Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Devil in the White City

Our past book club selection was The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  This is a non-fiction of two stories intertwined.  The story takes place in the 1890’s during the building of the world’s fair in Chicago (also known as the white city).  During the same time there was a serial killer named H.H. Holmes that built a hotel a few blocks from the fair grounds.  Chicago was an up and coming city at the time and many women travelled there to find work.  Holmes had a way to lure these women to his hotel and murder them. 

The book details a lot of the architecture and building of the fair.  Also, there are quite a few inventions during this time, some of which were developed for the fair (AC current for electricity).  The biggest feature was trying to engineer something that could rival the last world’s fair in Paris which was when the Eiffel Tower was built.  The story of Holmes was disturbing and exciting at the same time.  Most of us in book club looked forward to the chapters that revolved around Holmes.  We were all amazed that he had something about him that kept women coming to him and not suspect anything. 

Overall, this book is a keeper.  I enjoyed reading about the history of Chicago during that time.  They even say in the book that Walt Disney’s father was one of the architects and may have been the inspiration for Disney World.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Inside Insides

MRI pics While reading the Science Magazine on my desk at work I came across a blurb about a blog called This blog is from someone running an MRI where he uses an orange for quality assurance to make sure the equipment is running correctly.  He then started looking at other fruits and vegetables.  This is very cool (if you’re a science dork like me).  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Good deal!

With all the weight I’ve lost I decided I should invest in some better fitting clothes.  I headed to my favorite store, G.H. Bass & Co. at the Johnson Creek outlet mall.  They were having an awesome sale, everything was 50% off plus an additional 20% off.  I also had gotten an email coupon from them for 30% off my entire order so I asked if that applied as well, and it did!

Here’s what I bought:

Three sweaters, originally priced $79 each but all three were on clearance for $7.99, plus my 30% off they were each $5.59.  Two t-shirts originally priced $39, on sale for $15.60 each, plus my 30% they were both $10.92. 


A Fall/Spring jacket originally priced at $89 but on sale for $35.60, plus the 30% off came to $24.92.  I saw this jacket last Fall but talked myself out of buying it.


This dress was originally priced for $90 but on sale for $36 plus the 30% off came to $25.21.  Actually I think this was way overpriced to start with.


I also had a $5 off reward for being in their rewards program.  So in all I spent a little over $88, but I saved over $405!!!


I also just won my first Ebay auction!  Pius High school was having an online alumni auction through Ebay.  I got a 2br beach condo for 7d in Destin, FL for $227.50.  It is during the middle of December, but I still think it’s worth it.  It comes to $32.50 per night.  Maybe we will take a drive to Orlando so Jake can visit WDW. 


One other good deal was dinner last night.  Mom treated me, Jake, Sara & Julia to see Imagination Movers downtown.  Before the show we went to Rock Bottom Brewery for dinner.  Apparently the manager is Mom’s neighbor and he took care of our meal for us!  I also found street parking so I only had to pay to fill the meter for 45 minutes. 


I’m on a streak!  Maybe I’ll win the Powerball jackpot tonight too!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

I saw these cute cookies online and just had to try making them myself.  The green scalloped boarder was a pain to make, so I skipped that after my second attempt.  By the end I figured out the best way to make the shamrocks.  I hope you all have a great St. Patty’s Day!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Paczki Time!

007Today I made two batches of paczki.  My recipe came from recipezaar and it looks a bit beaten over the years.  Every year I make a note or two on it.  This takes all day since the dough needs to rise twice.

009I filled half of them with Strawberry jam and the other half with Strawberry-Rhubarb jam.  Jamie was my taste tester today and he had two so far.  Debbie came up for dinner and she also enjoyed one.  Jake tried some of Debbie’s and while he seemed to like it he had an issue with the sugar getting stuck to his lips.

Here is more information taken from Wikipedia:
Typical pączki

Home-made glazed pączki.
A pączek is a deep-fried piece of dough shaped into a flattened sphere and filled with confiture or other sweet filling. Pączki are usually covered with powdered sugar, icing or bits of dried orange zest. A small amount of grain alcohol (traditionally, Spiritus) is added to the dough before cooking; as it evaporates, it prevents the absorption of oil deep into the dough.
Although they look like bismarcks or jelly doughnuts, pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar and sometimes milk. They feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar. Powidła (stewed plum jam) and wild rose hip jam are traditional fillings, but many others are used as well, including strawberry, Bavarian cream, blueberry, custard, raspberry and apple.
Pączki have been known in Poland at least since the Middle Ages. Jędrzej Kitowicz has described that during the reign of August III, under the influence of French cooks who came to Poland, pączki dough was improved, so that pączki became lighter, spongier, and more resilient.

Pączki Day

In Poland, pączki are eaten especially on Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Lent). Many Polish Americans celebrate Pączki Day on Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). Traditionally, the reason for making pączki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because they were forbidden to be consumed due to Catholic fasting practices during Lent.
In the large Polish community of Chicago, and other large cities across the Midwest, Pączki Day is celebrated annually by immigrants and locals alike. In Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Windsor, Pączki Day is more commonly celebrated on Fat Tuesday instead of Fat Thursday. Chicago celebrates the festival on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday, due to its sizable Polish population.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring design

I started this blog about 2 years ago and decided it was time for a change.  I thought I would try out this spring look for a while, especially because I can't wait for winter to be over.  I'm not sure it is what I really want so you might see more changes in the next few weeks until I am satisfied.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


A few years ago Mom bought us a FoodSaver for Christmas.  We would use it about once a year.  Recently, however, we started using it about twice a month.  Jamie does most of the cooking and he doesn’t always understand how to make appropriate servings.  His lasagna is HUGE!  We ate the last batch for 4 nights straight and we still had at least a 1/4 left, so we used the food saver and froze it for another day.  Jamie’s new thing is making soups.  He loves the baked potato soup recipe that Chris sent him, which he modified so it is as thick as tar, but that’s how he likes it.  He also found a recipe on called Catherine’s Spicy Chicken Soup.  This tastes a lot like a 009 chicken tortilla soup.  It is very yummy and I would check it out.  One warning though, it says it makes 8 servings, but we found it makes closer to 20 servings!  This is good though, because now we use the FoodSaver to freeze some of it.  If you like to do a lot of cooking and also freeze meals for eating in the future, I would highly recommend investing in a FoodSaver.  It works great and it saves us on throwing away uneaten food.