Wednesday, September 28, 2011

before I had friends

A few weeks back I stumbled upon these two articles about your favorite books as a kid. Oh man, don’t they bring back memories?
My earliest memory about reading is from first grade. Right away, I LOVED it. I reading everyday in school and every night at home. Mom would take the three of us to different libraries to check out as many books as we could. This was before the Leawood Library had been built, so we'd have to go way down to the one on Mission Rd, or the one near Oak Park Mall. I remember staying up way past bedtime to sneak in a few more minutes of reading. Remember summer reading? Once it was built, the Johnson County Library would incentivize kids to read more by giving us tokens to use to buy books at the end of summer used book sale. It was SO. COOL.

I don’t remember specifically when I stopped reading so much, but I’m sure it’s related to computer games, and then the internet, and then play practice/socializing… but I still have such fond memories of how I spent nearly every night of elementary school.

With these girls:

Ramona Quimby
These were one of the first chapter books I read. I wish I’d done more research on Portland before we went, because it wasn’t until my aunt told me that Beverly Clearly grew up there that I discovered the park and the Ramona statue.
Me and (slightly terrifying) Ramona

Laura Ingalls Wilder
I know I wasn’t the only kid who used to play “Little House on the Prairie." The space under our back deck made a perfect log cabin.

The Boxcar Children
One time I was playing “Boxcar Children” in the woods behind our friends-of-the-family’s house in St. Louis (I was Jessie, obviously). We got so deep in the forest and completely lost track of time. The family had just moved to St. Louis and was unfamiliar with their neighborhood. Thus, we didn’t know how to get home… It was bad, but eventually, a neighbor lady found us and drove us back to their house. Needless to say, my mom was furious.

Karen Brewer
My mom wouldn’t let me read the Baby Sitter’s Club books. Looking back… that explains a whole lot about my popularity level as a middle schooler. Siiigh. Anyways, I’d read the BSC Little Sister books in like, a day. After awhile I started skipping the whole first chapter. It’s the same thing in every book! My name is Karen… my parents are divorced… I have two bikes… two pairs of glasses (one pink and one blue)… etc. etc. Once I had friends, we totally made our own BSC. That never babysat anybody… but we had meetings, and a folder!

The American Girls
The library rarely had these ones, and they were too short and cost too much money to buy from the store. But I loved them. And catalogue, and the dolls. I had Kirsten and Addy. Figures. I loved these dolls so much. And it’s unbelievable how much that industry has grown!

I’m sure there are more that have slipped through the cracks in my memory… and next time I’m back in KC I’ll have to take a look at my bookshelf to see what else I’ve kept over the years. Hm… that makes me think about my favorite toys too. I KNOW my mom kept all of our most favorite stuff. But… that’s for another post, perhaps.
ahh, nostalgia.

Friday, September 23, 2011


People, if you haven’t already, then pluuueeease jump on this bandwagon NOW. Somebody “pinned” the following, and I couldn’t agree more.
So, join. Pin stuff. Let’s all get productive and creative.

Speaking of productivity, I’m going to be super crafty this weekend and finally finish/start a ton of projects I’ve had sitting in my craft nook for months. Cooking? Sewing? Painting? Reading the latest issue of GQ? Here we goooo.

And maybe I’ll leave the house once or twice (even though it’s supposed to go back to 97 degrees) to check out the Pecan Street Festival and Austin Museum Day. I’ve been to both of these events for the past 3-4 years, and although I love, love, love, them, I think I’m still recovering from all the crowds at ACL last week.

So, cheers to the weekend. And the 87 degree sunshine that awaits me during my walk to get yogurt after work. And to watching The Wire. And to my 11pm soccer game tonight...
Must. Not. Fall. Asleep.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In Review

It was okay, but it was not the greatest. Maybe it’s my fault for doing too much research and not having as many new discoveries, but I didn’t enjoy this year’s festival nearly as much as I have in years past. However, one thing that I did enjoy was hanging out with a group of friends for 3 days straight. In the past, I’ve gone with just one other person, and although that makes it a lot easier to squeeze up close to the stage, I always ended up spending a lot of the festival by myself in order to see the acts that I wanted to see. So, this year there were five of us, and together we smushed in with the crowds, relaxed in our chairs, and ate a lot of cheeseburgers. Overall, keeping a schedule jam-packed full of various artists. Here’s who I saw:

2:30pm Delta Spirit
3:30-4:10ish James Blake (overheard from quite a distance)
4:10pm Ray LaMontagne
5:10-5:20pm Beardyman
5:30pm Foster the People
7:30pm Pretty Lights
8:30pm Kanye

1:30pm The Belle Brigade
2:00pm Young the Giant
3:00pm City and Colour
4:00pm Iron and Wine
5:00pm Fitz and the Tantrums
6:30pm Cee Lo
8:00pm Stevie Wonder

1:30pm Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
2:30pm The Walkmen, Airborne Toxic Event, and Suzanna Choffel (about 60 seconds each, as I wandered aimlessly in the humidity)
4:05pm School of Rock Kiddos
4:45pm Pernikoff Brothers
5:15pm Joseph Arthur
5:45pm Elbow
6:30pm Fleet Foxes
7:30pm Empire of the Sun
8:30 Arcade Fire

Click here to view these pictures larger

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Muffins and Cheese

What a day. Because of my dear friend Katy’s birthday extravaganza last night, I am feeeeeling the lack of sleep today. For me, the worst part of staying up late is getting used to how slowly my brain functions the next day. And, because I’m such an efficiency freak, I detest it when it takes me an unusually long time to accomplish simple tasks. Even the littlest things take sooooo muuuuuch effort...

