29 September 2010

Sprout stealer.

The madness has begun. Those evil marketing geniuses sucking me in with their Halloween versions of regular old products.

 Note: The "color-changing thrills" are white eyes that turn blue. Weak.

Thus inspired by my grocery store find, I pulled out the Halloween boxes, which, I might add, are not buried in the basement... Rather, they are upstairs in our giant random storage closet with disco carpet. I also decided to take it easy this year. Don't want to scare the neighbors, and we're still getting the house settled normal. I also re-created my Halloween playlist so I can start rocking out to my horror soundtracks as desired.

Like it was meant to be.... There were already two hooks for my skeletons!

Don't look in her eyes!

Grr. Argh.

Fresh brains.

In non-Halloween house news, the tub reglazer finally came this week (he had it "coming out both ends" last week and had to reschedule). Our bathrooms have the original 1937 tubs, and they're awesome, but they are old, and old leaks corroded them both pretty bad in the drain area, too. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but what a difference. I cannot wait to take my first shower in our shiny new tub! Just hope I don't slip and crack my skull.

 Before and after. Oh la la!

In food news, Brad and I are officially now huge sprout fans. I've had them a handful of times and have always liked them, but I found a new, creamy way to prepare them that made Brad exclaim, "These are f****** good!" Swoon. I didn't have any idea what to do with them, so I whipped out Vegetable Love and was inspired by her creamy Brussels sprouts recipe, even though I didn't have mini onions as called for. I had about a cup of sprouts, so I dropped them and a few chunks of regular onion in the steamer and steamed them for about 12 minutes (probably could have used a few more minutes here). Meanwhile, I created the super easy "cream" -- melted some butter, added some flour, let that cook for about five minutes. Then I whisked in some milk, a pinch of cayenne, some salt and pepper (the recipe didn't call for pepper but I got a new grinder so of course I had to grind in a ton, making it extra peppery and perfect). Once the milk thickens up, you add the sprouts back in and heat them through. Then you dump them on your plate to devour.

I served them with leftover fish sandwiches (still delicious). Toward the end of the meal, Brad reached over and swiped one of my sprouts! A vegetable stealer?! These MUST be good!!! I'll definitely be making these again, and soon.

26 September 2010

To market we go.

Brad and I had a great Saturday afternoon. And while I did warn him of my full intentions a week in advance, he clearly wasn't listening and faked surprise and annoyance when I dragged him into our two antique shops. BUT I think he secretly liked it because he didn't whine at all. But first, off to the farmer's market, which, I am sad to report, is only open for two more weeks. Lots to choose from again this week, and with Brad's encouragement, we approached the fresh meat/fish guy. And he had lake trout, all boned and filleted and ready to go. So we snagged two. Then decided we needed salsa to go with it. So we went to the local salsa booth and I convinced Brad to try the peach salsa, and he agreed it was amazing. So we grabbed that. Then we spotted the vendor's queso. He started to tell me about it and I told him he wasn't going to tempt me and that I wasn't listening... well, next thing I know, Brad is saying "we'll take it!" Maybe I need to have him around more often -- ha! I also snagged two super cute mini spaghetti squash, a cucumber, some tomatoes, and some Brussels sprouts, so we're set for a few days. Behold, our beautiful bounty!

Then, we checked out the aforementioned antique stores -- one is mostly furniture, the other a buncha stuff, which is more my speed. We found lots of cool old pics of St. Joe in the early 1900s, which is inspiring our vision for our spare bedrooms. More on that as it unfolds.

Next, we noticed the new wine tasting shop was open. What's fancy fish dinner without wine, right? So we popped in and discovered they are offering five free tastings -- score! Nothing like free wine at 11 am. The wine comes from a neighboring town (White Pine Winery), and they have about 12 wines to sample, including a delicious ice wine. We decided on the Reserve Riesling because it had "hints of peach and mango" to match our fish. I only tried a few of the wines, saving the rest for when you (insert name here!) come visit.

By the time we made it back home, we were starving. And DYING to try the queso. So of course we had nachos for lunch. Anytime is a good time for nachos.

With cucumbers, so it's healthy.

These nachos were the BEST nachos of all time. Oh my god. (I'm sure it won't surprise anyone that I had a second serving of nachos around 11:30 last night, too.) So cheesy, and sooo spicy, with tons of chunks of jalapenos and red peppers. We might go broke buying fancy queso.

