3.31.2010

Spring Umbrellas

Marimekko Ruusupuu Umbrella $40.00 

Marimekko has so many fantastic prints, I just can't help but share!!

Marimekko Unikko Blue $40.00

Marimekko Omena White $40.00

Generally I'm not much of an umbrella person - they're sort of bulky and a PITA when they get wet. I had a boss that would just put it in the middle of the floor, wide open and let it drip on the carpet. Yuck.

Marimekko Petrooli Blue/Green $40.00

I tend to leave the umbrella in the car. Always and I don't know why, I'm just not accustomed to ever having one. However, with these super cute prints, I may now have to go to FinnStyle to get one.

3.30.2010

Back Porch Possibilities

This is a pretty cute porch chair from Pier 1 (on clearance for $79). I've been sort of lack lately with the yard and the porch. Mostly because this is Minnesota and it's still fairly chilly (but it should hit 70 degrees later this week!) so I've been avoiding that area of the house. Except to steam clean and vehemently swear at the carpeting back there (dogs started digging so my CLEAN carpet is now muddy again).

May 15 is the date determined to be the last day of frost in Minne-snow-ta so I feel like putting of porch furniture for awhile longer. But at least I can be inspired for when I actually shop, right?

Mocha Outdoor Settee - $229.95

La Jolla Loveseat $920 - part of the La Jolla Collection from Restoration Hardware (OMG, I LOVE this place!).

Outdoor living this summer, here I come!

3.29.2010

Pasta Salad. With No Picture.

Sorry, no picture today! I made pasta salad for book club and I swear, it's the EASIEST ever.

Seriously.

1 box of rotini pasta
1/2 to 3/4 cup of Italian dressing
1/4 cup Greek dressing (I ran out of Italian, oops)
1 box of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 or 3 roasted red peppers, chopped finely
Black olives (optional)
Feta cheese (I used half a package of Athenos plain feta, but you can use a flavored feta too)

Cook the pasta, then combine everything in a bowl and refrigerate. Serve with some extra feta on top. If you like pasta with more dressing, just add more Greek or Italian dressing.

See? I swear, so easy!

3.27.2010

Light Blue. Reminds Me of Spring

And that I need a rug for the living room. After cleaning for book club and sitting on the wood floor, it'd be nice to have SOMETHING on the floor. I've been inspired by Pottery Barn lately, but their kitchy cottage look hasn't really done much for my style (my mother's decorating style, yes, especially with quilts and that homey furniture).

But this rug is on sale and I think I love it. It's the Malika rug and prices (sale prices) start at $149 and up. The size I need is $799 and that's still a bit too much for me to even think about spending!


I also like bold patterns like this one from Ballard, but we'll see what happens when I finally get some color on the wall. The one from Ballard is the Elianna Rug and the prices start at $45.

PS. This weekend I will update with the recipe for Dorie Greenspan's Allspice Crumb Muffins which I could eat every.single.day. YUM!

3.26.2010

Hyacinths For Kathy

Do you think I can grow these Hyacinths from Breck's? I ordered these last Fall and planted them. They are zone 5 hardy, so I'm really hoping that they come up this Spring. And Kathy, I had no idea that you liked them, I think I actually got "Bluebells" so I'll take some pics when they bloom for you. I LOVE Spring flowers and I'm totally hoping that I can have a green thumb like my mom.

(Dear Lord, she can grow Bee Balm and Lilies like no one else's business... I'll take pics of when they all bloom later this year!!)

But I need more ground cover in the front so I think I'm going to turn to Hostas for the front gardens (which are in the shade) and maybe some morning glories and then I need a trellis for them to climb on.

I never realized how much fun gardening is!

Unfortunately we just don't get enough sun for a veggie garden, so unless we have a huge storm and a neighbor's tree falls, then we may have one. At least my compost pile doesn't stink (and they're not supposed to, they're supposed to smell "Earthy," whatever that means... just make sure you have enough leaves to cover the stink of rotting veggies!!!)

3.25.2010

Bookcases

Eh, I never know what to get for book cases. However, I really like this one from Brocade Home. But just don't look at the price, at least it's on sale for $699.

