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Cookbooks and Memories, Sitting on the Shelf

August 24, 2016

Back in the early years of the 2000s (Why does that sound so odd?), I fell in love with The Food Network and all the chefs and recipes it delivered to my television every day. Those were the glory years of the channel, when you could sit and watch the multitude of shows all day long. There were the early days of Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray’s “30 Minute Meals” (before Rachael became a “brand”), Emeril, Everyday Italian (before she was just Giada), Paula Deen (pre-scandal), Sara Moulton, Tyler Florence, Sandra Lee, and so many more.

My weekend ritual was relaxing on the couch, armed with notepads and pens so I could prepare my list of recipes to make and ingredients to buy. I have such fond memories of these years. I was newly married, living in our first home with my first “big” kitchen that was all mine. I always enjoyed cooking, but watching Food Network shows was when I really learned to cook and loved doing it.

If memory serves me correct, finding recipes the chefs prepared on television was not easy “back in the day.” The Food Network’s website was still in its infancy. Very few of the personalities even had websites, and this was long before the days of Facebook and Twitter (I’m aging myself!). So the only way to collect all the great recipes was to buy the personalities’ cookbooks. And that’s exactly what I did. I started with my favorite, Barefoot Contessa, and over the years, added more books to my collection.

cookbook shelf

Today we can find almost every recipe online. Now food bloggers and Pinterest provide so much cooking inspiration. And while I haven’t watched Food Network in many years (after giving up cable), the little I have watched seems so much more commercialized and “reality television” focused.

But some things haven’t changed for me. I don’t have the weekend ritual of watching Food Network all weekend. But I do still relax on the couch with my iPad and read all 200+ of the past week’s blog posts I follow, including many food bloggers.

It’s funny how as time goes by, many things change, and also stay the same. I still have a notepad and pen next to me to jot down ingredients and recipes I want to add to my meal plan. And instead of printing out instructors, I pin the recipes to my Pinterest page.

Earlier this summer as I packed up my house and prepared to move, I decided to weed through my cookbook collection and donate many of the books I no longer use. It was fun going through my volumes and flipping through the pages of the beautiful books. I started to long for the old Food Network weekends and the early years of my life. I kept my favorites books and those with sentimental value. My personal cooking notebook that contains my favorite recipes not in cookbooks (many of which are on this blog) now sits on my cookbook shelf in my new house.

Here’s a look what cookbooks remain with me:


Bryan gave me the CookWise book during my early years of discovering how to cook. I still love Ina Garten dearly, and will always purchase her Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. I’ve enjoyed many recipes in the three Pioneer Woman cookbooks I have, and find her storytelling and personal photography in the books entertaining.

I discovered Apples for Jam through this wonderful blog, and it’s beautiful book with awesome recipes. If you’re not reading The Smitten Kitchen blog (and cookbook), you should be! And Seriously Delish is brought to you by one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats.


This cookbook shelf is a bit of a miss-mash of favorites. The Better Homes and Garden’s New Cook Book is a must-have for all cooks. While I’m not a huge Martha Stewart fan, I do enjoy her Baking Handbook. Bistro: Casual Cuisines of the World was a gift from my best friend after she made me the most fabulous lemon tart, of which the recipe is in the book.

There’s also The Gourmet Jewish Cook, a gift from my now-departed great aunt after our trip to the Skirball Cultural Center. The Silver Palate Cookbook is another staple. And I kept my favorite Rachael Ray cookbooks because they still provide so many easy and tasty recipes. And Sprinkle Bakes is just gorgeous.

I love that my collection is down to the books that really matter to me. It brings me joy and a smile to my face as I walk into the dining area and see them displayed brightly. And truly, that’s what food, books and memories should do. Bon Appétit!

Did you obsessively watch Food Network or favorite cooking shows? Do you have a favorite cookbook in your collection?

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Monday Musings ~ August 15

August 15, 2016

Welcome to the first Monday Musings from Indiana! Here’s a look at some of the beautiful flowers at my new house.

pretty flowers

1. Do you know what your favorite go-to candy says about your personality? This article is freakishly spot-on! As a Starburst lover, it says I have very specific preferences and like things a certain way. I favor logic over emotion, and was the type of kid who liked to sort all my Halloween candy, and counted the different varieties. Pretty much sums me up to a T. What candy are you?

2. My new beverage of choice is Bai Bubbles. Have you tried this stuff? It’s not quite soda, but it has some sweetness that LaCroix does not have. Speaking of LaCroix, I read this article and learned why this drink is suddenly everywhere. Did you know LaCroix was all the rage with Midwestern moms and originated in a Wisconsin town? Read the article; it’s fascinating!

3. I have always maintained that Ikea causes relationship problems. I wrote about my own love-hate relationship with the store and loved the episode of “30 Rock” where Liz Lemon hoped to beat the odds of breaking up with her boyfriend while shopping there. Needless to say, I was feeling justified in my feelings about the mega store when I read this article about a psychologist who analyzes the fights couples have in Ikea.

4. I’ve been a terrible reader lately and haven’t read nearly the number of books I typically consume. I did just finish Center of Gravity, which was a great suspense novel. I think the stress of the summer and moving made me want to escape more into television. After my “Breaking Bad” binge-fest, I dove into “The Path” on Hulu (probably because I wasn’t ready to say good bye to Aaron Paul). I’m now watching “Better Call Saul” and “True Detective.” “The Night Of” is next (because we finally got HBO).

