27 November 2009

My big fat fake Thanksgiving.

Ok so "fake" is a little dramatic. :) But Thanksgiving has come and gone and, honestly, it was kind of nice to not make anything (literally anything) and just relax and eat... and not have a disaster for a kitchen afterward! ("Relax" being subjective -- my dad's having a little bit of a rough time lately, and me being me, while, I just can't keep my mouth shut and several, as Brad likes to say, circular "discussions" ensued.) Here is a mini-glimpse into our day:


Heating food up still requires a super-cute apron!

My first vegetarian Thanksgiving.
(Doesn't look that much different!)

Heidi's never too far from the food.


Buschs' pre-cooked Thanksgiving review: Eh+. It was insanely affordable. I was able to order the day before. Reheating was easy and required minimal dishes. The mashed potatoes were super yummy, and while not as good as mine, the green bean casserole was decent. Brad made a yum face over the rolls and proceeded to eat at least 8 of them. The apple almond stuffing was deeeelish. But Brad said the turkey was kind of chewy and he wouldn't want it again, and I would almost say I disliked the pies -- could be because I know I can make MUCH better pie (we got 1/2 an apple pie [clearly using canned goo] and a full pumpkin, which had a weird, weird taste that I couldn't pinpoint). I look forward to making all the fixings next year and getting a Whole Foods turkey for Brad.

Good enough for leftovers!
PS Look at that left hand -- WE HAVE A RING! WOO!

My favorite parts of the day? After my dad went home, Brad and I turned on Elf and snuck out his mom's old photo albums from the basement. Hours of mini Brad? Bob with a '70s mustache? Priceless. Oh, and the Stouffer's mac and cheese, too, of course.

Since I basically had yesterday off, I really wanted to make breakfast this morning. I so love French toast -- I don't know why I don't make it more often.

...perhaps if I did make breakfast more often, I wouldn't have burned the first attempt at hash browns, setting off the fire alarm and nearly giving George a stroke. Notice there are no hash browns in this photo, either. The second attempt ended in an oily, undercooked mess. Straight into the garbage disposal.

Speaking of today -- Black Friday -- while we did make a quick run to Old Navy (no matter how down for the count I am, I can always muster the energy for $15 sweaters), we didn't do any Xmas shopping. I do, however, have a few Xmas updates. While distracted by a "discussion" with my dad yesterday, I dropped a stitch on my mom's cowl and made a big old disaster. I ended up ripping the whole thing and starting over -- new needles, fewer and smaller stitches. The good news is I'm even happier with how it looks, so it worked out after all.

I also put together step 1 of my Xmas surprise for my mom and Larry. While I'm still devastated *I'm* not going, I bought them tickets to see David Gray in Windsor in January -- top secret tickets. I'm 95% certain they don't and won't have plans for the day of the show, but just to be safe, and since the show is just a few days after I'll be giving them the tickets, I decided to send an anonymous "don't you dare" note to them. I'm sure they'll know it's from me, but I do love a good surprise so dammit I'm going to try. I was vague about the date because I didn't want my mom to go and google January 2 and pull up David Gray and blow the surprise. I hope the surprise works and I hope they are so excited.

I contemplated magazine cutout letters for the address, but then I remembered I'm lazy.

*Written whilst watching The Holy Grail, which I am happy to report holds up post-college days. Even Heidi is mesmerized. She's been sitting up watching it -- seriously! I think if she could talk, she would taunt me like the French knights do Arthur. "You tiny-brained wipers of other people's bottoms." Yep, that's definitely what Heidi would say to us.

25 November 2009

Minty fresh.

I'm excited to finally unveil my "Neapolitan with mint" scarf -- my first straight scarf, first straight needle project, first experimentation with seed stitch (which I loooove), and my first quite-so-multicolored project. As soon as I put the green and pink together, I knew it was meant for Birgit. She of the pink and green bedroom. I hope it keeps her warm and toasty this winter!

Last night, I started on a new project -- a Christmas, well, birthday (same day) gift for my mom. My grandma (mom's mom) died when I was 12 and I don't have a ton of memories of her, but what I do remember is that she was always crocheting (Heidi and I are snuggled up in one of her afghans right now). Earlier this year, Aunt Sandy found a project my grandma had started, still attached to the yarn skein, as well as a second matching skein. I assume she was working on an afghan, but she only got as far as a large, pillow-sized square. My plan is to make a pillow and use the crocheted block as the face of the pillow. I've gone back and forth over what I wanted to make with the extra yarn to give as kind of a matching set, and I finally settled on a button cowl -- so she can sit in her chair with her pillow and read, keeping warm (her house is cold!) with her cowl. I'm kind of winging it at this point -- cast on, experimenting with moss stitch... We'll see how it goes! But so far so good.

Phoning it in.