The things I do for my friends…

Like... make snickerdoodle muffins! I’ve made these before, but I guess I didn’t make a blog post about it. What was I thinking? These are fantastic. Make them. Try not to eat 2 in 1 day like I did this morning.
Snickerdoodle Muffins (recipe from The Tasty Kitchen Blog)
1 cup Butter, Softened
1 cup Sugar
2 whole Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2-¼ cups Flour
¾ teaspoons Baking Powder
¾ teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoons Salt
1 cup Sour Cream
¼ cups Buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a muffin sheet with papers. My recipe made 16 muffins. You could make 12, but they'd be bigger. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and cream until fluffy, then add the eggs and vanilla and blend more. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir to combine (I used a wooden spoon). Add the sour cream and buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Use an ice cream scooper and plop a scoop of batter into the muffin liner, then sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Bake the muffins at 350ºF for about 15 minutes.

These are the photos I took from the first time I made them. When I made them last night I used whole wheat flour instead. It made them much more muffin-like rather than cupcake-like. They still have two sticks of butter in them, so it does sort-of trick you into thinking they are healthier. Also, I think 2 sticks of butter is too much, so maybe once my brain starts functioning at a normal speed again, I’ll do some experiments.

Oh hey, do you know the trick about buttermilk? You just take regular milk and add some lemon juice or vinegar to it? I never have to buy buttermilk again. Click here for exact milk/acid ratios.

In addition to muffins, cheese is another one of my favorite things ever. Katy’s fiancé made her this adorable “cake” last night.
She said, “Now that’s a cake I will actually eat!” Sweets v. Salts? Most of us voted salts. However, anything v. cheese… we’d all probably pick cheese.

Only one more day until I’ll be basking in the 95 degrees for 3 days straight. It’s going to be so fun.

Friday, September 9, 2011


As Labor Day comes and goes, so do summer hours at LIM. I took full advantage of them this year, as I’m pretty sure I left at noon nearly every Friday from April-August. Thus, today I’m writing a blog post during the last hour of my work day.

A quick update on the Bastrop fires: sadly, Natalie’s parents’ house was totally destroyed. However, Debbie’s neighborhood was just out of reach from the blazes. Donations are still needed. Check out the Red Cross of Central Texas, or KVUE for a list of items needed. I’m swinging by Z’Tejas after work to drop off some things my co-workers brought in this week.

I wish I could stop for an appetizer too; however Chris and I are having Mexican night at home tonight. Unsurprisingly, one of the things we’ve missed the most from all of our Pacific Northwest travels has been good Mexican food. Together, we’re going to make Black Bean Taquitos and Beef Empanadas and he’ll blend up some frozen margaritas. (Not to worry, I will not partake in anything Tequila-related, ever, ever again). I’ve made these Whole Foods Taquitos before and they were incredibly delicious. Just sub black beans for the shredded chicken and voila!

Photo from Naturally Ella

Besides that, I definitely plan to take it easy and relax this weekend. My fifth Austin City Limits Music Festival is next weekend (eeeee! Already!) so the toughest thing I want to do this weekend is finish up this little gem:

It’s due back to the library on Wednesday, but I’m pretty sure I’ll finish it well before then.

Happy September everybody.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labor Dave at the Gorge

We left our campsite Monday around 7:15am and arrived at SeaTac around 10:30am. Right after we went through security and started walking to the departure gate we saw the news on a nearby TV. Fires across Bastrop. Fires in Steiner Ranch. Fires in Spicewood. Remember the earthquakes, hurricanes and flooding on the east coast last week? All the while, Texas has been in a horrific drought, and now, our homes, forests, and ranches are burning up. Weather is viscous. Please put my friends Debbie and Natalie in your thoughts and prayers; they are directly affected by the Bastrop fires. As of Tuesday afternoon, some 600 homes have been destroyed, and the fires still aren't contained. Needless to say, that was a bit of a reality check for us coming home from a weekend of camping in the middle of Washington. And what a weekend it was. We spent just enough time in sunny Seattle to eat a bowl of chowder with Jackie, get a parking ticket, and see the fish toss in Pike's Place Market.
From there, it was right onto Chris's friend's quaint little house to grab a few camping supplies and then to the grocery store to purchase various provisions. This was the first time the four of us had camped without a fire or a grill, so we feared the lack of hot food (meat) might make us cranky. Fear not, for smoked salmon, cold-cut turkey, and summer sausage did the trick.
We made it to the Gorge by about 7:30pm Thursday evening and thus began an unforgettable weekend. The music was perfect. Dave performed three great sets, John Butler Trio had me smiling for a solid hour, and Brett Dennen, Dispatch, and the Belle Brigade were the icing on the cake. One artist in particular, Josh Ritter, captured my feelings particularly well during his Sunday afternoon set. He mentioned that he grew up in nearby Idaho and that he had been dreaming of performing at the Gorge since he was a little kid. That day was a dream come true for both him, and thousands of fans. He was smiling through his entire set, and I caught him taking pictures of the crowd while Dispatch played after him. I absolutely LOVE it when newer artists are so in awe of how far they've come. Josh reminded me of Regina Spektor during her ACL set a few years back. Does anybody else remember that? She kept saying, "There are so many of you!" It was great.
So, to summarize. The Gorge is worth it. Go there. See it. You will understand why artists love to play there, and why Josh Ritter dreamed about it as a little kid.