Monday, April 4, 2016

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - Jaxtastic Life Book Report

I know, I know. This isn't a picture of Shonda Rhimes. It's the character Hannibal from the early-80's show, The A-Team (don't even try and bring up the remake, stick with the original). He's the mastermind of all of the A-Teams activities and always, in true 80s TV series fashion, the plan executes to the desired end. These plans pretty much involve some poor soul contacting the A-Team for help, Hannibal creating a fabulous plan that includes a chase scene or two and explosions, drugging poor Mr T to get him into a helicopter flown by "Mad" Murdock and Faceman looking beautiful.

My most recent plan does not involve car chases or explosions or drugging anyone or flying a helicopter or looking beautiful. Well, I will own the looking beautiful part. :-) (My first nod to Shonda Rhimes's and her "owning your badassery" theme in her book).

This plan involves Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, Oprah's interview with Shonda Rhimes, Overdrive, an audiobook and kicking off my exploration of "saying yes" (and "no," on occasion).

I can't pinpoint who first got me hip to Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. If I had to guess, it probably was my great friend, Alyssa. However, I knew I needed to start recording it when I learned that Oprah interviewed former President, Jimmy Carter. Instead of setting the DVR to record one episode, I had it set to record all.

Before I knew it, I had at least 10 episodes in my Super Soul Sunday DVR folder. I scrolled through and saw that the Jimmy Carter interview was in the list. Then, I saw the Shonda Rhimes interview and something inside said, "Watch this first."

Now, I'm not a hard core Shonda Rhimes fan. I never swooned over McDreamy in Grey's Anatomy. I didn't closely follow the planning and expertise of Olivia Pope (a modern day Hannibal, if you ask me). Don't ask me to name a character on Private Practice or How to Get Away with Murder. This is where the genius of episode commercials and word of mouth from friends comes in. Although I didn't follow any of these shows, what I saw and heard showed me strong female characters and a glimpse of the real word (aka all inclusive) on series TV and I wanted to know more about the amazing woman who created these worlds.

I will spare you the details of the great interview. You can watch it for yourself, the link is above. What I will share is about her fabulous book, Year of Yes that was discussed in the interview.

When I had finished watching the Oprah - Shonda Rhimes interview I wondered, "Can get the book on Overdrive?"

What is Overdrive? Overdrive is your FREE pathway to checking out digital library books and audiobooks. It's available for your mobile devices as well as your computers.

Much to my absolute delight, Year of Yes showed up in the Overdrive search results in audiobook and digital book form. Both versions were on hold. That was not stopping me. The "thing" that was stopping me was making the decision between audiobook or digital book. I oped in for the audiobook and got in the "hold line."

Finally, 2 long weeks later, the book was ready for me to check out. I immediately downloaded it to my phone and thanked my lucky stars that I was driving to work the next day.

This has been an wonderful audiobook read by Shonda Rhimes herself!!! The HUGE bonus about the audio book is that it includes recordings of her speeches that she references in her stories.

I am not yet done with the book and I have already been inspired to explore to what I will say "yes" to and to what I will explore saying "no" and I'm having a blast.

This book will be forever in my "recommend reading" list.

What are you waiting for? Get or check out a copy of this book and explore your year of yes!!!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The World's Most Expensive Banana Bread Mini Muffins

This week, I had a set of bananas that was going to go bad at any minute. We are talking R-I-P-E ripe! 

I knew the thing to make that would satisfy my sweet tooth and avoid the guilt of throwing away the bananas or putting on mega pounds. I pulled up the Chocolate Banana Bread recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie (CCK). I could go on and on about CCK (ok she doesn't refer to herself as "CCK" but it's just fun to type) or Katie herself but I'll save that for another blog. Let's just say, that I'm a fan.

Back to the banana bread. This particular evening, I decided to experiment with making a mini muffin version. I get to work and as I'm combining the wet and dry ingredients I realize that there is a
strong cinnamon smell. "Funny," I thought to myself. "I don't recall the recipe calling for cinnamon."

I grab the bag of cocoa from Penzy's Spices (also LOVE Penzy's, I can spend an entire blog about Penzy's). I read the label and let out an "OH NO!!!!" Turns out I had just put in a 1/2 cup of cinnamon in the batter. I might have to deal with the guilt of not only throwing out the bananas but also the other ingredients used to make the batter. I grab a spoon and have a taste. Not bad. Whew!

Then I realize, that I now have the world's most expensive mini muffins. Ok, we are not talking "Gwyneth Paltrow $200 smoothie" expensive  (although this Vanity Fair article says they don't cost $200) but it was an expensive mistake.

I send a text to my mom sharing the culinary blunder. She doesn't respond for a while. She texts back something to the effect of , "I'm sorry for not texting sooner. I had to stop laughing." I lighten up and get to focusing on baking these cinnamon mini chocolate chip banana bread muffins.

I bite into the first baked mini muffin and it's great. I smile and decide to add this story to the chapter of lifelong culinary journey which contains the "Beef Wellington Incident."