Woof Trekking Dispatch #13: Outer Banks, North Carolina, January 2013

Woof Trekking Dispatch #13: Outer Banks, North Carolina, January 2013

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

We started going on road trips with our pets about four years ago and were total noobs at traveling with them. Our adventures have taken across the US and we have been sharing them with you in our Dispatch series. We have also published a book, Woof Trekking, about how you too can road trip with your pets.

Woof Trekking in North Carolina

In our last dispatch, we told you about our adventure around downtown Richmond, VA, and the history of the area. We made our way to the coast and travelled south. We entered North Carolina and decided to check out the Outer Banks area.

The Outer Banks is a string of peninsulas and small islands that cover about 200 miles along the northern part of the North Carolina coast. We were intrigued by this area because of its historical meaning and because of the lighthouses.


Our first stop was the Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills, NC. Wilbur and Orville Wright tested their aircraft on this land from 1900 to 1903 and eventually had their first successful flight on December 17, 1903. At that time, the nearest town was Kitty Hawk, four miles to the north; Kill Devil Hills was not established until 1953.

The Wright Brothers chose this location because of its steady wind. When we visited in January 2013, the conditions were also windy and cold – a very authentic experience.
wt-13-outer-banks-north-carolina-3
The Wright Brothers Memorial Tower is 60 feet tall and sits atop the Kill Devil Hill, which is 90 feet tall. The Wright Brothers used the hill to perform many of their glider tests, including their most famous in December 1903. The dome on the top is marine beacon, like those seen in lighthouses.
wt-13-outer-banks-north-carolina-4
The inscription on the monument reads: “In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Conceived by genius, achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.” Another angle of the Memorial Tower is pictured below.

When we arrived, we were just in time for a Flight Room Talk given by the Park Rangers. We learned about how the Wright brothers developed their planes and saw a demonstration of how the plane for their first flight worked. It was very exciting.

After the talk, the dogs joined us (Dogs are permitted on the grounds if they are on a leash, but not in the buildings). We walked around in the cold, blustery wind. In the distance you can see the Kill Devil Hill and Memorial Tower.
wt-13-outer-banks-north-carolina-1
At the base of Kill Devil Hill there is a bronze sculpture garden that depicts Orville Wright on his first flight.
Orville Wright Statue at Kill Devil Hills
Once we were done investigating the Memorial, we decided to drive further along the Outer Banks and down to Cape Hatteras. We arrived at the Bodie Island Light Station, but it was closed for the season. It was still quite an impressive sight.
wt-13-outer-banks-north-carolina-6
We continued our trek along the ocean and it was slightly erie. There was no one around because it was freezing cold. It was peaceful, yet slightly spooky.
wt-13-outer-banks-north-carolina-7
Eventually, we arrived at the Cape Hatteras Light Station. This lighthouse was also closed, but we did get the chance to see it lit since we arrived at sunset. In 1999, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse and surrounding buildings were moved 2900 feet inland to protect it from destruction.
wt-13-outer-banks-north-carolina-8
When the buildings were placed in their new locations, they kept the same elevation and spatial relationships that they had when they were originally built.
wt-13-outer-banks-north-carolina-9
We hope you enjoyed this dispatch from the Outer Banks! Happy Thursday!

Wordless Wednesday #21 | Billy the Shelf Bum

Wordless Wednesday #21 | Billy the Shelf Bum

posted in: Our Work, Photography, Wordless Wednesday | 6 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

This week’s Wordless Wednesday features Billy, the Most AMAZING Cat, lounging on a shelf, cleared especially for him so that he could bask in the afternoon sunshine. ?

This photo reminds me of the Just So Story by Rudyard Kipling called The Cat That Walked by Himself. It is a must read for all cat lovers; a reminder that you are just one in a long line of humans to be outwitted by the feline species.

If you haven’t read it, you can read it and/or listen to it at the University of South Florida’s Lit 2 Go website. I originally encountered the Kipling classic while perusing Cat Stories (Everyman’s Pocket Classics) at Barnes and Noble.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Billy the Shelf Bum


On Being Faithful Fans and Series Finales Part II: Person of Interest

On Being Faithful Fans and Series Finales Part II: Person of Interest

posted in: Entertainment, Television | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

About a month ago, we wrote Part I on our thoughts about being loyal fans to a show and our feelings about the series finale, specifically about The Good Wife. Today, in Part II, we wanted to talk about Person of Interest.

