Friday, May 6, 2016

Recommended for a blitz weekend!

I'm heading up to Chattanooga this weekend for a quick trip to visit my sister and attend my first Running of the Chihuahuas.  I'm not really sure what to expect, but I'm excited!

I haven't gotten to spend much time on writing this week, but I wanted to send you off with a song I've recently added to my Misty Morning playlist.   The Atlanta weather brought us a cold snap this week, so I've been feeling very cuddly, and this song fits with my hot tea and blankets while still letting the chilly sunshine make sense, too.  I hope you enjoy!


I've mentioned a couple times that my parents moved to Norway last summer to be international missionaries.  Here's an update they wrote recently about surviving their first summer.

The future is here.  This 15-year-old kid just joined MIT after using their free curriculum for both middle and high school.

These brothers convinced their sister of the zombie apocalypse.  This made me laugh so much!

I just heard about The Bee Cause Project, which brings healthy bee hives to schools in Charleston and Savannah for some super hands-on education.  Awesome!

A deeply moving video encouraging what are called "leftover women" in China.  This is a concept I saw played out in Korea, too, and I think some of the pressure also lies in the West.  Check it out.  What do you think?

This song made me laugh.

Aha!  What a smart way to remove spiders from your home!  And without having to even get close!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Recommended with Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki recipe recommendation

I'll stop you right there.  No, this is not what authentic sukiyaki looks like.  Sukiyaki is a Japanese dish prepared similarly to a hot pot, and I'm 99% sure it isn't usually paired with rice.  It does, however, go well with rice, so that's how I built my dinner when making sukiyaki for the first time.  It was so delicious with rice, in fact, I'll probably always include rice in the meal!  So yeah, I know, this isn't the real deal, but the recipe I got for the sukiyaki meat and vegetables is legitimate, and I highly recommend it!

I will say, the first time I made sukiyaki, I made it by the book and followed all the ratios exactly (but I had run out of mirin, so I had to use my expensive sake instead 😭).  It came out quite salty and quite sweet, so my second time making the recipe, I toned down the soy sauce and sugar, and I enjoyed it better.  I'm still looking for the best blend to suit my tastes, but don't let that dissuade you.  The flavors are strong, but they are also good.

Sukiyaki is traditionally prepared over a portable stove at the table with everyone around the table dipping and adding to it and eating from the pot all together.  Thankfully, Chef Marc describes how you can still cook sukiyaki without a portable stove.  I made mine on the stovetop, and it turned out just fine.  I like using a round steak cut for the meat and for the vegetables, I use two different kinds of mushrooms (shimeji and enoki), white onions cut lengthwise, the whites of leeks cut crosswise, the whites of green onions cut into 2-inch sections, and canned bamboo shoots.

I have no problem with chopping veggies for 15 minutes or so, but slicing the pound of beef I use has given me serious trouble.  I've permanently delegated that task to Caleb, but before I did, I used my carving knife on the frozen beef and sliced off very thin slivers for forty minutes, which is why I won't be doing it again.  It might be worth it to ask if your butcher can slice the meat for you at the market.

Adding lots of vegetables help to bulk up the meal, and again I know it's not authentic, but everything goes so nicely with white sticky rice.  It mellows out the flavors so well.  Both times I've made this, it's produced a lot of food, and it ends up being pretty cheap per serving.  Yay for budget-friendly, yet exciting dinners!  Let me know if you try it!  (Here's the recipe to the link again.)


Recommended with sukiyaki...

Did you know that hearing and tasting what you see is a thing for some people???

I just discovered Atlas Obscura's website, and I think everyone should know about it!  Check out the hidden secrets of your area or the city you're visiting on your next vacation.  Turns out there's a hidden alternate universe here in Atlanta right underneath my favorite ice cream shop!

I ran with a small dream and submitted an application to Anthropologie earlier this month (and got a job offer!), which got me more curious about the company's inner workings.  Check out this detailing of the Anthro store aesthetic and these 18 facts.