I must confess, I will not be winning the homemaker of the year award... This morning, I broke down and ordered our entire Thanksgiving dinner from Busch's. Even the pies. Unforeseen circumstances are the culprit, but I still feel a little bit like a fraud. I'll just have to kick my Xmas homemaking up a notch, right? That being said, I must confess I am slightly excited for totally ooey gooey bad-for-me goodness -- I'm sure the mashed potatoes will have WAY more butter than I would ever use, and nothing will be fat free. Mmmm. PLUS... for the first time in nearly a decade, Brad will be home ALL DAY. Which absolutely 100% makes my day -- I can't wait to spend the whole day with him, and I promise to not complain too much when he wants to watch football.

So oodles of love to all my family and friends, who I am endlessly thankful for. Enjoy a little Bing as you get ready for your holiday dinner.

18 November 2009

One happy island.

We've made it home from our Aruban vacation, in one piece but slightly worse for wear. Brad arrived home minus one wedding ring (darn you, ocean stealer!), and while my sunburn has finally gone from stop sign red to a nice bronze, I'm crazy itchy and peeling and covered in sand flea bites (we won't talk about where, either [that's the last time I lay in the surf!]). That being said, it was beyond lovely to get away -- to the beach, no less -- and fun times were definitely in abundance.

What did we think of Aruba? Well, for one, it's hot. Like hot hot hot. Hot in a way I've never really quite experienced. It was at least 90 all day, and I've definitely never felt sun like that (we were only 20 miles from Venezuela! You can practically touch the sun from down there) -- you either had to be in the water (also the warmest, calmest ocean I've ever been in) or in the shade. When you head outside, your glasses (and camera lens!) immediately fog up from the humidity. At night, the temperature dips... to about 80. No cardigan necessary! (Although that is a hard habit to break and I brought one along most nights anyway.) If I weren't such a wuss, it'd of been perfect for nightswimming. Beautiful beautiful beautiful. The landscape is crazy, too. While we spent most of our time on Palm Beach, where the strip of resorts is, we did spend two days exploring the rest of the island where we discovered the strangeness that is Aruba. To your left, ocean. To your right, desert. Cacti, red rock, caves, lizards galore. We couldn't get over it.

We also couldn't quite get over our inability to break away from tourist Aruba and experience the real Aruba. Is there a real Aruba? I'm sure there is, but we couldn't find it. As far as I'm concerned, Aruba is 100% for the tourists (why on earth else would local musicians ever play "Kokomo" twice in a row???). While you can get away from the main resort area, you cannot get away totally from the everything-for-something mentality. Aruba is not cheap. You are conscious of your tourist status the entire time. Which is fine; but after years of trying to not be a cheesy tourist, Brad and I had somewhat of a hard time reconciling with some of it. But that doesn't take away from the island's beauty. It really is beautiful and has a little bit of something for everyone. And we had fun, of course. How couldn't we, when we were there to celebrate the wedding of one of Brad's oldest friends?

Congrats to the amazing couple!

A few of my other favorite vacation things:

Spending time with friends with don't always see that often.

$5 rafts. Best, and only, deal in five days of vacation.

Lizards everywhere. Big, little, green, blue... Out in the wild, you can hear the constant shuffle of hundreds of them running around.

The Rock Wish Garden. Miles and miles of little rock piles. Amazing.

Random crap on the beach. I get such a kick out of weird structures on abandoned beaches. We also saw a giant structure made from garbage that had washed ashore. I would love to know the stories behind these things.

Rolling with our homies.

Snorkeling at Baby Beach. Swarms of purple fish and blue fish and stripped fish and weird eely fish and my new favorite:

The cow fish!!!! Sooooo cute.

And, of course, exploring with my favorite travel partner ever...

My Bradford and I always find the cool stuff. Can't wait to see where the next adventure takes us.

11 November 2009

Ooo I wanna take ya.

Off to Aruba tomorrow morning... And by morning, I mean out the door by 4 am. Woohoo! Hope everyone has a great week! xoxo

08 November 2009

Freida Felcher.

Meeting my hero was pretty sweet.

I'm so glad we bit the bullet and decided to buy ridiculously expensive Anthony Bourdain tickets. It's not often you can say that a ticket was worth every cent, either, but it totally was. I started giggling the second he came on stage and didn't stop smiling until long after he walked off (except for when Brad and I were mocking the head nodders in the audience). He was charming, funny, interesting -- basically, his studly self. And he swore a lot, which made me giggle even more. Two thumbs, and two toes, way up!!

And what better way to follow an awesome chat about food and travel than with a super yummy meal (rather, snack, in my case)? We met up with the Zs and their college friends after the show (3/5 of which were at AB, too) and walked down to Grange, where we basically closed the dining room out. Just a quick review since I didn't really eat, but everyone seemed more than pleased and I was beyond giddy when I discovered the cheese plate on the dessert menu. Why do I forget how delicious candied pecans are? Yum-o.

PS Heidi strikes again! (Extra sad because these are my sentimental first needles from Jess. Boohoo!)

06 November 2009

Birthday reveal.

I can't tell you how excited I am to make crafty crafts for people. I've never been one that could make anything, so as my housewifery skills expand, it makes me endlessly happy to share goodies with those I love. And now I can reveal some long-in-the-works projects. Remember when Lisa and I went cherry picking? My plan going into that day was to make boozy cherries for Rachel's birthday (I'd gotten the inspiration from my "ancient techniques" preservation book I had a the time). Since I didn't even have to pit these babies, this was a super easy project. Just some canning jars, a few cups of sugar, a few cups of brandy, and some handfuls of cherries.

