27 May 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Lemon Rice Pilaf

You know how they say that Mom's cooking is good, but Grandma's cooking is ALWAYS better? Probably because Grandma's cook with love, and sometimes lard, and that just makes everything more delicious.

As the resident chef here at the Money Pit, I don't have much competition in the cooking department from my own mother. It's easy to win when you're the only one at the gate. But on Daryn's side, I have a formidable opponent in his stepmother, who dominates the crown of "Best Chef" in the family with good (and well-deserved) reason.

One of her signature dishes that tips the scales decidedly in her favour, is this little ditty: lemon rice pilaf. Simple, nutritious and so, so delicious, it blazed a path straight to the heart of the Boy when he was just a toddler and has remained there ever since. And Grandma knows what's what when it comes to keeping that crown: lemon rice pilaf makes an appearance at every major family function, and our love just grows and grows and grows.



LEMON RICE PILAF
Preparation: 5 minutes | Cooking Time: 25 minutes | Serves: 6-8
    
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, finely diced (roughly 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice*
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • zested rind of one large lemon (roughly 1 tbsp., compressed)
  • juice of one large lemon (roughly 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley, loosely packed
  • 3 tbsp. salted butter
              
Cooking Directions:
  1. In a heavy sauce pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions begin to soften and turn translucent.
       
  2. Add rice and stir to combine thoroughly with the onion, and coat in oil. Allow to cook for 20-30 seconds or until the rice starts to "snap".
        
  3. Add chicken stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes (*if using brown rice, which is also delicious in this recipe, cook for 35-40 minutes.) Stir occasionally to prevent scorching (I do every 3-4 minutes.)
        
  4. When rice is tender, remove from heat. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and pepper. Stir to combine, then let sit for 5 minutes for the juice to be absorbed. Stir in butter.
        
  5. Fold in the chopped parsley just before serving. Pairs beautifully with roasted salmon (or any fish really) and if you ask the Boy, it's just fine on its own as a meal, full stop. 

I should tell you that I've modified the recipe a little bit. If I was being completely faithful to my mother-in-law's recipe, I would use vegetable oil versus olive and reduce the lemon juice to 1 tablespoon. But we love it lemony and, you know... I have to put my stamp on things. So I jacked up the lemon to suit, but you can make it either which way. Whatever you like.

Also the chicken stock can be exchanged for vegetable if you've got Veggies in your family or if that's just your bag (baby.)

Finally I should tell you about the real beauty of this dish: it can be served hot, warm or at room temperature: it's perfect at any temperature. My tip for the perfect spring brunch: chilled poached salmon, room temperature rice pilaf, soft scrambled eggs, blanched asparagus and cold cucumber salad. OMG MMMMMMM. So delicious, you guys. Seriously. You can trust me.

    
NOTES | EASY, GLUTEN FREE, ONE-POT-WONDER, KID FRIENDLY
   

20 May 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Thick Curry with Chicken & Coconut Rice

You know how there are some days when you get a craving so bad for something that it's all you can think about? You totally obsess over it; no matter what you're doing - vacuuming, walking the dog, tabulating spreadsheets, neurosurgery - no matter what, your brain checks out every 27 seconds to be like, Nurse, I'm gonna need a little more suction here and, uh, DAMN, I wish I had some fried chicken right now. Is anyone else hungry?

I'm struck by this kind of craving pretty regularly. And when I say "pretty regularly" I mean, like, every four days. And I crave only one thing:

THAI. Specifically, thick chicken curry with coconut rice.

Financing these cravings every four days (or, in some weeks, every. single. day.) has its challenges, Sometimes, no matter how bad I'm jonesing, I can't afford a fix and since Daryn has forbidden me to set up shop on the street corner begging for loose change from kind strangers, I've had to take some drastic measures. In that, I learned to make it myself.