Ok, here's when I get REALLY ticked off. They just did updates to Blogger, and it will NOT LET ME UPLOAD MY FISH PICS! Other bloggers.... Are you having this problem, too?? It keeps saying "rejected by server." GRRR!!!!!

So that means I can not show you our AMAZING lake trout. We got two huge fillets, like, huge! Eventually dinner time rolled around, and I baked them in the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes -- just squeezed a little lemon juice on, sprinkled some pepper, and scooped a few spoonfuls of the peach salsa on. Btw, like the queso, I am now officially obsessed with this peach salsa, too. So good and so spicy and so fresh. Luckily, the market store in town does carry the vendor's stuff, so I'll be able to find it once the market closes.

Anyway, the fish... was... soooo good. What a difference fresh fish makes. And considering all the fish markets around here look nasty, I might have to go next weekend and buy a winter's worth of fish from that dude so we can enjoy delicious fish all year long. It actually tasted like fish (in a good way)... Worth every penny! And perhaps I have made a marketer of Brad after all... Time shall tell. :D

23 September 2010

She's gone from suck to blow.

UPDATE: Sorry about the teeny font! Blogger changed something, and the font is all teeny, and when I try to fix it, it throws all my formatting off. GRRR!

I'm in love with a vacuum. Well, vacuums. Yes, it is horribly nerdy, but when you have world's two furriest dogs, hair is a constant battle, and vacuuming is a constant chore. The hardwood definitely hides the problem a little better, and our new "taupe" microfiber couch certainly helps, but the fur tumbleweeds have already started. To deal with the couch situation, I picked up the Shark handheld "pet special" vacuum this weekend at Lowe's.

The Jaws of handhelds.

I LOVE this thing. George and Heidi still don't like it, but they tolerate it pretty well, although Heidi did NOT want me to vacuum her directly (ha!). The attachment in the pic is the special dog hair picker-upper piece, and it does a great job on the couch. And all the corners. And underneath the stove. And all of the millions of nooks and crannies of this house that don't appear to have been cleaned this century.

Yesterday I picked up the standup Shark version because as much as I love the handheld, it was starting to kill my back from bending over trying to clean the floors. I let it charge for 20 hours and gave it a whirl... And it SUCKED. It was totally wobbly and had no power. So I took it back. And picked up........

Love at first sight.

I went totally old school. We've had two of those stupid canister vacuums, including a very expensive one "just for pets." And they sucked. Beyond sucked. And they are sooo heavy. This baby weighs next to nothing, came with a six-month supply of bags, was on sale, and pretty much kicks ass. AND it can do this...


I'm sure my neighbors are already wondering why I vacuum so much, but it's only gonna get worse. Me and my new BFFs. (And while George and Heidi immediately recognized this as the enemy, George didn't bark once. Quite a feat!)

PS. This little guy popped by to say hello this morning.

22 September 2010

Sushi special.

Today started a little slow. Headache, tummy ache, and mild panic over the tub glazer that was scheduled to do our tub yesterday but "called in sick" and didn't return any of my calls this morning. Eventually I got it together, though, and started project No. 30405. Off to Kohls for some rugs to try to protect our already-destroyed beautiful new floors. Can I just say... rug shopping sucks. I'm trying very hard to resist buying anything I feel lukewarm about because I don't want to waste money on "for now" items. My plan was to buy kitchen rugs, but I forgot how light the kitchen floors are and the rugs were just not a good match. So I decided to clean up and organize our three seasons porch (which, honestly, we're not sure why it's only three seasons -- it's heated! I guess we will see soon enough!). As soon as I put the meant-for-the-kitchen rug down, Heidi gave it her seal of approval.

The rug matches the two banana peels she's eaten this week.

Some fiddling and a few hundred trips up and down the stairs looking for particular items, and we now have a very cozy knitting (or reading [or pooch sleeping]) porch.

Knitting nook!

To celebrate, I made Brad take me out to try the "sushi Wednesday" special I've been reading about at the Bistro at the Boulevard Hotel (the only non-Holiday Inn-type dump hotel in town). The best part? We walked.

We looked at that blue house on the left. It finally sold!

I made reservations so we could sit on the patio, which only has a handful of tables. You can't see too well in the pic, but the blue off to the left is the lake. Wednesdays is also sailboat race day, so there were lots of sails off in the distance. As for the sushi, it wasn't the best ever, but it tasted fresh and light, so I would get it again. Brad enjoyed his two pounds of pasta, too. This is definitely my favorite restaurant in town -- of course, it's also the most expensive, but for every once in a while, it's nice to know it's here. Definitely need to take advantage of it now while it's still warm enough to sit outside, but it's late enough in the year that the tourists are gone. Dang tourists! Ha!

