To Share / The Half Baked Harvest Cookbook

 
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     Good morning! Just wanted to share the gorgeous cookbook my parents got me for Christmas (thanks mom + dad!!). It's by my favorite food blogger, Half Baked Harvest, and I've already had some good use out of it! So far, I've made the spicy cauliflower soup and the salted brioche cinnamon rolls  - and both were easy and so delicious. 

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     I had never made cinnamon rolls from scratch, but they did not disappoint! The hardest part was rolling them tightly enough, but I think with a little more practice it'll be a piece of cake. Now, the next ones on my agenda from the book are the pumpkin gnocchi, a whole wheat nutella challah, and her 30-minute chicken parmesan (a family favorite of ours)!  

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     Part of why the book is so inspiring is the photography. Tieghan's photo's are always gorgeous, but having them in print makes them even better! As a visual person, photos and styling are really what draw me in to a cookbook. I love flipping through this one just to look at the photos! They're that good!

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     Another thing I love about cookbooks is the variety of recipes they can offer that aren't available on Pinterest (which is where I usually pull from). I also like that the recipes are right there in the book, so I don't have to try and remember which Board I Pinned a recipe to (sometimes it really takes longer than it should). Most of all though, what I specifically love about this cookbook is that it's filled with recipes that are fresh and unique, but also are tolerable by Brett, who has a very refined list of food he's a fan of. Nothing wrong with that, he likes what he likes, but I'm the opposite, and will now try and usually love most foods! This created a dinner issue for awhile, but ever since I discovered Half Baked Harvest, I've been able to make dishes that are creative and challenging, but are still approachable to those that find comfort in familiarity. Most of HBH's recipes are cool twists on classic or "basic" meals, which is exactly what I've needed! They aren't too crazy, but they aren't so (for lack of a better phrase) "by the book" that they are boring. Buy cookbooks people! Sometimes the old-fashioned thing can work better for you than the latest technology, so embrace it. 

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun weekend! I'll be back next week with one of the recipes from this book that I mentioned I'm making above (can you guess which one?)!

To Read / May

 

      Good morning! In April, I had the chance to go hear Salman Rushdie speak at Mizzou, and it was basically a once in a lifetime opportunity. When will such a notorious Booker Prize winner ever come speak at Mizzou in my time spent here again, and for free? The chances of that are slim, so I jumped on the general admission tickets to reserve a seat, and picked a book to read of his. I found The Enchantress of Florence in a second-hand book shop at home in Arkansas, and chose it for this month's book!

      The talk was amazing, and he even read a short story he's working on, that had yet to be heard by the public, anywhere. It was quite good, and I loved that I got to hear his story-telling voice, because now reading this book, I can hear him reading it in my head. I'm almost half-way through, and can't wait to finish it! Let's get to reading!

For Reading / April

 

     Good morning and happy April! It's the start of a new month, and with that comes a new book to read. This month's selection is Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. It's an analysis on what makes specific people successful, and brings about the idea that luck, circumstances, and background do contribute to extreme success.

     I've previously read one of Gladwell's other books (David + Goliath) and find his writing style one of the easiest to follow, so this will probably be a short read. He's one of the best at making accurate observations, and I can't wait to jump in! Thanks for reading, and have a fun Monday!

To Read / March

 

     Good morning! To kick off March, I wanted to announce this month's book du jour: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Controversial but classic, Lolita centers on the story of a man's love for a girl.

     Nabokov gives insight into obsession, and all of the complicated nuances that go with a love story. I'm already over half way through, and am intrigued as to how such a story will end, as one can assume it won't end well. With that in mind, let's get to reading! Have a fun Wednesday!

For Reading / February

 

      Good morning! Have you all ever heard of the Slavic performance artist Marina Abramovic? She's considered the "grandmother" (she's currently 70) of performance art, gaining notoriety in the 60's + 70's for her avant garde approach to the art form. Her fame subsided a bit in the 90's and early 2000's, until 2010, the year she introduced the wildly popular MoMA exhibit in New York titled "The Artist is Present". The exhibit consisted of Marina sitting in a chair at a table, with an empty chair placed directly across from her. She sat for 750 hours total, over the course of just under two full months in the museum. The performance was interactive, Abramovic having instructed patrons to form a line and one by one come sit across from her at the table, wherein she would then look up at each person and stare into their eyes. Some cried, some got angry, and some were overjoyed, but the exercise was employed in complete silence.