THICK CURRY with CHICKEN & COCONUT RICE
Preparation: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 30 minutes | Serves: 4
    
Ingredients:
Thick Curry with Chicken
  • 1 (14 fl.oz.) can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste
  • 2 tbsp. natural smooth peanut butter
    You can also use panang curry paste (also spelled 'panaeng' or 'paneng'), which is red curry with ground roasted peanuts added, but if your local supermarket doesn't carry this specialty item, as mine doesn't, the red curry + peanut butter works just as well.
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
    I used chicken.
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed, bruised and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken thigh, leg or breast, cut into bite-sized strips
    I'm a white-meat kind of gal, so I went with nothing-but-chicken-boob, but I would bet dark meat would add extra flavor.
  • 1 cup red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, strings removed
  • 3-4 tbsp. sweet chili sauce (more for more heat, less for less)
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed Italian or Thai basil leaves + more for garnish
       
  • coconut milk, basil and/or cilantro for garnish
         
Ingredients:
Coconut Rice
  • 1 (14 fl.oz.) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
    
Cooking Directions:
  1. In a medium, thick-bottomed sauce pan, combine coconut milk, water, sugar and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then stir in rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 18-20 minutes until rice is tender.
          
  2. While the rice is cooking, shake the second can of coconut milk or stir it well, to create a consistent thickness (the fat often rises to the top of the can.)
         
  3. In a large sauce pan (or wok, if you have it - I don't) over medium heat, simmer 1/2 cup of coconut milk until reduced by half (roughly 3-5 minutes.) It will get very thick and shiny and may or may not separate. Either is OK.
      
  4. Add the curry paste. Whisk well and cook, continuing to whisk, for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth, sugar, fish sauce and remaining coconut milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring sauce to a simmer.
      
  5. Add the chicken, green beans and lemongrass. Continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent scorching. After 2 minutes, add the peppers, snap peas and sweet chili sauce. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, another 3-4 minutes.
      
  6. Remove the curry from heat. Add basil, and season to taste with more fish sauce and/or sugar as you like (I didn't add any extra, but you might want it.) Remove the lemongrass pieces (or, if you're the kind of superb host I am, tell your guests to eat around them. Crybabies.)
      
  7. Transfer the rice to a deep bowl or plate with sides. Serve the curry over the rice, and garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk, chopped cilantro and basil leaves. Tuck in.
   
I wish I could take total credit for developing this all by my lonesome but I can't. I have the create-your-own recipe maker on FineCooking.com to thank, for the basic recipe at least. It's a handy little tool that you can use to create your own customized curry recipe(s), designed to suit your exact tastes and preferences. And then, of course, I added my own "flair" to make it truly mine.

So the next time you're suffering from crazy-bad Thai cravings, give this recipe a whirl. It's crazy-delicious and will save you a bundle in delivery fees.

NOTES | ONE-POT-WONDER (in that the curry is made all in one pot), EASY

15 May 2014

Return of the Ring

Last year around this time we took an exciting trip out west, where the Boy and his volleyball team won the National championships, and I smashed my engagement ring basically to smithereens.



It was not awesome.

Actually, what it was, was kind of a miracle. About an hour after their big win, which had been played in an ice rink converted for the tournament, we were outside the sports complex celebrating and I happened to catch on my sweater. I looked down and you know what I saw? NOT my engagement stone.

My ring was empty. Broken, and empty.

Of course I immediately burst into tears. The Boy rallied his team and they raced inside to help me look. I assumed it was a lost cause - it was a tiny stone in comparison to the huge, huge sports complex, and I had no idea when or where the stone had fallen out - but we couldn't NOT look. I was more than a little heartbroken.

We went back to rink and began what we thought would be a fruitless search, and then what do you know? In the shadows under the bleachers, after a hundred people or so had trampled over it and kicked it here, there and everywhere, was my stone. Miracle, right? I know. And then I kept crying, but from relief.

Anyway, fast forward nearly a year and I STILL hadn't gotten my ring fixed. It's not as cheap as you might think to reset a stone and completely rebuild and reshape a band. But with the anniversary of its destruction coming up and on the brink of another trip out west, I thought it was time (really I just missed wearing it.) I bit the bullet, and got'er fixed. Finally.