21 September 2010

The lemon song.

I couldn't very well talk about lemon bars and not make them, could I?? And now that I'm done with most of the "fun" parts of unpacking, I'm finding I get much more easily distracted. So after some cleaning and organizing, I ran errands and picked up some ingredients while I was out. Including lots of lemons and limes!

I found this recipe for lemon-lime bars a few years ago, and this post is most likely what set me on my search for the perfect Pyrex baking dish. I've also made this recipe before, so I knew it was a sure thing. Did I mention it was 87 degrees here today? Holy crap does that gas oven kick off some heat. Smart thinking on my part. :P

(Whoa! Time for our first west-side storm! Thunder lightning and wind oh my!)

I was VERY excited to get to use my antique juicer (thanks, Aunt Sandy!) for the first time.

Lemon limey!

It was so hot in the kitchen, I just mixed my dough by hand instead of busting out the processor.

Once the crust was baked, in went the goo, and back into the oven. Then while dessert cooled, we took a walk to the beach (Heidi took a little swim), then I threw dinner together. Time to use those adorable mini peppers.

I decided to stuff and bake them, despite being sure the stuffing process would be quite a pain. In fact, it wasn't really, so good for future reference. I mixed up some chopped fresh spinach and some crumbled feta, a little pepper, then stuffed the mixture into the peppers. I threw in a few cherry tomatoes to roast for good measure. Then I baked at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Pretty peppers.

Dinner time!

I served the peppers with a little salad and some couscous I picked up at the little food store downtown (I also picked up some more chocolate peanut butter... MMMM). And those tomatoes... I cannot get over how fun it is to pop a hot cooked cherry tomato in your mouth. So good. I liked this recipe a lot -- my only change would be to cook the peppers a little bit longer, maybe another 5 minutes, just to soften them up even more.

Then.... it was time for dessert!

I love lemon.

20 September 2010

Perfecting the pimento.

I finally got a chance to revisit the St. J farmer's market this Saturday. There was (is) still a TON to do around the house, but after a full week of unpacking, I decided to let Brad and the boys take the Saturday work shift. When I left, this was the major project to be done:

We're considering redoing the kitchen to match the old wallpaper... ;)

I got downtown just as the market was opening, right around 9 am. Makes it much easier to get there early and get the good stuff! Lots to choose from this time -- fruits, veggies, herbs, fish (including huge hunks of smoked salmon). I decided on a basket of teeny tiny peppers, some cherry tomatoes, a basil plant, and some honeycrisps.

Before heading home, I grabbed a coffee and sat for a minute, enjoying the tourist-free beach.

When I got home, I had a fully intact microhood. Go Church boys!

To celebrate, last night I made, at Brad's request, pimento mac and cheese. Because we haven't had anything healthy in what seems like ages, I sauteed some kale, too. For the mac and cheese, this time, no shortcuts. I used all the required butter, good sharp cheddar. And I didn't mess up the sauce -- I remembered to use half the cheese in the sauce, and put the other half on top for oven browning.


Hello, sunshine!

I think I may have finally perfected this recipe. I am so pleased. We had it again for lunch today, then split the remainder as a side with dinner tonight. I think I'll stick with the no-butter-skimping-good-cheese-using method from now on.

PS. I couldn't resist and popped into one of the two antique stores downtown today and, low and behold, the ONE Pyrex dish that has been eluding me for aaaages.. WOOHOO! Time to make some lemon bars.

17 September 2010

West side enchiladas.

Home feels a little more like home every day. I've got enough stuff unpacked that I can pull out some personal items and cozy up the place while waiting to get the last few furniture details in place for final unpacking. Stuck a few pics on the walls, lit a few candles. Made my way through a few more giant boxes. We're getting there!

The revolving door of worker dudes is nearly over. Today we had the second to last group through, this time the electricians. Our house was two apartments at one point in time, so it's wires galore here... but most of them don't work. And while a lot of the house has been modernized, we don't have a ton of electrical outlets, especially in our bedroom. So we had two cable lines run upstairs, in our bedroom and our little bonus space, and had them create a light switch for the light in our closet and a plug by our bed so we can have an alarm clock and a lamp. Little changes but oh so exciting.

Welcome to 2010, upstairs!

