Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Great Bookstores Series: Open Books in Chicago (and this amazing thing called a "Blind-Book Date")

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."
When I travel, I always try to find an interesting bookstore in the city I find myself wandering around in, one that captures or embodies the vibrancy of the place. This past weekend, I initially found myself smack dab in the middle of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago for a conference, surrounded by Gucci, Chanel, Hermes, and Ferrigamo, feeling distinctly poor and thoroughly out of place. The kind of bookstore I wanted, I knew, wouldn't be situated anywhere near the confines of that environ, so I started walking. With the help of Google maps, I found Open Books, a place that had a five-star review on Yelp declaring it a book-lover's paradise. Once I arrived, I was not disappointed; it was worth the mile-long trek in whipping wind with a severe head-cold and sore throat.

Here's why you would fall in love with it too:

The selection is vast and varied, and the prices are right (both for new and used books). I found Allegiant, the last Divergent book, for only $7.00 used. Also, Open Books is a non-profit venture, funding literacy programs in the city. Almost all of the people that work in the bookstore are volunteers.
The volunteers offer an assortment of their favorite reads on the shelves, and patrons can also leave notes tacked to the shelves about their own beloved books.
Not the best picture, but this is an example of "Top Five" lists, these ones written for YA readers.

The space itself is inviting: there are lots of comfortable places to read, tables for playing games, an entire children's play area, filled with books to fuel the imagination.
"The first time I read an excellent book, it is just as if I had gained a new friend."

The fact that this book was displayed in the children's section endeared the bookstore to me all the more, as it was a book that I treasured deeply when I was a young reader.

A little book-porn for comic-book fans;).

I think this is my favorite part of the whole experience of this particular bookstore. If you spend more than $50, you can take home an anonymous book selected for your tastes. I love this idea so much!!

If you are ever in the Chicago area, stop by Open Books (located at 213 W. Institute Plaza). Tell them Alice from the Owl's Skull sent you. Spend more than $50 and get your free book. All while supporting a good cause:). (You can also follow the bookstore and its endeavors on Twitter and Facebook).

One more thing, before I forget! The winner of the Anne Sexton Transformations giveaway was Erika Ryan. Thanks for entering:)!! A/J

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What to Do with Leftover Spaghetti? Spaghetti Frittata

What to Do with Leftover Spaghetti? Spaghetti Frittata
In this house, we inevitably have leftover spaghetti at least once a week. The girls love to eat spaghetti in any format, so it's an easy go-to dish for this crazy family that runs almost every single night during the week.

Last night, rather than reheat the same old leftovers again, I made a spaghetti frittata. Crispy and delicious, buttery and salty, it's a great go-to dish to have in your arsenal. Here's how to make it.

Spaghetti Frittata
4 tbsp. butter
3-4 cups of leftover spaghetti (I like to use spaghetti that has some sort of sauce on it - the bite of the tomatoes brings the frittata to life. Plain spaghetti makes for a rather bland frittata)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Healthy dose of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
A handful of chopped parsley and basil
1/2-1 cup cheese (depending on how cheesy you want it to be - the more cheese the better in this house;))
1 tbsp. of minced garlic
1 tsp. of Garlic Bread seasoning

1. Over medium-high heat, melt down the butter in a non-stick pan until it is just bubbling.
2. While the butter is heating, mix together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, cheese, parsley, basil, garlic, and Garlic Bread seasoning. I whip it with a fork to get some air in the eggs.
3. Add the leftover spaghetti to the egg/milk/cheese mixture. Stir until all of the pasta is coated with the mixture and the ingredients are evenly dispersed.
4. Once the butter is hot, add the spaghetti to the pan. Allow the spaghetti to cook, the butter bubbling around the edges. Check the spaghetti after a few minutes, and shake the pan every once in a while to ensure that the frittata is not sticking, especially in the middle.
5. Once the frittata is browned on the one side, flip it. The easiest way to do this is to place a plate about the same size over the top of the pan and flip the frittata onto the plate, then slide it back into the pan. In any event, even if it comes out a total mess, it still tastes good. Trust me, I know;). If you're afraid of flipping the entire frittata or think small patties would be better, you can form the spaghetti into small patties or nests in the pan and cook them, flipping once they've browned.
6. Slide the frittata onto a clean plate and slice into portions with a sharp knife. It should be crusty and crunchy. We ate them last night with Parmesan Chicken burgers and Balsamic Green Beans.

