I keep thinking I should volunteer more, but then I'm always foiled by regular commitment requirements that don't fit into my travel schedule, or training requirements that mean taking time off from work. But! There's always Craftin' Outlaws show set-up. Because they tell you what to do, and all it takes is a willingness to carry a lot of furniture.

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I really like this group. They're fun, they're accepting, they're creative, and they're so, so very appreciative of people helping out for nothing but some swag from their vendors (and it's great swag, in case you're wondering). This was my second time volunteering for them, and I'll definitely be back for the Holiday Show.

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This show was at the High Line Car House in... German Village? Whatever's on High Street just south of the courthouse downtown. It was a really pretty space, but it ended up being really crowded when people actually came in to shop.

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But considering how long the line was, that's not really surprising. I love that people actually stand in line, not just for the free swag bags, but also just in general, for the awesome vendors.

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Also, there was a food truck. Sweet Carrot may be my new favorite food truck ever.

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Why do I do this to myself again? Oh right, cool people and fun freebies. That's why. Because I'm a sucker for free food.

I had a good time with Tara and Kim though.

Equine Affaire 2015 Equine Affaire 2015

Booth staffing is a glamorous job, let me tell you. It even comes with a break room.

Equine Affaire 2015

And I did get to pet some ponies, which is really the main reason one goes to Equine Affaire.

Equine Affaire 2015

That, and fair food. Including, this time, deep fried cookie dough.

Equine Affaire 2015

I couldn't help it. Tika made me do it. Because deep fried cookie dough. I mean, who comes up with that sort of thing?

Yes, I know. Americans. They'll try to deep fry anything. (I have to admit, deep fried buckeyes are kind of delicious. Deep fried cookie dough, not so much.)

And yes, the cardinal is still incredibly angry. I don't know why, but it amuses me every time.

Equine Affaire 2015
Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon, Silver Bridge Coffee Company coffee, homemade honey Chex Mix.

Advent 1 2014
I'm going to try out a new thing: my fave things about Columbus, whenever I can think of a new one to post. Hope you like it :-)

Destination Donuts doesn't have a physical store at the moment (which is really a good thing for my wallet and waistline, but still disappointing), but Heather sells at a number of coffee shops in town, as well as at North Market at least one weekend a month.

Destination Donuts

Similarly to Jeni's Ice Creams (coming up later), there's lots of unique flavors, not just regular donut styles. I love it. So many random things to try. (And yes, that's chocolate bacon up there. I have yet to try it.)

This was one of my favorites: caramel chocolate pecan. Messy, but oh so good.

Destination Donuts

But really, anything's good. From chocolate candy cane, to apricot pistachio, to strawberry almond and ginger peach nibblers.

Destination Donuts

Destination Donuts

Destination Donuts

I love this city. So much good food.
I may complain about OSU a lot, and frankly, there's still lots of things to complain about when your home city seems to revolve around one sports team. But one thing that place does right: Taste of OSU. International students from all over the world cook food from their native countries, and everyone else gets to buy tickets for tasting it.

I've only been twice, but OMG. So. Good.

We started with French and Sri Lankan.

Owly Images

Moved on to Ukrainian and Polish.

Owly Images

Then got a big plate of Pilipino, Singaporean, Arabian, Turkish and Iranian.

Owly Images

And ended the night with Saudi and Armenian.

Owly Images

And that's not even all the food - Jess had plates too. But that does cover all the countries we tried. Impressively, we only skipped one booth we wanted to try (Somali) because we had run out of food tickets. Next year.

Also, I want these lamps.

Owly Images

You can't really tell, but the dark swirls are rainbow stones, and the whole thing is just too cool for words.
The last of the fruitcake, Seattle's Best coffee, Olympus Has Fallen (yes, I have terrible taste in movies).

IMG_1918
Real British fruitcake*, berry black tea, Tom Hiddleston in a towel The Hollow Crown

Advent 3 2013

*no really. It came in a Waitrose baggie and everything.

Greenwillow Fruitcake 2013

Because my friends? Are awesome.

Greenwillow Giftie 2013
After the balloon flight, we ended our Albuquerque day with shopping (jeans! in my size! that actually fit!) and snuggling pitbulls. (There was a pitbull rescue camped out at the pet store next to the Western store. I may have squealed with delight.)