Person of Interest was a great mystery, sci-fi, peek into the future, big brother mashup. Although this show kind of made us paranoid about being watched by an artificial intelligence, it was propelled by brilliant characters and great storylines.

Throughout the five seasons, we never missed an episode. We followed the progression of Harold,the creator of The Machine played by Michael Emerson*, and John Reese, the muscle/investigator/enforcer played by Jim Caviezel. Harold’s machine watches over the people of New York City and notifies Harold about those whose “number” has come up and are in imminent danger. Harold and Mr. Reese then had to discover why they were in danger. (*As a side note, Harold Finch’s fiancée, Grace Hendricks, was played by Michael Emerson’s actual wife, Carrie Preston. Preston also played Elsbeth Tascioni on The Good Wife, whom we talked about in Part I.)

Person of Interest Review

Eventually, we were introduced to Detective Fusco, played by Kevin Chapman, and Detective Carter, played by Taraji P. Henson, who assisted Harold and Mr. Reese by searching police databases for case information and often provided much needed backup. When Carter died, we knew the show could never be the same. She was so sassy and the main source of morality for the show. Still, there were other characters who compensated for this loss. We really loved Shaw, a reformed assassin played by Sarah Shahi, and Root, a coding genius whose devotion to the Machine was unmatched, played by Amy Acker. We loved how awkward they were but also that they were truth seekers and defenders.

The writing of this show was also excellent. Even though each episode focused on one person whose “number” had come up, the show didn’t feel at all cookie cutter. We always wanted to know the interesting ways in which the person had either put themselves in danger or were about to perpetrate a crime.


(*Spoiler Alert* Do not read if you haven’t watched the finale.)

The last couple of episodes were tearjerkers. In Episode 10, we cried when Root sacrificed herself so the group could continue their fight against Samaritan. However, our sadness didn’t last too long since The Machine decided to take Root’s voice to speak for her at the end of this episode. We cried again in the finale when Mr. Reese sacrificed himself to ensure the destruction of Samaritan and so Harold could live. ?

However, there were also some happy moments. We got closure about Harold when we saw him go to Italy to be reunited his true love, Grace. We also saw Fusco in the finale, alive and well, forever changed by his transformation from crooked cop to brash hero. The ending of the finale made us smile. The image of Shaw walking the streets of New York City with Bear and then answering a pay phone to talk to The Machine/Root was the perfect ending to a thought-provoking and entertaining series. It gave us a slight sense of hope there might be a spinoff, but it is doubtful.

In the clip below, Executive Producer Greg Plageman answers some final questions from the viewers.

 

In stark contrast to the finale of The Good Wife, we felt the series finale of Person of Interest was perfect. In an interview with Buzzfeed earlier this year, Jonathan Nolan said “… We’re going to tell the end of this story, in such a way that doesn’t slam the door shut on the universe of the show — that wouldn’t be a fitting end to the show anyway. But telling a final season in such a way that it would leave everyone satisfied with the story that we told.”  We were definitely satisfied with the ending and we thank Mr. Nolan and all the writers and producers for that.

Peanut Butter Cookies (GIFT #7)

Peanut Butter Cookies (GIFT #7)

posted in: Desserts, Food, Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treats (GIFTs) | 8 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

We have loved peanut butter cookies since we were little. They are salty and sweet and they always have that lovely crosshatch pattern across the top. When our grandparents lived in a separate state, they would mail us a box about every 6-8 weeks. This was always exciting. Our grandma would include lots of different things in her shipments: interesting newspaper clippings, new recipes she thought we might like that she found in a magazine or the newspaper, some of her tomatoes if they were ripe. But the best part of her boxes, were the baked goods. She loved her sweets and loved sharing them with us. One of her favorite cookies was peanut butter cookies.

peanut-butter-cookies-2

We have tried making all kinds of recipes for peanut butter cookies, but they never were satisfactory. They would taste great fresh out of the oven, but the next day, they would be hard as rocks. Always a disappointment! Eventually, we kind of gave up on the perfect peanut butter cookie and perfected the mini M&M cookie to satisfy our cookie needs.

After we started our series of Grandma Inspired Fantastic Treats, we were flipping through one of our grandma’s recipe books and found a recipe she had modified for peanut butter cookies. Could this be the recipe she used when we were little? Most likely yes, but who knows, we prefer to think yes. In the original recipe, it called for 2 teaspoons baking soda, but she had crossed it out and wrote down 1/2 teaspoon baking powder plus 1 teaspoon baking soda. Maybe this was the secret to great peanut butter cookies! We had to give it a try.

First, mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
peanut-butter-cookies-2
Cream softened butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy.
peanut-butter-cookies-1
Add eggs and mix, making the mixture even more creamy!
peanut-butter-cookies-3
Add a cup of creamy or crunchy peanut butter to the batter.
peanut-butter-cookies-4
Incorporate the flour mixture into the batter.
peanut-butter-cookies-5


The batter is ready!
peanut-butter-cookies-6
Dollop out batter with a small ice cream scoop.
peanut-butter-cookies-7
Smoosh the cookies with a large fork to create the classic peanut butter cookie cross-hatching.
peanut-butter-cookies-8
Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
peanut-butter-cookies-9
The resulting cookies are the best peanut butter cookies ever. They are excellent coming out of the oven and still soft a couple of days later too!
peanut-butter-cookies-10

Peanut Butter Cookies GIFT

Peanut Butter Cookies GIFT

Ingredients

  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda, then set aside.
  3. Cream both sugars and softened butter together.
  4. Add eggs and mix until incorporated.
  5. Add peanut butter and mix until incorporated.
  6. Mix in flour mixture.
  7. Scoop balls onto parchment lined baking sheets.
  8. Use fork tines to mark the cookies with a crosshatch pattern.
  9. Bake 8-10 minutes, until lightly brown.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://www.zydoyle.com/food/peanut-butter-cookies-gift-7/

Friday Reads: “The Silkworm” is a Sophomore Success for Robert Galbraith

Friday Reads: “The Silkworm” is a Sophomore Success for Robert Galbraith

posted in: Book Reviews, Books, British, Entertainment, Our Work, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

After reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, I moved onto Robert Galbraith’s sophomore mystery, The Silkworm. It is set in the land of UK book publishing, with agents, editors, authors, and publishers as suspects. The book is a bit gruesome at times. It does feel as though Galbraith is keen to shock readers, for the mere sake of shock value at times. This may rub some readers the wrong way.

Read my review of The Cuckoo’s Calling here.

However, the ending was quite good, just like with The Cuckoo’s Calling. One maddening thing that Galbraith does is have Cormoran tell Robin, his assistant, who the villain is without telling us. That really kept the suspense going! WHO DID IT!!!??? This little move made the ending a real page turner.

The book is over 400 pages, but I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Robert Glenister, so it didn’t seem very long. The characters are interesting and everyone looks suspicious. But more importantly, we learn more about the backstory of both Cormoran and Robin, which I believe is the real reason why readers enjoy any series of books – to get to know the characters in depth and become “friends” with them.

The Silkworm Review

As I was reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, I was comparing the text to Harry Potter. Last month, I wrote a post titled, Good, Evil, and J.K. Rowling, Post-Harry Potter, in which I tried to understand how/why Rowling’s mystery series has so much more evil in it than Harry Potter.

As I was reading The Silkworm, I started wondering more about Rowling as the author of Harry Potter compared to Rowling as the author of the Cormoran Strike series. It was strange to ponder how much of J.K. Rowling’s true sentiments about the publishing world are in this book. She is one of the biggest success stories in publishing history, and even she views the publishing world as dark and sinister?

Also, a big theme of The Silkworm is gender and gender-identity. It’s very current to our times, and I suppose it’s not really a topic that she could examine in such depth in the setting of a Harry Potter book. She also discusses things like Google Maps and indie-publishing. I was like, wait, J.K. Rowling uses Google Maps?

She’s the Queen of Harry Potter; she could be doing anything – living in a castle (wait does she live in a castle?), or entering a partnership with Jeff Bezos to try and make magic real, or perhaps the most obvious choice, writing a dozen more Harry Potter books. Instead she’s writing about gruesome murders! Say what?


I needed some answers, so I turned to YouTube. In a 2014 interview with Val McDermid, Rowling talked about her lifelong passion for who-dun-its, and shared that she actually viewed Harry Potter as a sort of mystery. Indeed, p-p-p-poor st-st-st-stuttering P-P-Professor Quirrell was an unexpected suspect/villain in The Sorcerer’s Stone. The interview was interesting to listen to and in it, she mentions how she picked her pen name.

