31 October 2012

Schlampe Halloween.

In lieu of much Halloweening this year (sigh), I give you the piece de la resistance re: Church Halloween. That's right folks, it's the year of the Germans.

Sister Beth and Lisa are flanked by Frau Stephanie and Herr Brad.

Brad in particular was photogenic this year, which actually fell a few years before I was officially a Church. But go with it.

Ahhh... Memories. You can't make this stuff up.
Spooks-a-plenty, everyone. Stay warm and have a heck of a scary Halloween! BOO!

29 October 2012

Chester copper pot.

Seven years. Instead of the traditional "seven year copper gift," I will make a little list for my husband. Here are seven reasons why I love my Bradford -

1. He makes me laugh. Laugh so hard I snort. I don't often admit this to him, but seeing as how today is our anniversary, I'll give him that one. My Brad, he's pretty dang hilarious.

1a. He sings songs about the dogs. With me. By himself. To the dogs. You'd be surprised how much rhymes with "mister porge."

2. This picture (which lends itself to him being hilarious, and also him being able to laugh at himself):

3. He is wicked smart. I know I can always count on him to know something about most everything - I'm incredibly proud of him and that brain of his. Plus, he remembers everything, so rarely do I have to think too hard to remember a date or code or password or address. And I know he will never forget our anniversary or my birthday, or forget that Halloween is far more important than Valentine's Day.

4. He's a guys guy, for sure, but he's also a bit of a lady, too. He does his own laundry, irons his own clothes (and mine, and sometimes my friend's clothes, too), knows how to use the dishwasher, helps me pick out clothes, and always mows the lawn and doesn't give me TOO hard of a time for not knowing how to do so.

5. The Ice Cream Man. Thankskilling. Cannibal Holocaust. Basket Case. Most recently, Re-Animator. Bradford not only tolerates my madness, but he keeps signing up for more.

6. Save for Tommy Boy and Spaceballs references, Brad always gets it. All the random '80s movies references. Hilarious moments from 12 years ago that we haven't talked about since. Doesn't matter - if I'm stiffling a giggle in public, or spouting obsurdities, he knows what I'm thinking.

7. Brad is kind-hearted. He's sarcastic and witty and is certainly a match for my argumentative side, but he's soft and gooey on the inside. He throws away street litter and picks up glass so no one gets cut. He says, "Hi pooch!" to strange dogs on vacation. He plays plastic backyard golf with the littlest of ladies. He always lets me know when the Humane Society is in a bind and needs us to make a donation. When I'm having a really bad day, he brings me Coke in a can.

He just gets it. He knows how to be a partner, but he's still his own person. He brings everything that I often am not to this little life of ours, and in the ways we are alike, we happily share those qualities with each other. He gets it. And I am so lucky to have gotten him.

18 October 2012

Playmate of the year.

I'm very lucky to have a husband who humors (most of) my many eccentricities. Including his seemingly geniune embracing of Halloween (he was game for a Halloween-ish wedding no less!). In the many years we've been together, and the many Halloweens we've celebrated, Brad has never once complained about me dressing him up in a myraid of random costumes. And, I must say, many of his most hilarious getups have been 100% Brad planned. A desire to celebrate Brad's celebration of my favorite holiday, combined with Rachel's request for a "Brad Costume Post," has culminated in what I'll dub the Brad Halloweening Series, starting with this gem -

I present to you Halloween Brad Oh Six. The year Brad and Birgit went as tag-team Hef and Bunny (my costume was far less exciting - not-so-sexy cop). Good thing Brad's got the perv stare down pat. Really makes the costume.

16 October 2012

Who ya gonna call.

The Halloweenizing continues, even though we'll miss the home stretch into Halloween (we WILL be back in time for actual Halloween - I made sure of that). And, let's be honest, the Halloweenizing has carried over to my cube as well. But for now, a few spooky sights from around here to help you get into the spirit, too.

My Frank lights, which I just adore but, unfortunately, don't show up great in pictures!

Spooky skull centerpiece. I'm kind of in love with this.

Medusa outside....

Even creepier backside of Medusa staring in at us...
(I actually forgot she was two-sided when I put her on the porch!)

Skelly man! Wish I had a few more of these guys but, hey, the good stuff's not cheap!

My favorite Halloween decoration, a Lisa!

The monsters are terrible at Scrabble.

And, of course, a Halloween sweater.

Two weeks to go, friends!

10 October 2012

A bloody good fall recap.

Still here... Just keeping busy busy busy.

Stewing some tomatoes to freeze.

Two quarts of beautiful multicolored tomatoes from the farmer's market...

Into a pot with onions, a splash of water, a squirt of tomato paste, salt and pepper, some crushed red pepper, and fresh basil from my garden. An hour or so later, they're still looking gorgeous!

And finally, around two hours later, into freezer containers for the cold months when fresh, delicious tomatoes seem a million years away....

I still remember like it was yesterday the beautiful canned tomatoes Kristal delivered to a sick, sick me a few years ago. What a special treat they were a few weeks later, deep into the winter.