And then we had dinner at the winery next to our hotel. It was AMAZING. Such good food. We also got a flight of wines to try, and I learned that I hate chardonnay and burgundy, and will always find a Pinot Grigio or a Shiraz/Syrah that I like. Also, wines from South Africa, Australia, and California are better for me than wines from France or Spain. Random, but so far it's worked.

And then I flew home :-) Chicago tried to keep me there for a little while again, but hey, what else is new. Midway hates me.
Peach Baked Oatmeal, Darjeeling tea, Dracula.

Advent 1 2013
I think at some point I posted a semi-recipe for how I make Caprese salad (tomatoes and mozzarella, basically). I still love doing that, but layering stuff on a plate isn't particularly handy for work lunches. So I adapted it :-)

Start with grape tomatoes. I can get them at the farmers market right now, which is awesome, but both Trader Joe's and Kroger have these year-round around here.

Cut the tomatoes in half (these were kind of huge, so some are in thirds) and put them into a Tupperware container.

IMG_1257

Add fresh mozzarella - I usually like the little balls in brine you buy in the deli department, but they were out this time, so I got the lump stuff that's over with the rest of the "normal" cheese. As long as it's fresh and squishy, you're fine.

IMG_1258

That's what I store in the fridge. In the morning, when I go to work, I add a pinch of salt, some dill weed or basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar (no, I don't measure, just sort of guesstimate - a glug of each is good). Stock that in the fridge at work, and carefully shake (maybe over a sink, depending on the seal on your container) to mix everything when you're ready to eat. If you want to get fancy, take a piece of French bread or ciabatta with you as well (I usually have that for breakfast instead).
Chocolate cupcakes. Because after all, nothing is quite as patriotic as sugar and fat.

IMG_1224
I may have overdone it a bit on the food for tonight...

CYOA Muffins 2 IMG_0779 IMG_0776 Veggie Tray IMG_0780 IMG_0761
TV Show
I got back to watching Bones... and apparently forgot just how irritating I find that show sometimes. I love the science, I love the character relationships, but sometimes the whole "beautiful scientist who actually dresses nicely, yet still apparently has no idea she's beautiful" shtick just drives me mad. I seem to be getting over it with more episodes, so it's ok, unless some really obvious weird writing comes up. Which happens every couple of episodes, so not too bad.

Crafting
I found some beads I still had floating around from... good grief, ages ago. So I put them to good use :-)

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It's been kind of a boring weekend... for some reason, I thought I wanted a quiet weekend at home, but really, it wasn't any fun. Aside from the baking. That was awesome.

IMG_0273

But I'm still going to have to come up with something for next weekend, besides cleaning the rest of the bathroom. That really doesn't count as having a fun holiday weekend.
All chores are better with a good soundtrack. Let's just say that, after yesterday, I won't have to cook for a couple of weeks :-)

IMG_0246 IMG_0248 IMG_0249 IMG_0247 IMG_0250

Also, I love my crockpot. Chopped all the vegetables for the soup yesterday, shoved everything in the fridge, pulled it out this morning, and came home to delicious soup.
With a name like that, how could we not go check it out? :-)

Apparently Columbus is really getting into food trucks lately - they had about 40 of them at the Columbus Commons downtown (it's a park/grassy area where there used to be a giant mall - which is still on Google Street View, in fact). Food trucks, music... and because this is Ohio, cornhole.

Columbus Commons 1

Columbus Commons 2

Columbus Commons 3

We had Korean food, apparently called dukbokki, which was this delicious doughy rice pasta thing with spicy sauce.

Dukbokki - Ajumama

And ribs, which were indeed award-winningly yummy.

Buckeye Back Ribs 1

Buckeye Back Ribs 2

And crepes for dessert :-D

Crepe - Leslie's Creperie

I also met the cutest puppy ever - pitbull/French bulldog mix, and incredibly friendly. So adorable.

Puppy

And apparently I can't ever escape work :-) That guy is wearing a shirt from the lab I've spent quite a bit of time advertising these past couple of months.

SL Shirt
I like this recipe because I can keep all of the ingredients on hand as staples instead of having to go grocery shopping for dinner. It's an adapted version of something my mum makes quite a bit, but I've added ingredients to make the whole thing a little less carb-heavy.