       Thousands upon thousands of fans and museum-goers visited the exhibit, which also included a retrospective of her most famous pieces from 40 years before, including celebrities and personal friends of Abramovic. Then, the making and duration of this show was made into a documentary aptly titled "The Artist is Present". This is when I discovered her work, as Columbia hosts an annual film festival, and one of my assignments for an art class was to go see my choice of a film at the festival and then write a report on it. I loved the documentary, and the insight into one of the most daring artists in recent history was fascinating, because artists are typically so aloof, as they prefer for their art to speak for them. I re-watched the documentary again when it came out on Netflix (I think it's still on there), and still found it just as interesting. 

     Finally, a few months back, I found out that Marina was publishing an auto-biography. I had to have it. It immediately went on my Christmas list (thanks mom and dad!), and this month, it's our book of choice! Fair warning: Abramovic's pieces almost always included nudity and some form of violence, and even reading about some of the performances is hard. They were extreme, and intentionally so, as she liked to push the audiences out of their comfort zones. The only other performance artist I can compare her to is Yoko Ono when she presented her "Cut Piece" in the same era.

     That being said, I'm already one hundred pages in, and I'm hooked. If you can get past the telling of uncomfortable situations, then the book is humorous and enjoyable, letting Marina's personality shine through. Let's have an awesome, book-filled February!

To Discuss / Known + Strange Things

 

       I have a thing for short story/essay collections. I like moving quickly from one idea to the next, but I enjoy it most when there's a cohesive theme running through each idea, linking them all together as a whole. The only thing I can liken this concept to are those particular style of movies where there's a large main cast of characters, whose stories are all somehow linked together through each other. Movies such as Love, Actually, Valentines Day, He's Just Not That Into You, etc. Those are all fairly superficial examples, in comparison to Known + Strange Things by Teju Cole. However, the notion of relating lives and observances is the same (and yes, I thoroughly enjoy these romantic comedies as much as I do essays on political, cultural, and social issues).

     Cole was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Nigerian parents, who shortly returned their family to Lagos after his birth. This conundrum of being born American, but raised Nigerian, sets the premise of one the first essays in the book, and understandably so. It's a very relevant topic for my generation, because so many people struggle between their cultural identities. While he was raised Nigerian, he always felt it was special to be American as well, to have that passport. Once he moved back to Kalamazoo to attend the University of Michigan though, he felt a dispossession of his original feelings towards being a dual-national. Everyone's experience of citizenship in this country varies, and as with most things in life, it's never what you expect it to be. Going from Nigeria to Michigan is one of the most drastic changes I can imagine, environmentally, but humans are still humans, and Cole's observances of the way people live showed that the actual people weren't much different, just the circumstances.

      Almost all of Cole's essays gave me a new insight into others lives that I was aware of, but couldn't exactly sympathize with. This is solely because I don't ever try to pretend that I've been through the same things as those who have had a hard, "abnormal", or marginalized life, out of respect for those that have. My life, in the scope of things, has always been relatively easy, thanks to the life my parents were able to build for me and my sisters. While I am and always will be greatly appreciative of my special life, I have never lived under the impression that this is the norm. Which is why I've always read books, especially ones like this. Fiction, nonfiction, art books, essays, anatomy books, biographies, anything that can show me or tell me something new. I've just consistently tried to understand, and probably will continue that adventure for the rest of my days.

     That being said, one of the largest understandings I gained from this collection is that of a Nigerian Americans knowledge, criticism, and love for Africa. It's been my experience that if you want to know more of the massive continent than just safaris, the Sahara, and third world countries, you have to do that kind of research on your own. I don't remember geography or world history teachers saying much about Africa outside of a small covering of ancient Egypt. Their reasoning for rarely discussing any other continents other than our own or Europe was that it "doesn't apply to you", which is probably one of the most ignorant things someone could say. Maybe 50 or 60 years ago it didn't, but in todays' day and age, when you can travel anywhere, and you live in a country made up of people from every corner of the world, it very much so applies to everyone. Understanding is essential to being stuck on a planet together.

     Through Cole's essays, I learned of African poets, mob lynchings, and a bit on Nelson Mandela. I also learned that the sympathy white people feel for the poverty stricken parts of Africa, while a nice thought, is a bit insulting. I hadn't realized before that even though the intentions behind wanting to help are admirable, the person helping gets more out of it than the people they are trying to help. Cole titles it the White Savior Industrial Complex, which is the idea that white people subconsciously use helping those in need as a "big emotional experience that validates privilege". I get that and can see that, but I don't agree with generalizing white people, just as much as I don't believe in generalizing any other race. I do believe that if you feel the need to help anyone in any way you can, then you should do it; but don't just do it because you think it will make you a better person. Donating and offering aid isn't about you, it's about those that receive that aid, and I think that was part of the message Cole was trying to get across.

