Month: August 2014

Lazy Sunday Links

by Lindsey

Happy Sunday, all! For some reason, the links I found and shared most this week were unbelievably adorable. Who am I to be selfish? If these cute animal links don’t make your day, then we probably can’t be friends.


First up, a never-ending bouncing lamb Vine.

If you enjoyed that one, you’ll probably also like “Where’s Bea?”

Then, a Vine featuring a few seconds of piglet squeals will (almost) make you want to give up bacon. Also, please forget I mentioned bacon next to such a sweet little piggy.

Finally, enjoy this prairie dog who became too chubby for his own home. What a cute nightmare!

(Skip to 1:18 for the close-up!)

Enjoy! Hope your Labor Day is labor free!

 

Chicago, Here we come

by Lindsey

Photos-16208In a little less than a month, Kelsey and I are off to the Windy City! (Though, if you read my post about flying, you’ll know we’re hoping for calm breezes when we fly into town.) One of my dearest friends and her lovely partner call Chicago home, and we’re really excited to finally visit them (and their cat, Tybee).

We visited for the first and only time so far in 2012, and we crossed lots of sights off our respective lists. We visited the Field Museum (dinosaurs!), the Art Institute of Chicago (Lichtenstein!), the Museum of Science and Industry, the Bean/Cloudgate and Second City. Fun fact: Sister and I sat on the front row at Second City, and I lied (a little) to Aidy Bryant when we were questioned as part of a skit. Who’s going to say they work for a religious organization as part of an improv skit? Only the brave, my friends. Only the brave. (Sorry, Aidy. We love you.)

Now, it’s time to plan for trip number two! This is our current to-do list.Photos-16365

Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits: I’ve been following Bang Bang’s Instagram account for several months, so I freaked out (in the best way) when I realized they’re located in Chicago. The Fat Elvis biscuit comes highly recommended.

Little Goat: This place has been on my list for awhile. One look at the menu will tell you why.

Shedd Aquarium: I really want to see their jellyfish exhibit. I’ll do my best to drag Kelsey there.

Garrett’s Popcorn: Have y’all tried this popcorn? Yes, cheese and caramel popcorn sound like a weird mix, but trust me. Garrett’s is everything.

Goose Island Brewery Tour: Our family loves factory tours (and beer isn’t bad, either). We may check this one out while we’re in town.

Andersonville: My friends live in this cute little hamlet north of downtown, and I can’t wait to explore. The pictures look pretty darn charming.

We may just have to head back to Second City, too. No more front row seats for us, though. Anywhere/anything we should add?

Token News Sources

– by Kelsey (and Lindsey in spirit/suggestions)

I don’t know about you, Reader, but I prefer to gather my news online throughout the day vs. subjecting myself to the dismal existence that is television media. That said, our favorite daily news sources are below:

The Vox

More of a “purist” news site than some of our other suggestions, The Vox is well-written and informative. Also, the “Understand the News” flash card section, is wonderful, giving a thorough, contextual account of some of the biggest things happening in news at the moment (unlike the majority of mass media).

Fast Company

Fast company features articles on various subjects, but tends to focus on business articles. Please keep reading, Reader. I’m the one with the B.S. degree in business, and this would instantly make me blackball this site. But it features a ton of interesting articles. Lindsey once called me mesmerized by a Fast Company article with a 5 minute video of exotic flowers blooming.

Jezebel

GIRL POWER! Jezebel highlights articles on various subjects that are tinged with a feminist viewpoint. They also feature a fair amount of GIFs and celebrity news, but it’s a good blend of information and irreverence.

Wired

Also a print magazine, Wired’s articles run the gamut from video games to current events, but it features heavily in the tech field. Highly recommended.

Honorable Mentions: The Verge, Kottke, The Daily Beast, and Slate

Get to bookmarking these gems, Friends.

 

 

 

 

Love/Hate: Welcome to Night Vale

– by Lindsey and Kelsey

This blog is just a little over a month old. As with any new baby, it’s creators are going to experiment a little to see what makes it stop crying/makes the neighbors happy. Thus, we’re trying a new column today called Love/Hate.