I'm awful at organizing books. I mean, Bimmer organized the book shelves in the office but we do need SOMETHING in the living room to show off our "coffee table" books (Um, Law in America sounds boring but with pretty pictures, right? At least my East Asian Art History book is covered in pretty red fabric). I think that if I had open shelving, then I'd be forced to organize by size or color.

Who is good at organizing books and how do you do it? Also, any good recommendations for buying a book case? Besides Target? Please?

BTW - we have over 100 books, EASILY.

Also, if you have a Nook or a Kindle, please share your thoughts. I'm tempted to save up for one, but I love the look of books on shelves in my house. Honestly, having books lying around makes me feel smarter...

3.23.2010

Book Club Thursday


Well, here's the book we're reading. It's fantastic and I've been finished for about a week now. Honestly, it's sort of cliche and cheesy, but I'm totally interested in World War II (have you seen Band of Brothers or The Pacific? OMG, I can't miss an episode!) and I like reading about the German Occupation in different areas of Europe. I think the next book I read may be of the Occupation in Paris. I'll share when I know what it's going to be.

There's just one problem.

I just have to get my house ready for Book Club.

And Odie, of course, like a dog does, got the floors all muddy and my clean carpet dirty. So for the second time in two weeks, I shall be steam cleaning the carpets again. Did I ever mention that I want tile in my back porch instead of carpet? Who puts carpet right by the back yard where dirty and muddy dogs come in? Well, not me!

I do have to hang up more photos (Ok, I have to print some too), buy a couch cover so the girls aren't covered in dog fur, and possibly purchase a rug, though we'll see how ambitious I am tomorrow.

And I have to figure out what to make. I'm thinking samosas with mango chutney (totally not related to WWII) and probably something else. But samosas are super easy and I LOVE curry... Plus they're appetizer-like as well.

Any other suggestions for appetizers? Any favorite dips?

Kathy - I know you read this. What's your favorite appetizer. I want to make it vegetarian, so no bacon wrapped scallions or anything like that...

Odie for Pet Project Rescue

So my house is sort of a pit after the goon, Odie. He was our temp foster for the weekend and a typical Golden. He didn't care that he was all muddy, nor did he realize that I had just steam cleaned all the carpets. Odie is about 2, 3 or 4 (well, we're not exactly sure yet) and is from Pet Project Rescue. He knows sits and just wants pets and attention! Odie came from a home with 9 other animals.

Yes, 9 other animals. Because of his previous home, he does need to be fed in a crate and have toys in a crate because he thinks that other dogs will steal his toys.

Generally though, he loves to have something in his mouth, he'll bring you shoes, socks and whatever is laying around. He'll also play fetch and adores laying on the couch. And yes, we let him on the couch to snuggle!

Here's a few good reads to get ready for Odie or any dog in general:







3.19.2010

Basement Stairs Are Painted





Finally. That's generally all that I have to say, besides ignore the laundry basket with the clean clothes. I mean, the clean dog bed cover that I made. Also, I will be painting all the trim white at some point so I kind of started it with the trim at the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs.

Do you remember the purple color that it used to be? I feel like it's warmer now and much brighter and it feels more cohesive (the color is the same as the dining room and the bedroom hallway).

Here's the steps I took:

1. Primed EVERYTHING, including the ceiling.

2. Before I primed the ceiling, I washed all the grease off. And that, my dears, was disgusting. I'm positive that ceiling had probably never been touched since 1949. Ew.

3. Let everything dry and then cut around the edges and trim.

4. Used a roller to paint everything else.

5. Admired the new color.

Happy Friday!!

So Many Movies Coming Out!!!



3.18.2010

Alton Brown's "The Chewy" Chocolate Chip Cookie

From Blog Stuff - Food



I love chocolate chip cookie dough. It's my favorite snack in the entire world. I think, well, besides ice cream, but these would be good with ice cream too!

My only issue: I'm awful at timing cookies so I always end up over baking them. Oh, yeah, and I also used old baking soda so they came out super flat. Oh, well! They taste great!

The Chewy

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

Serves:
2 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Hardware:

  • Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheets
  • Mixer

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. 

Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

3.17.2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Chicken, Tomato & Bean Something-or-Other With Cous Cous



From Blog Stuff - Food

So I needed something to make with all the leftovers and cans of food in the cupboards.

Turns out, a random modge podge of food tastes pretty good!

So here's what I mixed together:

Leftover shredded lemon pepper chicken
1 can artichoke hearts
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can Cannelloni beans
1/2 cup Tuscan house dressing
1 cup chicken broth
1 small onion, finely diced
2 turkey sausages, browned & casings removed
Salt & pepper

I just simmered it all for about 20 minutes, then poured it over a mound of cous cous.

I was impressed because normally when I throw stuff together, it doesn't really turn out that great.

So, be bold, throw everything but the kitchen sink into a pan and pour it all over rice, cous cous or pasta. You never know what you're going to get!

Want to foster?

Aren't they adorable?

Bimmer Man and I have had a wonderful experience with these two (and Diego, but I can't find a picture of him that quickly) and fostering for Pet Project Rescue. With set adoption events and providing for food, the major aspects of fostering are taken care of for you. All you need to provide is an open home, loving hands and maybe a bit of training (each dog that leaves my house knows sit, down, stay, come, wait and leave it). Please, please consider fostering for PPR. They are a fabulous organization dedicated to getting animals into loving homes.

After fostering these two, we just can't go back - Pet Project Rescue is in need of foster homes in the Twin Cities area. Why?

A family is surrendering 7 dogs, all NOT FIXED:

1 adult male Terrier/Poodle
1 adult female Poodle (her 3rd litter!)
4 BABY Terrier/Poodles
1 adult Golden Retriever


AND 3 cats, all adult females. 1 Tabby, 2 Siamese

So, if you're in the Twin Cities area, please contact PPR, or click on the link to the fan page on Facebook to get even more information. All animals will be spayed/neutered and vetted. 

3.15.2010

Black Bean Turkey Chili


Secret ingredients. Vegetable broth and Bud Select. (Yeah, I know... I know... use a better beer, Patty, but this is really good!).

All together in the big pot. Yum! Can you see the roasted red peppers too? Honestly, if you left out the turkey and added another type of bean, this would make an excellent vegetarian chili. I'm going to have to try that next!

My can opener is sort of ghetto. It doesn't really work and I'm way too lazy to buy a new one. Know of any bloggers doing a can opener give away? I'll enter!

And here's Cora. She's so dang sweet and smart. She went to her forever home last night. I'm hoping she had a good night last night! (Oh, BTW, I finally got glasses and I can actually see again, which means that I can now tell if I have a blurry photo or not, which is good.).

Black Bean Turkey Chili

1 lb ground turkey
4 cans of black beans (I ended up only using 3, I make a lot of chili at once so I can freeze & reheat)
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
3 - 4 roasted red peppers, chopped into bite size pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp sugar or honey (I use orange blossom honey)
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 bottle of beer
1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth, whatever you have on hand)
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder (or more)
2 tsp coriander
2 good shakes of hot sauce

1. Soften the onion in a large stockpot, when almost clear add in the turkey and brown.

2. Add in all other ingredients and simmer for about 25 - 30 minutes.

3. Serve with tortilla chips, green onions, sour cream, cheese and beer.

3.13.2010

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting


This is the good stuff. Trust me. If you have a cake, please frost it with this.

Yum. Yum. Yum. I could seriously eat this frosting on its own, it's that good! Check out my bad frosting though, I have no technique. I just dumped it all on top and then went around with a butter knife.

Has anyone taken a cake decorating class? Is it worth it? How many cakes do you end up making?

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1/4  cup  light brown sugar
  • 10  tablespoon  butter, divided
  • 1/3  cup  heavy whipping cream
  • 8  ounces  cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 3/4  cups  powdered sugar

Preparation

1. Melt brown sugar and 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat; remove from heat. Whisk in cream; blend well. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl. Cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally.

2. Place remaining 6 tablespoons butter and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla and salt. With mixer running, slowly pour in cooled brown sugar mixture; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually, beating well after each addition until completely smooth. Chill slightly for a firmer texture, stirring occasionally.