Good luck!! Cook away;). J

Monday, April 28, 2014

On the Nightstand (or #whatimreading Right Now)

I get asked for reading recommendations a lot. Soooo, here's what's either currently on my nightstand, in my cart, or in my hands:).

A student of mine recently did a project on this book by Kate DiCamillo, and the prose in the quotations is so lovely, I'm ashamed to say I haven't read it yet. 
I have been hearing a lot of buzz about this book by E. Lockhart. Next on my reading list!
I finally gave in and started reading this series. I read two books in four days and am currently in the middle of the third. Let's just say it's a little addictive. Only start it if you have a little time on your hands (and yes, I do like the third book). 
I just finished teaching and hence re-reading this book. It just gets richer with each reader. I highly recommend it. 
If you're fresh out of erotica, try the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy from Anne Rice. Why not??
If you're more in the mood for literary criticism, I recommend this book that I pulled off the shelf for a student the other day. Re-reading the few pages I was interested in made me want to re-read this landmark text in its entirety. I love the superb writing by Gilbert and Gubar. 
This is my current bus-stop book. The chapters are just short enough to squeeze in in ten minutes. AND each chapter ends with a related recipe, which makes me itch to cook over the next few months. 
This will be my next memoir. I love books where the writer basically dumps everything and starts over completely anew. 
After watching Saving Mr. Banks, I really want to read more about Travers's life. I realize that Disney always skews the facts to construct its tales, so I'm curious about the truth behind Travers and her idiosyncracies. 
There you go. Let me know which ones you enjoy if you decide to tackle any of them. Happy reading!! J

Skycastle, the Demon, and Me (Book Blast and #Giveaway)

Skycastle, the Demon, and Me by Andy Mulberry

About the Book

Title: Skycastle, the Demon, and Me | Author: Andy Mulberry | Publication Date: February 22, 2014 | Publisher: Paw! Print Press | Pages: 107 | Recommended Ages: 7+
Summary: Skycastle, the Demon, and Me is the first in a series of middle grade books for fearless, adventure loving kids. WARNING...this book contains a scowling demon, bad decisions, a skeleton key, not foul but hellish language, an ordinary boy and an extraordinary castle. You've been warned. Skycastle, the Demon, and Me: An unlikely friendship, a hellish adventure and cliffhangers aplenty to make reluctant readers turn the pages.  


* Available as a 99 cent e-book through Amazon*


The Buzz

"I bought this book to read with my younger brother and we both loved it. I always try to encourage him to keep up with his reading but he's usually not that big of a fan of books most of the time. To my surprise, he quickly became immersed into the story and I could tell that he was having just as much fun as I was reading it together. The story keeps up at a smooth and fast pace, which is of course very important in children's books, and it's adventurous and written really well. To say that I am satisfied with 'Skycastle, the Demon, and Me' would be an understatement, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more releases by the author" ~ 5 Star Review, Jane L., Amazon
"The characters are well created and the story is exceptionally good. My great granddaughter just started reading it this morning and she is already pretty engrossed in the story. Great book. I definitely recommend." ~ 5 Star Review, Beverly C., Amazon
"Very well written story. Witty and charming for both myself and my son who is in 3rd grade. A great creative adventure about a demon and a boy. Looking forward to more in this series. I would highly recommend this book for kids around the 3rd grade. It's action packed and holds my sons interest. Filled with the stuff he loves. Thanks!" ~ 5 Star Review, M. Harbin, Amazon

About the Author: Andy Mulberry

Andy Mulberry AvatarAndy Mulberry loves to write stories filled with strange adventures, odd characters and mysterious circumstances. To say she was born holding a book in her hand reading would be a gross hyperbole. She lives in Southern California with her scowling teenager, a chubby blue cat-beast, an imaginary dog and one leaky roof.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads


* Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: May 23, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Andy Mulberry and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Book Promotion Services

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Skinny

Before today, I didn't know what the alarmingly depressing trend called "thinspo" was (if you want to know, do a Google search; you'll get something like the screenshot I took above).