If you’ve read our bio section (which I’m sure you all have, right?), you know that we sisters don’t always agree. If we did, we’d probably be robots or weirdly psychic twins or crazy. We are not the first two of those things. This column will be about those topics/things that one of us can’t stop talking about and the other really wishes they would. We’re starting with a podcast: Welcome to Night Vale.


Lindsey loves.

In recent years, my drive-time listening has taken a rather dramatic turn. Whereas I once only listened to CDs and my iPod because I “can’t stand any talking,” I now listen almost exclusively to NPR and podcasts. I won’t go deep into the why of this change, but I find the calm voices and more involved stories help take my mind away from my driving/traffic related anxiety issues. NPR (and the like) has become my pacifier.

However, sometimes I miss that feeling of emotional surprise that comes when you listen to a new song. I also really like creepy stories, and the typical podcast only has so many Halloween/scary episodes. Enter my new obsession: Welcome to Night Vale. It’s difficult to describe to the uninitiated, but I like to think of it as the best little public radio station in the worst small town. Horrifying news is reported without distress. Odd stories continue throughout the series, so you become attached to the weirdos as things get weirder. I like to listen as I work to their SoundCloud stream here. If you want some idea of the humor without actually listening, check out the Night Vale Radio Twitter feed. It’s dark and sarcastic in a lie-joke kind of way, if you know what I mean. Mara Wilson (yes, Matilda), who does voice-over work on some of the episodes, wrote that a friend of hers said, “I feel like this fills a void I didn’t know I had.” I completely agree. I mean, one of the characters is a faceless old woman who secretly lives in your home. What more could you want?

Often, when I love something this much, I’ll repeatedly blab to Kelsey about just how much I love it. However, she didn’t feel the same way…

Kelsey hates.

Like my sister, I’ve also developed an odd taste (compared to my former prejudices) for podcasts while I’m driving or cleaning etc. It allows my brain to feel engaged while I’m doing something not necessarily brainless, but not very interesting. And I love love love scary stories (this is coming from a child with vivid nightmares that once developed a series of night terrors from a book cover). I regularly watch Ghost Hunters, Celebrity Ghost Stories (so bad that it’s good) and track down frightening paraphernalia (such as Jezebel’s annual Spookiest Stories contest).  That may be one of my issues with this podcast. I tried to make it through a few installments, I really did, but I never made it past around ten minutes. I wanted scary, and I received weird, which isn’t enough to satisfy my podcasting needs. Voices are also uncommonly significant to me in that if I find your voice grating, I won’t listen to your podcast. Period. This American Life is a remarkable podcast, but Ira Glass, bless him, has a voice that only a mother could love. Night Vale, on the other hand, is like listening to a robot that’s slightly more advanced at human pronunciation than your average GPS, but still comes off odd and halting.

Finally, the podcast clearly details strange happenings around Night Vale, which somehow, no matter how odd and satirical the delivery, still conjures memories of sad small-town radio stations. Those crackly AM stations that announce spaghetti dinners and social events alongside depressing local news.

All due respect and admiration to Night Vale and its listeners, but I just can’t.


 

That’s love/hate for you. What do you think of Welcome to Night Vale, readers?

Bagel Time

– by Kelsey

Is bread considered a hobby? Because I spend collectively at least a few hours a week thinking about it, and you guys, ALL THE BREAD.

I love bagels more than I will ever be able to adequately express. Most of the time, I’ll head down to the local bagel shop in Kingsport which, spoiler alert, has pretty amazing bagels (The Bagel Exchange – I suggest the sesame). But sometimes, I want to make my own.

I followed the instructions from the Sophisticated Gourmet’s link to bagel-making (adapted below):

Ingredients

1 packet of active dry yeast
1 ½ TB of granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups of warm water (more may be added, if needed)
3 ½ cups of bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

Preparation

IMG_15961. Take 1/2 cup of the warm water and add in the sugar and yeast, allow to sit for five minutes before stirring. (ALSO, please don’t be a dumb, like yours truly, and overheat the water. Overheated water = dead yeast. If the yeast mixture is foaming, your yeast is happy and not dead.)

