Saturday, January 28, 2012

Frida Kahlo

I looooove Frida. She's on my "top-5-favorite-women-of-all-time" list. Everyone has one of those lists, right?? If not, you should!


She's so inspiring and I admire her greatly. When she was 18, she was in a trolley accident which left her paralyzed, bedridden and in a body cast for years, and in permanent pain for the rest of her life. Most of her paintings were done while she was in bed.


She was in love with a man (Diego Rivera) who loved her, but was incredibly unfaithful and broke her heart constantly. When she was 6, she had polio which stunted the growth of her right leg and caused deformities and issues throughout her life. She was pregnant three times but lost each child due to complications with her body. When she was three months pregnant, she had to have her toes amputated on her right foot, and eventually had to have the leg amputated from the knee down due to gangrene.

Her life was a true tragedy and you can see it in her eyes in every painting she's completed and in every photo I've ever seen of her. But her artwork is breathtaking and beautiful, just like her. I thought I'd share some of my favorites.


"I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality."

The Broken Column

"My painting carries with it the message of pain"


Two Fridas

"There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst."

Diego and I

"Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?"

What I Saw in the Water (What the Water Gave Me)

Self Portrait as Wounded Deer

Self Portrait, Thinking About Death

"I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."

Self Portrait with Monkey

Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace
(Those hand earrings were a gift from Picasso.)

"I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return."

Sweet, sweet, Frida.
Your life has touched so many.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

There is no Friend as Loyal as a Book




I always carry a book in my purse; it has been a must-do since I was 15 or so. I feel naked without one in there. Books are lovely and I can't get enough. My bookshelf here is so sad. I only brought a handful of books with me since my move out here was only supposed to be temporary, so I packed very light. The rest of my books are all in boxes in my friend's parents' basement back in Wisconsin. I miss them dearly. They're probably getting all moldy and stinky and it makes me feel bad. I hope they don't think I've abandoned them forever!

I'm dedicating this post to 5 of my favorite books. It's hard choosing only 5, but these are the ones that came to mind first, which obviously means they hold a special place in my heart, so, here we go!

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1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


If you know me at all, you know that I have a serious obsession with Sylvia Plath. She was everything I strive to be as a writer. I could relate to her on a personal level, too, which always helps. She was a beautiful person and I love her. Visiting her grave in West Yorkshire is on my Bucket List. I WILL go there someday!

Anyhow, The Bell Jar is about a girl named Esther Greenwood who is struggling through her young life, just trying to BE. Reading this book was almost like reading my personal diary at times. Esther eventually gets put into a mental hospital, which mirrors Sylvia's time there. (The book is part fiction, part autobiographical.) It's interesting, heartbreaking, wonderful, smart, and everything in between. I highly suggest reading it if you're a fan of Plath's poetry, or if you've ever seen Girl, Interrupted and loved every minute of it.

2. Into The Wild by John Krakauer


Where do I even begin with this book? I've read it four times or so, and each time I learn something new, or find a new reason to fall in love with Christopher McCandless all over again. He was, by far, one of the most brilliant people I've ever had the pleasure to learn about. Jon Krakauer's writing is also phenomenal, which is another huge plus about this book. (I've also read Into Thin Air by Krakauer and thought it was incredible.)
Into The Wild includes a lot of Chris' actual writing from the journals that were found in the "Magic Bus" in Alaska, as well as letters he wrote to those he met on the road, and most of them brought tears to my eyes. He knew so much about life, and truly appreciated everything around him. I strongly believe everyone should read this book before they die, because it will change you in ways you never thought possible. (The movie is also a must-see!)

