Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weekend Reading

Portrait of a morning

Hello and happy weekend! I hope you (Americans) had a good Thanksgiving, whether you were celebrating with friends, family, or hibernating by yourself. I had an exhausting week at work, but I'm grateful I made time to host a small gathering. And that I (finally) had a chance to sleep in this weekend. The craziness of a bakery during Thanksgiving week is my only excuse for not posting this past week, and I hope you can forgive me.

However! I do have some interesting reads and recipes for you this weekend. Enjoy, and please share what you're reading!

Awesomesauce. In 1963, an enterprising young lad asked novelists about whether symbolism in their work was intentional. Some of them actually answered.

oh my. Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

A note from the other side: I'm Marrying a Feminist

Another horrible custody battle, only this one also seems to be a battle for a woman's right to move, travel, and get an education.

mmmmm the Christmas version of a root beer float

O. M. G. no, seriously.

"And compassion isn’t a sign of weakness, but a mark of civilization" A conversation about empathy for fellow humans in distress

How fun- a monthly subscription service for donating to charity. Sounds like a great Christmas present to me

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kitchen Art

kitchen art

When Mr Official Taster and I combined households, two of the hardest collections to cull and integrate were our respective stashes of artwork. We both have a good number of photos, prints, paintings, etc. to hang on the walls, and our styles are, to say the least, rather different.

We've managed hang most of our artwork since we've moved, but one place I didn't have anything on the walls was the kitchen. It seems hard to believe, I know, but it's true. The biggest hurdle was the lack of wall space. Here's a before picture to help you remember:

kitchen, before
The one real wall has a (much-appreciated) window taking up most of it. I'm (slowly) thinking of ways to spice it up, including stencils or just a bright paint color under the window. We'll see. Anyway, if you look carefully under the cabinets, you'll notice there's not wall there. The same black counter material forms the backsplash, and it reaches all the way to the bottom of the cabinets. According to the paperwork left by the previous owner, it's a quartz composite material, and even if I wanted to, there's no way I could pound in some nails to hang art. 

hooks on kitchen backsplash

Enter, 3M hooks. I had the idea that I could use one of those 3M hooks to hang a picture with. You know the ones I mean- they have some sort of sticky stuff that will hold the hook+it's weight and then you can remove the sticky strip from the wall without leaving residue or a nail hole behind. (I swear, 3M has no idea I exist). 

oops, forgot to photograph first

So I perused Target's collection and ended up with these clear guys that are supposed to be used as utensil hooks. The package of three was in the neighborhood of $3-$4. Since the package says each hook can hold up to half a pound, and I'm somewhat of a worrier, I decided to use two hooks. I simply followed the directions on the box, eyeballed the hanging height I wanted, and centered my hooks. This particular model lies pretty flat against the wall and my art now graces the backsplash above the stove. You can still see the clear parts above the frame, but they don't bother me. It's the same print that was in our last kitchen, and I'm so glad I was able to find a home for it in this one. 

kitchen art

Obviously, I wouldn't recommend hanging priceless artwork above a stove, but I think it's a great place for dollar store frames and replaceable prints. Painted frames and glass wipe off easily, so I'm not worried about any splatter. I think spaces like this where you don't want something precious are perfect for pretty pictures torn from magazines, cute cards, or photos. 

Have you been hanging art in new places? Experimenting with paint? Have any bright ideas for my one real kitchen wall?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekend Reading

Work It

I hope everyone is having an excellent weekend. I'm taking my own advice and unplugging a bit (I wrote this Friday night). I always feel better after I do.

What are you up to?

Meet GoldieBlox, an awesome toy company

One (smart) man's revelations about calling a woman "crazy" and how damaging it is

A new app called iCitizen strives to help you make sense of the issues. I haven't tried it, but it sounds interesting.

Earlier this week I talked about ads on this site. Please read it! I welcome any feedback you have

A smart talk about closets and stepping out of them. sidenote: My husband wears pink shirts, too

A reminder to unplug now and then

In case you missed it, Red Wine Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream will make you happy

mmmmmm.... Spinach Hummus & Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Quesadilla

the always delightful Deb's Cranberry Orange Breakfast Buns

Finally, a yummy looking Spicy Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Burger

Looking for more good reads? Check out all my other Weekend Reading posts here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Give Thanks - free printable

Hello and happy Friday to all. I hope you've had a good week and have something or someone to look forward to this weekend. Mr Official Taster and I don't really have any plans, though we are hoping to get together with some friends. Aaaaaand I might make some more ice cream (which I should share with you soon), so there's that. 