Overall, the answer that I arrived at of “Who is the real J.K. Rowling” was thus: J.K. Rowling is just herself. She is not some fairy godmother living in the clouds. She’s a real human and an interesting one, at that. I’m happy that she made the brave decision to write mysteries, because if she had not, I would have not dared to read such grisly stories. There is something about facing one’s fears that really boosts the confidence. While I had previously enjoyed mysteries on television, I was not a fan of mystery novels. Now I am and it’s all because of Galbraith.

I did notice some Harry Potter connections in this book. First, there is a reference to Emma Watson, who is depicted on the cover of Vogue magazine. Also, Cormoran’s name is revealed to mean “Cornish Giant” and that seems to be a nod to Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper. Hagrid is part giant and has a Cornish accent. Cormoran is quite big and hairy like Hagrid, but the private detective is not a softy like the wizard with the pink umbrella wand. Others have drawn a comparison to Mad-Eye Moody, in terms of Cormoran’s temperament, and I quite agree.

Have you read the Cormoran Strike series? What do you make of it?

Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Richmond, the Virginia State Capitol, December 2012

Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Richmond, the Virginia State Capitol, December 2012

posted in: Dispatches, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

In late December 2012, we took a Woof Trek to the East Coast and our first stop was Richmond, Virginia. We arrived in the early evening and got to explore the heart of downtown Richmond without hardly anyone around. Although it was cold, we had a great time exploring the area.

woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol

Capitol Building

We are a family of history buffs and exploring this area was a dream. Our first stop was the Virginia State Capitol Building. The idea for capitol building came to Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau while they were in France. Construction began in 1786 and was finished in 1792. In 1904, two wings were added and in 2004, the building underwent a major renovation to update the building.

Nana would have preferred not to have posed for this picture in front of the Capitol building and instead run after the squirrels that were playing in the trees.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-11
Here you can see some of the ceiling detail inside the Capitol Building along with an electric candle decoration for the holidays.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-12

Virginia Washington Monument

The area around the Capitol Building is known as Capitol Square. The centerpiece to the square is the Virginia Washington Monument, built in 1858. This Monument was quite the sight, it has George Washington sitting atop his faithful steed and below he is surrounded by six other historical figures including: Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Lewis, John Marshall, George Mason, and Thomas Nelson Jr.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-1
George Washington looking across Richmond.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-4
This plaque was on the side of the Monument, marking where Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederate States.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-2


Here is Thomas Jefferson pondering the future of America with a quill at the ready.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-3
The sculpture was very detailed.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-5

Old City Hall

We wandered around behind the Capitol Building and saw this huge gray Gothic-style building that took our breath away. The hulking building is the Old City Hall and was used from 1894 through the 1970’s. It was designed by Elijah E. Myers (1832-1909), who also designed the state capitol buildings of Michigan, Colorado, and Texas.

The architecture of this building was intriguing and in stark contrast to the Palladian-style Capitol. Since it was late, we did not get the chance to go inside however you can tour the first floor during operating hours.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-6
We did get a look inside through a set of windows and were impressed with the internal architecture as well.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-7
Here you can see the classic pointed arches of the Gothic-style and elaborate lamp to illuminate one of the entrances.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-8
The Old City Hall is a symmetrical building, except for this majestic 195-foot tall clock tower.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-9

Governor’s Mansion

This is the Governor’s Mansion, we couldn’t get too close due to security but it was still nicely decorated for the holidays.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-10

Our Friend, Edgar

Darkness fell upon us, but we continued around the Square and, perhaps fittingly, came across this statue of Edgar Allen Poe. It was erected in 1958 to honor Poe’s time in Richmond.
woof-trekking-at-richmond-capitol-13

We had an awesome time exploring the Virginia Capitol and we hope you enjoyed this mini tour!

Happy Thursday!

Wordless Wednesday #20 | Flowers of Madera Canyon

Wordless Wednesday #20 | Flowers of Madera Canyon

posted in: Living in the Southwest, Nature, Our Work, Photography, Wordless Wednesday | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Last week, we shared photos from our trip to Madera Canyon. We had a few more that didn’t make that post. Wordless Wednesday seemed like the perfect day to share them with you! We were able to identify these flowers from a bit of research…

woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-16

Bigelow’s Beggarticks

Bidens bigelovii

We found the first two on wildflower.org, the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin.

woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-14

Prairie Verbena or Dakota Vervain 

Glandularia bipinnatifida

This last one was a bit more difficult because it looks like many other yellow wildflowers in Arizona. In the end, we found it the swbiodiversity.org SEINet catalog of Arizona flora.

woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-9

Lacy Tansyaster

Xanthisma spinulosum

Lovable Libra Gift Guide

Lovable Libra Gift Guide

posted in: Gift Ideas, Home and Garden, Zodiac Signs | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Librans are born between September 23 and October 22. Libra is the only zodiac sign symbolized by an object, the scales, while all other signs are represented by either an animal or a human.

