Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eccentric Writers

Have you ever noticed that a lot of writers are just a little....odd?

I first started reading the blog of a bestselling novelist a few years ago. Then I saw pictures of her.... Wow. Lots of black leather, Gothic style corsets, and none of it was attractive. I guess I should have expected some of it, given her subject matter: vampires, zombies, and witches. But it was still strange to see...and completely unrelatable for me.

A professor once asked me: what does it matter if you like the author, shouldn't their work transcend them, personally? I don't know. I'll never read C S Lewis after learning about him in a Historical Methods class. He's not my cup of tea. Ironically, I've never read another book by the black leather lady since seeing her online website and blog.

I guess I want writers to be more I want to know that a normal person can publish good quality fiction without needing to be eccentric or strange to do so.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Song of Fire and Ice

I'm anxiously awaiting George R. R. Martin's 4-book boxed set of A Song of Fire and Ice. The first book is A Game of Thrones...and is the basis of the HBO series of the same name.

The first season is now over and it was amazing. Had I never seen HBO's Rome or AMC's The Walking Dead, I would not have been ready for Game of Thrones. The violence and sex is extremely graphic. But, most importantly, the story is crazy (ahem, fantasy), mind-blowing, and completely unpredictable. Where else do dragons and zombies mingle but in Martin's fantastic, novels?

So, after being on tenterhooks throughout season one, Mr. Higgins and I resolved to read the books this summer. No more crazy surprises for us!

We'll see how it goes!

Monday, June 27, 2011


The weekend passed with very few kitchen happenings, unfortunately.

I tried to bake some blueberry cookies with white chocolate chips...and they were not good. It's the first bad recipe I've tried in some time and I was really bummed. I know it's bound to happen but that doesn't keep me from being disappointed.

There's a pasta salad recipe I may try tonight...if I'm feeling up to it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What's Going On

A few things but nothing terribly exciting...

-I'm trying to decide what exciting goodies I want to cook/bake this weekend! I have several ideas and a pint of unused fresh blueberries in the fridge. Hm....

-A few weekends ago, I started my first wedding scrapbook. It's the pre-wedding book that will include the engagement party, bridal shower, and bridal portraits. Fun!

-Mr. Higgins and I are going to start the Game of Thrones books. Yes, the show had us hooked and, since the books are always better, we're wanting to learn more! That should be a fun summer reading task!

-The overwhelming task of changing my name just got more complicated... My check and request for certified copies of the marriage certificate were lost in the mail. Ugh. Did you know it costs $27 at my bank to stop the payment of a check? It seems pretty ridiculous since the check was written for $20. I think I'll wait and ask for a refund if the probate court ever receives it and cashes it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Forgotten Garden

I finally finished Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden and, though it took me forever to get through, I really enjoyed it!

If you're like me, your family has very few secrets. We're boring. We know where we came from, who begat whom and when. But for Morton's Nell...she has no idea who her parents are. Both her and her granddaughter start on soul-searching adventures to discover their pasts. There are many surprises and Morton moves between decades to tell the stories family.

It's a fascinating read and one that will keep you guessing until the end. I correctly guessed where it was headed but it was a fun adventure nonetheless.

I recommend this book for a good summer read!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chicken Salad

The chicken salad I made for lunch yesterday passed and exceeded all my expectations. I'm ecstatic! I've been searching for a good recipe for years and now I've finally come up with one, consulting multiple recipes online.

The best thing about it: Greek yogurt instead of mayo! I was a bit hesitant about using Greek yogurt; I'd tried it and thought it pretty nasty. But it's a great and healthy base for chicken salad! Who would have thought?! Gone is the gross mayo and sour cream! In it's place: something that is listed as a super food by many dietitians! That's what I call awesome!!

You should give it a whirl!

Chicken Salad (2 servings)

1 chicken breast, seasoned with salt, pepper and a pinch of dill, grilled and then shredded

1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1 tsp Dijon mustard (mustard makes everything better!)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp dill weed, dried
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
pinch of cayenne if you want a kick to it!

About 3/4 cup of your favorite veggies/nuts: celery, onion (I used a scallion), apple, almonds, grapes...