Today I'm sending you over to On Sutton Place for this seasonally appropriate Give Thanks free printable. I'm thinking you could use this for DIY cards, magnets, lunchbox notes, or even some quick art. 

This week I am thankful for warm socks and washable rugs. How about you?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream - dairy free/vegan/gluten free

Red Wine Chocolate Cake (dairy free) with Coconut Whipped Cream (vegan & gluten free)

I made my mom bread, but I made my dad cake.

I knew I wanted to make my dad a birthday cake while he was here, but I didn't want it to be a tower of sugar and frosting (I know, I know. That would have been awesome). I've had a few recipes saved for chocolate cakes that use wine to add flavor and color, so I looked through what I had, picked the best of the lot, adapted it a bit, and made it. But you pretty much need frosting on a birthday cake or it's not a birthday cake. I wanted something light and not chocolate, so I went with a vanilla whipped cream made from coconut milk. I had good luck in the past with chocolate frosting using coconut milk, so I was eager to try it's vanilla cousin.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake (dairy free)

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Word on Ads

Blackberry Coconut Macaroons - dairy free & guten free
Blackberry Macaroons

So here's the thing. I don't write this blog for the money, and I don't write it for you. I write it for me. Yes, down the line, it would be great if ad revenue was a more substantial part of our household budget, but I'm not planning on quitting my day job any time soon (well, some days I think about it, but that's a different story). Currently, Short & Sweets makes $1-$2 per day from ads. It's not a lot, but it's more than it used to be, and I'm 100% ok with it.

If you're a regular reader, you may have noticed a few more ads on the side than there used to be. If, at any time, you find that an ad is offensive or gets in your way, please, please let me know, and I will work to get rid of it. I don't want the ads to do either of those things. I have some categories of BlogHer ads excluded, and I also can control ads from specific brands/websites if they ever become a problem. I've chosen to increase the number of ads on the side, and there are sometimes ad links in a recipe, but I've made the decision not to use in-text ads (the ones where "reader" might be a link to a bookseller's site, for example) or ads on top of my photos. Those are real options which I think are just too intrusive. The ad links that sometimes appear at the end of a list of ingredients are on probation. I haven't decided yet how I feel about them, so please let me know if you have a strong opinion.

Oatmeal Molasses Whoopie Pies

I have a few different types of ads right now. Some of them pay me when you click on them, and some of the pay me simply when you view the website. I also have some Amazon ads. Amazon ads work a little bit differently. They are what are called "affiliate ads." They don't pay me when you view my blog, and they don't pay me if you click on them. Amazon ads pay me only if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my ads or links. So for example, I have a couple Amazon widgets under the "I'm Craving" headline on the right. If one of those items catches your eye, you click on it, and purchase it, I get a small percentage of your purchase price. You are not charged anything extra, and you won't even see it on your receipt. If, however, you click on something from a widget or from my recommended list of cookbooks (under "I Recommend"), go to Amazon, but ultimately choose to buy a different item, I will still receive a small percentage of your purchase price because you got to Amazon through one of my links.

To be clear, I'm Craving items are not necessarily items that I have or am familiar with. They are simply things that caught my eye. The list of cookbooks under I Recommend are books that grace my own bookshelf and which I like. There is also a banner ad for an Amazon Prime free trial. We have Prime and it's worked well for us.

What does all this mean to you and why am I telling you? Well, I'm mainly telling you so that you know, and so that you know that you should contact me (KatesShortandSweets at gmail dot com) if you ever see an offensive or overly intrusive ad.


I'm also telling you so that you can make the choice to support me, my writing, my recipes, and my contribution to the internet by making Amazon purchases through my links. There's this unwritten feeling that bloggers shouldn't ask for money. But I'm asking - if you like what you read, if you come here to find inspiration and ideas, if one of my recipes has gone into your regular rotation - please support my work without spending an extra cent. If November is the start of the holiday season, it's also the start of the buying season, and so I'm asking you to think about making your dollars go further.

