Thursday, February 26, 2015

BBC Song Covers

We all already know that BBC rules the world and they pretty demolish anything that American TV or Radio produces. They've been having popular artists cover other popular artists for years at BBC Live Lounge but these past few weeks have really put them on the US map.

I'm sure you've already seen Ed Sheeran cover Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty" (because it's brilliant) but check out these other fabulous few from the past few weeks!

Hozier covers Ariana Grande's "Popular." Guys. I already love Hozier. But this cover is brilliant and makes that crappy pop song into a brilliant masterpiece.

Imagine Dragons covers Taylor Swift's "Blank Space." Aaaagggghhhhh. I love this. I seriously love when pop songs are covered into rock and/or acoustic songs. They're just the best, man.

Chvrches covers Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River." Her vocals sometimes go off-key but I love the synthetic rendition of the beat. 

What are your favorite covers?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Let's Get Baked | Sour Cream Corn Bread

I'm a little bit of a cookbook hoarder. I love to flip through the beautiful pages and imagine the decadent dinner parties I would host were I rich and had a house. But instead, I adjust the ingredients to fit my budgetary restrictions (you know, to what's already in my pantry) and eat it with my companion, Netflix.

My grandma got me the Ina Garten's Make It Ahead cookbook for Christmas and, of course, my first recipe that I tweaked was a bread recipe. Ina says that this is great to serve with dinner but I actually heated it up for breakfast, topped it with some strawberry preserves and served it with greek yogurt. 

What I love about this particular cookbook is that for each recipe she gives a solution for "making it ahead" (hence the name of the book) and that works out fantastically for someone who lives alone and can never finish all the food she makes in one sitting, let alone two.

Sour Cream Corn Bread
by Ina Garten
Makes 2 loaves

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal*
1/2 cup sugar
2 T baking powder
1 T salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sour cream
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line the bottom of 2 loaf pans with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the milk, sour cream and eggs, then slowly whisk in the melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix them together with a rubber spatula**, until combined. 
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
Place the pans on a rack and cool completely. 

For this recipe, freeze a loaf for up to 3 months or keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. I ate two medium-sized slices every day for breakfast and it lasted me for almost two weeks. 

*the recipe calls for Bob's Red Mill but Aunt Jemima and it worked out great
**the recipe specifically called for a rubber spatula — can someone tell me why that matters? Ina?

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Best Fictional (Modern) Heroines

Let's face it. Up until recently, there haven't been many fictional ladies who we as impressionable young'uns could look up to. Sure, there was Doralee Rhodes and Lizzy Bennet and Jo March. But these women lived in a different time (I mean, Doralee had to face the perils of shoulder pads, a hideous evil).

Who can we look up to in a modern world filled with modern women who have to put up with the serious idiocy who are trying to make our laws and shape our futures? Or a lady who remembers to brush her teeth after dessert?

These badass women, that's who.

Kristy Palmetto | The Truth About Forever

The first time I met Kristy, I remember thinking that she is exactly who I would want as a life coach. Sure, she's out there. She has an eye catching wardrobe and is vocal about, well, everything. But she's lived a tough (like, really tough) life yet still hopes for the best in everything and everyone. Because Kristy has pretty much seen it all, she helps the leading lady to embrace life and truly live. She is incredibly loyal and fearless.

Lisbeth Salander | The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth is one of the strongest women to ever be presented in literature. She is highly intelligent, cunning and ruthless. If a literary psychologist were a real thing, they would have a field day with this one. But that's why we love her. She is morally ambiguous but she fights (and steals and tortures) for what she believes in. The things that we have to experience with Lisbeth are unimaginable yet they happened. I love how imperfect she is — she is, at times, an antagonist to the lead, yet you find yourself rooting for her, especially in her darkest hours.

Veronica Mars | Veronica Mars

You want to talk about badass bitches? This chick carries a taser with her everywhere and SOLVES CRIMES. In the middle of all this murder solving (including her very best friend's), she is also a rape survivor. This theme continues throughout the series and is one that Veronica is passionate about. She is so faithful to her friends and her relationship with her father is something of beauty. She is independent and smart. She is funny and witty. My girl crush is strong.

