26 December 2009

I'm a big girl now.

Thanks, Santa Brad! Nine cups! I can cook for real now. *sigh*

Brad had to order this from some random top-secret Santa website, and in the delivery box was.... a brush!

23 December 2009

Christmas wishes and caviar dreams.

I don't think I'll probably have a chance to pop back in over the next two days, and I wanted to be sure to wish everyone the merriest of Christmases! Lots of love to everyone!

And ps, I FINALLY finished my mom's scarf w/ my grandma's old yarn. Hope she loves it! (This is also my first attempt at embellishment... buttons. Oh la la!)

20 December 2009

Who's your mummy?

Not having a job sucks. For all the obvious reasons. And some less obvious reasons. And it messes with your head, at least for a little while, almost every day. But one thing I'm so grateful for is the time it's afforded me to spend with friends and family -- surprise visits from Larry and Jordan, coffee breaks with friends -- and when someone is off for a day, I'm always free. This Friday was one such occasion, as Brad had one last vacation day to kill, and I could just spend the day with him without having to calculate my own time off.

On our way home from the airport last month, we saw a billboard for mummies. All I saw was "mummies" and I was sold. The next day, Brad caught a commercial and was sold, too. We decided we must go to there. The accidental mummies are 30-something mummies from a collection of 100 or so that reside in Mexico -- this is the first time they've ever toured the world. They're just regular old people from the 1700 and 1800s, mostly natural deaths, buried in closed cement tombs in Mexico. When families stopped paying on their plots, the bodies were exhumed to be, well, I don't know what their plan was (dump them back in people's yards?), and they found that some of them had naturally mummified. Not all of them, either -- just a random smattering. How weird is that? Anyway, they're in varying conditions, some are almost just skin and bones, but most still have their socks on, the "witch" is nearly fully clothed, and an infant mummy has an eyeball (so creepy). With technology and stuff (yes, I love technology, but not as much as you you see) they've even determined cause of death for most of them. It's really an interesting exhibit and, honestly, I think even better than the human body exhibit. Weekday bonus: We had the entire exhibit to ourselves. Ahhhh. So nice. For your benefit, I even snuck a few photos illegally. Don't tell. :)


Top left: Mexicans of days past have teeny feet. Like Brad! Throughout: They re-created the cemetery at the entrance of the exhibit. You know me and cemeteries. Even fake ones. Bottom middle: Still in the fake cemetery, pre-exhibit. Only the middle mummy is real (they must not have known much about this guy -- all the other mummies got individual displays with info placards and such).

After the museum, we headed down the street for our annual trip to Slows for a late lunch. I wasn't sure how I'd fare, non-meat-eating and all
, but I actually had a hard time deciding what to order -- in a good way. There is a fake chicken sandwich, a catfish sandwich, a mac and cheese entree (heavenly), and a ton of delicious-sounding sides. I went with the catfish sandwich, which was only ok (I want to go back to try the fake chicken!), a mac and cheese side (which is quite sizable and only 2.99), and cornbread. The mac and cheese is just awesome -- super cheesy, lots of pepper... Yum. And the cornbread was delicious, making up for the not-so-good hunk I had last year. (I wish I had the mac and cornbread in front of me again right now... Mmmmmm.) I saw Michigan-made cherry mead on the drink menu and after hemming and hawing for a while went for it. Glad I tried it, but I wouldn't order it again -- it smells super boozy and tastes super boozy and just wasn't really my thing. I mislead Brad into ordering the wrong sandwich, so he was bummed about that, but I think he enjoyed the new sandwich well enough (just means we have to go back again soon so he can get the right sandwich!). Then we got tempted into dessert with tales of banana pudding. So glad. It was thick and had chunks of bananas and vanilla wafers. The perfect ending. *sigh* Here's a Slows pictorial for your viewing pleasure.


Thanks for a super duper awesome date day, hubby. And for letting me take pictures of you at Slows, even though you were soooo embarrassed by it. xoxo

And while I've got your attention, a quick foodie update. Last week we moved on to trying fake chicken.

I cooked the tenders and chopped them up, then mixed them in with some corkscrew noodles, oil, butter, artichoke hearts, fresh parsley (which, honestly, I don't really like -- but I had it so I wanted to at least use some of it), lemon, and pepper.