In other woohoo news, we've both done a few loads of laundry in our kick ass new washer and dryer. They are SO quiet. And apparently all energy efficient and stuff. (Still haven't read those manuals....)

The inaugural load.

Tonight we also have our first overnight visitor... Brad's brother, Marc. So, of course, I had to get the guest quarters ready, as best as I could at least.

Technically the master bedroom. I saw pshaw to convention!

Unfortunately, our guest can't actually shower in the guest bathroom yet...
But it still looks pretty!

For the special occasion, I made my first big grocery trip to get food for dinner. I decided to give the Benton Harbor Meijer a whirl... and I don't think I'll be going back. I hate Meijer to begin with, but it was just dark and gloomy and had lots of weird areas... plus, the meat/seafood counter smelled SO bad I could barely go near it. So gross. At least I finally found my fake bologna, which the other grocery store doesn't seem to carry. Anyway, for dinner I got to test out the new oven. Enchilada night!


I'm totally sold on this gas stove of mine. It makes a lot of crazy noises that still make me a little uneasy, but that baby heated up in five minutes!!! And then cooked all quick and made my cheese all melty. Mmm.

Brothers like enchiladas.

Tomorrow morning, farmer's market!! Woo! I'm going to buy the crap out of some tomatoes and apples and whatever else I can find. And I'm going to get a dang coffee. And maybe look at some dang antiques downtown! I can't wait! :D

16 September 2010

Star trek kitchen.

I cooked! Woo! AND I didn't blow up the house! I've always had a fear of gas stoves. Random childhood memory tidbits about pilot lights and matches and gas and explosions... Brad has assured and reassured me that modern gas stoves are totally different and use an auto pilot light. I guess I believe him... Anyway, my new favorite sound is the "click click click" of the stove lighting.

I haven't had a chance to make a trip to the grocery store yet, so our first home-cooked meal wasn't anything special, but it sure hit the spot. Just some noodles, garden pasta sauce, and some breadcrumbs for a little texture. No butter, so Brad had a dry piece of bread with his. Classy.

And now that we're done eating... I can put the dirty dishes in our new (and installed!) dishwasher. Brad's pride and joy! (He works in dishwashers specifically at WP.)

Utensil pouch.

Utensil rack.

I have a little bit of light reading to do now, as I try to figure out all my new appliances with all their crazy functions and options and gadgets and do-dads!

Side note, Brad and Jim are down in the basement trying to get our gas dryer hooked up. They've been at it since 5. Two trips to Lowe's later, I think they might be getting close. Actually, Brad just came up and grabbed Heidi's blankie to test it out with... Guess they're done! Hooray for clean clothes! (And double hooray for Jim again. All of this, plus he showed up with a new faucet for our "master" bath. AND he wants to make me his mom's pecan pie. Seriously. We've been blessed with good people around us during this transition for sure.)

15 September 2010

Pop a squat.

We had a lot of activity around the house today. The new couch and appliances ended up getting scheduled in the same basic windows, and, of course, the appliance guys showed up while the Art Van guys were here.



Luckily, the Art Van guys zipped in and out, making way for the appliance guys who spent a good couple of hours here. I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the kitchen overhaul. Last night we discovered that our kitchen was redone around their old microhood, and it's going to take a little construction work (on Brad's part! ha) to get the new micro up there. Then we realized the fridge might not open right. And the delivery guys technically wouldn't be allowed to install most of our new items. The kitchen I'd managed to organize and (mostly) clean was becoming a dumping ground. We've constantly had people in and out of our house and no one seemed to remember we own a garbage can. But then the appliances started to get put into place... and fit...

* sigh *

I'm a happy girl.



Another side note to sing the praises of these delivery and installation guys. Everyone has been SO great. I winked and smiled a little and convinced them to install the gas range (against the rules), install the copper tubing to our water line in the fridge (against the rules), disconnect the dishwasher (against the rules), and hand over a bunch of freebie parts we were apparently supposed to order. I'm positive they would have installed the gas dryer and dishwasher (against the rules) if they didn't have 13 more items to deliver today (they left around 3). These guys work their BUTTS off, and you know they don't make any money. Hats off to those dudes.

And of course... it's soooo exciting to finally have somewhere to sit! I might never move from this spot.

Of course, the pooches have already made themselves comfortable.


Or here?

This way?

Or this way?

Here's hoping that in the next few days Brad can finagle the micro hood, connect the dishwasher and dryer... and that I don't blow the house up trying to figure out how to use a gas stove!