Leslie Knope | Parks & Recreation

If there is one person I want to be when I grow up, that person is Leslie Knope (ok, maybe just Amy Poehler, but work with me here). She is driven, dedicated and tenacious to a fault. Leslie is a workaholic, a feminist and a lover of waffles. She goes above and (way) beyond for the people she cares about and can admit her faults (after 15 minutes of crazy). I mean, she invented Galentine's Day. I don't know why you wouldn't love her.

Hermione Granger | Harry Potter

She is the brightest witch of her age.

I grew up with Harry Potter. I became attached to this story the way many people of my generation became attached. And Hermione was an incredible role model for our group. She was the one who got the two boys out of trouble, oh, every.single.time. She didn't put up with people her calling her rude names and was the first to be ok with saying the real name for He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. She broke the gender stereotype and barriers time and time again. She was wise beyond her years, incredibly smart and gifted and was even a social rights activist (S.P.EW.). She was the glue and is my favorite lady character of all time.

Who are your favorite fictional lady heroes?

Today I'm linking up with The Broke and The BookishTop Ten Tuesday, where hundreds of book bloggers link up to talk about all things books.

Song of the Blog: Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce 

PS. Be my Goodreads friend.

Friday, February 20, 2015

I Do Spy | Cozy Mornings

Nothin But a ZZZ Thing — ModCloth
Britney Survived 2007 Mug — Brittany Garner Design
Muk Luks Booties — Amazon
Relaxed to the Max Robe — ModCloth

I hope all you East Coasters are staying warm and are able to physically exit your house!

Song of the Blog: Sunday Morning by Maroon 5

Some of these links are affiliate marketing links. This means that if you click them and buy something, I get a little tiny piece of commission. But that doesn't mean I don't love each and every one of them. In fact, I'm going to get those booties for next winter fo sho.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Into The Pint Glass | Stout

Ah, Stouts. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Thank you again for joining Mariah and me as we jump Into The Pint Glass and talk about stouts, which also happens to be one of my favorite style of beers.

You see, I pretty much matured (beer wise) on Guinness. I was one of those girls who "hated the taste of beer." Um, yeah, that's because I was being forced to chug piss water (Coors Light) after a dirty ping pong ball had been tossed into it. And then I lived in Ireland for a semester and my world was forever changed by Guinness. I never looked back.

A stout is a type of English ale. Back in the 1700s when porters were popular, people would go out to the pubs after their rough gig of chimney sweeping and need a stiff black beer. They would order a Stout Porter, which was a fuller, creamier, darker porter. The stout was always the stronger beer. At the same time, a black malt was being produced that would soon be used to shape the building blocks of what makes today's modern stout beer.

Stouts can be broken up into five main sub-styles*:

Dry Stout is (obviously) dry with a moderate to high roasted malt and hop bitterness. It is very full bodied and creamy and sometimes has a coffee-like finish. It is not sweet, nor does it have notes of coffee or chocolate. Guinness is the most popular dry stout (and has a super cool story**).

Sweet Stout is also known as a Milk Stout. Lactose, or milk sugar, is generally added to give it a sweetness. Dark roasted malts add coffee and chocolate flavors in this creamy and medium to full-bodied beer. Left Handed Milk Stout is a popular sweet stout.

Oatmeal Stout is made of 5 to 15% oatmeal. Unlike the sweet stout, the oatmeal is going to rely on the oats for a full body and complexity to make it less sweet. Light use of oatmeal will allow for a silkiness of body and richness in flavor where as a heavy use in oatmeal will have an intense flavor and an oily mouthfeel.

Imperial Stout is said to have originally been brewed for Catherine the Great. There is a mix of roasty, fruity and bittersweet with a strong alcohol presence. These will be the highest in alcohol and the most complex and intense.

American-Style Stout is all about the hops. They should still contain characteristic of the other sub-styles, such as roasted and malty with chocolate or coffee tones but bolder roasted malt flavors and hopping.

*Others include Chocolate Stouts, Cherry Stouts, Oyster Stouts and Coffee Stouts
**This post was not sponsored by Guinness.

Alltech Brewstillery Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 8%

I received this beer as a thank you and have been saving it for this very moment. The more I investigated, the more I became intrigued by this self-proclaimed "brewstillery." Alltech produces beer, bourbon, rye AND coffee. And three of those products went in to making this stout! This Imperial is brewed and aged with Haitian coffee in one of their freshly decanted bourbon barrels that had only been used once. 

