22 October 2010

It's a marvelous night for a moondance.

Hello fellow Americans and Halloween enthusiasts! This weekend, the hubby and I are headed off to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary in Jolly Old England, land of, well, not much Halloween.

Happy anniversary, honey bunny!
While I am so super duper excited for our trip, part of me mourns the loss of a full-on Halloween celebration. Perhaps it's better this way, seeing as how I have no friends here with which to celebrate anyway... :) While I'm gone, should you find yourself in the mood for some, well, mood entertainment, I thought I'd post a list of some of my most favoritest scary movies (that are actually scary!). 

Poltergeist: my first horror movie, still my favorite, and still dang creepy. Stay away from the light!

The scene that changed my life. You think I'm kidding.

Prince of Darkness: end of the world scary stuff. And Alice Cooper.
The Fog (thee original, duh!): fog is scary. Also my favorite horror score.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane/Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte/Straight-Jacket: might I suggest a old-school crazy Bette Davis/Joan Crawford triple feature? I do believe all three are on Netflix instant view...

The Blair Witch Project: still scary, I don't care.
Silence of the Lambs: also still scary, and still good, all these years later, even when it's diluted for basic cable. I love that my mom took me to see this at the theater when I was 12. Admittedly, a few parts stumped me for years.
Suspiria: crazy Italian witches. With disco lighting.

Candyman: certainly doesn't help my fear of mirrors. If I ran into Tony Todd on the street, I would run away. You can't convince me he's not really Candyman.
Fire in the Sky: this movie scares the living daylights out of me. Those aliens are a-holes! Just thinking about the looks on their faces... starring at me... UGH!

I absolutely am going to have nightmares tonight.
Paranormal Activity: don't listen to the naysayers, this movie is crazy scary. At least, once it's over, and you're trying to sleep, and you have attic access in your bedroom...
The Entity: ghost raper, heavy metal score... You might never shower alone again. AND... It's TRUE.
Amityville Horror II: I think this one is scarier than the original, plus it has brother-sister love. Ew!

Brother's don't shake hands. Brothers gotta... hug...
The Last Exorcism: this one might be in between theater and dvd, but if you can find it, holy scary.
The Devil's Backbone: I never want to watch subtitled movies, but I'm always so glad when I do -- this one is totally worth it. Spooky Spanish.
Uzumaki: more subtitles, but again, totally worth it for the CRAZY that is this movie. One of the most bizarre movies I've seen.

Should you be looking for a Halloween-centric film, might I suggest Trick r Treat, rather than the more obvious (and, honestly, boring) Halloween? We enjoyed this one last Halloween (along with the sweet stylings of Slumber Party Massacre!).

Finally, if you're just looking for super duper monster fun, any time is a good time for a little American Werewolf in... LONDON! I'll be keeping my eye out for any nude men in the zoo...

There are no words. Pure love.
Happy watching, and whoop it up a little extra for me. Good luck sleeping with the lights off....!

21 October 2010

Everything, please.

If Heidi were a person, and if she had a blog, it would be called Everything, please. Every day, she would post about all the nonsense she ate. For example, today's post would be:

This afternoon while my mom was in the shower, I leaned up against the kitchen counter and extended my go-go gadget arms. She has no idea. She is such a sucker. With my go-go gadget arms, I was able to secure myself a lovely snack of nine homemade banana nut muffins, cupcake tins included. For dessert, I ate the saran wrap covering the muffins. I decided against eating the Tupperware container holding the muffins. A lady must know when to say enough is enough. 

See how innocent I look? Humans are suckers.
Later, she took me for a walk. We walked through an old graveyard. I pooped in that graveyard. Then I ate a wood chip.

20 October 2010

Fruit surplus.

I was stuck home today, waiting for the tub guy to come fix the tub he didn't reglaze properly (he never showed -- these St. Joe people!), so I decided to take advantage of the situation and get my bake on. Also inspiring me were the oodles of apples and bananas quickly over-ripening in my kitchen. Maybe I tend to overbuy produce. What's it to ya? Of course, first, to set the mood -- Halloween playlist!

1, 2, Freddy's coming for you.
For today's treats, I decided to turn to Joy of Cooking. While browsing, I was reminded of my grandma's apple cake and decided that was that. As for the bananas, I went simple -- banana nut muffins. The recipes don't appear to be online as they appear in the book, but if you are interested, and don't have Joy, I'll be more than happy to send you the recipes. I will say that both were super easy -- just how I like it -- and whipped up pretty quickly. I was a little surprised at how few apples the apple cake took: just 1 cup chopped (so much for helping much with that apple surplus...).


After after.

 As per usual, Heidi was on hand to, um, offer her support.

Bark bark. Gimmie treats.

Also, as is typical, she stomped off and pouted when she didn't get any cake.

Our little pouter.