Actually, let me take that back. I knew damn well what it was; I just didn't know there was a slang term for it.

I'll start from the beginning. While I was making my post-diet-salad-miserable-lunch coffee, I came across a video presentation that the daughter of an old friend of mine had posted on Facebook/youtube called "The Skinny on Food." I had a stack of papers still to grade, and about three hours to hammer out as many of them as I possibly could before I had to pick my daughter up from the bus, but something compelled me to click on the video (linked up below).

I couldn't stop watching it. In its first few minutes, my friend's daughter Lindsey bravely admits to struggling with her own eating disorder in college, how she slipped into eating as little as possible, exercised obsessively (even while playing sports), and then had to tell her family her dark secret after her doctor discovered her problem. I recognized in her myself during my senior year in college, when I decided to lose as much weight as I possibly could in order to fit in as a fitness instructor at my very large, very athletically oriented university. I didn't tell anyone the dangerous lengths I went to to lose weight; come to think of it, I never did, until just now. Probably because all of the attention I got felt good. When people exclaim how wonderful you look, you don't tell them you are nearly starving yourself during the week, binging on Fridays and Fridays only. I honestly didn't think I had an eating disorder. I thought I finally had myself under control.
As the video goes on, Lindsey interviews her friends, male and female, about the pressures that they feel or see when thinking about dieting and their appearances/weight (think Killing Us Softly for a new generation). Here, things really got enlightening. One of her male friends, for example, says that he thinks the average weight for women in the U.S. is 120-135 pounds (maybe when they are 14 ... or in the Victoria's Secret catalog ... maybe). He also admits that if he heard someone say that a girl weighed 160 pounds, he would automatically think she was overweight. I almost felt bad for the kid, because he was being totally honest. I think my favorite line in the video is when another female friend says, "I feel like if a guy wants a pizza, he'll go get a pizza [snapping her fingers]. Without any second thought, any remorse, anything. [...] He eats it and it's done." So true.
What the video really made me think about, however (especially through all of its media-montages) is the fact that our culture pressures women to diet constantly. I mean, all. the. time. In this mindset, among body-conscious women, if you're not on a diet, you're a slacker. I have to admit that as an almost 40-year-old woman, I think about dieting at some point almost 90% of the day. This is thoroughly depressing, but I would be lying to you if I told you something else. Thinking about how I look - how my body is shaped; how flat (or fat) my stomach is; how much I ate today - is exhausting. I wish I could spend that time thinking about more important things. Think of all the work I would get done.
And then I thought how much we, as women, put pressure on each other to get thinner. We say it's about being healthier, but let's be honest here; for the majority of us, it's about fitting into our "skinny" jeans. And it's competitive. All of the posts about whatever new fad diet we're on, how many pounds and inches we've lost, how much we worked out, what we ate or didn't eat, pictures of ourselves "before and after" we wrapped, sparked, Insanitied, cleansed, detoxed, quick-started. On Facebook on Pinterest on Twitter on Instagram. When I see so-and-so's post about how they lost 10 pounds in 5 days, I feel bad about myself because I didn't do the same thing. I'm not pointing fingers at other people; I'm just as guilty as the next girl. I thoroughly admit I've committed thinspo crimes against my fellow women.
But I won't post anything of this sort again after today. Because this young woman's video made me stop and think for 43 minutes about how we as adult women influence the women who come along after us. I don't want my girls pinning thinspo picture after thinspo picture, hating themselves because they can't "Keep calm and not eat."  I don't want my friends to feel bad about themselves because I somehow managed to lose a few pounds last week.
Now, if I could just somehow manage to reprogram my brain. J

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Today's Poll: Bella, Katniss, or Tris?

I'm curious today. Which of these heroines appeals to you the most? Why?