Guess what? Fake chicken is actually....... very tasty!! The fake tenders were really good and the texture was fine and I was just really surprised and pleased. Get me some protein and other good stuff, with little fat or calories. Score. I bought two more packages. No pics, but today we even braved fake beef crumbles. I cooked it up in a skillet, added some Ragu (Brad's favorite!), and poured it over some spaghetti. And it was super tasty, too!! And Brad liked both meals -- it wasn't just me. Three cheers for fake meat!

15 December 2009

C is for cookie.

As was expected, Lisa's annual cookie party was a grand success. Trust me, you've never met a HOST until you've met Lisa. As always, she outdid herself, and everyone had a fantastic time. But I get ahead of myself... before cookie party comes cooking making!

I've definitely become a more confident baker, but I still worry, so I decided on what seemed like a fairly easy recipe: no bake chocolate and peanut butter cookies. The good news is that they were super easy, the recipe was perfectly exact (exactly 3 dozen cookies, exactly what I needed), and they were pretty darn tasty.

Stick a butta.

I was so mesmerized by the bubbles I almost burned the mixture.



Now... back to that party!

Our lovely host.
(Who kindly sent me home with all the smoked salmon spread leftovers.)
(Which reminds me, I'm hungry!)

Everyone was sad when cookie party was over.

Can't wait for next year!

13 December 2009

Tv dinner.

We had some friends over for dinner last night, potluck style. What did I make? *sigh* Stouffer's frozen mac and cheese and lasagna. Ha ha! Was it delicious? Hell yes. But I need to get my cooking mojo back on track asap. Good thing I have three dozen cookies to make today!

11 December 2009

Christmas came early.

Note to self: Start knitting with thicker yarn!!! I am well behind on my family-xmas gift-knitting projects. Shame on me! I have made some progress, though. I finished the golf club head cover I made for my father-in-law (although I'm hoping to do another one by Xmas). I'm about 2/3 done with my mom's scarf. But I'm still not even halfway done with the sailor scarf for my dad I've been procrastinating -- at least with that one, I had the foresight to use big needles, if not chunky yarn.

If I needed more proof that Christmas is coming sooner and sooner, there was some surprise advance cheer delivered today.

My two pooches, via a very sneaky husband, sponsored Comet, a three-year-old black lab, at the humane society in my name. Of course that Bradford always knows how to make me cry, and exactly how to spoil me come Christmas. (Although it wasn't supposed to be an early Xmas gift; said sneaky husband isn't actually so sneaky. It came in the mail today - ha!) Hugs and kisses to my hubby, and my pooches, too, of course.
Now which one of you is going to adopt Comet?!

As if I somehow knew the pooches would need a thank you gift, I'd picked up some fleece throws (for $2.99 -- score!) for them. Trust me, there is no toy in the world these two love more than blankets. Heidi always had her trusty Stewie by her side as a pup, but as she got older, and George joined the team, they started actually eating (rather than just angry biting) them and we took them away (this didn't stop Heidi from angry biting all MY blankets). It's been so cold lately, though, that they both have been curling up into teeny balls and tucking themselves in for heat. So blankets it is. Here's a glimpse of them at play with their early Xmas gifts.


Holiday treat update: I ran out of my candy cane oreos this week, so today I stocked up. Yes, I bought four packages. Don't judge. Mmm. Also this week I discovered the yum that is Hershey's mint chocolate candy canes. I've loved everything mint chocolate since I was eight years old and Bubbalicious released a mint chocolate gum (it was a big deal!). I'm all about sweet treats with lasting power, and one of these provides many minutes of delicious joy.

08 December 2009

Don't eat the yellow snow.

What goes better with snowflake pjs than.... real snow!!??

After So You Think You Can Dance tonight, we discovered it had started snowing out -- something we've been eagerly anticipating for weeks. Can't have Christmas without snow! So we promptly bundled up (I am happy to report my homemade creamsicle hat is nice and toasty) and headed out for our nightly walk with the pooches. It's so funny to see them out in the first snow; it's like they've never seen it before. Too cute. Since the snow was coming down pretty hard in one direction, we went the opposite way of our normal walk, discovering some beautiful light displays around the ole 'sac. As always, I have yard envy. *sigh* If only our driveway were lined with a row of matching bushes on which to place white lights. Anyway, when we got back, I ran back outside to snap some quick shots of the new snow -- only a few though; didn't want to risk drowning my camera!


