Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 11.15.2014

Five Things New

One day late but still just as awesome.  

Five Awesome Links

1. Kelley Nikondeha with The Rebel for Justice.  MUST READ.

2. Elizabeth of Ellie’s Aviary guest posting for Accidental Devotional with Learning to Swear: A Spiritual Discipline.

3. The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare, by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

4. Jonathon from Ponder Anew with 15 Reasons Why We Should Still Be Using Hymnals.  (This is an older article but I just stumbled across it this week and found the tone and discussion interesting and polite.  Rare, I know.)

5. Charles Barnitz, a historical fiction writer enjoyed by the writers of The Volokh Conspiracy (a law blog), provided a series of posts on writing historical fiction there which are interesting and educational.  If you’re a historical fiction fan like I am, or if you are considering writing historical fiction in the future, check them out: Choosing a Historical Period // Inventing a Plot // Creating a Character // Doing the Research // Platitudes and Problems.


That’s it!  What awesome things did you read this week?  

Fall Makeup Basics

It’s been a while since we talked about makeup, so I wanted to share a few items I’ve been using lately.


Drugstore Makeup Finds


Drugstore Makeup Finds



After a year or more of using Laura Gellar’s baked foundation, it started looking a little orange.  Perhaps I was using the wrong kind of brush, or should have tried a lighter color, but I got tired of looking orange and randomly grabbed Revlon’s ColorStay Makeup hoping it would do the job while I searched out a new favorite foundation to wear.  I was surprised when I liked it so much!  It does require sponge application — which I basically hate, because it’s so hard to keep a clean sponge on-hand — but it is smooth and it definitely lasts all day.  I’m wearing number 180 – Sand Beige.


Maybelline Instant Age Rewind is a modern classic, and I highly recommend it.  It feels nice going under your eyes and the bottle lasts for ages.  Jessica from How Sweet Eats also sings its praises, but I was wearing it even before she was!  (It makes me feel cool to say that.)  I’m wearing Fair — I typically purchase a shade lighter for under-eye concealer.


I’ve always used CoverGirl’s perfect point plus eyeliner, and I’ve always hated how easily it breaks and how rough it can feel along your eyelid.  Maybelline’s masterDRAMA eyeliner is fantastic.  It is smooth and soft. I’m wearing the slate gray color called “coal commander” and it is lovely.


My eyes are dry and a little sensitive, and I’m always rubbing them — which leaves mascara everywhere! Dry and flaky mascaras make this worse, leaving me itchy and uncomfortable. The Maybelline Full ‘N Soft mascara has been lovely.  I feel comfortable all day and much less itchy.  I’m wearing Very Black and I like how it looks with the dark gray eyeliner.

I have such a hard time choosing which products to purchase, finding the right shades for my skin tone — it always feels like it’s so easy for everyone else, but I’m sure that isn’t actually true.  If you’ve found some awesome products — drugstore or otherwise — I’d love to hear about them.  Share the wealth!

Cooking Challenge Re-Make: Apple Pie Biscuits from @JoytheBaker

I spent a week with my family in Tennessee at the end of September/beginning of October.  It was my first time being there during the work-week in ages, and I worked from my childhood home about half-time and spent the other half getting in some hard-core family time.

On one of my last days there, I decided to make Joy the Baker and King Arthur Flour’s Apple Pie Biscuits from the September Baking Bootcamp.  It was so fun to have my mom and sister join me in staging food to make good-looking photos (I normally get the eye roll and “Can’t I eat this yet?” from H).  Also, since her recipe makes 12 biscuits, it was probably good that I made them for my family of four instead of just for me and H here in Chicago.

One thing that is too funny not to mention, is that when I went to the store I purchased EIGHT APPLES to use in this recipe.  Which was kind of overkill since it only requires one apple. One apple, guys.  [Pro tip: read your recipe before you go grocery shopping for ingredients!]

Bowl of Apples

Stir brown sugar and cinnamon into your apple slices. (My grandmother’s bowls.)