Too many photos of a ring set? Who cares. Isn't it pretty??

The bevel on my stone is still scuffed and scarred and worn from years of banging it around, which I kind of love, honestly, but the band is thick and sturdy and brand spanking new. It's so weird feeling the weight of it on my hand again, but a good weird, you know? I really did miss it. It feels good to be properly married again :)
   

13 May 2014

Foodie Tuesday | "Lightened Up" Meat Sauce

The easiest meat sauce you'll seriously ever make, EVER, and it's awesome on everything: pasta, spaghetti squash, on its OWN in a big-ass bowl.

Make it. You won't regret it.



"LIGHTENED UP" MEAT SAUCE
Preparation: 15 minutes | Cooking Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes | Serves: 6
     
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, finely diced (roughly 2 cups)
  • 1 large red pepper, small diced
  • 1 large yellow pepper, small diced
  • 6 thin carrots, finely diced (roughly 2 cups)
  • 2 lbs. lean ground turkey (or mix it up, and use 1 lb. turkey and 1 lb. chicken. As you like it.)
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed chili flakes
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 10 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1 (28 fl.oz.) can crushed tomatoes
         
Cooking Directions:
  1. In a large, thick-bottomed soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic until the onion begins to turn translucent.
      
  2. Add carrots to the pot and cook for 3 minutes, then add peppers and cook another minute still.
      
  3. To the pot add the ground turkey (and/or chicken) and all the spices from garlic powder through Tabasco sauce. Cook thoroughly, stirring frequently to break the meat down into small crumble.
      
  4. When the meat is thoroughly cooked (no longer pink at all), add the can of tomatoes. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and let simmer 20-30 minutes (depending on how well you want the flavours to blend, and how hungry you), stirring occasionally. Serve and enjoy!

I know some of you read my opening sentence and went: Spaghetti squash? Is she freaking kidding me? That's disgusting. But it's not, on my honour. It's crazy-healthy for you, light AND delicious. Trust, friends. I wouldn't steer you wrong.

NOTES | ONE-POT-WONDER, GLUTEN FREE, PALEO "LITE", EASY, FREEZER-FRIENDLY
 

{gently adapted from this recipe at PaleOMG}

11 May 2014

Happy Wonder Woman Day!



Dear Mom's everywhere:

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

You (yes, you!)- you're awesome.
 
 
image via the amazing SatrunTwins   

09 May 2014

Fireplace Fix-Up | Black Beauty

Ever since I can remember I've dreamt of having a fireplace in my house. When we were shopping for our first house, I refused - categorically refused - to entertain any property that didn't have a fireplace. So naturally, the house we purchased didn't have one.

That's OK, I said. The next house, I said. The next house will DEFINITELY have a fireplace, or seriously I'm not moving there.

Can you see where I'm going with this?

Anyway, with our third house we finally nailed it: the place had a fireplace. But it was only a little nail, because man, that fireplace was ugly.

"U" "G" "L" "Y" -ugly.



OK, it's not tacky or horribly disfigured. It's not a monster. But it wasn't the fireplace of my dreams, so it was crap. And it was crying out for help.

In our old place we had painted the side of a cupboard with chalkboard paint to cover up some test splotches I had painted the year before. It was a quick-fix solution to an awkward problem, but it turned out not only was it practical, it was pretty nice too. I actually really liked the colour, and when we got here I knew it would be the perfect perk-up for my sad little mantel.



Side note: I'm starting to feel a little bit like a Rust-Oleum spokesperson. Like, am I getting paid for this? No. Should I be? CAN I be? Hey, Rust-Oleum, have your people call my people (OK, me) and let's talk!

After just the first coat, I knew I was on to something.



The second coat cemented it: the mantel was going to look great. For just $2.30 (1/10th of a can of $23 paint), the whole room was being transformed.