Sadly, everything is still cooling, so I haven't been able to dig in yet, but I'll keep you posted on the deliciousness. For now, it just smells super duper good in here. I suppose it makes sense that it's driving Heidi crazy! For dinner, we've got some lake fish as well as a new Gordon recipe -- roasted pepper and feta gratin. I should go get that started right now, actually. In the treat frenzy, I forgot to eat lunch!

Getting my Gordon on.

Long and short of it.

My head's been feeling a little heavy lately.

I have a lot of hair.

I decided to take swift action pre-London trip. Besides, I want to be sure to look cute in my new knitted London hat, and can't do that with a ponytail!

Ponies and hats don't mix.
So I trusted my local connection, Angie, and headed off to her hairdresser yesterday and... chop chop!

Why do I look like a man from behind? Weird!

First, before we even discuss the work... This haircut was TWENTY-FIVE dollars. Total. $25!!! I don't think you can even get a haircut in AA at Fantastic Sam's for $25. And this wasn't just a trim, either. The best part (ok, no, $25 is the best part) is that I love it. She did a great job, and I liked her a lot. I will definitely go back. And in the meantime, I will enjoy my new head that doesn't weigh 20 pounds. I feel very London fashionable -- he he he!

17 October 2010

Falling into home.

Fall has definitely descended upon our little town. While the colors still aren't quite as spectacular as you see a little further inland (not sure what that's about!), it's getting there, and we were inspired to take lots of walks this weekend. First, a walk from the house to downtown and back via the beach.

Brad always carries the poop. What a gentleman.

Today we got up early and hopped in the car to try... da da da... yet again... Grand Mere State Park. If you remember, this park has bested me twice in the past -- once when I was 26, once again this summer. I must confess, technically, it has bested me a THIRD time.

Georgie's just happy to be here.
While we hiked the trail for a few miles, and it was beautiful and more than enjoyable, the dunes remain my nemesis. There's one dune about a 1/2 mile into the trail. We decided to push forward on the trail, hoping we'd hit the water eventually without having to travel straight up. Well, eventually we dead-ended on the trail and had to turn back around.

I hike at super speed.
We stumbled upon another dune and figured we'd see what that was all about. Well, it was about me nearly passing out and trying not to vomit. We made it to the top of two small climbs, and the water looked pretty close, but those dunes are deceiving... and we'd eventually have to climb our way back up. So I succumbed. Back to the trail.

Brad takes both dogs so I can recover

What do fall hikes inspire? Fall feasts, of course! We decided to stay in Saturday night, so I set to making some delicious treats. First up, a pumpkin carrot cake, which I know I've made at some point in the past, but it was long ago enough that it was like new. I kept mostly to the recipe, only substituting out the oil for applesauce and skipping the cranberries (they were $4!), and while I made a giant mess of my kitchen, it was pretty simple.

Cooling on the 'sill with zombies.

Once it was cooled, I frosted it with a thin layer of homemade cream cheese frosting (I used no fat even though all the recipes say to use 1/3 fat, and it tastes delicious still). And it was heavenly. The orange was a tad more noticeable than it probably should have been, so next time I might cut that down a little bit. But otherwise, the perfect fall dessert.

Fall into my belly, cake!

Of course, before you can eat dessert, you have to eat dinner. Duh! And much to my surprise, when I was flipping through my recipe book, Brad stopped me at one of my older recipes, pasta with mushrooms and pumpkin Gorgonzola sauce. Brad hates mushrooms! I've made this a handful of times, including for a dinner with Rachel last fall (I remember writing about it), but it's always a pleasant surprise as to how delicious it really is.

Is it possible to beat the smell of sauteing oil, mushrooms, and onions?

I also made a mess making this, but it's also a pretty simple recipe. It just takes three pots, and I hate dirtying pots. It's definitely worth the hassle, though.

Seriously, you want to be eating this right now.

And to round off our weekend, we finished our bedroom. With the exception of one spot that needs an "item," our bedroom is 100% complete. Woo! The first fully completely officially finished room of the house (although I suppose the kitchen is totally done, too, but there are still a few tweaks to be made eventually). We even have curtains. And stuff on the wall. I am officially madly in love with our cozy little bedroom.

LOVE these curtains almost as much as my new sheets. Got these 50% off at Kohls. Score.
BTW, I canNOT get this picture to center and it is making me SO angry! I hate you blogger!
And finally... a little Medusa for that final splash of green.

15 October 2010

Buy me new sheets, woman.

First, a belated thanks to Sara for the awesome new No pickles header. Always a creative genius, that Sara of mine.

Second, in the week that I haven't posted, I forgot how much I HATE the new blogger. Formatting is a horrendous pain -- even just typing is a pain. Random breaks inserted before you even start, no breaks where you intend them to be, hidden nonsense. It's already driving me crazy. Hopefully they either fix it soon or I just stop noticing it or I may have to switch blogs. It's taking way longer to do anything. Is it driving everyone else crazy, or am I just overly anal?