Librans are well known for their diplomatic and idealistic view of the world, wanting everyone to get along. Librans can become indecisive, trying to find the most harmonious solution, and can feel lonely without friends or family around. Here are out top 10 gift ideas for the Libran in your life.

lovable-libra

Librans at Home

Pilgrimage by Annie Leibovitz

Librans love fine art and Pilgrimage by fellow Libran, Annie Leibovitz, is a great choice. It features photos as well as plenty of thoughtful writing by the famous photographer.


The Great Gatsby

Librans’ taste in writing tends toward the artistic with works by fellow Librans like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Oscar Wilde.

The Very Best of Daryl Hall & John Oates

Harmony is always important to Librans and Hall & Oates are a classic pairing. Daryl Hall is a Libra while John Oates is the opposite, an Aries.

For the Libra Lady

Women’s Vintage Floral Lace Cocktail Evening Dress

Libran women are usually the best dressed at the cocktail party, this classic dress could be perfect for your Libran gal.

Sterling Silver Birthstone Heart Stud Earrings

October’s birthstone is Opal and even if your Libran was born in September, she will adore these charming earrings!

Metal Mosaic Candle Holder

These mosaic candle holders are beautiful and suit the Libran’s love for interesting lines in home decor.

Coach Cross Grain Leather Purse

This handbag would be an excellent choice for the Libran woman in your life who loves elegance.

For the Libra Lad

Ultra Soft Slim Fit Blazer

The Libra man is also well known for his excellent taste in fashion. This classy casual blazer will help him look snazzy on a night out on the town.

Bulova Men’s Marine Star Watch

Libra men are more aesthetically conscious than most, and this Bulova watch, featuring a touch of rose gold, will meet even his immaculate tastes.

The Bourne Classified Collection

Libran men can be tough and fashionable, just like fellow Libran Matt Damon in the Bourne Trilogy!

Brilliant Broccoli Tots: Skeptics Try the Newest Snacking Sensation

Brilliant Broccoli Tots: Skeptics Try the Newest Snacking Sensation

posted in: Food, Side Dishes | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Have you guys seen recipes for broccoli tots across the internet? We have seen a couple that were dubbed as low carb alternatives to tater tots and of course, we were skeptical. How could a tot made from broccoli taste as good as a tot made from potatoes? Once again we the skeptics were proved wrong, just like we were when we tried cauliflower pizza.

pizza, cauliflower pizza, gluten free, gluten free pizza

Click here to check out our Cauliflower Pizza Recipe!

 

Broccoli tots are amazing! Broccoli plus cheese, you can’t go wrong! This recipe is very simple, quick and delicious.

Blanch the broccoli for two minutes until it is bright green. Let cool.
broccoli-tots-1
Finely chop the broccoli florets. You don’t want the pieces to be too big or else you can’t form the tot.
broccoli-tots-2
Once the broccoli is chopped, cook the onions and garlic. We tried some of the recipes out there with raw onion and garlic – bad news, dude.
broccoli-tots-3
Mix all the ingredients together, then refrigerate for 20 minutes.
broccoli-tots-4
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into your hands and form into tot shapes.
broccoli-tots-5
Bake at 400°F for 9 minutes, then flip and bake for 9 more minutes. Let cool slightly, then snack away!
broccoli-tots-6

Brilliant Broccoli Tots!

Brilliant Broccoli Tots!

