's all about!

The Oceane fragrance by Anthropologie is about the only non-sale item I can afford at their store. The scent is light and feminine and perfect for summer. I couldn't find it online, but it was on display right when I walked in the store.

And finally I'm loving my sunglasses and RX glasses from BonLook. The sunglasses I got for free through a deal they had going on when I purchased my RX glasses. The sunglasses are Venice Beach in Frosted Petals and the eye glasses are Eva in Sepia Kiss. The eye glasses have been heaven! I've been taking regular breaks from contacts and wearing the glasses about 3 days a week. I broke my previous eye glasses (by stepping on them in the middle of the night, they had fallen off my night stand) about 9 months ago, so having these has been sweet relief.

And those are all my current favorites! I'd love to hear what you favorites are right now, too!

Monday, July 14

Literary Libations: Watermelon Lemonade

The Watermelon Lemonade is on the far left. Picture courtesy of McAlister's Deli.

Have you ever tasted something so divine that you immediately decide it needs to be apart of your everyday life? Well, that's what happened to me when I tried McAlister's Watermelon Lemonade, it is the perfect balance of sweet and refreshing. Sometimes I find that watermelon flavoring is to syrupy and sweet and doesn't actually taste like watermelon. Not the case with McAlister's. Thankfully, I watched what the cashier did when he made my drink, so I can impart the wisdom and knowledge of the perfect summer drink to all of you.

Picture courtesy of McAlister's Facebook page.

The server took my cup and filled it with ice, added three quick pumps of Monin Watermelon Syrup, which you can buy here, and then filled it to the top with lemonade. So simple! Unfortunately I couldn't find the watermelon syrup anywhere but online. In order to quench my thirst in the mean time I bought strawberry syrup and made a pitcher of strawberry lemonade to drink while we watched the World Cup final yesterday. That was also really good. You can find normal syrups at many coffee shops, some grocery stores, and at World Market, but I think it's definitely worth the wait to ship the Watermelon Syrup. I've got mine on order and am anxiously awaiting the package! For now, I'm sipping on delicious strawberry lemonades and spritzers (except with flavoring instead of wine).

While I'm lounging around with my lemonade I of course need a good book to read. I don't know if you remember way back in September when I reviewed J.K. Rowling's new book (written under the pen name Robert Galbraith), The Cuckoo's Calling, but I absolutely loved the book. I was thrilled when I learned she had decided to make the book the first of a series and have been anxiously awaiting the second Cormoran Strike Novel: The Silkworm. I just started reading the book yesterday, and I've already been sucked into the mystery. In The Cuckoo's Calling hard-off private detective Cormoran Strike investigates the death of Lula Landry, a famous British model, who has been declared a suicide. Strike's client insists that Landry would never have committed suicide and so Strike dives into the dark underbelly of the modeling world and fame as he tries to discover if Landry really could have been murdered. In the new novel, The Silkworm, Strike is now doing well with a steady stream of clients thanks to his brief fame from the Landry case. Somewhat out of character, Strike takes on the case of a poor, distraught wife who is unable to pay his fees. Her husband, a writer, has gone missing. He's gone missing before so she isn't concerned, but wants him brought home to help with the family. However, when Strike discovers that her husband is not where she thinks secrets begin to come out of the woodwork. Is it possible her husband has been kidnapped or worse?

If you like a good mystery and good writing it's worth giving the Cororan Strike novels a read.

Friday, July 11

How To: Curl Your Hair Without Heat

I curl my hair most days, but using a curling iron or wand every day can really damage your hair. Luckily I've learned a quick and easy way to curl my hair without heat!

First get your hair damp, not wet. I like to spray some heat protectant spray at this point, too.  Then place a head band that is at least one inch thick over your hair like you are wearing a sweat band or a '70's headpiece. Then take sections of your hair and loop it under and over the head band. You will gather sections of hair like you would with a French braid: take a small piece from the front and add hair to it as you go. You will do this on each side of your head. Tucking the hair takes me about 5 minutes or less. When you're done it should look like this:

You need to wear your hair like this until it's dry. Typically I sleep with it like this. Unlike curlers, sleeping with your hair like this is very comfortable. Sometimes, however, if I have an event in the evening I will use a more decorative hairband and wear my hair like this to work. Here's what it looks like with a decorative hairband:

If you plan to sleep in the headband try to get a soft comfortable one that one put a crease in your forehead. My favorite kind are the fold over elastic headbands, you can find some pretty and colorful ones at the Etsy shop, CureForABadHairDay. Once I wake up (or my hair is dry) I gently lift the headband from my forehead and pull it to the back of my head. Then I gently unwrap my hair from the headband.

Morning Hair!

Do not use a hairbrush to brush out your hair. I like to run my fingers through my hair and then whip my hair back and forth a few times. When I'm done my hair looks like this:

Typically I quickly touch up an less than perfect spots with my curling wand, but this is not necessary if you want to avoid all heat. Even doing this I'm using heat far less than normal and creating very little damage for my hair since only very small sections are having heat used. After touching up it looks like this:

Now that you are done feel free to add volumizer and hairspray. I typically leave it product free unless I'm going to be very active, but whether or not you can do that depends on your hair type. This hair style is so easy! It takes me about 5 minutes at night to wrap the headband and another 5 minutes in the morning to perfect the style. Happy, healthy curling!

If you are unsure exactly how to tuck your hair, this YouTube video by TradesecretsCA is a great resource.