2. Sift the flour and salt and pour in your yeast/sugar combo, mixing to combine.  Add in the remaining water (3/4 C) as you mix. More water may need to be added (The Sophisticated Gourmet says somewhere from a few TBs to 1/4 C, depending on where you live). This dough should not be dry and will hold its shape well.

4. The original author suggests kneading the dough for ten minutes, adding flour until very solid. Or, if you are a laze such as myself, I popped this in my Kitchenaid with a dough hook and mixed on medium speed (adding flour if needed to prevent over-stickiness) for about 3 minutes or so.

5. In an oiled bowl, let the dough rise (covered with a damp dish towel/paper towel) for an hour until doubled in size. PUNCH IT DOWN. Then let it hang out for another 10 minutes.

6. The recipe suggests dividing the dough into eight equal pieces with the help of a kitchen scale, which makes my neurotic heart purr. However, seeing as I don’t have one of these contraptions, divide the dough as best as you can into eight pieces. Original suggestions are to roll the dough pieces against the counter, making an even ball, then pressing a floured finger in middle to create the bagel shape. Or I’ve also found that rolling out the shape into a log and creating a bagel circle also works well.IMG_1595

7. Let these kittens hang out on an oiled cookie sheet for ~10 minutes, covering with a dampened towel. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

8. In a large pot of simmering water, lower your bagels into their bath with a slotted tool (I use a mint julep spoon), as many as will fit comfortably into the pot. Let boil 1 minute on each side before flipping over (boil for 2 minutes on each side for a chewier “New York Style” bagel.) After bobbing for bagels, place them back on the oiled cookie sheet for baking.

9. Add toppings to your bagels, if desired. I like to add sesame or sea salt. But the options are endless.

10. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

IMG_1598

 

 

 

 

 

Lazy Sunday Links

– by Lindsey

It’s Sunday again, folks. You know what that means, right? We do the dirty work of finding fun links for you to peruse whilst readying yourself for the Monday to come. Well, this week’s lazy links are less so. We’re sharing three useful household/cooking/misc. tips from our apartments to yours.


Tip #1 comes from Kelsey, who wanted to clean her grout this weekend. She’s adventurous that way. She followed this handy-dandy guide pinned from This Blessed Life, and she says there’s not a speck of mildew left. Anywho, she wasn’t convinced this Pinterest tip would work (the very idea something on Pinterest wouldn’t come through!), so she didn’t take pictures. You can take her word for it (if you dare).

Tip #2 is from me, Lindsey, who is trying to learn to like hardboiled eggs. I hate boiling water, because I suffer from watched pot syndrome. To get around this, I used Alton Brown’s method of hard baking eggs. They come out perfectly baked. Don’t be scared of a couple of tiny burn spots under the shell. Just peel that right off. For an impatient girl who wants hard boiled eggs, this is a lifesaver. I’m not sure the process of boiling/baking eggs could ever be considered lifesaving, but whatever. You get it. Also, bonus: mix Sriracha and soy sauce for a delicious egg dip!

Tip #3 I stumbled upon at a friend’s house when my stomach was upset. (Shoutout to Kelly and my uneasy insides!) We’ve all been there: we feel so gross we don’t even want to chug the Pepto-Bismol that could improve our sorry conditions. You know what makes Pepto-Bismol better? Refrigeration. Seriously. Try it. No link here, just do it.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, friends! Or, as Kelsey says, “Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. is the worst.”

 

Songs of Summer

– by Lindsey

We’re going to declare this day music Thursday, because we’ve all had a hard week and the world seems a little out of control right now. Right? Right. So, in no particular order, here are three songs on repeat for the Solomon sisters this summer.


Jenny Lewis is awesome, and her new album deserves a listen in full. (Actually, her whole catalog deserves a listen in full, but I digress.) “She’s Not Me” from The Voyager is a standout.

This song (wow, huh?) was the first that put Shakey Graves on our radar, but his latest (featuring Esmé Patterson) is fantastic, too.

Finally,  the song “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor) by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is equal parts indie calm and poppy dance tune. Summer perfection.

Happy listening!