Kathryn Conrad, MyRecipes, OCTOBER 2005

Caramel Cake



What the heck? I can't figure out this new Blogger photo thingy - I don't have enough patience anymore!

In any case, in honor of reading The Help for book club I made a caramel cake. Honestly, the cake was sort of dry but the frosting was AWESOME. It was super easy to make (I'm not the best person for frosting a cake either) but I'd rather eat the Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix cake. So I am doing a single post for each so that way you don't have to read the cake recipe for the frosting too.


Caramel Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep: 45 minutes, Chill: 4 hours or overnight, Bake: 35 to 40 minutes.
Yield: Makes 1 (9-inch) 2-layer cake

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2  cups  sifted cake flour
  • 2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 3/4  cups  granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4  cups  light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 1/4  cups  butter, softened and divided
  • 6  eggs
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  cup  milk
  • 1/2  cup  evaporated milk

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans; line with lightly greased parchment or wax paper.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Place 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, and 1 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture and 1 cup milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating at low speed after each addition. Pour into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire rack. Place 1 layer on a cake plate.

3. Combine 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, evaporated milk, and 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cook (without stirring) until a candy thermometer registers 238°. Transfer to a heat-resistant bowl, and beat 3 minutes or until thickened and easy to spread. Quickly spread filling over cake layer on plate. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; chill 15 minutes or until set.

4. Spread a thin layer of Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting over filling. Top with second layer. Frost cake. Chill 20 minutes or until frosting sets, then cover and chill 4 hours or overnight. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature before serving. Garnish, if desired.

Kathryn Conrad, MyRecipes, OCTOBER 2005

3.03.2010

Hmm... I May Have Home Video Of This

Why yes, I have home video footage of the Bloomington Speedway (which if you get a chance to go there, please do. Bring your own 6 pack, eat the track food and don't dress up). I'll have to find Bimmer's and my home video of the Bloomington Speedway where we watched the Midgets. Oh, and the T-shirt that Bimmer bought.

In any case, enjoy the HBO documentary (or maybe they'll make a series), but soon enough, I shall be a track wifey. And I already know how to bleed brakes, change tires and hold a wrench. You know, the usual track stuff.

3.02.2010

So Not Into Fashion

Generally I'm not the fashionable type. I do shop at Banana Republic, J. Crew, The Gap, Macy's and local boutiques, but I'm more of the classic type. I want to look like I've stepped out of an Anthropologie catalog but unfortunately I don't think that's ever going to happen. Not to mention the fact that I have hips and a butt.

Oh yeah, and I don't think I've EVER done a fashion post (besides Frye boots) before in the 4 or 5 years that I've had a blog. Crazy, right? Yes, I'm crazy.

But I just can't help it because I haven't been shopping in forever and I stumbled upon the Gap's website and decided that there are items that I want. And I'm going to share them with you. Because I think you're all special enough for me to share with.

Doubleknit Blazer $59.50
Drawstring Shirt Dress $59.50
Mini Floral Rollup Shirt $54.50

Gap Product Red watercolor boyfriend T $28.00

Um. Ok. Maybe you can expect more posts like this. But not really. Not unless I really see something that I want. Like a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. Or Frye boots. Because everyone NEEDS a pair of Frye boots.

Tuesday. Blah.

1. At least it's sunny outside.

2. It's going to be 40 degrees today so at least the ice on the driveway can melt.

3. I pulled a muscle in my right shoulder yesterday reaching for a dog toy under the couch.

4. Taxes. 'nough said.

5. I REALLY WANT A DIET MOUNTAIN DEW. But I gave up pop for Lent. Go figure.

6. My car is clean thanks to the car wash on Sunday.

7. The next book club book is The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society and I'm super excited to start it. But then I realized that it's written like letters so I'm hoping that I don't confuse myself.

8. I'm a photoshop queen.

9. I didn't realize how much I missed my 50mm lens until I put it back on my camera yesterday and now I have my photography style back. YES!!!!

10. Painting is hard work. No wonder why I pulled a muscle in my shoulder.