A few days in the sun, a good shake, then another month in the sun. (I had to hide them behind planters during my bday bbq! hehe!) Then inside to "settle" in a cool dry place for a while. And now they are good for a year. I forgot to take an after pic (duh!), but they look a little scary -- they soak up all the booze and shrivel, so they aren't the beautiful red cherries they were in the beginning. BUT I promise I made a tester jar and I ate one first and I didn't die of botulism (so you're good to go, Rachel). These guys are good in drinks, on ice cream, or just to snack on (although they are SUPER boozy).

What goes with cherries? Why, chocolate, of course! I've had this plan a-brewin for a while, too -- chocolate red wine cupcakes with mascarpone frosting. Sights of yummy:

"Where are my treats?!"

I didn't want to take any chances, so I followed the recipe as-is (although I did substitute half a stick of butter for some applesauce). Excluding the grapes on top. That just seemed weird. (Oh, and I didn't figure Rachel wanted two dozen cupcakes, so I halved the recipe).

I like to call them my classy cupcakes. They are very chocolatey but not ooegy gooey -- see? Adult-like! The frosting was interestingly tasty, too, with the mascarpone, which I don't think I've ever had before. Once they were ready to go, I planned a surprise visit and hopped into Rachel's cube. :)

For Kristal, I decided to whip up some knitted goodies. On occasion I'm lucky enough to share a coffee/walking lunch with Kristal, so I know she loves her hot beverages. When I found a pattern for a "coffee corset" a few months ago, I knew I had to make it for her.

This is my first finished project on straight needles and only my second project with cotton. I made a hat(s) out of cotton this summer and I hated knitting with it. I'm glad I did this because I discovered cotton can be perfectly lovely. And when I saw this yarn, it just screamed Kristal to me.

I decided to knit up "the idiot's dishcloth" for her, too, with the matching leftover yarn. This was a super fun project (both were, actually). It was so nerdily exciting for me to see the square (square-ish) start to appear. I kept going "Ohh! Look, Brad!" And he'd nod and say "mmhmm." It looked VERY strange when I finished, but luckily blocking it fixed the shape somewhat. It mostly looks like a square now.

I was able to gift Kristal her goodies early, and she already put them to good use!

Hope both the ladies had/have lovely birthdays!

05 November 2009

Get in the kitchen and make me a pie.

Last week went by in such a whirl. In fact, I keep having to think, was that really just last week.... or weeks ago? Ha! It was all great fun, though. Starting off with a visit from the Lisa Fairy, with an awesome retro apron befitting a true pseudo-housewife. I can't even tell you how much I love it!

Then some general Halloween preparation ensued, some pumpkin carving, a little Great Pumpkin, and then it was our fourth wedding anniversary. I don't know if I've detailed before, but Rachel got us started on a very fun anniversary event -- a yearly photo shoot at the church we were married at (to which I then turn into a yearly scrapbook page). Such a cute idea (thanks Rachey pie!) and I know I'll be so happy we did this.

Kiss it!

After photo shoot, it was off to our second annual anniversary dinner at Eve. I'd made the reservation online, letting them know it was our anniversary, so they seated us in the best booth in the place and brought us a free champagne toast -- two of my favorite things: champagne and free! We had a lovely dinner, including the two pounds of smoked salmon butter I ate and the three desserts we ordered at the end. Mmmm. Can't wait for next year! *Sigh.*

Then it was time for Halloween. The family came over Friday for some trick or treat action, and Jordan was a super duper cute helper.

After kiddy time, it was adult time. And what is a more fitting costume for me this year than a 1950s housewife?! I think we all look quite dapper, if I do say so myself!

Now, getting back to that housewifery thing, I also made a delicious dinner last week -- another recipe I'd snipped at least a year ago and forgotten about. A vegetable fall cobbler from an issue of Food Network Magazine. Can't find the recipe link online, but this person kindly posted it for me. Minor changes: veggie broth instead of chicken, couldn't find a turnip so I just used an extra potato, I had celery so I added it, and everything fall + potato needs sage so I added that, too. First up, the dough part. Easy.

Now throw all the veggies and broth (cooked) into a dish. I didn't have a big enough casserole dish, so I used this:

Time to throw the dough on. And this is where I got worried.

How was this possibly going to turn out? It looked so... wrong. I thought for sure I'd ruined it by not using a smaller casserole dish. But, lo and behold:

It worked! Hooray! I love when the oven does magic tricks. Time to dish it up.

Now, I LOVE me a good pot pie. And I've been sad thinking about a winter without any (still not eating meat). But I have found the perfect substitute! This dish was JUST like potpie, but a little less goopy. I love love loved this, and it was really so easy. I think we'll be eating a lot of this this winter.

And -- finally -- a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Shawn and Melissa who just gave birth to their little California baby yesterday. Love to all the Polivois! Muuwah!

02 November 2009

The perfect nap.

Whose birthday is it?!?!?!

For my princess pea...