2skillet photo

Cook your apples in the skillet until shiny.

3howto do it

Roll out your biscuit dough and put apples on half — like this.



Fold in half, slice into squares, and place on pan. Wash with egg and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar before baking.

5all done

Golden and delicious. I mean, seriously. Yum.

I don’t like apple pie (chunky cooked apples are the worst!) but I really loved these biscuits!  I think the difference is that the apples are sliced v-e-r-y thin and they get cooked very thoroughly, almost like a warm biscuit topped with chunky apple jelly.

I had a great time following Joy the Baker’s recipe when I made these with my family, but when I wanted to recreate for H and me on Saturday morning, I took the lazy way out and they were still quite yummy.  Here’s what I did:

  • Slice and cook your apple slices in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  (My apples were a bit thicker and so less delicious because my mom is much better at slicing than I am.  Just saying.)
  • Make biscuit dough however you normally do.  I used self-rising flour and shortening, but if you are a Bisquick person then follow your heart!  Make the amount of biscuits you need for the number of people eating breakfast with you.
  • Roll out your dough, put the apples on half of it, fold it over and pinch the edges.  Cut into squares, egg wash, sprinkle, and bake!

It’s basically the same as Joy’s recipe, but since I had done it once before and I wasn’t competing for King Arthur goodies (we are King Arthur Flour snobs in this family so we took that recipe SERIOUSLY), I didn’t stress so much about doing it perfectly.  These biscuits feel a little less high-maintenance and a bit more “me.”  And either way you decide to make them, they are delicious.

Communion with All the Saints, Sermon Notes 11.9.2014

Sermon Notes


One of my favorite things about being Methodist is the continued use of liturgical traditions.  On the Sunday after Halloween (All Saints Day), our church rings a bell for the deceased members of the church and then offers a chance for all present to say aloud the names of those they lost during the prior year.  Some names are announced loudly while others are barely whispered.  For each name the bell rings out dark, sad, and beautiful.

We thank you, O God, for the saints of all ages;

for those who, in times of darkness, kept the lamp of faith burning;

for the great souls who saw visions of larger truth and dared to declare it;

for the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world;

and for those we knew and loved, who have passed from this earthly fellowship

into fuller light of life with you.

Anonymous, from The Book of a Thousand Prayers (number 897)

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 11.07.2014

Five Things New


Five Awesome Links

Too Much Peacemaking? Esther Emery for SheLoves Magazine.  Must Read of the Week.

Six Stretches for People who Sit at Desks from A Cup of Jo.  (Would you judge me if you saw me doing these in my office?)

What Makes a Great Book Club Novel? from Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Related — do you finish books even if you don’t like them?  How far do you read before you give up?  Check out this article and tell me if you agree of disagree.  (I disagree.  As Henry David Thoreau once said, we must “[r]ead the best books first, or [we] may not have a chance to read them at all.” Or, as modern HDT would say:  “Prioritize, people.”)

My friend Elizabeth Hyndman with How to Find, Follow, and Friend People on Twitter.

And finally, this essay by Andrea Levendusky, who is one of my new favorite artists:  A Blur of Delight.



What I’m Into: October 2014

What I'm Into

Well, well, well.  October is over.  A lot of very not-fun things happened in October, but it was still a pretty great month.

What I’m Reading

Not much.  I’m still stuck in the second Outlander book and I’m not moving very fast.  I read the first 2/3 of book 1 very quickly, and told you how much I enjoyed it. And then — it just stopped.  Maybe I spoke too soon, maybe my brain just couldn’t handle the ridiculousness, maybe it was too much romance and not enough history and war to entertain me, but I’m just not making progress and I can’t decide whether to stop or to keep going and hope it gets better.  I really enjoy the parts that are about time travel and history and clans and Scotland.  I don’t really enjoy the love parts so much.