Ingredients

  • 12 oz broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c shredded cheddar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2/3 c panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper

Instructions

  1. Fill medium saucepan with water, add salt, bring to boil.
  2. Blanch broccoli for two minutes, make sure to press florets into the water while cooking.
  3. Drain and let cool.
  4. Heat a frypan to medium, add a splash of olive oil and onions. Cook until onions have caramelized. Turn off heat, add garlic mix to incorporate, then remove pan from burner. Let cool.
  5. Finely chop cooked broccoli florets
  6. Mix panko, salt and pepper in small bowl.
  7. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  8. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  10. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  11. Form the tots. Scoop out about a heaping tablespoon into your hand, compact the mixture while also forming a tot shape.
  12. Place onto baking sheet and space evenly.
  13. Bake for 9 minutes, flip and bake for 9 more minutes.
  14. Let cool slightly.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://www.zydoyle.com/food/brilliant-broccoli-tots-skeptics-try-the-newest-snacking-sensation/

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week

posted in: Books, Entertainment | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

This week is Banned Books Week and its celebration has always been very fascinating to us. We spent a lot of our time growing up in the library and we also had parents that loved books. Not being allowed to read a book was a strange concept to us.

Banned Books Week was started in 1982 by the American Library Association “in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.” You can see a list of the top 10 books challenged in 2015 here. The celebration was also created to support the freedom to read in the US.

On the list of top 100 banned books from 2000-2009 has both contemporary books and classics on it. It is also interesting that a handful of the classic books on the list were required reading while we were in school. ?

A few of our favorite book are on the top 100 list.

Number 1 on the list: The entire Harry Potter Series

Harry Potter being number 1 on the list was surprising, apparently a lot of people are against wizards and magic. We loved these books, just like a large amount of the world. We were so devoted to the books, we had to buy two copies of every book so we could read them at the same time. We also own all the audiobooks, narrated by Jim Dale, as well as the British editions, ordered from amazon.co.uk.

Number 21 on the list: To Kill a Mockingbird

This book was required reading in our middle school and we both loved it. The storytelling ability of Harper Lee was excellent even though the subject matter was difficult. Boo Radley was our favorite character. We have the sequel, Go Set a Watchman, but haven’t read it yet.


Number 23 on the list: The Giver

Mac read this book in school and found it intriguing. However, it wasn’t until after rereading this book and the other three in the Quartet a couple years ago did the series really strike a cord. The Giver Quartet is an ambitious exploration of conformity, rebellion, and freedom, which Mac highly recommends.

Number 32 on the list: Bless Me, Ultima

This was another book that was required reading in middle school. This book could be seen as controversial since it involves some mysticism and non-Christian spiritual guidance. According to Wikipedia, this book was the most challenged book in the US in 2013.

Number 94 on the list: The entire Goosebumps series

Before Harry Potter, there was Goosebumps in our lives. We loved reading them, even if they did scare us a little. We would wait and wait until the next one came out. The cover of Stay Out of the Basement really creeped Mac out, along with Why I’m Afraid of Bees.

Are some of your favorite books on the Banned Books List?

Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

posted in: Dispatches, Living in the Southwest, Nature, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

A couple weeks ago, we decided to go on a spontaneous Woof Trek. We hadn’t gone Woof Trekking for several months and everyone was ready to hit the road. We hopped in the car and traveled across the valley to Madera Canyon.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-featured
Madera Canyon is about 30 miles south of Tucson and is located in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Canyon is part of the US Forest Service. When some people think of the desert southwest, they think that it is just a flat desert, however that is not the case. Madera Canyon is a perfect example of this.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-2
Tucson itself is surrounded by four different mountain ranges, with the Santa Rita’s being the one to the South. Madera Canyon is big birding location as it is a stopping point during migrations north and south. We missed the migration this year, but will be returning in the future to see some of the unique birds. We packed a picnic lunch and drove up to the highest paved area, called the Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area and Trailheads.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-4
The elevation at this point was 5400 feet and it was slightly cooler than the valley but not by much. Izzy and Nana were itching to go explore the Canyon, but had to wait for us to eat lunch first.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-5
We brought a little battery operated fan because Izzy runs warm temperature-wise due to all her fur. We needed a bigger fan – like one of those on the sidelines at football games. But she stayed hydrated and that’s most important.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-3
After lunch, we set out on a couple of the trails. There are an abundance of trails in Madera Canyon, but we are amateur hikers so we didn’t go too far. Our first little hike was at Madera Canyon Picnic Area. We walked over to see the creek that runs down the canyon.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-6
Nana wasn’t a big fan of the running water, but Izzy was fearless.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-7
She hopped up onto a giant boulder and smiled.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-8