I've never had it before, but I think this "New Orleans" coffee drink is worth getting super coffee snobby for.   I read about it on Cup of Jo, and it sounds like such a wonderful cup!  Have you tried it?  Is it worth it?

By the way, who knew there were so many different ways to prepare coffee?  Before seeing this list of brewing guides, I only knew about regular coffee pots (which aren't even mentioned in the list), the Chemex, French press, and pour over cups.  From what I can see, I think I would really like coffee made from a Hario Nel.

I met a very cool cat this month (I literally mean a cat), which makes me really wish my husband weren't allergic.  To satiate my new and unexpected cat love, I've found this new Adventure Cats website!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

In Response to the Boycott on Target's Inclusive Restrooms

Target's statement on being inclusive toward the LGBTQ community has caused a lot of ruckus.

I just learned that the American Family Association, a conservative, Christian, pro-family nonprofit organization, is calling for a boycott against Target due to the company's recent statement about encouraging its customers to use the bathroom for the gender with which they identify.

This makes me think of a few things right off the bat...
  • It is not necessarily Target's responsibility to protect women and children, it's their responsibility to create an excellent and safe customer experience for all its customers.  So far, I'm fairly certain transgendered females have, in fact, used the women's restroom at Target, and I haven't heard of any issues of an associated danger.
  • The boycott sites fear of predators taking advantage of Target's bathroom policy as the motivating factor for being angry with Target.  Bad people are going to do bad things whether there's a law against it or not, and women's bathrooms aren't inherently safe because they have a picture of a woman on the door.
  • Security in the women's bathroom was never guaranteed before Target stated it would be inclusive of transgendered folk.  If you're afraid of being preyed upon, learn self-defense, be aware of your surroundings, and travel with others.  There are so many better ways to combat that fear than boycotting the store.

What I keep coming back to, though, is this quote that's been going around lately, "When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."  Meaning, in this case, when LGBTQ are welcomed to use the restroom that makes them feel most comfortable (like heterosexual people have had the privilege of doing for years), some heterosexuals are going to get angry.

I'd like to call out the AFA and the Christians who've signed the petition.  If what you're really upset about is the higher risk of women and children being preyed upon in the Target women's bathroom, just don't have your women and children go to the Target women's bathroom.  I know women and children can be unpredictable, but there is some planning and preparation you could do ahead of time to help avoid the bathroom situation.  If needed, you could even ask to be accompanied by a Target associate if you think it would make you feel safer.  Something tells me this fear is not what's motivating your call to action, though.  I believe you are more angry over transgendered folk being treated with dignity and respect.  If that is the case, you are not following the example set before you in the life and commandments of Christ.  

Jesus showed radical counterculture mercy to outspoken sinners and unexpected contempt for those who thought themselves above wrongdoing.  His reactions to the Samaritan woman at the well, Zacchaeus the cheating tax collector, Mary with the alabaster box of oil, and then the rigtheous men of the town who condemned her Mary should give us all cause to ponder our thoughts and actions before we accuse or praise anyone.

From what I've read and seen, many in the LGBTQ community have had a bad relationship with the Church.  Acting out of anger that the LGBTQ community is finding more freedom and inclusion is not the way to help rebuild those bridges.  Christ wooed us with His grace when we didn't deserve it.  He loved us before we loved Him.  We are His messengers in this world, and hatred and fear are not a part of His message.  Click here if you need a refresher on what His message does include.

Honestly, I think Target is closer to the WWJD mark on this one.  As they said in their statement, "Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

7 Ways to Make Exercising Not Suck

7 kinds of exercise that aren't miserable
image by Curtis Mac Newton via Unsplash

Like I mentioned in my recent confessions post, I am not a usual exerciser.  I can't get away from this niggling feeling, though, that exercise is important, not because it can change how I look, because it keeps my body healthy.  I know I don't have to tell you how important or useful good health is, we all know the spiel.  We probably all know how annoying it can be to find a schedule and consistency, too, let alone a place to exercise where we don't feel self conscious or intimidated.

