Frightened Rabbit: The Winter of Mixed Drinks

**Yep… scheduled this for the wrong day.  For some reason August only had 30 days in my head.  *lol*

I’ll admit.  I’m a typical American girl in one very… typical way.  I *love* a guy with an accent.

Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, I’d love to present to you Frightened Rabbit’s new album, “The Winter of Mixed Drinks.”  Armed with an amazing accent and some interesting instrumental work, Frightened Rabbit has rocked their way across the big pond to grace us with their presence.  (They performed at SxSw twice this year!)

Instead of corrupting your mind with what I think of this band’s album (just as good as “Midnight Organ Fight,” which is amazing…)

Here.  Listen.

Now go have a wonderful Tuesday.  And try not to sing “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” all day. 😉

Dr. Jonathan Swift

Today’s piece of literary genius is brought to you by Dr. Jonathan Swift.  It is one of his more popular pieces called “A Modest Proposal.”

Political writing seems to have become something of a pissing contest.  Everyone’s writing books bashing someone who doesn’t have the same belief system they do.  It seems we have lost the fundamental basis of what made this country in the first place–the right and privilege to have your own ideas.  Instead of being intelligent about debate and differences, we have resorted to name calling and defensiveness.

Rewind to the 1700’s and the era of the political satire.  Educated people would facilitate change by making people see how stupid they were acting.  They brought us the greatest political literature every written:  the satire.  Voltaire’s Candide, Gulliver’s Travels, and “Modest Proposal” all came together to poke fun at the way the government and society was conducted.  In the 1800’s, Oscar Wilde continued the tradition by launching a full-out “attack” on society.

…and people got mad.  As they always do when they don’t understand something.

So for your Monday enjoyment, here is Dr. Swift doing the wonders of “tongue-in-cheek.”  Now where are my gloves……

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

I knew there would eventually be a recipe “Fail.”  Not a cracked-cheesecake or cupcake-sticking-to-lining fail… but a fail that would make my poor trash can scream for mercy.  I just didn’t expect it so SOON.

I LOOKS beautiful, doesn’t it?  Sounds incredible too.  Lemons and raspberries.  Tart breakfast muffins.  My mouth was watering. 

Lemon-Raspberry Muffins

By EatingWell.com

The secret to the sparkling flavor of these delicately crumbed muffins is the strips of lemon zest finely ground into the sugar. Enjoy the muffins warm right from the oven.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Ready in: 40 minutes
Yield: 1 dozen muffins
Ease of Prep: Easy
Recipe Ingredients
  1 lemon
  1/2 cup sugar
  1 cup nonfat buttermilk (see Tip)
  1/3 cup canola oil
  1 large egg
  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1 cup white whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour (see Shopping Tip)
  1 cup all-purpose flour
  2 teaspoons baking powder
  1 teaspoon baking soda
  1/4 teaspoon salt
  1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries

Recipe Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 large (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the sugar. Add buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended.
  3. Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in raspberries. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
  4. Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

Wrap each in plastic and freeze in a freezer bag for up to 1 month. To reheat, remove plastic, wrap muffin in a paper towel and microwave on High for 30 to 60 seconds.

Tip: No buttermilk? Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice into 1 cup milk.

Shopping Tip: White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole wheat. Whole-wheat pastry flour can be used as a substitute here. Both can be found in the natural-foods section of the supermarket or online from King Arthur Flour, bakerscatalogue.com.

Health Advantages: low calorie, low sat fat, low cholesterol, low sodium, heart healthy, healthy weight.

Nutrition Information
Servings Per Recipe: 12
  Amount Per muffin
  Calories: 185 cal     Carbohydrate Servings: 2
  Carbohydrates: 27 g   Dietary Fiber: 2 g   Cholesterol: 18 mg
  Fat: 7 g   Sodium: 245 mg   Saturated Fat: 1 g
  Protein: 4 g   Potassium: 42 mg   Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g
  Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 other carbohydrate, 1 1/2 fat

*****

They look innocent enough, don’t they?  These things tasted like warmed up butt cream with a hint of bread.

Unless I missed something crucial, I highly suggest you NOT make this recipe.  Unless you like warmed butt cream.  I don’t judge.

Learned on YouTube: Knitting

Once upon a time, back before crafts were “cool” and “trendy,” I used to sit on my grandmother’s screened-in back porch and crochet.  The only relic remaining of that time period is a collar I had made a stuffed dog named Bach.  It is red, a single row, and not very well executed.  Then again, I was nine-years-old and not the most patient of beings.

I remember consistently getting frustrated that my crocheted works kept turning into triangles.  The first two rows would be beautiful and it would slowly disintegrate into a curly, ugly mess.  I kind of assumed from my failure to make anything worthwhile, that yarn crafts were not for me.

Knitting has always held my interest.  I mean… you can make blankets and scarfs and these really cool gloves and….