3. What Is The What by Dave Eggers


This is another book that will change you. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. It's unbelievably good and after I read it, I don't think I shut up about it for months. It really stuck with me and I became obsessed with the Lost Boys and Sudan and did all of this crazy research and watched documentaries and followed Achak's blog and received emails about his foundation, etc. I couldn't get enough!
It's a true story about the life of a Sudanese refugee. He travels from Marial Bai, to Ethiopia, to Kakuma, to Kenya, and finally to the United States. His journey is breathtaking and he has survived more hardships than most people can even comprehend. What I found most interesting about the book, was the way he spoke about his life in Africa compared to his life in the states. It really opened my eyes to the way we live here. He spoke of how lonely he felt here, and of how much he worked just to survive, and of how tired he was, and how sad everyone seemed here, and how bizarre it is for most people to have a stranger simply say "hello" to them. He admitted to wishing he could be back in Africa at times, walking with the line of other boys in the dark; starving, exhausted, and afraid, simply because he at least felt a part of something then, and he wasn't as lonely as he felt here.
It's a really, really great read, so go read it! Right now!

4. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer


This is definitely one of the most important books I've ever read. I consider myself a Jonathan Safran Foer enthusiast, so when he came out with this book, I was completely and utterly overjoyed. I wanted to buy copies for everyone. I posted paragraphs from the book everywhere I could. I couldn't stop talking about it. I watched endless Jonathan Safran Foer interviews on YouTube. I wanted to marry him. No joke. (I still do... Let's be honest.)

Anyway, the book goes in depth mostly about factory farming and how it's ruining everything. It's definitely not a book that only vegetarians would enjoy, either. It's unbiased and strictly facts. He interviews factory farm workers, small farm owners, PETA members, butchers, etc. It's really interesting and what I love most about it, is that it isn't just an informative book. It's a story, too. It's personal and heartwarming and I'm so in love with it. I really want to encourage you to read it because I know you'll like it, too!

5. The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer


I first read this book when I was 14. I picked it up by chance at a thrift store in Kenosha, WI. I remember having one of those moments where I needed a book, any book. This was the one I happened to grab, and I'm so glad I did!

It's a very simple story, which is one of the many things I love about it, but it's also a story of growth, change, forgiveness, love, loss and all the good & bad in between. I can't even count how many times I've read it. My copy is all broken and worn and all of the pages are highlighted and underlined and circled. Ann Packer writes with such feeling, and can describe things so perfectly and flawlessly. It's almost like watching a movie.
The main character reminded me so much of myself, and continues to do so to this day. I still have moments where I think of Carrie, and imagine I'm doing something similar to what she would have done in the book.
This novel means so much to me, and I don't know any other book that I've felt such a connection with, for so long. It's not only because I was so young when I first read it, but it's also because I've grown with it, and I think it takes a special kind of book to be able to make you feel like you can return to it at any given time and still feel like you're living it, and learning from it, regardless of how old you are.
That's the beautiful thing about books. No matter how much you change as a person, those pages never do, and they're always there for you when you need them most.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vegan Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies

I'm feeling a little down in the dumps today. Things might be changing for me this summer (for the best in the longrun, probably) but in the meantime I'm feeling a little disconnected, discouraged, sad, and grumpy. My whole body hurts and my brain won't be still.

So, to cure all of these emotions that I hate so much, I decided to make cookies. I hear this is a common thing to do when you're sad. It's strange. I always feel like I want to make cookies or cake when I'm feeling major anxiety or depression. Maybe this means a future for me in baking? It happens that way for some people. That'd be lovely.

Have I ever mentioned my dream of owning a no-kill kitty shelter/thrift store/vegan bakery? Imagine it. It would be pure heaven.
Anyway, I actually didn't do much baking today. I made no-bake cookies instead. They turned out yummy. I found the recipe on Pinterest... Again, what on Earth did we do before Pinterest?

It was originally posted on Lick The Bowl Good's blog. I just switched it up and made it vegan.

Here's the recipe:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick oleo, margarine or butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups oatmeal (old fashioned rolled oats, not instant)


Mix the sugar, butter, cocoa, and milk in a medium saucepan.


Boil for 1 minute.