Also, does it bother anyone else that these three look oddly similar when you put them side by side? Or am I being over-analytical? A/J

Don't forget to enter our book giveaway!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Grimm Project: Tale 2 (The Gold Key) {Giveaway}

Tale 2: The Gold Key  
Once in the wintertime when the snow was very deep, a poor boy had to go out and fetch wood on a sled. After he had gathered it together and loaded it, he did not want to go straight home, because he was so frozen, but instead to make a fire and warm himself a little first. So he scraped the snow away, and while he was thus clearing the ground he found a small golden key. Now he believed that where there was a key, there must also be a lock, so he dug in the ground and found a little iron chest. "If only the key fits!" he thought. "Certainly there are valuable things in the chest." He looked, but there was no keyhole. Finally he found one, but so small that it could scarcely be seen. He tried the key, and fortunately it fitted. Then he turned it once, and now we must wait until he has finished unlocking it and has opened the lid. Then we shall find out what kind of wonderful things there were in the little chest. The Grimm Brothers, "The Gold Key"

What wonderful things indeed. The first time I read this story by the Grimms, I was unbelievably frustrated by it. The tale completely leaves the reader hanging. Like any good, old-fashioned reader, I wanted to know what was inside that box. I don't generally like books that leave everything open-ended at The End, books the point of which seems to be to befuddle. I like a traditional Victorian novel where all the threads are tied up very neatly by the writer as the pages turn toward the close. A well-wrought mystery. A joke with a strong punch-line. Open-endedness makes me uncomfortable. In life and in literature.  

Petite Golden Key from Dollieboutique
The magic of "The Gold Key," however, is that anything could come out of that box. ANYTHING. Golden snakes could slither over its lip. Flying monkeys could shoot out on brooms. Little doll versions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty could dash out on unicorns, chased by Bluebeard dressed up like a swashbuckler. Whatever your brain can conjure up, it's in there. 

"Pandora's Box," Kiersten Eagan
I think the box in "The Gold Key" is really the Grimm's book. When you open it (or any book for that matter), you open the Pandora's Box of the imagination. The key here, also, is that you open it. Not someone else, as in a film or a tv show that recreates a story for you. The power of the imagination is in your hands. Yes, you're relying on a story that someone else wrote, but the images that emerge from the deep cool pools in your brain are entirely your own (that's why so many women have fought tooth and nail over what a character like Christian Grey should look like on the screen ... Reality is almost always a disappointment). 

“Hope,” 2009.
So, today, I charge you to open a book. Let it work it's sorcery upon you. We're giving one away, if you're interested. A little ditty by Anne Sexton called Transformations, which incidentally opens with a poem called "The Gold Key" and is one of our favorite volumes of poetry ever. A/J

Anne Sexton's Transformations. Who wants it;)??
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 11, 2014

This Saturday: Drop Everything and Read

Drop it. All of it. And pick up a book. 
Tomorrow is Drop Everything and Read Day. In honor of the event, here's a little ditty about how much I love the Scholastic Book Fair, which visits our University the very same week as DEAR day every year.
When I was in elementary school, little (except for perhaps Track and Field Day) was more exciting to me than the Scholastic Book Fair. The sight of those giant metal bookcases filled with paperbacks and picture books rolling into the school's lobby filled my little heart with glee. I waited impatiently for my class's scheduled time to visit, gazing longingly at the glut of new books every time we filed past the shelves on our way to gym, lunch, or music.  When it was finally our time to go, I was usually the last student to decide what to purchase, lingering over the choices, positively overwhelmed by the options. I always left the fair with my hands weighted with a new pile of books, a sensation I still love to experience.

Luckily, for the nine-year-old still living somewhere inside this 30-something body, the Curriculum Center at our university holds a Scholastic Book Fair on campus twice a year, and it's running this week, the same week as Drop Everything and Read Day. The same giant rolling bookcases. The same tantalizing covers of children's and young adult books beckoning from the silver shelves. Here's what I already bought.

Now, if you would kindly excuse me, I am rushing out to buy more before they close. Happy weekend! ~A/J

Oh! And don't forget, today is the last day to enter our Grimm giveaway at the blog. If you've already entered, stop by to tweet the giveway and earn five more entries or tell us in the comments about your favorite fairy tale for 10! Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Please don't take my sunshine away ...

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine,

You make me happy
When skies are gray,
You'll never know dear
how much I love you,
Please don't take my sunshine away.

The other night, dear,
While I lay sleeping,
I dreamt I held you in my arms,
When I awoke dear, I was mistaken,
And I hung my head down and cried ...