What I’m Watching

EVERYTHING.  I am such a television junkie and the new fall line-up is eating up a lot of my down time.  I love On Demand.  It is so great.  My favorite new show is Madam Secretary. Tim Daly and Tea Leoni are such a well matched and believable modern couple.  Plus Tim Daly is good-looking in a totally normal and not ridiculous way.  I haven’t written off HOW to Get a-WAY with MUR-der yet, but I can hardly follow the story lines so I’m usually watching it while working on something else. It’s a little over my head (that’s the nice way to say it doesn’t make any sense, right? right!).  Also, Parenthood is in its last season and it is just so wonderful.  I’ve loved every episode and I really want Joel and Julia to get back together but I also don’t want them to because her new boyfriend is adorable — I’m glad she’s not my friend in real life because I would be the worst at giving advice in this situation.

I’m also watching the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Team.  They are not playing as well over the last month as I was hoping they would be — too many interceptions and rookie mistakes — but I love them.  The Pope loves them, President Bartlet loves them, God loves them, America loves them.  There’s still room on the bandwagon.  Go IRISH!

What I’m Eating

- 31 days --rectangle

This month has been all about cooking, and I’ve loved writing my October series #31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen.  My favorite recipes are probably this pasta recipe, this granola recipe, and this pie recipe that inspired a hashtag!  #piemergency #emergencypie.  I’ve never inspired a hashtag before and that was wicked exciting.

I also spent a week eating brown rice, baked chicken, and steamed broccoli for all meals and to be honest — I didn’t hate it as much as I wanted to.  Deciding what to eat is such a huge time-waster.  Knowing in advance exactly what I would eat and saying no to everything else was an interesting life experiment, and reminded me how much I love meal planning.

What I’m Wearing

It’s not my usual thing, but I’m loving Tommy Hilfiger this season and have been wearing his long-sleeved tees, an awesome cardigan, and a classic striped sweater all the time.  I still need to order tights for the winter and would love your recommendations for the best name brands to avoid that terrible rolly-down thing that makes you feel like you’re being sliced in half.

I’m also wearing a coat and scarf almost every day now, so I’m trying to learn different ways to style my hair easily so it is off my shoulders for my commute.  I’m spending a lot of time watching hair tutorial videos from the small things blog.

What We’ve Been Up To


This is Winston. He is 3 years old and loves to eat. A lot.

We lost our cat Leo to kidney failure a month or so back, and after a bit of grieving we decided that we needed to rescue a shelter cat from the local animal shelter.  Our new little guy is named Winston after Churchill and he kneads dough ALL THE TIME.  He also eats like a horse and has a fake front tooth.  So, just enough issues and quirks to be absolutely hilarious.  He’s already three years old so we don’t have to go through the kitten stages again, and he has warmed up to us quickly, gotten all of his shots, and settled into our home like he’s always been here.

My husband and his brothers ran the Chicago Marathon over Columbus Day Weekend.  My inlaws were in town for the week before Columbus Day and we spent a lot of time enjoying the City.  We ate at Opart Thai (yum!) , Little Goat Diner (greatest nachos in the world!), Frontera Grill, and XOCO (for my favorite soup!).  What a delicious and exhausting week!  We also played trivia at a bar near our home, and one of the best trivia questions was:  Name three universities that were home to both a U.S. President and a Super Bowl MVP.

And, I’m still traveling a bit for work.  Hopefully that will be over soon, but as much as I loathe traveling too often, I absolutely love my job and so it works out okay.  I’m learning a ton and it’s been a fantastic opportunity, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts and taking it one day at a time.

So, what all have you been up to this month?  I’m so excited for November and for the holiday season because I finally have a lot of leave built up and can take a bit more time off and really enjoy my holiday season.  Let’s hope my workload cooperates so I’m not working non-stop in late November and December!


I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share What I’m Into each month.  Click through to check out tons of other monthly summaries — it’s a great way to find new books to read, recipes to try, or makeup tricks to spice up your morning routine.  

On Loving Ourselves as the Nature of Authentic Christian Living: Sermon Notes for 11.02.2014

Sermon Notes

Last Sunday, my pastor spoke about love.  He said a lot of really smart things, and this is one of them:

“To hate oneself is to reject the truth about ourselves — to reject the God who made us.  God accepts us just as we are. 