Add the peanut butter and vanilla.


Mix quickly until peanut butter melts, then add the oatmeal and mix until it's well blended.


Drop spoonfuls on tin foil, wax paper or parchment.



Allow to set and cool completely.


Makes 2 dozen 3 inch cookies.

Yum yum yum yum yum! Thanks for making my day not as dreary as it would have been without these easy yet delicious cookies, Monica.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sucré Album Teaser

I'm beyond excited for this album release!

Stacy is so beautiful.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vegan Pesto Lasagna

My roommate, Kendal has a new blog called Leafy Eats where she posts vegan recipes that she experiments with once a week. One of her New Years resolutions is to cook more, so she thought blogging & cooking would be fun.

Though I'm 100% vegetarian and about 80% vegan, Kendal is 100% vegan with a few exceptions, like honey.

All of her experimental fooding will be with vegan recipes, so if you're a vegan or are interested in trying out some vegan dishes, be sure to check out her blog each week (and follow her!) because it's bound to get better and better with each post! :)

Last night I helped her make Vegan Pesto Lasagna.

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Here's the recipe:

Pesto Lasagna
Source: The Accidental Vegan by Devra Gartenstein

Takes about an hour and a half total.
  • 12 to 15 lasagna noodles
  • 2 lbs soft tofu
  • 2 cups pesto (see appendix a, below)
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup faux cheese (see appendix b, below)

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over medium-high heat, and add the lasagna noodles. Cook noodles for about 8-10 minutes (or until noodles are soft). Drain and set aside. While the noodles are cooking, crumble the tofu into a bowl with the pesto.

Layer the ingredients in a 9 x 11 pan as followed:
  • 1/3 of the tomato sauce
  • 1/3 of the noodles
  • 1/2 of the tofu/pesto mixture
  • another 1/3 of the noodles
  • another 1/3 of the tomato sauce
  • the rest of the tofu/pesto mixture
  • the 1 cup of faux cheese

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the "cheese" starts to brown. Let cool for a little while, and serve hot.

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Appendix A: Pesto

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes, until softened.
Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse several times until chopped finely. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and add to the garlic, along with the basil, walnuts, olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth. Note: If you mix this with pasta or veggies that have just been cooked, don't reheat the mixture further, as you may risk burning it. You can also serve pesto cold, as a spread on bread or crackers.

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Appendix B: Faux Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or any flour will do)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast, preferably large flake
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard

Directions:

Gently heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat, then whisk in the flour and nutritional yeast. Turn the heat down to low and cook, whisking constantly for a minute or two, or until the mixture is reasonably homogenous, with few lumps.
Add the water and raise the heat to medium. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking until it is relatively smooth. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pea soup.
Remove from heat and whisk in the salt and mustard. Be sure to use immediately, as this mixture forms a layer on top.

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Vegan Pesto Lasagna

It was very delicious! And there are so many leftovers. Yum yum yum!
Let me know if you end up trying it for yourself!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Instagram Update

A few December/early January photos I had on my phone. :)

My favorite cuddler.

Andrew, hard at work.

Bella & Sierra in the car on our way to Wisconsin.

Andrew's roommate made hummus.
We devoured it with these yummy chips.

Mia's favorite spot.

Delicious vegan pork slaw from Honeypie in Milwaukee, WI.

I'm obsessed with this peanut butter.
Andrew's mom sent me a care package. She's quite the lady. <3

Getting tattoos for Dana in Racine, WI with a few of my favorite girls. (And Brian.)
If you look closely, you can see Kendal getting her tattoo in the background!

My drink matched my nails on Christmas.

Christmas present from my brother. It's already hanging in our kitchen.

Puppy love.

Lazy kitty is lazy.

My new pretty pink dress from Ashley.

Studly man.

Rainy day, soggy feet.

Bella admiring Mia. How sweet.

What we looked like New Years Eve.

xo,
Amanda