5. Finally, and on a totally random note, I bought this bag of tropical fruit mix and found myself picking out only the dried pineapple and papaya. So now I have a large bag of mostly dates and banana chips, and I’m mad I spent money to basically pick through dried fruit.

What’s going on in your life? What are you watching, reading and thinking about?

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Welcome to Indiana

August 11, 2016

It’s been about a month since I posted here. And in that time, I packed my entire house, said good bye to friends and family, wrapped up (and started new) work projects, watched movers pack everything I own into a Bekins truck, stuffed two cars full of belongings, a kid, two dogs and a cat, and drove from San Diego to Indiana over the course of four days. So it’s been a little busy.

I was extremely fortunate to share the four-day round trip with our friends, Jessica and John, and their two boys. We’ve been friends with them since college and now it’s fun to see Sophie and their oldest son play together. Riding with friends across country made the road trip so memorable for us. Together, we drove 2,000 miles, passed through eight states, found 40 license plates, and consumed a multitude of fast food, Red Vines, Nutella and assorted snacks (most of which my body is still paying for).

But we arrived in Terre Haute, Indiana safe and sound during the last week of July and have been working on getting settled in our new home.

welcome to Indiana

I’ll write more about my new life in the Hoosier state in the coming weeks and months. But for now, here are a few observations of how life in Indiana is different from Southern California.

  • It’s SO GREEN!
  • I love the “openness” and space.
  • Hello tornado drills; farewell earthquake drills.
  • There are lots of railroads and trains. Which I love because I’ve always been comforted by the sounds of trains.
  • We have a basement. And I could get lost in my basement.
  • I’m fascinated by all the parts of United States history that surround me.
  • We saw fireflies! And were also bit by various bugs.
  • School buses take kids to school.
  • Power lines are above the ground (not underground).
  • I’m on East Coast time, which is tough because I still feel like I’m on West Coast time.
  • People take great pride in their lawns and mow them frequently. (See “It’s SO GREEN”)
  • So many trees!
  • Cracker Barrel … Need I say more?
  • Recycling is not picked up from your house each week. Need to find a way to recycle since we have LOTS that we accumulate. … But thanks to two awesome readers, I’ve now signed up for recycling pick up!
  • There are lots of country music stations on the radio. And I’m happy to have found two NPR stations.
  • An acceptable form of identification for getting my driver’s license includes an Indiana gun permit.
  • No drought. No water restrictions.
  • It’s humid. But I have air conditioning now. :)
  • But my windows are always closed. It’s odd not having windows open in my house.
  • I don’t feel like the devil for drinking soda.
  • The houses actually have space between them.
  • Smoking is more visible.
  • Did I mention the green?

Just a few musings of life in Terre Haute in my mere two weeks here. I’m excited to see what else Indiana will bring!

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Monday Musings ~ July 11

July 11, 2016

Happy Monday!


1. Lately I’ve been spending my days packing and getting everything coordinated for our big move to Indiana. The process of packing, buying boxes and what not has been overwhelming, and I’m quite certain I’ll never want to see another cardboard box in my life. I’m also on a mission to eat everything in the house to keep from buying groceries other than fruits, vegetables and milk.

2. Speaking of eating everything in my house, I’ve also been baking to use up my bags of chocolate chips and cake mixes. I’m always on the quest to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie. This article with five tips to improve your next batch of cookies has awesome tips for perfecting your baked goods. … And now I’m craving cookies.

3. Have you ever wondered which literary characters are most similar to you? Here are the Myers-Briggs types of 202 fictional characters. Apparently Katniss Everdeen, Charlie Kelmeckis (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and I are all the same type (ISTJ, the Inspector). What characters share your Myers-Briggs type?

4. Are you watching anything on television? Since finishing “Bates Motel,” I moved on to “Breaking Bad” for the first time. I seriously cannot get enough of this show and have stayed up WAY too late watching it. I’ll be bummed when I finish (already in season five). But at least I have “Better Call Saul” waiting in the wings.

5. Great article from a television critic who writes about covering 20 years of television, and how must-see TV went to peak television. It was fun reminiscing about watching television when there wasn’t DVRs, binge-watching and Netflix.

6. Interesting piece about how the notebook and bullet journal craze is flourishing in the age of the iPhone, as long as the pretty pages can be photographed and Instagrammed. I personally love a good notebook and still write all my lists and tasks with paper and pen. But my calendar remains electronic in Google. Have you tried bullet journaling?

What’s going on in your life? What are you watching, reading and thinking about?

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The Summer Bucket List 2016

June 30, 2016

It’s officially summer around these parts. Sophie’s been out of school about a week now. It was definitely a bittersweet, milestone last day of school. We said goodbye to the school community I’ve come to love over the last three years. I feel so fortunate Sophie had such a great start to her elementary school learning. And in August, she’ll be starting a third grade at a new school in Indiana.

2nd grade

Now that school is out, we’re checking off items on the 2016 Summer Bucket List!

We’ve been making these summer lists since 2010 and I love doing it. I hope we continue to make these lists as she grows older (although I’m sure the items will change).

Although we do plenty of lounging around and Sophie will attend a few weeks of camp, the Summer List gives us fun things to do during the weeks she’s out of school. This year’s list includes a few San Diego experiences we haven’t had before, as well as a few Indiana items.

Here’s what’s in store for this year:

summer bucket list 2016

If you’re looking for some Summer List inspiration, here’s what we’ve done in the past:

Do you make a summer bucket list? What are your summer plans?

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