Self love begins with the knowledge that we are loved, unconditionally, by God.  This is the source of our love for others — the very nature of authentic  Christian living.”

It’s not an idea I’ve heard from a pastor before, and it feels a little revolutionary.  I think that’s a good thing.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 10.31.2014

Five Things New

Five Awesome Links

Abby Norman with When You are Scared and Doing It Anyway.

Eleven Reasons People who Followed All the Rules as Teenagers Have the Most Fun as Adults, from

Tanya Marlow for SheLoves with What’s Her Name?  — On Disability and the Church.

How Do You Know if You’re Wasting Your Life? by Jennifer Gresham for Everyday Bright.

New Poll finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies, from Christianity Today.


Five Awesome Links for your Kitchen

First of all, squash is everywhere this week.  Squash Toasts with Ricotta and Cider Vinegar from the Smitten Kitchen; Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas and Kale from Love and Lemons; Curry Roasted Acorn Squash from Joy the Baker.

Soft-Batch Pumpkin Spice Cookies (vegan + gf), from Edible Perspective.

Iconic Movies and their Food Pairings, cupcakes and cashmere.

The Antioxidant (a cocktail), from Love & Olive Oil.

Buttermilk Apple Cake from Brooklyn Supper (I love one-layer cakes!)


This post is number 31 (yes the very end!!) of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

Leftovers Frittata

It’s almost the end of our 31 Days in the Kitchen, and I’m having a hard time narrowing down post topics: there is so much more I wanted to squeeze into this month!  I still haven’t touched on cocktails, I’ve barely grazed my favorite desserts with a (completely unplanned) emergency pie, and I wanted to talk about pantry basics and keeping a well stocked kitchen and make you a Holiday 2014 Gift List for the foodies in your life.  We may be running out of out of days in October, but I don’t think we’ve reached the end of talking about cooking and eating here at Pink-Briefcase.

Today, let’s talk about my favorite way to rejuvenate leftovers: the frittata.

A frittata is like a quiche without a crust.  You cook it in a skillet instead of a pie plate, and you begin cooking on the stove top and transfer into the oven to finish.  The edges and the entire bottom of the frittata get brown and crispy.  (I think that real Italians flip their frittatas so that both the top and the bottom get brown and crispy, but I do not have those skills and I am comfortable with that.)

My favorite frittatas are made from leftover roasted veggies.  So, if you want a slammin’ frittata for Sunday brunch, roast some veggies for dinner one night this week and save back some extras.

Roasted Vegetables

Chop red onion, red bell pepper, sweet potato, carrots, and any other veggies you particularly like into chunks.

Place veggies in a bowl, drizzle with oil, and salt, pepper, maybe some red pepper flakes, and roast at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until fork-tender.

If you don’t have leftover roasted vegetables, how about leftover asparagus?  broccoli?  potatoes?  steak and peppers?  (yum) Just see what is in your fridge and get creative.

Leftovers Frittata


In this frittata I added chopped baby spinach in with my goat cheese. It’s good to hide vegetables whenever you can.

Here’s what you need:

5-6 eggs

Splash of milk

Goat cheese (or cheese of choice — but goat cheese is the best cheese)

Leftovers (or other fillings of choice)

Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 425 and grab a nonstick skillet that can go into the oven (most can).

Chop your veggies into smaller bits.

Heat a little oil in your skillet and warm it over medium heat.

Throw in your leftover veggies to warm, approximately 1-2 minutes.

In a separate bowl, break your eggs, pour in your milk, and stir together.  You can use a whisk if you want to but I use a fork.

Shake in the same amount of salt and pepper you would use for 6 scrambled eggs.  I shake twice per egg and count in my head — so 10-12 shakes for a 6-egg frittata.  (Is this a completely obsessive thing to share, or is this accurate blogging?  You can decide.)

Pour the eggs over the veggies and let it cook for a few minutes on the stove top.  After 2-3 minutes, you’ll begin to see the edges forming a shape.  At this point, sprinkle on your goat cheese.