Now this is making me hungry!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Brownies, From Scratch!

I went on a bit of a cooking and baking frenzy this weekend. Here's what I made....

-Kahlua Brownies with Browned Butter Kahlua Icing
-my standard breakfast cookies
-my favorite Chewy Granola Bars
-a new chicken salad recipe

The brownies were for my dad's visit for Father's Day. I can't say they made much of an impact on him (he's on yet another diet) but Mr. Higgins and I loved them. They were a bit labor-intensive and the cooking time was too short for my oven....but they were delicious.

This brings up a curious question, though: Who do you bake for? After all the work of these brownies, I was hurt and insulted when my dad left the icing on his plate and grumbled ("Doniamarie, I'm on a diet!") his way through the brownie. I wanted to throw something at him. He's always been completely unappreciative of the cooking/baking my mom and I do for him. After thirty years of this, I'm tempted to stop, altogether, doing nice things for him; he's never happy.

But. Do you cook/bake for yourself or for others? I enjoy the process and usually savor the results...but it's no fun eating the results all by myself. Hm...

I think I may have finally found a good base for chicken salad. I'll know for sure after lunch today! Here's a hint to it's contents: Greek yogurt.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Mr. Higgins and I were given a batch of lovely wedding gifts from his aunt: knitted dishcloths! Considering everything I knit is given away, it was nice to finally receive something handknit! And something useful! Wow!

Our kitchen is black, white, and red. Our wedding colors were black, white, and yellow. We were given about 5 white and 5 yellow dishcloths....and 2 black. I pre-washed the black ones, hoping to limit color bleeding.... And it didn't work.

I tried to use a black dishcloth this week.....and soon found myself washing dishes with dark gray water. These will obviously have to be used for drier purposes only.

But I love handknit dishcloths! They are so much nicer than store bought ones! Just beware black yarn!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green Chilis and Soup

I've been eager to cook and bake lately. Maybe it's having a nice, big kitchen that's all my own... Maybe it's being bored with my routine foods.... I don't know but I like being motivated to try new things.

Lunch is always a dilemma for me. Staying healthy isn't hard but staying healthy at work presents challenges. For something different, I thought I'd make a batch of soup for this week.

I ran across a Green Chili Chicken and Lime Soup and thought I'd give it a whirl.

Of course, I did a few things differently... I put the can of green chilis in the blender to make more of a chili liquid. And though I halved the recipe, I still used the full can of chilis. Instead of pre-cooking the rice, I added the rice to the chicken broth (onions and garlic) to cook for 20 minutes. I did without the cheese and avocado to cut down on fat. The lime juice was definitely I added a bit of water and more spices. Here in Texas, we're used to things being hot! The soup turned out really good and I'll definitely add it to my recipe box.

And though it's already 100 degrees outside, my office stays at 60 and soup is a welcome lunch-time delight!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rick Perry

At a time when the national budget is in crisis, do you really think this guy should be president? He can't even keep his own state in the black, despite warning flags being thrust in his face years ago.

Rick Perry wants to be the new W. Unfortunately for him, Perry inherited W's ridiculous management of the state budget. He rode on W's success for years but now it's becoming clear just how inept he really is. This is a guy who, instead of talking about the massive budget shortfall in the state legislature, fast-tracked issues such as sonograms before abortions. Because that's the more important thing - unborn children versus the ones in our schools right now.

Yeah, this guy should be in charge of the national budget. Ugh.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Given what happened Sunday night, I'm sure you all were surprised by my silence yesterday.

I still can't believe it. The MAVS WON THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP!!! It's a great time for Dallas and the Metroplex. I couldn't be happier for the humblest NBA super star, Dirk Nowitzki.

I've never watched a more exciting game than Sunday's. Dirk was a bit off but he made shots at the end when they mattered most. It was awesome seeing his supporting cast come through in a big way - namely Jason Terry. What a game!

It was difficult watching the game on ABC with the ESPN crew. They've never shown Dallas any respect. I've never seen a more biased crew! At one point, when the game was wrapped up with seconds to go, one of the commentators said, "Dirk has held his own against two super stars." And, later, "these Mavs are a group of castaways." As the Mavs posted a victory, the cameras followed LeBron's immediate walk to the locker room, instead of focusing on the winners. (Good article here.) They extolled the Big Three, saying how they were super stars who just couldn't get it done when it mattered most. Dallas, somehow, pulled off some magic.