I've been singing this song under my breath a lot today after the recent stabbings at a school about an hour away from where I live. One of my greatest fears since my children bloomed into this world is that their little lights might be put out by some set of circumstances beyond my control. I do whatever I can to protect them. I don't let them play outside when I'm not out there with them. I hold their hands in the parking lot. I make them wear their seatbelts. I put covers on all of the outlets. I've taught them not to talk to strangers. Despite all of that, there could be that one moment when they wake up inside of someone else's bad dream. Everything I have done to bring them safely into this world and to shield them from all the bad in it could be gone just like that. Poof.

Sometimes, it seems to me that trying to protect your kids from the world outside is like pulling the blanket over your face at night when you're afraid there are monsters under your bed. What good is that blanket going to do? That said, I also don't want my children to grow up fearful of the world outside our door. There are so many wonderful things to be experienced, but to experience them, we have to put ourselves in contact with other people, people who are different than us, believe in different Gods and political systems, and conduct themselves according to a different code. I vow to refuse to live as a victim of fear.

All I can do this morning is offer up this little song like the prayer that it is. And hug my kids and teach them to be kind to others, to be brave, ... and to be tolerant. ~A/J

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Confetti-Pepper Quinoa Recipe

Confetti-Pepper Quinoa 
Spring must really be settling in around the Nest, because I suddenly feel like cooking again. And what I made for lunch today was so absolutely delicious I had to share. Here you go:))!! A/J

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 small red peppers (I buy the multi-colored peppers that come in a bag at the grocery store)
3 small orange peppers (The red and orange peppers should be cut into small rings)
1 average-sized green pepper (diced)
1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 cup beef broth (or chicken broth, either would work)
1 package of quinoa/quinoa blend (I used a package from Urbane Grain)

1. Add the olive oil to a large skillet or pot and warm over medium heat (I use my orange Dutch oven because I like the way stewish-style dishes turn out in it ... I don't know why I felt compelled to tell you what color the pot is, but there you go;)).
2. After the oil has heated up, add the onion and peppers to the pot. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes until the vegetables begin to break down.
3. Add the tomatoes and broth, stir, and allow the mixture to come to simmer (BTW, you could stop right here and serve this sauce over spaghetti or chicken. Very good on its own!!)
4. Stir the package of quinoa into the tomato mixture, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, until the quinoa softens and the liquid from the broth and tomatoes absorbs into the grain.
Urbane Grain Quinoa (I used the Sundried Tomato and Basil, which went great with this particular dish)

YUM! Good and good for you. And this recipe makes enough for three days worth of lunches!

My littlest helper, "reading" to me to keep me occupied.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Grimm Project: Tale I (or How "The Frog-King" is Like the Softball Alarm Clock I Had When I Was Nine)

The Grimm Project: Tale I
The tale I was reading when I was struck by the idea for the Grimm Project is "The Frog-King." This story seems like a perfect place for us to start, because it is a tale that is so skewed in the general cultural memory, it barely even resembles its former self. Let's spin it this way: when I say the words "The Frog Prince" or "The Princess and the Frog," most people probably think of a story in which a marriageable girl locks lips with an amphibian and miraculously, through the powers invested in her kisser, turns him back into a Prince. Either that, or you think of the most recent Disney version, and the Shadow Man, Tiana, and Prince Naveen. Either way, we are waaaaaaay off base (although I must say, I do have a soft spot for the Shadow Man).

The Grimm's version of this tale is much creepier, steeped as it is in a young girl's forced acceptance of a "frog" into her bed. In the story, a princess makes a promise to a frog that, if he will retrieve the precious golden ball she has accidentally dropped into his well, she will love him and let him eat off of her plate, drink out of her cup, and sleep in her bed.  Even though the girl is disgusted by the frog - the sounds he makes, his cold and slimy body, his needling, she is forced by her father to take the frog into bed with her. What ensues is not what we've been conditioned to accept. In fact, after the girl tries to put the frog in the corner for the night and he "cre[eeps] to her and sa[ys], 'I am tired, I want to sleep as well as thou, lift me up or I will tell thy father,'" the Princess gets "terribly angry, and t[akes] him up and thr[ows] him with all her might against the wall," saying "Now, thou wilt be quiet, odious frog."