Pop your frittata skillet into the oven and bake until firm and golden, about 12 minutes.  I usually set the timer for 12 minutes and sometimes let it go up to 15.  If your skillet is larger, your frittata will cook faster so be aware and watch your time the first time.

Want to make a frittata but not out of leftovers?  Here’s a few other frittata recipes you can try:

Are you a frittata lover?  Any favorite flavor combinations?

This post is number 30 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

An Ode to Goat Cheese (Or, a Guest Post by Suzanne Terry)

When I found out with one week remaining in my kitchen-blogging month that I was not permitted to eat gluten or dairy or steak or a lot of other yummy things, my friend Suzanne from the blog CoffeeSnob318 stepped up to talk to you about cheese.  I simultaneously LOVE her for really connecting to this month’s series — I mean, if this wasn’t so well linked and didn’t include a Pinterest board (I am so terrible with Pinterest) it could be me talking! — and HATE her because I can’t eat goat cheese right now and this totally reminds me how much I love it.  And that’s what real friends do, right?  They meet you right where you are and share your overwhelming passion for delicious things.   To Suzanne — thank you.  And to the rest of you?  Enjoy! 

An Ode to Goat Cheese

When you ask normal people what their favorite food is, you will usually get answers like “pizza” or “steak and potatoes.” You might get answers like “Italian” or “Mexican.”

When you ask me what my favorite food is, the answer you get is “goat cheese.” I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to it.

I love goat cheese. Whatever one puts with it, I will eat it. Goat cheese with pasta? Great. Goat cheese with fruit? Awesome. Goat cheese smeared on a piece of toast? Breakfast of champions.

It’s so versatile. I generally like a food to pick a category – sweet or savory – and stick with it. Goat cheese, however, can do both. It can add a nice tang and some creaminess to a main course, making the dish tastier and a little bit fancier. Or you can top slices of fruit with it, drizzle it with a little honey, and you have a simple yet elegant dessert.

Here are some of my favorite things to do with goat cheese, organized by category.


  • One of the simplest appetizers in the world is grilled or toasted bread, spread with something delicious and topped with something else delicious (and ideally, pretty).


Rye Radish Goat Cheese Toast

This is just rye toast with goat cheese and radishes. It took me ten minutes to put together a whole plate of them, and people LOVED it. You can top it with anything. I also am a big fan of roasted peppers, olives, roasted stone fruits (apples, pears, peaches, etc.), and caramelized onions.


  • Adding goat cheese to pasta, as in this Meyer lemon spaghetti, makes whatever else you’re doing with the pasta ten times better.
  • Use it as your cheese of choice on pizza.
  • Crumble it into a salad.
  • Spread it onto bread, top it with another slice of bread, and pan fry it for the best grilled cheese sandwich you will ever eat in your life. Sundried tomatoes, various peppers, or spinach make a nice addition to this sandwich as well.


  • Goat cheese in an omelet, frittata, or quiche. Do it.
  • Put it in your biscuit batter (or squish it into the canned ones and pretend you made them from scratch, because they’re going to taste like it).
  • Or, as I mentioned before, use it as your toast topping. Maybe add some jam. Maybe you want to invite me over. I’ll bring the coffee.


  • Goat cheese makes a great tart topping.
  • You can also wrap goat cheese in phyllo dough, bake it, and then drizzle it with something sweet (or dust it with powdered sugar), for a real crowd pleaser. And you can call them something adorable like goat cheese cigars.
  • One of the simplest (and thus, one of my favorite) desserts is grilled fruit topped with a dollop of goat cheese.


As you can see, goat cheese is versatile and awesome. What are some of your favorite things to do with goat cheese?

This guest post by Suzanne Terry is number 29 of the #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

Suzanne Terry is a fiction writer, public speaking teacher, and unapologetic coffee snob. She lives in Denton, Texas, where she is happy to be surrounded by college students, coffee shops, and farmers’ markets. She blogs sporadically at