       I wouldn't have come to any of these conclusions had the argument not been presented by Cole. When you live in a bubble, it's hard to remember that there are things going on in the world, the country, your back yard that you have never been aware of. Some people prefer it that way, but I like to play the optimist and hope that most do not choose to stay ignorant. I've questioned that a lot in the last year, yet I still come to the same conclusion that even if I'm wrong, there will always be change and evolution whether people want it or not. Just like the weather, humanity is uncontrollable. I see that as a good thing because I'm not afraid of other peoples opinions and ideas, and this book validates that I have no reason to be.

    

For Reading / January

 

     Good morning! January's book of the month is Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole. It is a collection of essays ranging on various topics such as art, people, and historical moments. I've been a fan of short stories and essays for awhile now, and have already dove in to this tome. So far, so good!

      It's hard to call this collection "short stories", because they are mainly non-fictional observations made by Cole. I much prefer the term essays. I also love that this is a new book, having been written in 2016. Cole got his start as a blogger, and published his first chapters in a serial on said blog. It's interesting to see how he weaves in modern day influences, such as Twitter and how he still doesn't grasp what Snapchat is, into his observations.

    Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday! Now, go crack open a book!

For the Book of the Month / December

 

      Good morning! For Decembers' book of the month, my pick may or may not have been slightly influenced by its beautiful red cover. My mom bought me this collection of Charles Perraults Classic children's stories, and most people already know them. I just can't resist a seasonally appropriate cover though! That, and it's probably a good idea to end this year on a lighthearted note, all things considered. Now fair warning, the original tales of Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty were far more grim than the well known Disney versions, so be prepared for things to be a bit more gruesome. Regardless, they are still quick and nostalgic to read. Settle in with some cocoa and a cozy blanket, and get to reading!

Book of the Month / November

 

     Hi there! For Novembers book of the month, we've got a fairly simple read. Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) is technically a children's book, but it's themes and nuances can be appreciated by all ages. I received the book in its original language from my parents for my birthday (thanks again mom and dad!) because I've been taking French lessons since January, and wanted to test my skills. Obviously, if you are reading along this month, feel free to read the English version. It's a short read, which is perfect for the busy season we are about to enter. I hope you like the story as much as I do! Let get reading! 

Book of the Month / Discussion

 

     Hi there! For today's discussion, we are looking at the latest installment in the Harry Potter saga. I'm a big fan of most books, regardless of the genre, and that includes "YA" or "Young Adult" series. They are still good stories, usually, even though they are intended for a slightly younger audience. The Harry Potter series is no exception, as I think most adults would agree. The general public has at least seen the movies, and we all know how much of a success they were/are. The vast consensus is that the tales are some of the best of our time, and that these stories will be considered classics for long after the stories themselves have come to an end. We had all accepted that the books were done, series complete, with even the movies being finished. That is, until last year when the world found out that there would be a Harry Potter play in London, and that yes, of course they would be printing the script as a book. I think this move was, in part, to be inclusive for the large fan base that Harry Potter claims, so that they too could have this new story to devour without having to travel to London to see the play. I also think this new book was meant to create new Harry Potter fans out of the children of the aughts, who either weren't alive yet or were too young to be around for the Harry Potter craze of my youth.

     In this way, I think the screenplay was a little forced. I think the play itself was an obvious idea, a decent way to carry on the Potter world, but the way they present the actual story to the rest of the world, in screenplay form as opposed to a classic novel structure, is what turned off old fans of the old story to this new story. These books have such a large following, that fans don't want to read it in a different format. It's a subconscious divide that most readers won't even realize, that it's the way they are reading the story, not the actual story itself, that they don't like. It's an OK storyline, and it is fun to see how Harry's children and his friends children turned out, along with the classic main characters themselves. With the storyline, some thought bringing back Voldemort, even if only in the past, was unnecessary, that they didn't need to go back to that plot point. Personally, I think it was fine to keep the story revolving around Harry and Voldemort, just like it always has, but I can see why people would want a fresh idea.