When I was about nine, imagining myself to be the same age as the girl in the tale, I equated the Frog Prince with this pain-in-the-ass alarm clock that I had bought myself that looked like a softball. When you wanted to make it snooze, you whizzed the ball against the wall, where it would land with what was initially a very satisfying thud. I imagined the Princess throwing the Frog with as much hateful might as she could muster, the same passionate hatred with which I threw my alarm when I didn't want to get up in the morning (which was, if I'm being honest, every single school day). Now, the only problem with this ball/clock was that, when your 10-minute snooze was up, it would blare again and you had to get OUT of bed to turn it off (I imagine this is probably the point, but it absolutely infuriated me as a young girl ... they should make alarm-clock boomerangs).

If you want to really annoy your tween-age kids, order them a softball alarm clock. They'll think they are going to love it. April fools.  
Turns out, for the princess, throwing the frog against the wall does not have the satisfactory results she expected either. For when the frog flops onto the ground, he transforms into a King's son, who "by her father's will was now her dear companion and husband." In this, the frog is transformed by an act of violence on the princess's part, not by an act of romance, which I found somewhat thrilling as a young reader. Kisses seem rather, well, been there, done that, imaginatively speaking. A girl hurling her future lover into the wall .... that's a whole other can of worms.

Speaking of worms, this tale, nowadays, seems very disturbing, mainly because the girl hurls her future lover (mandated thus by her father) into the wall because she finds him completely repulsive. He has a "thick, ugly head"; he comes "creeping splish splash, splish splash, up the marble staircase"; the girl is "afraid of the cold frog which she did not like to touch" that wants to lie in her "silken bed" with her, so afraid that her heart beats violently when he is near (the phallic/sexual imagery here is obvious). What is interesting to me is that the girl doesn't play the victim, accepting the frog's overtures. Instead, she literally tries to kill him.


This is what I love about the original Grimm tales. They are filled with the unexpected. Most of today's versions are like morbidly obese cats that have gorged themselves on old stories and that only lie in the sunshine. The Grimm tales are lithe and lively. They are also filled with some of the most exquisite language, as the opening lines of this tale reveal. In old times, when wishing still helped one, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face. So simple, and yet so evocative.

I hope you keep reading to see what else lies in store. A/J

P.S. If you haven't entered the Grimm giveaway yet, we draw the winner Friday night. Enter for your chance to win below!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Rap Sheet (The Week's Best in Looks, Books, Nooks, and More)

Here's what caught our eye this week at the Nest!! Have a great weekend!! A/J

I love pins. And fairy tales. Ergo, I love this pin.
If you haven't signed up for the Grimm Giveaway yet, why not do it now?? The Grimm Project starts Monday.
This look from Stylish Ashley =s perfect Saturday evening shopping look (with comfier shoes;)).  
Last Saturday, I took my students on a tour of the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. I was again struck by the dark beauty that is the German Room, which contains these amazing stained-glass windows depicting Grimm's fairy tales (you can read more about them here). If you're a fan of the fairy tale, you must visit them. They are stunning. I sooooo wish I could teach in that room. Sigh.

After our visit to the Cathedral of Learning, we got takeout from this place called Conflict Kitchen (located in Schenley Plaza), which features a rotating menu of foods from different countries that are in conflict with the United States. The Kitchen is currently featuring Afghan food, which was absolutely delicious. I had the Lamb Tikka Kebab and Sharbat-E Rayhan (a lemon-rosewater-basil seed drink that tasted a lot like Lavender Lemonade). I give the place five stars! Try it out if you live around Pittsburgh.
I just got my hair cut and colored like this. I absolutely love it!! Thank God for Pinterest;).

Meanwhile, my hairdresser had these Tom's Desert Wedges on the other day when I got my hair done, and she informed me that they are super-comfortable (I trust a girl who's on her feet about 10 hours a day). They seem like the perfect shoes for Spring:)).
I'm in lip love with the Rimmel London Kate Moss Lipstick collection. The colors are unique... and they last! A very affordable way to update your Spring makeup look (learn more about them over at Some Sweet Little Dreams).