But every knitter I knew did it so fast I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  So… on my way back from a meeting in Killeen, I stopped at Hobby Lobby, bought some wool yarn and the knitting needles they recommended on the yarn label.  Guided by the internet, in my car… in the parking lot of Temple College…. I taught myself how to knit.

Here’s what I found:

Prior to walking into Hobby Lobby, I found this pattern.  You don’t really NEED the pattern because it is beyond easy.  Here, I can even save you the click.  Cast on 8 stitches of any yarn that requires size 13 needles.  (And for reference sake, I’m working on a second scarf that uses size 10 needles and appropriate yarn and I’ve cast on 16 stitches and got to about the same size.)

Okay.  So… I needed to cast on.  I looked at pictures and still was mentally screwed as to what was going on.  Then I found this video:

 

When I had my 8 stitches, I felt a little confused.  It looked so… tiny.  I wanted a big, thick scarf!  (For a frame of reference, I believe my scarf ended up just a little less than twice the size of my cast on stitches.  Many sites suggest you knit at least 4 rows before I you judge the size of what you are knitting.)

Okay.  Now what.  I have eight pretty stitches that I’m staring at in my car going… “that was a little too easy.”

Next I watched:

The next day, after I had put a few good hours into the “skein” (yeah, yeah… you like that?  I have the lingo!), I was down to my last foot of yarn.  I’ll admit.  I had a lot of fun walking around with a half finished scarf going “LOOK!  I learned this on YouTube!”

Here’s how you end it and enjoy wearing it without having the needles poking out everywhere and a SKEIN of yarn following you like a lost puppy:

Okay.  So…   What did I end up with?

My next project?  (after the beautiful scarf I’m working on now)

Matching hats!  Circular needle knitting.  Good lord, I’m feeling quite like the old English teacher now.

Whip It

Perhaps one of the reasons I was so excited about this whole “scheduled blog” thing was that I would finally…. FINALLY… watch some of the movies that have been sitting next to my TV forever.  Originally, I had planned to have one day a week be all about TV and movies.  Alas, I couldn’t bring myself to sign back up for cable and I didn’t want to force sitting in front of a television on myself. 

Needless to say, I used my blog as an excuse and made myself sit and watch one movie I was excited about but never made time to sit though.  So this week, I bring you….

WOW am I glad I did.  This movie is probably one of the best ones I have seen in an extremely long time.  Here are a few things I thought was amazing:

*It takes place in Texas and gives you wonderful shots of Austin.  You can pick it out if you’ve ever been there.  (SoCo gets a few highlights…)

*”Be Your Own Hero.”  How can you hate that tagline?!?

*Her mother… reminds me of my grandmother.  Not so much with the pageant thing but my grandmother was HUGE on me being a lady in the 1930 – 1950’s sense.

*Drew Barrymore is the director.  I found this really surprising.  Great job!

*Juliette Lewis.  Do I have to say more?

*Where the ending is somewhat predictable, it isn’t in the same respect. 

*Landon Pigg plays the boyfriend.  He’s REALLY a musician.  His music can also be heard on Grey’s Anatomy.  Most notably?  This past season’s shocking finale.  (The song was called “The Way it Ends.”)

Now I want to go teach myself how to roller skate so I can be all super-cool-roller-derby-chick.

 

The Narrative: Just Say Yes EP

This week I have decided to look at a band/EP that I had found through the website Uvumi.  When my Lifehacker feed presented this new streaming audio site to me, I was curious.  So, after filling out yet another form that asks me for too much information, I started exploring.

Finding new music is always an adventure.  Lately, I have been heavily into Lucero, Mickey & the Motorcars, Son Volt, Drive-by Truckers, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.  I believe they call these bands Alt-Country.  I’ve also been known to listen to classical, pop, rock, classic rock, alternative, rap, R&B….  

You get the idea.

Today’s band is called The Narrative.  They were #1 on Uvumi when I signed up and I instantaneously fell in love.  Th e band is a trio out of Long Island, NY.  They recently (as in back in July) released their first full-length album.

It isn’t often that  you find a group that has a strong singer.  With the advent of aut0-tune, even the evening news can become something of a pop sensation.  (And a child who is having his finger bit by a baby…. but I digress.)  Even some of the female-lead bands that I love are heavily “corrected.”  Hearing Evanescence’s lead singer without any kind of help was almost as horrible as someone running their nails down a chalkboard.

The EP “Just Say Yes” accentuates their pop roots.  The songs are a little more substantial than the “usual” pop songs.  There are no songs about articles of clothing…or boobs.  And looking at the songs in written form give you the impression that they had all started as poems instead of song lyrics.  The music itself is simple, piano, guitar, drums, and male and female vocals.  Where the music is simple, it allows the overall package to shine. 

Songs you should definitely catch:  “Photographer’s Daughter” and “Castling.”

They probably won’t top the Billboard charts or show up on the  iTunes top ten list, but they are worth at least a few good listens.