We drove up around the camping area and saw a couple of plants we don’t normally see in Tucson. We saw an agave with these crazy looking seed pods growing out of the center. It was unlike any agave we had ever seen.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-11
We also saw these pretty bottlebrush flowers.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-12
Our final stop was the Proctor area, near the entrance/exit to the Canyon. At this stop, we hiked around a paved loop that was about 2 miles long.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-13
When we were eating our lunch earlier in the day, we saw some blue colored berries on the ground and we didn’t know what kind of tree they were from. On this trail, we found a sign that said that the area has a lot of Alligator Juniper trees, thus solving the mystery of the berries. If you look at the bark, you can totally see why they named them Alligator Junipers.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-18
Another interesting feature of this trail were these boxes on posts. They are houses for bats! We knew that Arizona had a lot of bat residents but from informational boards on the trail, we learned that of the 45 bat varieties that live in the Unites States and Canada, 28 can be found in Arizona. Wow!
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-10
As we walked further on, we found a wooden bridge that crossed the river.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-15
Sun’s out, tongue’s out.
woof-trekking-at-madera-canyon-17
Overall, Madera Canyon was great fun! We will definitely be back!

Wordless Wednesday #19 | The Other Arc de Triomphe

Wordless Wednesday #19 | The Other Arc de Triomphe

posted in: Our Work, Photography, Wordless Wednesday | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Last week, our Wordless Wednesday post featured the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. This week, we feature the other Arc de Triomphe which we also visited in 2007.

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is located outside the Louvre and is situated 3.4 kilometers down the road from the better known Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. “Du Carrousel” is about half the size of “De l’Étoile” and only took 2 years to finish compared to the 30 years of “De l’Étoile”. We think that both Arc de Triomphes are beautiful! How about you?

Happy Wednesday everyone!

arc-de-triomphe-du-carrousel


Graceland Stars: Where Are They Now?

Graceland Stars: Where Are They Now?

posted in: Entertainment, Television | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

After our post about new fall shows we were excited about, we made the realization that a lot of the stars from Graceland are in new shows this fall.

top-new-fall-tv-shows

Related: The top 7 new fall shows we’re excited about!

 

Before we get to where are they now, let’s first recap, what was Graceland? Graceland was a show on USA that some of you may have heard of, about a house on the beach that had residents from several different government organizations (FBI, DEA, and ATF) that were supposed to work together undercover to catch bad guys. This show had a lot of drama but it also had excellent writing. Some characters were likable, like Charlie and Johnny, while others were unpleasant, like Paul and Mike.

The Graceland Cast, back at the beginning of the show in 2013

Graceland survived for three seasons as a summer show, but after last summer, the show was cancelled which made us sad. Like seeds scattered in the wind, the stars have found new roles on other shows and we are very happy for them! Here is a rundown of who ended up where:

Paul played by Daniel Sunjata

Daniel Sunjata is now starring in Notorious on ABC as a powerful attorney. It appears as though he plays another unlikable character in this show but who knows, maybe the show is good. It also stars one of our favorite actresses, Piper Perabo! We haven’t had a chance to watch the premiere yet.

Daniel Sunjata with Special Agent Annie Walker Piper Perabo

Mike played by Aaron Tveit

Aaron Tveit starred in BrainDead, a political satire show that aired this summer. BrainDead was created by Michelle and Robert King who also created The Good Wife. We have previously expressed our feelings about the conclusion of The Good Wife and therefore have mixed feelings about this show. It has been relegated to the bottom of the playlist on the DVR and we haven’t watched it yet. Tveit also starred in the FOX’s Grease: Live in February.

Aaron Tveit with BrainDead co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead at the Tony Awards in June

Charlie played by Vanessa Ferlito

Charlie was our favorite character on Graceland. Vanessa Ferlito made you feel like Charlie was a normal person trying to do the right thing. We hadn’t seen her in anything recently and then the other night we saw the last ten minutes of NCIS: New Orleans and there she was! Our hearts jumped for joy. We are not devoted fans to NCIS: New Orleans like we are to NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles, however that will have to change now. We watched the first episode and we definitely think she brings a much need edge to the show.

 

Johnny played by Manny Montana

Johnny was also very likable on Graceland and his facial expressions were the best of the cast. When we were watching the trailer for Conviction, we shouted in joy and got really excited to see Manny Montana. It looks like he will be bringing his passion and excellent facial expressions to this show also.

 

Jakes played by Brandon Jay McLaren

Last season on Chicago Fire, Brandon Jay McLaren had a small guest role as a former gangster turned politician. We barely recognized him without his signature hair. He will be starring in a new CBS show in 2017 called Ransom, that is being filmed in his home country of Canada. He will play a psychological profiler.