Baking with pumpkin.

And cooking with pumpkin. And reheating with pumpkin. Everything pumpkin! My current favorite is adding a plop of canned pumpkin into my morning oatmeal. Yum.

Zucchini pumpkin bread. I'm still fiddling with recipes to find the one, but I'm getting closer. I swapped out half of the butter with applesauce and cut the sugar by 25% - it was a tad dry and a tad not-sweet-enough. I think if I still swap out the butter, still cut the sugar, but then add some sweetness and moistness back in with an additional quarter cup or so of applesauce, I'll be there. Next batch!

Showering friends with brunch.

Our friends Liz and Greg are expecting their first baby (a little girl!) in November, so Hillary, Ceile, and I hosted a couple's brunch last Sunday. Ceile was the decorations committee (and her mom made dessert for us!) and Hillary (and Troy!) and I made the food - waffles and baked apples and two quiches, respectively. I even made a ham and cheese quiche (ew)! I think the Cooking Light base is the way to go -- three eggs, a cup of skim milk, a quarter cup of cheese, however much flour it calls for [can't remember off the top of my head], and you're good to go with whatever add-ins you have. Still perfectly quichey but incredibly light -- I haven't once gotten egg belly from this!

We also had the expecting couple play a round of the Newlyparent's Game, where we asked them parenthood questions (like, "Who will give your daughter 'The Talk'?") and had them each write down the answer. If they agreed, we cheered; if they disagreed, we booed. My favorite part was learning Liz wanted to name the baby La - a (pronounced la-dash-a). Okay, she didn't really, but Greg used that as an answer and it made us all laugh.

They agreed on nearly all the answers. :)

We also had fan re-creating our baby picture poses.

And we had a very special birthday.

Happy birthday, Georgie. We love you more than you love squeaky balls!

And now we continue the countdown until V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N (11 days!)... and H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N!!!! Three cheers for October.

01 October 2012

Ready to party poblanos.

Editor's Note: Please enjoy what is hopefully the first of many guest blog posts! Following is the inaugural guest post from Rachel, who you've seen many a mention of in this space over the years. Enjoy, friends! (Because I love her, I'm even going to leave her imported font in place. Definitely not because I can't figure out how to change it! Wink.)

In honor of Halloween month, I’m putting on my Stephanie costume and blogging!

Nice bloggy! Good bloggy!

A bit of background: I’m a lazy curmudgeon who could eat the same thing every day, namely: rice. That said, I have taken to random fits of cooking and recently made stuffed poblanos. A nearby friend harvested a bunch, another friend was coming over and the lovely peppers sat on our counter, calling “Hola! We are delicious and green! Cook and ingest with vigor!”

I don’t like being told what to do, so recipes are suggestions to me. I mostly just need help with cooking times/temps, so there’s not much to officially follow. I knew I needed cream cheese and regular cheese with which to stuff, but then I took a wild ride at the store and came up with this, which I’ll call Ready to Party Stuffed Poblanos (makes about six of various sizes, I guess). 

First, I grabbed two regular size tubs of onion and chive cream cheese. While perusing this glorious section, I saw these newfangled Kraft thingies for rolling meat in. 

I needed bread crumbs and cheese, so into the basket it went. Take that, meat! We don’t need ya (World Vegetarian Day is October 1, people! I’m ignoring rennet, though.). Editor's Note: TODAY is October 1. Which makes today World Vegetarian Day! GO VEGGIES! WOOP WOOP!

Once you’re home, wondering if it really will be as delicious as you think, spread out the dairy bonanza and get to work. Right after you put the oven on 425, chop off the heads of the peppers (and cackle maniacally!). Get rid of the stem, but keep what you can of the pepper top and ditch the seeds. Chop up the tops and mix in with the cream cheese, bread crumbs (not all, though, save some for later), cheese and about three healthy shakes of chili powder. I used a hand mixer so things didn’t get too smoooooooth.

Next up, jam those suckers full and wedge them into a baking dish (Pyrex shout out!). Lastly, mix up a little olive oil and the remaining bread crumbs and spread lavishly about your peppers-in-waiting (you could use one of those fancy food brushes, but I just slopped it on with a spoon). Also, make sure everyone is upright and tucked in the dish. You don’t want your peppers barfing out filling onto the oven and making a mess.

When they look like this...

...lovingly check your alcohol-to-balance ratio as I am wont to do when drinking and cooking and use your expert skills to get it in the stove without incident.  I had to include this before shot mostly for that Pyrex pattern because, like Steph, I am a Pyrex Pyrate. Arrrr.

Let everything mingle for about 40 minutes and then olé! You have a chair-wetting, profanity-worthy appetizer --

Holy sh*t, enjoy yourselves! Mmmm.

Thanks for letting me blather on, Step on me. XOXO

Editor's Note: Thank YOU, miss Rachel, for sharing your story with us. And for embracing the kick ass cook that has been hiding inside of you! It's all about finding your own groove and doing what you love and how you love to do it - on your own damn terms! Keep it up. girlfriend! PS Please come make this for me. ASAP.