Start with half a bag of Morningstar Meal Starters Crumbles (basically vegetarian sausage crumbles, whichever brand you like). Add a teaspoon of margarine and fry the whole thing on medium-high heat.



Yes, these things are fully cooked before they're frozen, but I like the extra flavor you get from crisping them up a little. Set the finished pan aside for now.

In a large pot, add about a teaspoon of margarine to one chopped onion.



Heat over medium heat until the onions are yellow and tender. Take the pot off the heat (I don't do this anymore, but it's easier that way) and add one tablespoon of flour. Stir everything to combine - no, it won't clump. I've never seen this stuff clump, interestingly. Add one can of tomato paste (6 oz, maybe?) and stir. You'll have sort of a thick paste with chunks of onion in it.

Add one can of diced tomatoes, including the liquid, the fried-up crumbles, and enough water to make a smooth sauce. Remember you can always add more water later; you don't want to add too much and lose all of the flavor from the tomato paste. I'd start with about two cups and go from there.



Stir (carefully) to combine everything, making sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the pot to dissolve all of the tomato-flour-margarine goo. Add pepper (about a teaspoon), salt (a good teaspoon to start with), and herbs of your choice. I like using dill, but basil mixed with oregano works just as well. Simmer for at least 10 minutes.



I usually make this with pasta, but it would probably also work with quinoa, or even rice if you like that sort of thing. This recipe makes about six servings for me, and I tend to freeze it portioned out for later meals (so I don't live on spaghetti for a week straight).
I seriously needed this one...



... it's been that kind of a week.
Food
Quinoa. I'm not sure how I feel about it - it was good, but now my stomach hurts a bit. We'll see if it's a misjudgment of how filling the stuff is, or if it's something about the grain itself that bothers me. The peanut butter chicken I made with it is also good, but I'm not sure I'll make that again either. Just not... very impressed with it.

Book
Finally finished A Storm of Swords and started reading A Feast For Crows. Still liking the series, although it really is kind of hard to stay glued to a story that doesn't seem to be drawing to any kind of conclusion. I mean, I don't think it's supposed to yet, but I am starting to feel strung along. Maybe it's a good thing that after this book, I'll have to take a break for lack of further paperback materials :-) I don't think A Dance With Dragons has been out long enough to have a mass market paperback yet.

Knitting
Shipwreck continues apace - mostly just knitting mesh lace in circles, while adding beads every couple of stitches. It's coming out very nicely, although you can't really tell with it all scrunched up on the needles, but I'm definitely on track to finishing next month. Photos when it's actually looking like a shawl :-)

Picture
I turned the handdyed yarn I showed off a few weeks ago into a hat. I love it, and I'm kind of sad the colors look horrible on me. I'll have to make another one with the blue-green yarn or something.

Because apparently I'm in a tutorials kind of mood lately :-)

I make these yoghurt cups to take to work for lunch or as an afternoon snack. I find being able to just pop one of these in my lunchbox keeps me from craving that afternoon chocolate bar (most days). The cups come in packs of six, which is very convenient because one large thing of yoghurt makes about six cups as well.

I start with frozen fruit because it's easy, but you could just as well use fresh fruit if you wanted to go through the cutting up stuff part.*



Then I top everything off with yoghurt, about three large spoonfuls per cup, or until you've divided all of your yoghurt.



This was vanilla yoghurt, so I stopped there, but you can add a bit of honey to plain yoghurt, or sprinkle on some granola or raisins of whatever you like. Remember the granola will get soggy if you store these things - I don't mind that, but you may prefer a separate baggy of granola you can put on there when you're ready to eat.

That's it! Pop these in the fridge and make sure to take one if you're packing a lunch.

But why would you do this when you can buy yoghurt in cups at the grocery store?
Well, in my case, the non-fat or low-fat yoghurt you can buy in pre-made cups makes me gag. No, really. Can't eat it. And this is cheaper than the organic single-serving cups you have to buy when you like your yoghurt to have more than 2% milkfat. Also, actual fruit pieces are so much better than chopped up, processed and possibly oversugared fruit mush.

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*If you use frozen fruits, keep in mind they'll thaw out and you'll have icky-looking liquid floating on top of your yoghurt. Just stir everything back together; it doesn't affect the taste as far as I care.

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January 2017

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