Well, the very good news is that exercise and health don't have to come from a gym.  I've had a membership at a gym for a total of one month of my life when I was living with my BFF the month before her wedding.  We would go together to this gym that was attended mostly by seniors, so there wasn't much pressure to impress anyone.  Going to a gym in the center of Atlanta, though, where gyms are filled with people who actually know how to use all those machines... no thanks I'll stay home and use a yoga video.

Thankfully, yoga videos are a legitimate avenue for good exercise.  If your goal is to get as fit as possible in as little time as possible, you're probably better off meeting with a personal trainer, but if you just want to build some strength and give your heart rate a high (three times a week is advised by the professionals!), there are a lot more options than going to the gym.

Here are 7 kinds of exercise that are actually enjoyable:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The best Instagram tips I've found

Last month, I stumbled across Me + Orla on Instagram.  As simple as many of the photos are, I found the feed enchanting.  Neutral colors, simple settings, slow living, it all seems like my kind of perfection captured on film (well, technically on a screen, but still).  Just take a look!

Not only are the pictures beautiful, but I learned that the Instagramer made it a goal of hers to become excellent at it, which I highly respect.  She's since accomplished that goal, and she's sharing all of her tips she learned from experience on her blog.  I spent hours reading through everything that first night I found her, and I am now a die hard fan of Sara Tasker, the artist and writer behind the lovely photographs.

How to win at Instagram from Me & Orla

I have to say, Sara's advice for getting better at Instagram doesn't involve any of the flimsy "The one little thing that will brings you thousands of followers!" tips you see bouncing around the internet.  Sara is legit, and all I've seen her share is completely practical and easy to understand.  For example, her main suggestion for building a popular Instagram is to post truly excellent photography.  (Duh, why didn't I think of that?)  Followers and likes will come if you do good work.  Of course, there's more to building a tribe, but that's her main focus, and it just strikes me as genuine.  It's not sneaky, it's not necessarily difficult, but it's also not necessarily easy.  It's something to have to work for, but if you do put in the work, you will reap the reward.

Anway, I could fawn over this woman for ages, but I would rather you read up about what she says.  Even if you're not into Instagram, photography, or social media, Sara takes beautiful pictures, and you deserve some eye candy for your day.

First, check out Sara's collection of serious Instagram tips.
Then, if you're curious about her backstory, read about how she got to where she is now.
Finally, if I've converted you into a total fan girl like me, check out this post where Sara lists out a few other avenues where she's been able to write and speak.  Her romantic interview about living in the English countryside made me want to hightail it outside of the city.

The best Instagram tips you'll find

It's a somewhat secret wish of mine to be famous (I care only a little as to how, but I could work with being Insta-famous), but I also care about the art I produce, even if it's not displayed in a gallery.  For about a month and a half or so, I've started taking my own Instagram more seriously, and it's been interesting to see how my approach has changed since reading about Sara's story and process.  After going through all her blog posts, I signed up for the free Insta-Retreat workshop to get even more.  The Insta-Retreat is emailed out as a short e-book, and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to take their Instagram to the next level.  Prepare to be challenged and brought to the edge of your preconceptions and your comfort zone.  You won't regret it.

Okay, last thing, you've got to check out Sara's hilarious alternate Instagram account.  I promise it's worth a look.

P.s. All pictures in this post are screenshots of the Me & Orla Instagram page.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Insiration from Instagram

I wanted to try out a new blog post idea.  I find many beautiful, interesting, or encouraging pictures on Instagram throughout any week, why not share them here?  I grouped me favorites into themed thirds, but I'm curious about how well I'll be able to keep that up in the future if the pictures I want to tell you about don't fit into color groups.  I also think it might make more sense to share one trio at a time, moving forward.  What do you think?!