While we were in the painting mood, we figured we might as well get the whole room done. The fireplace was looking great but that yellow room? Still sucked, and was completely harshing my freshly painted mellow. So out came the white paint along with the black, and wound up with a little bit of magic that looks like this.



Ah, paint, how I love thee. And my new fireplace? I love even more. Look again.



I'm toying with the idea of tricking it out a bit more by tiling the recessed part around the firebox, and maybe painting the inside of the box itself so it doesn't stand as much. I haven't decided. For now, I'm pretty happy with it just the way it is.
   

07 May 2014

DIY Copper Pipe Candelabra

You might remember a few weeks back, I shared my experience at the Home Depot 2014 Spring Preview. It was lovely, of course, and for those who attended the good folks at HD put together a little gift box of crafting items for all the bloggers to get their DIY on.

I had thought originally that we were all going to create our craft there at the party, kindergarten-style, but no. It was a take-home project. I was a smidge disappointed at the time but turns out it was just as well, considering what happened later on when I finally decided to take a crack at it.

Behold, the DIY Copper Pipe Candelabra!



Most of you know I'm not a very crafty person and even I found this easy to do, and oh-so-cute. There are a few tricks, but nothing you can't handle.

Want to make one for yourself? Here's how:

STEP ONE | The Box



It's unlikely that your materials will come in a cute little box like this, but if you have one that's similar (or care to pick one up at your local HD), it's a great place to store your crafting equipment. The "step" is basically to corral your supplies all in one place.

STEP TWO | The Tools



The materials you'll need to complete this project are the following:
  • 1 pair latex gloves
  • 1 canister of super glue (brand of your choice)
  • 8-20 pieces of 1/2" copper piping, cut into various lengths
    (Most HD stores sell 1/2" [and other sizes] copper piping in 8-foot lengths. Associates will cut the piping upon request, at a small price per cut, or you can do it at home if you have the tools. Be sure to cut a few pieces of roughly the same length - try to cut them in pairs, if you can. Just makes construction a little easier.)
  • 4-8 male "L" joints, 1/2" copper
  • 4-8 female "L" joints, 1/2" copper
  • 4-8 semi-"L" joints (45-degree angle), 1/2" copper
  • 2-4 "T" joints, 1/2" copper
  • 2-4 female ends, 1/2" copper
    (You only see one above, between the "T"s and the "L"s, which is just one reason why the "incident" occurred. More on that later.)
  • 1 sharpie marker
  • 2-4 white taper candles
 
STEP THREE | The Arrangement



This is the fun, creative part, when you get to fiddle around with your copper pieces to create a look you like. Use the "L" brackets to create a base then fit the "T"s in where you please. The "T"s form the base of the actual "abra" (arms) so depending on whether you want a one, two, three, four or more light candle holder will determine how many "T"s you need and how you fit them together with the base.

Fool around, experiment. Put it together and take it apart again until you settle on a shape and size that you feel like is perfect. Then move on to Step Four.

STEP FOUR | The Glue



Deconstruct your candelabra and carefully set aside each piece so you know which connects to what and where. It's a good idea at this stage to mark each piece with your Sharpie, so you know exactly how to put your candelabra together again, when it really counts (ie. when you've applied the glue.)

Put your gloves on and follow the instructions for opening your bottle of super glue. Working carefully and from the base up, apply glue to the interior of each piece into which another piece will be slotted.

This is important: If you apply glue to the outside of a piece that is going to be inserted into another piece, the fit is so snug between the copper that you'll only scrape the glue off the surface to create a glue-ring around the junction. Basically, you'll disfigure the joints of your candelabra and unless that kind of bubbly, uneven joint finish is what you're looking for, it's best avoided by lining the inside of each piece with glue rather than the outside.

Also, super glue is what super glue is: SUPER. You have roughly 0.3 seconds to insert and adjust each piece to the proper fit before the glue sets, and once it's done, it's DONE. You're stuck with it. Which is why it's important to mark your pieces and ensure you know where everything needs to go and with what.