    That being said, I still liked it. It was an easy read that carried on our beloved heroes story in an easy way. It gave us an update on their lives, which I think most people wanted, and it also gave new insight that past scenarios alluded to. Rowling revisited those scenarios, like the night Harry's parents are killed, and we see a new side. As a person always interested in seemingly everything, it was exciting to learn new things about this world through this new addition. I doubt they'll ever add another new development to Harry's story, but it will be interesting to see how the spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them plays out. Hopefully, people can get their Wizarding World fix that way. Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

Book of the Month: Harry Potter + the Cursed Child

 

     Good morning! For October's book of the month, I immediately thought of the new Harry Potter book. In full disclosure, I've already read it, but that doesn't disqualify it from being appropriate for the spookiest month of the year. Harry Potter's not necessarily spooky, but it is witchy, which is just as appropriate. Everyone I've discussed this book with has a different opinion on it, so I figured that would make for an excellent discussion post at the end of the month, to really get into the different aspects of the book and why so many people are conflicted towards it. I can't wait! Let's get reading, folks!

Book of the Month: September

 

     Good morning! Though I may have hinted heavily at this book being my next fall read over on Instagram, it's time to make it official on the blog. Walden will be the book of the month for September, and honestly, reading it has been a long time coming. The only reason I've put it off in the past is because I've heard it can be boring. As is my usual fashion, I've decided to see for myself. Fall is a great time for reflection, and Walden is one big book of it, so let's get to reading!

Book of the Month

 

     Hi there! August's book of the month is This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Previously, I have read The Great Gatsby, as have most high school graduates, and last year we read the novel about Zelda, Fitzgerald's enigmatic wife, but those are all I have on Mr. Fitzgerald. This Side of Paradise is lauded as the most accurate representation of the youth of the 1920's, and since reading and seeing both film versions of The Great Gatsby, I've always had an interest in that time period. Historically, it was seen as a freeing and celebratory time after WW1, and this came through in most aspects of peoples lives. What people wore, the fact that they drank (illegally at the time), and how they partied were all in the name of the Golden Twenties. I'm excited to read Fitzgerald's other interpretation of how the young lived back then. Special thanks to my mom for buying me this pretty edition when I visited home! Have a great day everyone!

On Wes Anderson, Pt. 7

 

     Sadly, this will be the last installment of the Wes Anderson series. I finished the book! The last interview was on Anderson's second to most recent film, Moonrise Kingdom. He has since made The Grand Budapest Hotel, but that was after the publication of this book. Don't worry, the same author created a similar book, focusing only on TGBH, and I've definitely got my eye on it, and not just because it's pink. Another book for another time.

     On completion of the interview involving Moonrise Kingdom, I immediately watched the film, it being the only Wes Anderson film available on Netflix. It's one of my top three favorites of the Anderson saga, and it's the only one I've seen in theaters. The film centers around two adolescents that are essentially the epitome of adolescent. One, a young and tough boy from the foster system. The other, your not so typical pretty girl with behavioral issues. They aren't copies of each other, but their own personal problems and general attitude towards life mesh well. They're both a little crazy, but I'd say they're still realistic. Anderson was intentional with his casting choice, as usual. He picked unknowns and their greenness brings something vulnerable to their characters, more so than it would with established young actors. Teen actors can be a little over-confident if they are quasi-famous, because they're teenagers. It's what they do. Wes talks about the kids with admiration though, and that admiration shows in the direction of the film. The camera loves them and their story.

     The story itself is complex in every way, just as with most of Anderson's other films. The character ties, plot, and set all revolve around each other. In a way, Anderson's movies act as solar systems. There's a method to the madness, and each factor has it's own orbit. The intertwining relationships and personalities between the adults and children are in typical Anderson fashion, but I'll never tire of it. All of the characters are still strange enough to be exciting. Their own personal plots come together, and center around one issue: the runaway teens. The island is their playground, and they use it's isolation and relatively primitive way of life to make a go at running away to be together. They don't succeed at the running away part, but like most youth, they get what they want.

     I thoroughly enjoyed reading these interviews and revisiting all of Wes's films. I hope to find something similar to continue this kind of series with. I love movies and books, so I'm sure something will turn up eventually. Until then, thanks for reading and have an excellent Wednesday!