Thirdly, hi! I feel like it's been forever since I was here. Just mostly been busy trying to keep this dang house clean. Who knew how helpful carpet really is with the world's two furriest dogs. I'm vacuuming twice a day, and vacuuming the couch at least twice a day, and I cannot stay on top of the hair situation. Advance apologies for when you visit. I'm doing the best I can, but it is still one furry green beach house. As for the pooches, they're still enjoying their new house and town -- we've been driving down to our favorite downtown beach, and Heidi LOVES to plop along in the water while George still steers clear (but gets very excited when stumbling upon giant dead fish on the beach). Otherwise, they have their heads in the garden, eating woodchips, digging up toys left behind by the previous owner, and chasing the poor rabbits that live under our shed.

Always with the woodchips.
When not vacuuming, I've been getting a lot of knitting done. More friends with babies on the way, and I need, of course, a matching hat + scarf set for our impending London trip. Our St. Joe realtor was just telling us a story about a very high-strung woman he once worked with that took up knitting to keep her fidgeting under control. That's me!

Baby boy P, baby boy B, stuffs for ME!
When not knitting, I've been trying to cook and bake enough yummy stuff to make up for the lack of good restaurants in town. And make sure we get our veggies!

Rainbow chard with beans. So pretty!

I also made my first vegetarian chili with tofu. I found this recipe, skipping, of course, the garlic, as well as the mushrooms. I loved this but it was on the sweet side, from all the tomatoes and obviously the actual sugar. Brad tolerated it, and ate it for lunch one more day, but he's vetoed any future returns to this recipe. I'll try a new tofu one next time, skipping the sugar.

You so sweet, chili.
I also whipped up some more pumpkin goodies: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I used this recipe, cutting way back on the chocolate chips and nuts, a little on the sugar, and using applesauce instead of oil. They turned out tasty enough, but they were very cakey (and sticky) and not exactly what I was craving.

You so sticky, cookies.
Good news on the fish front: the guy I've been buying local lake fish from put me on his winter list, and once a month I'll be able to place an order and pick it up downtown. Score! Last night I cooked up last weekend's trout, baking it with a sour cream-lemon juice-pepper-capers sauce. We enjoyed it along with some more Brussels sprouts. This time I cut them in half, tossed them in some oil, then browned them, face down (covered) for five minutes in a pan. I pulled the lid off, ground some pepper on top, and let them cook for another five minutes or so, tossing occasionally. Then, when done, I dropped them into the daisy dish and topped with some parm. I really think this might be Brad's new favorite veggie.

You so tasty, fresh fish and veggies.
And finally on the food front... Happy eggs!!! I've had mega egg guilt for months, so I've been avoiding any egg confrontations. I did break down a bit ago and buy store eggs for baking, but I was so delighted to stumble upon local farm eggs in the most random of places -- a vitamin store downtown! I picked up a dozen last week for $3.50 (cheap!), and they were so fresh, they were still warm. I'm officially obsessed after cracking my first two just this morning. They cooked up perfectly -- like nothing I've ever experienced with regular store eggs (which, according to the vitamin store lady, are sometimes three months old by the time they hit the shelf -- gross!). I highly recommend searching out some local eggs if you can, PLUS... poor little chickens... I have to trust they have much more pleasant lives at local farms.

I like how the steam looks like the ghosts in Poltergeist.
And very very lastly, a Churchy house update. New bedding! Wednesday night, Brad made an official order: new bedding that wasn't stained by, sucked on, or chewed on by dogs. An exciting task, despite the fact that I have only Kohls, Target, and TJ Maxx for all my housing needs. But I somehow managed, making a second trip today to pick up a fuzzy green blanket to round out the boudoir.

I am SO in love with these beautiful gray and white sheets. Target, cheap.
Gray down comforter, Target, also cheap. Green shams, total score: $3.50 for two... all because someone ripped the paper packaging off. SCORE.
Heidi approved.
Couch break is officially over. Off to add my new blanket and try to hang some curtains. The house is slowly becoming cozier and cozier. Happy Friday everyone!

07 October 2010

Three as can be.

Our little Georgie turns THREE today. Hard to believe there was ever life pre-George and impossible to even put into words how much we love him and how much joy he's brought into our lives. Three cheers to Georgie on his 3rd (aka 21st, he's legal!) birthday. Poochie smooches!

Hands off my birthday ball.

06 October 2010

Visitors' weekend.

This weekend was friend-filled, and I was so excited for the arrival of our guests that I baked.

Rachael Ray's pumpkin whoopie pies.
They look like poop. Giggle giggle.
They look much less like poop afterward.