ANTI-STEP | Because This.



Rats.

This is the "incident" - I did NOT mark my pieces and assumed I had set them aside in the corresponding order in which they went together. Sadly, no.

I was able to complete the project with the pipe cuts I have leftover, but the snafu with the base plus the fact that I needed a second end, necessitated a quick trip to the Depot. I think I'm probably the only blogger alive whose free craft cost her $10.34 out of pocket.

ANTI-STEP | Do-Over!



Total do-over. But actually it worked out to my benefit, because I wound up liking this shape much better. So that's a silver lining, I guess.

STEP FIVE | Finishing Up




How you finish your copper pipe candelabra is up to you. In my case, I soaked off all the little white tags for a smooth finish (you could paint over them if you like, or you could remove them before you start gluing; chacun a son gout), then spray painted the whole thing with two thin coats of gold metallic paint. I wasn't going for full coverage but just enough to dull the bright copper colour, and to create a base for the paint I would apply by brush.

Once the spray paint had dried, I applied four light coats of Rust-Oleum's Metallic Accents "Gold" (the same paint I used on Steve.) There are several different shades of gold I've used in the living room, but my decorating philosophy is that as long as there are two or more pieces of every colour, it looks cohesive rather than random. I could be off my nut entirely, but hey. It's my living room.



I'm really super-pleased with the end result. It's cute but not obnoxiously so, simple and unique, and I made it with my own two hands. It's also got a cool industrial vibe that I like but the gold makes it glam (and fits right in with the rest of the room.) I'm actually considering doing another one (different shape, same colour) for the opposite side of the mantel!

How do you feel about a DIY copper pipe candelabra? Would you ever make one?

PS- That little piece of rock beside it? Is the petrified wood we brought home from Arizona. Gorgeous, isn't it?
   

06 May 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Best. Cookies. EVER.



OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Preparation: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 12 minutes | Makes: roughly 36 cookies
      
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup salted butter, melted (liquefied)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (if using unsalted butter, increase salt to 1/2 tsp.)
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
 
Cooking Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.
      
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and fold in sugar mixture until just blended.
       
  4. Mix in the oats, pecans and chocolate chips.
    You want to avoid over-stirring, because then your cookies will be flat, but you will have to stir a significant amount. You are your own best judge. You will look at all those oats and say to yourself, There is no way those oats are going to get absorbed into that mix. But they will; take my word for it. You just need a few minutes of intense dedication, and biceps like Jean-Claude Van Damme's. No biggie.
          
  5. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray, then drop evenly spaced (table)spoonfuls of dough onto the sheets.
          
  6. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from oven (they will not look cooked and you will probably say - out loud, if you're me - "These don't looked cooked!" but don't worry, they are.) Allow to cool 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.
        
      
Here is a pre-baked photo, so you can get an idea of how big the dough balls should be.



Use this is as a general guideline. If you want to make your cookies larger or smaller, feel free to do so. Just watch them while cooking and experiment with baking times (one gigantor cookie will not require the same cooking time as 12 small ones. Obviously.)

Also, allergies are top of mind for many these days so if that's a consideration for you, these cookies are just as good without the pecans. Or, if you just hate pecans, consider replacing them with walnuts, hazelnuts or whatever nut you prefer.

I have no idea if these cookies are freezer friendly because honestly, they don't hang around long enough for us to find out. If you've got the self-control to put them aside, you'll have to let me know!

NOTES | EASY, KID-FRIENDLY (OBVIOUSLY) 

02 May 2014

Money Pit Reads (or at least, Shops for Books Like a BOSS)

Way back in January I introduced you to the weird alcoves in my media room, and pondered what I might do with them to make them slightly less weird and a bunch more functional.

Libraries! I said. Just stacks and stacks of books! I pronounced. And then I set about the task of filling those babies up without having to sell one (or both) of my children to finance it.