Gingerbread Ice Cream

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekend Reading

Fall's Petals

Good morning, and happy Sunday, folks. This week I've noticed a distinct shift toward all things fall, winter, and holiday related. The weather has been part of it (it's cold, and because of Daylight Savings, it gets dark early), as has retail (so much red+green), and I think people are turning en masse to Thanksgiving and beyond. This is not news, and I've mentioned it before, but I find it interesting that there's such a giant cultural shift in the beginning of November, and even if we aren't ready for Christmas, or even Thanksgiving, it's like swimming upstream against all of America.

Anyway, I have a relatively short list of links this week. Do you have anything to add?

For such a forward-looking company, Twitter is behind (though not as much as I'd like to think)

Trying to plan Thanksgiving? The Kitchn has you covered

The anatomy of a compliment

Sad & unsurprising - fast-food experts analyze 5,427 kids' meals and only 33 are healthful. Why should this matter? Well, for one, 33% of kids and 41% of teens eat fast-food every day

It's not vegan, but it is gluten free - Marisa's Maple Sweetened Banana Oat Cake. It should be simple enough to swap out the butter for oil to make it dairy free as well

Looking for more good reads? Check out all my other Weekend Reading posts here

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Choose Joy - free printable

I know that any saying with "joy" in it is typically a Christmas treat, but, really, who doesn't need joy the rest of the year? These cute Choose Joy free printables from Lost Bumblebee come in a few colors, and she's even made one that's the right size for your Facebook cover photo, if you're so inclined.

This week at work has been...hard, I guess, but mainly quite busy. I had to make up work/clean up the chaos from being gone for a week, and the holidays are out in full force in the retail world, so the days have been packed. I've left late every afternoon, and I never get everything crossed off my list. The good thing about being busy is that I can pretty much stay in my own little bubble and not get too annoyed by other personalities. Mostly.

So, on this Friday, I'm choosing joy. How about you?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pumpkin Chili - vegan & gluten free

gluten free Pumpkin Chili {recipe}

I'm sorry I'm such a tease.

I posted on Instagram and then mentioned last week that I made a new kind of chili, and I'm just now telling you about it. Can we still be friends? Yes, you know what it's like to go on vacation staycation and have it somehow disappear much faster than you can understand, and certainly faster than you'd like, and just not get everything done that you'd like to?

oh good, I'm so glad that happens to other people.

gluten free & vegan Pumpkin Chili, from above

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Weekend Reading

Vacation, Day 4

How is it the weekend already? And why does time fly when I'm on vacation? Not ok. What are you up to? What have you been reading?

Onward to links!

Well, this is gross. A new study found 12% of spices imported to the U.S. are contaminated. Once you've digested that, you can read a conversation with a spice buyer about what McCormick and Company is doing about it.

This isn't the newest news, but a study validates the link between BPA and childhood obesity in girls.

Did you know it matters which direction a dog's tail is wagging? I didn't, but apparently it matters a great deal to dogs.

Want more friends? Try courting some. It's the smart way to make more of them.

Whether you're lazy (ahem, Mr OT), taking part in Movember, or still holding onto your playoff beard, you might be interested to learn which days of beard growth are most attractive (or unattractive).

Trying to organize your food-home life? Try this free, printable, bi-weekly menu planner from Northwest Edible.

Now that it's after Halloween, I guess I can admit that The Holidays are right around the corner. Real Simple has tips to make hosting parties easier and less stressful.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there's a movement to rid M&M's of artificial colors. Well, Kraft has announced it's going to be phasing out that artificial neon glow in some of it's mac & cheese products. baby steps.

Marissa of Food in Jars is inspiring me to rethink leaving canning rings on jars. She says you should absolutely take them off.

David Sedaris' piece about his sister's suicide.

Until this week, I had not heard the name Joss Whedon, but he's totally my favorite person of the week.  Maybe you're cooler than I and know all about him, but regardless, check out this speech he gave back in 2006 detailing the many smart answers he's given one dumb question he's endlessly asked.

Ever feel upset, intimidated, daunted, _____ by the women you see in magazines? Check out this crazy photoshopping.

Are you a mom? You're probably doing a much better job than you think you are. Just listen to these kids.
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