 

Paige played by Serinda Swan

The only star from Graceland not to be in any current or recent shows is Serinda Swan. She too made an appearance on Chicago Fire, back in 2014. It looks like she will be in some upcoming movies but no new shows so far this year.

 

Were you a fan of Graceland? Who was your favorite character?


Homemade Pita Bread

Homemade Pita Bread

posted in: Food, Side Dishes | 8 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

After years of purchasing pita bread from the store, we decided to try making it ourselves. We discovered that not only is it easy to make, it is also much more tasty when it is fresh out of the oven.
super-simple-homemade-pita-bread
Fresh pita is delicious by itself, but also works well when slathered with our Cool and Tangy Tzatziki or stuffed with our Delicious Grilled Chicken SouvlakiPita is by definition a flatbread; it is made with flour, water and salt, and has a pocket in between the layers.

We previously blogged about our love for the Great British Bake Off. This weekend, we finished bingeing on season 6, and in episode 5 “Alternative Ingredients,” the bakers made gluten-free pitta bread using psyllium powder and nigella seeds. We recognized psyllium from that well known powder that keeps you regular, Metamucil. We had never heard of nigella seeds. Apparently, they are also know as “black cumin”- sounds good; we love cumin!

So if you are looking for a gluten-free version of pita, Paul Hollywood’s version seems like a beautiful option. It looks pleasantly hearty!


The first step to creating perfect pita is to mix some water and sugar.
pita-bread-1
Add yeast and 70 grams all purpose flour, mix. Let sit 15 minutes.
pita-bread-2
After 15 minutes, the mixture will be frothy. Add salt, olive oil, and the remaining flour.
pita-bread-3
Mix until shaggy ball is formed, then mix two minutes. The dough will look like the photo below. If dough is too wet, add more flour.  Let rest 10 minutes.
pita-bread-4
After ten minutes, the dough will have risen slightly. Mix for another two minutes.
pita-bread-5
Put dough into large mixing bowl that has been oiled and cover with oiled plastic wrap.
pita-bread-6
Let dough double in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.
pita-bread-7
Punch down and portion into 8 balls. Cover with tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
pita-bread-8
Balls will have risen slightly.
pita-bread-9
Keep dough balls covered as you work so they won’t dry out.
pita-bread-10
Work one ball at a time.
pita-bread-11
Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness.
pita-bread-12
Carefully place dough onto preheated baking sheet.
pita-bread-13
Bake for two minutes, bread will be puffed up. Flip.
pita-bread-14
and cook 1 minute more.
pita-bread-15
A perfect pile of pita!
pita-bread-16

Homemade Pita Bread

Homemade Pita Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 c lukewarm water (between 105-110°F)
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 2 t active dry yeast
  • 410 grams all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Special Equipment: Kitchen Aid Mixer and heavy duty baking sheet

Instructions

  1. Mix water and sugar in Kitchen Aid mixing bowl.
  2. Add yeast to water then add 70 grams flour and whisk.
  3. Cover bowl with clean tea towel and let sit for 15 minutes in a warm place, until mixture is frothy.
  4. Add salt, kosher salt and remaining flour to the mixing bowl.
  5. Using dough hook attachment, mix until a shaggy ball has formed then mix for two minutes. If dough looks too wet add a little more flour.
  6. After the two minutes, cover with tea towel again and let sit for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove tea towel and mix for another two minutes.
  8. Coat large mixing bowl with a thin layer of olive oil.
  9. Remove dough from mixing bowl and place into oiled bowl.
  10. Lightly oil a piece of plastic wrap and then place it over the dough and tuck it around the edges so the dough is completely covered.
  11. Cover bowl with tea towel, place bowl in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Leave until the dough has doubled in size.
  12. Prepare the oven: Remove all racks except one on the lowest level possible, place heavy duty baking sheet on the rack, preheat oven to 500°F.
  13. Punch down dough and divide into 8 pieces on a floured surface.
  14. Form into balls and place on a floured surface, cover with tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
  15. Working with one ball at a time, roll until about 1/8 inch thick.
  16. Carefully pick up circle and place onto hot baking sheet.
  17. After 2 minutes the dough will be puffed up, turn and bake 1 minute more.
  18. Repeat with remaining balls.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://www.zydoyle.com/food/homemade-pita-bread/

1 2 3 4 5 6 16