Magic, eh? You call it magic, I call it hard work. It would be nice if the ESPN guys would acknowledge that. But they obviously have no idea what hard work is. Everyone can learn from these Mavs.... You can only win with hard work and perseverance. There is no magic. Miami tried to create it's own magic by taking the easy route with the Big Three. They expected a championship in one year. That doesn't happen. They didn't fail; they haven't had time to become a real team yet.

Amazingly, LeBron and the Big Three are still the big stories. The Mavs are not. Despite the Heat's cockiness, disrespect, and rudeness, the media is still fawning over them. These guys don't deserve the attention.

But let's return to Dallas. Here, Mark Cuban, bad boy owner of the NBA, is paying for the Mavs' victory parade. No taxpayers will foot the bill (are you listening Jerry Jones?). He's a class act. Perhaps the Big Three should take lessons from him.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two Views

In preparation for tonight's game, here is a bit of reading for you.

And, yes, that curly, blonde-haired giant is the only thing that stands in the way of pure, domineering evil. But is one man enough? One against three? Only three games will tell. As a Mavs fan, I'm prepared to be disappointed....though a small ray of hope persists in these dark times.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Zucchini Bread

I was all excited last night to try my hand at zucchini bread for the second time. The first time, years ago, was disaster. I followed a low-fat recipe that was utterly horrid.

This time, I followed the first recipe here. It was good. Not great, but a good, solid recipe. It definitely satisfies my zucchini bread cravings.

It was also fun playing with the food processor for the first time. Cooking and baking is so much fun when you like the result and gain a sense of satisfaction.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Baking Inspiration!

First off, a happy, happy birthday to my husband today! He's brought so much joy to my life and I'm so blessed to have found him!

Mr. Higgins' mother is a fabulous cook/baker. I've been looking forward to another Christmas at her house since Jan. 2 of this year! She's inspired me to think outside of my limited baking box which is a lot of fun.

Recently, she forwarded me a link to a baking blog. Oh my goodness! That opened a can of worms! Now I'm obsessed with cooking/baking blogs!! And I really want to do more cooking/baking!! Trying to narrow it down to just one thing to bake is difficult....but not really.

There was a restaurant - a girlie lunch place - that my mom and I frequented in East Texas when I lived there. They had the best zucchini muffins! I'd look forward to that more than anything there! I tried a zucchini bread at the time, trying to replicate the goodness....and it was a failure. The recipe was low-fat....and awful.

Now, armed with a new food processor (wedding gifts are wonderful!), I'm ready to try again. A normal, fatty zucchini bread recipe, that is! I'll let you know how it goes tonight.

I'll probably spend every free moment today browsing food blogs. And, like yesterday, I'll be starving all day long!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Game 2, Finals

In case you haven't heard, the Mavs beat the Heat last night, tying the series 1-1.

It hasn't been a pretty two games for Mavs fans. The shots aren't falling, rebounding and turnovers have killed the Mavs. Dirk injured a finger and, though he said it wasn't hurting, his shots were not falling last night.....until it mattered. He went on a shooting spree at the end to tie up the game and then make the game-winning shot.

Go Dirk!

LeBron and Wade had no idea what happened. They were still celebrating their 15-point lead when the buzzer sounded and the Mavs walked away with a victory. Awesome.

Now on home turf, the Mavs are going to have to re-group. Terry really needs to step it up - and make some baskets - and Kidd needs to hold on to the ball a bit better. And GET IN LeBRON'S FACE!! Defense, guys! Don't let your fans - and all the Heat-haters - down. You've got the majority of the country on your side, guys. Make us proud!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


A few pictures from the wedding.

As you may recall, I was having serious problems with the florist that was included in our wedding package. So, I went and found my own florist. It was a bit difficult doing this long distance - all by phone and email - but they flowers turned out great!

Yellow calla lillies, white hydrangeas, and white ranunculuses. I loved them!

Really, everything with the wedding went so smoothly and a dream!