As soon as the pies were done, Lisa S. and Digby arrived. After a quick trip to the dog park to tire out the troops, we collected Brad and headed to Benton Harbor to try out a "top secret local favorite" -- the North Shore Inn. It's near the border of town, tucked back into the middle of nowhere, and is hardly recognizable as a business, let alone a restaurant/bar. It's "famous" for its burgers, and apparently Jack Nicklaus is even a fan (perhaps that is why he chose to build his new golf course mere steps away). We were worried we'd stick out as outsiders, but we were warmly greeted as we walked in. Phew! It's also a bar, so the food is mostly burgers and such, but they do serve Mexican on the weekends. I really wanted onion rings, which seemed an odd match for Mexican, so I got a grilled cheese. Which I ate while having major burger envy.

Mmm. Meaty.
Brad still thinks a place in Dearborn is the best burger ever, but they both seemed pleased enough and we'll definitely go back.
Sunday morning, Lisa and I headed downtown for the final Antiques on the Bluff of the season (basically an outdoor antiques fair that happens every first Sunday during the summer). There were a ton of vendors and lots of super interesting items (minus the scary table of machetes and grenades and Nazi paraphernalia!), including an entire table of vintage cameras.

If only I knew how to use a real camera....

After a greasy diner breakfast, we popped into a few shops, then headed back to the White Pine tasting room. Still five free tastes, so you can't really beat that. I finally gave in and picked up a bottle of ice wine. Yum.

Bottom's up!

And, of course, you can't visit the beach without, you know, going down to the water. So we headed to the north side of town to take a walk out to the lighthouse. Unfortunately, it was a little windy and splashy so we weren't able to make it all the way out there. But the view was still pretty.
Splish splash.

Birgit arrived shortly after Lisa left, and we decided to walk to Silver Beach Pizza, where Brad met us. This is still one of our favorite places in town, and it's nice to have it back from the summer tourists. Then, after finally falling asleep after spooking ourselves silly with Emily Rose, we woke up ready to roll Monday morning. First on the agenda, the House of David Museum (take a second to read about the House of David -- it's craziness). Well, of course, the museum is only open on Friday and Saturday. Sheesh. But they did have a bunch of the old signs just laying around, so that was cool.

We also tried to check out the House of David trailer park, which boasts of "train rides," but it was basically, well, a campground, with one "resident." You could see some old buildings around the perimeter, but the scary camper deterred any tresspassy spirit we may have had. So we went to lunch, ending up in neighboring Sawyer at Fitzgerald's, and discovering Rachel's sister manning the place. And both of us fell in love. It's a super cute little bar, all decked out in 1920s French gear -- they even have old black and white movies playing on the tv. With some help from sis, we both decided on croques -- the marine croque for me, the croque madame for Birgit. 

This croque comes with a mini croque.

My sandwich was so delicious. I can't even tell you how excited I am to find food like this nearby. It was essentially a shrimp salad sandwich topped with bechamel, and even the little side salad was delicious. And, to top it off, sister brought us complimentary sticky toffee pudding, which was also to die for. Cannot wait to go back. Especially because directly behind is the most amazing garden + home + everything shop, where I, of course, picked up a few pumpkins.

After popping into a recycled clothing store (seriously, this town has like 2000 residents, but still has a bunch of cool storefronts?), we headed over to Warren Dunes to have a little climb now that the sand isn't 100 degrees.

I told you to comb the desert!

After dune-ing, we still had more adventure in us, so we followed a sign out to the Round Barn Winery and Brewery. We headed to the winery first (actually in a round barn) and decided to do the tasting, which comes with 7 tastes, including 1 spirit (they also make vodka, rum, and bourbon from grapes). Feeling brave, we also decided to do a brandy tasting, or rather, a brandy shot.

Brandy is gross, even when it is in a cool bottle.

It was a great atmosphere, great wine, just lots of fun. And we even got a token for a free beer tasting. So off we headed to the brewery, where I tried the summer wheat and Birgit tried the autumn ale. Feeling guilty Brad missed out on all the fun, I got him a six pack of the wheat (as well as a bottle of the Edel Doux wine [he he he]).

All the adventure got us hungry, so we collected Brad and headed down to New Buffalo to grab dinner at Redamak's, Rachel's hometown favorite. The meat eaters had to get the burgers, of course (and they looked ooey gooey delicious), and I was so excited to get fried clams. I LOVE fried clams, and you rarely see them on menus. So score one for Redamak's! I also got the cheese fries, just for Rachel!

Healthy living!
Eventually, Birgit had to head back to Ann Arbor, and visitors' weekend came to a close. But I so loved every second of having the ladies here and it was such a thrill to get to share my new town with friends. I can't even express how wonderful it was to see familiar faces from home. I'm happy here, but I still miss everyone so much. So hugs to Lisa and Birgit, and hugs to all of you I hope will get to visit sometime soon, too. Come have an adventure with me. You know you wanna.