My first efforts in foraging (otherwise known as thrifting) yielded some pretty great results on a pretty low budget. But 21 novels in a (roughly) 6' x 2' x 2' space does not a fulsome library make, and even less so when there are TWO spaces of those dimensions.

Which could mean only one thing: I NEEDED TO SHOP MORE!! Tough times.



Book List
  1. Adams Richards, David | The Lost Highway
  2. Alameddine, Rabih | The Hakawati
  3. Banville, John | The Untouchable
  4. Brown, Ian | The Boy in the Moon
  5. Brown, Karen | The Longings of Wayward Girls
  6. Caletti, Deb | He's Gone
  7. Carnarvon, The Countess of | Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
  8. Choy, Wayson | All That Matters
  9. Choy, Wayson | The Jade Peony
  10. Coupland, Douglas | Hey Nostradamus!
  11. Cunningham, Michael | The Hours
  12. Faulkner, William | The Sound and the Fury
  13. Fitzgerald, F. Scott | Tender is the Night
  14. Frey, James | A Million Little Pieces
  15. Glass, Julia | Three Junes
  16. Gray, Spalding | Impossible Vacation
  17. Hornby, Nick | A Long Way Down
  18. Hosseini, Khaled | A Thousand Splendid Suns
  19. Hugo, Victor | The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  20. Huston, Nancy | Prodigy
  21. Irving, John | Until I Find You
  22. Johnson, Paul | Heroes
  23. Johnston, Wayne | The Custodian of Paradise
  24. Kaling, Mindy | Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns)
  25. Kingsolver, Barbara | The Lacuna
  26. Maguire, Gregory | A Lion Among Men
  27. Maguire, Gregory | Son of a Witch
  28. McCarthy, Cormac | Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
  29. McKay, Ami | The Virgin Cure
  30. Melady, John | Double Trap: The Last Public Hanging in Canada
  31. Miller, Sue | While I Was Gone
  32. Moorehead, Caroline | A Train in Winter
  33. More, Thomas | Utopia
  34. Nafisi, Azar | Reading Lolita in Tehran
  35. Niffenegger, Audrey | The Time Traveler's Wife
  36. Ondaatje, Michael | Divisadero
  37. Padwa, Lynette | Everything You Pretend to Know and Are Afraid Someone Will Ask
  38. Price, Richard | Ladies' Man
  39. Rech, Lindsay Faith | Losing It
  40. Richter, Daniel K. | Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America
  41. Salinger, J.D. | The Catcher in the Rye
  42. Sancom, C.J. | Sovereign
  43. Sebold, Alice | The Almost Moon
  44. Shriver, Lionel | We Need to Talk About Kevin
  45. Soli, Tatjana | The Lotus Eaters
  46. Summers, Courtney | Cracked Up to Be
  47. Wells, H.G. | The War of the Worlds
  48. Wilson, A.N. | London: A History
  49. Zailckas, Koren | Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood
Some I've read before (notably, Salinger and Wells) but felt they were important to have as part of the library. (Shouldn't everyone own these?) Everything else is new to me.

I'm halfway through Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm but will be looking for my next read very shortly. Have you read any of the novels I've picked up? Any suggestions what one I should start next?

PS- Those 49 books? Cost me $65. BAM! Like a BOSS.
  

01 May 2014

House Stalking | Chateau de Gudanes: The Mother of All Renos

Sometimes when I lie in bed at night, I fantasize how exciting and challenging and just plain awesome it would be to renovate a house top to bottom, right down to the studs and back. I imagine purchasing some derelict old pile in the countryside, a real diamond-in-the-rough, and restoring it to its former beauty.

How satisfying it must be - how fulfilling - to bring a beautiful, complex vision to life... and then live in it.

A young and ambitious Australian family is doing just that. Having purchased an abandoned eighteenth century chateau in the south of France, they are documenting the extensive restoration process on their blog, Chateau de Gudanes. They have their beautiful work cut out for them.







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Visit CdG to share in the experience, and follow Karina on Instagram and Facebook. Her photos are, in a word, stunning.

The stuff dreams are made of.