Housewife update
: After listening to my aunt's friend talk about her clean freak husband that vacuums the BED regularly, and watching The Stepford Wives (please watch it so we can laugh about it together -- classic, classic stuff), I've been feeling quite disappointed in my homemaking. So today I washed the sheets on both beds, vacuumed the bed (yes! I am a copy cat) and the bedroom, and remade all the beds. I consider this a step in the right direction. I think I need a chore chart. With gold stars.

***See, I told you. More collages.

06 December 2009

Sweets for the sweet.

Have I not said how much I love the holiday season yet?? I can't get enough. I just love how warm and cozy everything feels this time of year, how hopeful everything seems, if only for a few weeks, and I certainly love a little sparkle here and there. So here's a little more of our holiday sparkle for you to enjoy.


**That's my first ever attempt at stringing lights outside. What a pain in the butt!! I'm not tall enough, half the lights don't work... Somehow half a string is blinking... But I think it looks ok enough.**

***I also just re-discovered the collage option on Picasa. Expect to see more in the near future.***

Treat of the Week: Meijer brand candy cane chocolate sandwich cookies. Now, perhaps there is a brand-name version of these, but I just happened to spot these guys on my way to the checkout within a holiday cookie display. I thought, eh, worth a shot. OMG. Am I so glad I did. These might be the best cookies I've ever had. Like a thin mint, but also like an Oreo... Highly recommended, and I will certainly be stocking up on these before they get pulled off the shelves.

04 December 2009

Santa's no. 1 elf.

Is this just not the cutest ever?

I can't actually afford Anthropologie (can anyone, really?), but the catalogs are just beautiful. I made a little swooning sound over this milkmaid butter dish. It's almost as cute as this:

After discovering how much George likes to dress up, how could I not buy the dogs a little holiday sparkle? (...and some more garland and bows and various accoutrement for the house. I may not be living up to my full housewifery potential, but if holiday cheer was a vocation, I'd be getting a big raise this year!) Clearly, George loves Christmas as much as me. And Heidi, well, she sort of tolerates it.

01 December 2009

My bologna has a first name.

Things are mostly back to normal around here (although now Brad is sick *cough cough*), so we finally dug out the Christmas stuff last night -- HOOOOORAY! My spirits were only slightly dampened upon discovering some mices had used one of my (CLOSED!) boxes as their own personal toilet (we retaliated by putting down all the traps Brad's mom got us, and we already caught our first guy [luckily, it's a live trap and we released him but I still feel bad, BUT he was asking for it!]). We take our ornaments down every year, but otherwise we store the tree in the basement, assembled and with the lights on it. So downstairs Brad trudged to get it, and we mostly got it upstairs in one piece.

Started out innocently enough...

Then Brad decided the tree needed to be taken apart and refluffed and the lights untangled and rehung. What a mess!

Of course, then we also discovered the majority of our lights were now burnt out. The dogs kept their distance.

But Heidi can never resist getting into things for too long.

Eventually the tree was in one piece, we'd found enough lights that worked -- but by that point, I was tired from watching Brad struggle with the tree, so we decided to wait on the ornaments (still waiting...) and sit down and relax with some hot and toasty beverages.

Today I hit Joann with Kristal, and my I was reminded of my love for Xmas decorations... and how little I actually have, despite constantly collecting stuff. Luckily, all the Xmas stuff was 50% off, so I was able to satiate my itch with a few cheap items (we're talking $0.29!). I like cheap and shiny new things, especially when they make friends with my old Xmas goodies.

The door to Xmas?

Officially a fan of shiny red garland.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

Pink lady apples, you tempted me with your cute name, but I will not let you trick anyone else I know! Warning: These apples are terrible! They are tough, chewy, and weirdly tart. Don't do it! I don't want to waste them, so I will use them as dog treats and/or will bake them to see if they taste ok as a dessert.

Today at Meijer, I bought some replacement apples (phew) and finally decided to try my first "fake" meat product. What better to start with than... bologna!

It was ok. It smelt of pepperoni, actually, and didn't have much taste. And with the spicy mustard I really couldn't taste it in the sandwich. But I figure it's some protein, or something, right?

Oh, and Heidi is up to her old tricks again.