This week I found a Star Wars latte, hand written cirlce notes, and a display-worthy cocktail.  Who are you following on Instagram these days?

Blue inspiration from Instagram

Written inspiration from Instagram

Camel colored inspiration from Instagram

P.s. Four of these pictures are from friends of mine in real life!
Thanks, Kate, Holly, Hanh, and Betsy for making my week a happier place!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Recommended with pan-seared salmon

The best pan-fried salmon you'll ever have
via Serious Eats
My sister is allergic to salmon, so whenever my mom prepared it at home (usually when my sister was away for a party or something), it was always a treat.  Since marrying and learning how to cook with Caleb, I've found that he unfortunately doesn't like the baked salmon I grew up with.  Instead of giving up on my favorite fish, I searched for other ways to prepare it, which led me to J. Kenji López-Alt's incredbly in depth article on Serious Eats about how to pan-fry salmon.

Fair warning: this is a long read, but it is so worth it.  My first time frying salmon after reading this piece, the fish had been infused with magic.  Soft center, crispy-crispy skin, and flavor everywhere.  Never will I ever prepare salmon any other way!  I do want to say that following this recipe and cooking the salmon correctly is not easy.  When you reach perfection, you know it, and when you miss the mark, you know it.  I've probably missed the mark a few more times than reaching perfection, which is always disappointing to me, but an imperfect salmon filet is still tasty, so I don't miss out on much.  All that to say, I wouldn't be too worried about not getting it just right when you're starting out.  I've found that it's hard to get the hang of it, and even harder to be consistent.

Go ahead and dive into the article and soak in as much as you can, but I also drafted up a helpful paraphrase to have handy when you finally get the fish to the frying pan.  I also want to add my own tip: make sure your salmon filets are of even thickness throughout as much as possible.  This will allow the fish to cook evenly.  If my filets are uneven, I'll sometimes cut them so I  can cook one batch of thick filets and one batch of thinner filets to hopefully get better results.

How to pan-fry salmon, as per J. Kenji López-Alt:
  1. Preheat the oil over medium high heat.
  2. Pat the salmon with paper towels to get it as dry as possible, then season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Once the fish hits the pan (skin side down!), immediately reduce the heat to medium low.
  4. Also once the fish hits the pan, press the salmon firmly against the pan for the first minute or two to set the skin to the pan.  Use a flexible fish spatula.
  5. Don't force the food out of the pan!  When the skin is crispy, it will release easily, which will be after about 6 minutes.
  6. Use a meat thermometer to tell you exactly when the fish is ready.  You should be looking for 120°F in the center.
  7. Flip salmon and let is sit on pan for just a brief moment, about one minute longer.  Then you're finished!
Let me know if you try it, and enjoy these links with your weekend!


This butterfly print and these postcards from Idlewild are so beautiful!  (And how pretty a word is "Idlewild," by the way?)

The message on this mug, especially in picture #2, might be the story of my life.  Whups.

I enjoyed reading through this article on strong female characters vs strong characters who are female.  There is a difference!  The first time I remember being frustrated with a female lead was when I watched Blake Lively's character in Accepted.  The character was so flat and pointless in the story of the plot.  I've come to really appreciate female characters who are complex and driven in their own lives.  (This is also another reason why I recommend watching Avatar: The Last Air Bender!)  If you can get past the patriarchy hate and get through the article, could you tell me what your thoughts are?

When meeting a new baby... this is (sadly?) how I feel every time.

How interesting!   This startup is working on making crowd-sourced solar energy a reality!  You go, techy nerds!

April Showers season is in full swing here in Atlanta, and I think having this raincoat (in jewel, please) would make the weather easier to get along with.  By the way, check out the rest of the company's products!  They make sure everything they sell is slavery-free!

Good news!  There's an illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets coming out this October, and it is beautiful!!  I love the phoenix illustration.

Enjoy your weekend!