Aroma: Unofficially — tasty. Officially — There is a strong maltiness that transforms into a very coffee-like scent. There is a a slight vanilla scent with an even more faint chocolate aroma. I also catch a twinge of smokiness, which might be from the aging in a barrel. 

Appearance: It is a dark brown. Like, the darkest of brown possible. The BJCP style guide notes that it's supposed to be opaque and that is 100% true. The legs are grainy and fast, which is surprising since this an 8% ABV beer. Upon initial pour there was very little head with small, rapid-paced bubbles and it dissipated quickly, almost like it was flat. 

Flavor: This has a very strong coffee flavor with notes of vanilla. I don't taste the bourbon at all, although I'm not sure I've ever actually had bourbon (but I have had scotch and whiskey — oh, how I've had whiskey — so I feel like that's a moot point). 

Mouthfeel: For an Imperial Stout, this is on the light side of medium-bodied, which is very surprising. Also surprising given the head, it has great carbonation. It's very velvety and smooth. 

Overall: Eh. It's not my favorite stout. The aroma is the best part about this beer but I find that it's far too coffee flavored for my person taste (as I don't like coffee). I don't taste the alcohol, which I'm sure is great but I expect that in an Imperial. What I do like about it is that it does feel light to me, which I usually find to be the opposite in all stouts. 

Which stout did you try?! Please join us! This link-up will be open for two weeks so you have all the time in the world to try a local, national or international stout! Be sure to tag your drink of choice with #IntoThePintGlass. 

Drink up me hearties, yo ho! 
Into The Pint Glass

Up Next: March 5th | IPA

Completely related: Have you all seen the best beer prank ever? They changed this guy's entire plumbing so that cold beer would come out of every faucet. Brilliant.

Song of the Blog: Hooray for Beer by Bowling for Soup

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Nerd Problems

I would consider myself a book nerd. I've finally started keeping track of all the books I read (be my Goodreads friend!) and I try to be open minded to every genre (except you romance — you know where I stand).

But sometimes, with great power, comes great responsibility. And sometimes, being a book nerd comes with its fair share of problems.

When You Suddenly Quote a Book...

...And no one knows what the hell you're talking about (or they do and they judge you for it). For instance, say you have a chance to take the cut at work and all of a sudden you shout out, I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute! Awkward...

To ReRead or Not to Reread

There are so many amazing books out in the world that I haven't even touched just waiting for me to crack their spine. But, then again, there are a ton of books on my book shelf asking to be reread. Who's call do I answer first?

You know how when you rewatch a movie and you notice so many things that you didn't catch the first time? That's one argument for rereading a book. There are so many details you could have missed the first read through.

But then there are times when you love the story so much that you just have to read it again. I reread The Witch of Blackbird Pond every year. I know what's going to happen and when it's going to happen. But I love it so much, it's become a tradition of sorts. 

Character Attachment

The most obvious, biggest example of this is Harry Potter. People have tattoos — have watch the films and read the books countless times — have visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — pretend they're married to Ron Weasley...

Sometimes there are characters that you either care about so deeply or relate to so well, that you become attached. When I was a teenager, I read The Gemma Doyle series and identified with the lead so strongly. There's one particularly tragic part that affects Gemma and I remember being in mourning over the loss of this person because she felt it.

Character empathy — it's real, ya'll. 

There's Not Enough Money to Read Even Half of All The Books

Need I explain more?

The End

That feeling when you finish a book so good that you don't know what to do with your life.

Today I'm linking up with The Broke and The BookishTop Ten Tuesday, where hundreds of book bloggers link up to talk about all things books.

Song of the Blog: Words by Bee Gees

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Do Spy | Hearts

Happiest Valentine's Weekend, all you lovers. Please do the rest of us a favor and don't be mushy and gross.

Wizard of Oz Quote Print — Pixel Art Prints
Heart Nose Ring Hoop — Holyland's Treasures
And the Beat Goes Aw — ModCloth
Muscle and Flow Top — ModCloth

Song of the Blog: Don't Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee

What are your plans for Valentine's Day?