Book of the Month

 

     Good morning! This is kind of a weird book of the month post, because this book is a 10 week course. It's too cool not to share though, and I've been doing it since the beginning of June, so your regularly scheduled month post in August will be a normal novel again. For now though, everyone should at least check this out if you haven't already heard of it. It's a book that guides you through a ten week course to discover or recover your own creativity. It's got a message that I'm a huge advocate of, that everyone has creativity in them. You don't have to be able to draw or paint or sculpt to be artistic or creative. This book is the OG Big Magic, which is a more recent option. I like this one though, and I will do a full report when I've completed the course! If you have any questions about the course or about how it's going so far, feel free to email me at whatafundayblog@gmail.com, and I will answer the best I can!

Book of the Month: Discussion

 

       I received this book as a gift last year, and I've re-read it many times since. I chose it as the book of the month because I found it so helpful and wanted to share. As a parent, and one who loves all things design and decor, it can be really hard to figure out what to compromise from your own style to fit the needs and limitations of living with a child or children in general. They are messy, get into everything they aren't supposed to, throw all of those things, and proceed to break them as well, but I wouldn't have it any other way. That's just what kids do, and until they are of a certain age, there's not really anything a parent can do, other than have the smallest amount of things possible within the reach of their little one. Thanks to this book, I've found easy solutions to styling and situating a room around Bailey. Luckily, Bailey is getting old enough to be reasoned with when it comes to what she can and can't touch or play with, so we've been able to slowly integrate things to her level. She still breaks the occasional ceramic bowl, but for the most part she is pretty good at leaving things alone if you tell her to. If you talk to my parents, you will learn this is the opposite of me. I still can't really leave things alone, and I've always been an explorer. Hopefully it holds up that Bailey hasn't received this gene from me. I want her to explore, but I'd rather have her be a good listener first, and learn to explore the things she's allowed to second. Back to the book though, not only is it's content insightful, but the images are gorgeous and equally inspiring. Let's just say this book is the blueprint for a well-designed family home.

To Work on Lettering

 

     Hello! As you may know, working on my hand lettering and calligraphy has been one of my main goals lately. I've always appreciated beautiful handwriting, though my automatic and natural handwriting is horrible (thanks, dad!). I wanted to improve my deliberate and "artsy" handwriting for prints and projects. I create my prints by going slowly and steadily. It's not my usual scribbling, that's for sure. One of my big references for classic calligraphic handwriting is this book, given to me by Kristen on one of my past birthdays. The writing is beautiful and the guides are very helpful. Bailey seemed to agree with me too when we were flipping through it one day. She wouldn't leave it alone! See below for proof:

      I may or may not be subliminally influencing her to have beautiful handwriting one day.

     One of the few times I could get a shot without her hand flying at the page.

     It really is a gorgeous book. I understand, Bailey. It's hard for mommy to leave it alone too! Thanks for reading!

On Wes Anderson, Pt. 6

 

      Fantastic Mr. Fox is a truly beautiful movie. That's the biggest point I want to make in this discussion. The artistry that went into Wes Anderson's first animated film is mind-boggling. It's "claymation" in a nearly perfect form. The best thing about claymation is that every character, set, and minute detail is all handmade. It's one of the last art forms that isn't digital, and in a world of CGI, that is as refreshing as it gets. I've always found irony in the way people, myself included, appreciate the classic techniques of those various art forms. Patrons nowadays think it's so amazing when things are done well not on a computer, and in reality that's the way art was originally intended. Not that digital and graphic art can't be beautiful, or considered art, it's just not the OG way, so to speak.

     This is the reason Anderson chose claymation for his form of animation. Like all of Wes' films, this movie had to feel intentional and detailed, and claymation was the best way to achieve that. Every last component, down to the real animal fur used for the animals, is authentic. The things most directors would find mundane or unnecessary to pay attention to, Anderson enhances. All of those elements add up and round out Anderson's vision, just as they do in his other films. They typically aren't things anyone would even notice, but they contribute something none the less.

    "Mr. Fox" is considered one of Anderson's most mainstream movies, specifically because it's animated and could be considered a children's movie, although adults are capable of enjoying it as well. Another factor of it's popularity is that it's based on the novel by Roald Dahl, the beloved weirdo. Lastly, Anderson chose some big names for his characters voices, including George Clooney and Meryl Streep. Both were excellent choices, in my opinion, considering their unique and pleasing speaking voices. Wes keeps the film true to his own style though, by adding in his personal details discussed above, which are always my personal favorite parts of his movies. It's the little things, no? That being said, those details are what make his movies beautiful, and Fantastic Mr. Fox is no exception. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!