The Best Of...

Don't you hate these stupid lists?

I do... and I'm doing one anyway. Mostly because it was fun looking back at this year and documenting how boring my life is. Sort of.

But still, let's take a look back at the top posts (and I post these in no particular order because, well, I've got 800+ posts on my blog since 2008 so...).

1. I'm the first person to invent the corkboard cabinet organizer inside the cabinet door. Seriously.

 Except other people have prettier pictures than mine and are now pinned like mad on Pinterest. Corkboard is awesome and this is where you can find my secret recipes, chinese take out menus and coupons. You get crafty when you live in an old house. I might even share more of my organizing ideas. If they work...

2. Baked Cumin Chicken with Asparagus and Potatoes. Smells delicious.

3. Hello Dolly Bars from earlier this month. Apparently they're a hit with crowds. Easy and delicious but I still can't bake like my grandmother which is really too bad. BUT I did receive Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas so BE PREPARED FOR THE JULIA CHILD GOODNESS TO COME IN 2012.

4. Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins. You can sub in any frozen fruit for blueberries and VOILA! Instant goodness. BTW, raspberries are fantastic too. And this is one of the handwritten recipes that I have hanging in my cupboard which I have memorized. Yup. Memorized.

5. And who can't live without a Rusty MONSTER post? Yes, he tests my patience; yes, he is most definitely a MONSTER but somehow... life would be SO BORING without him.


In Love With A Chair


Like a lot. Like enough that I would buy it and decorate a whole room around it.

I sit in it every.single.freaking.time I go to Restoration Hardware. I just can't help myself.

But mayday, we've got a problem. Not only is it out of our price range BUT IT'S TOO BIG FOR OUR HOUSE.

Yes, our teeny, tiny 1949 faux cape cod is just too freaking small for this chair. It would have to be the only chair in the living room.

And yet I love it anyway.

Maybe in a future house 20 - 30 years from now (do you think Restoration Hardware will still be making this chair???). Maybe when we don't have kids with sticky fingers and muddy dog paws.

But goodness gracious, doesn't this chair just make you want to curl up with a book, a hot toddy (ok, maybe a Jack & Coke or a nice LARGE glass of really good red wine) and a fake fur blanket in front of a fire while it's snowing outside?

A girl can dream...


Hello Dolly Bars

I think that bars are a Midwestern thing. Most people 'round these parts know how to make a good bar.

I sort of do. I am unable to replicate my grandmother's Hello Dolly bars and I have no idea how she made them taste so good. And she also passed away a few years ago and I regret never asking her how she made them. I'm hoping that my mom has some secret stash of recipes somewhere...

P.S. You don't need to coat the pan in cooking spray or anything like that. These bars come out great with the amount of butter already in the "crust" part... I found out the hard way.

Hello Dolly Bars
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 cookie sheets)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
  • 2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper; cut off excess parchment paper around top edge of pan.
  3. Place crumbs in a medium bowl. Drizzle with butter and 1 tablespoon water; toss with a fork until moist. Gently pat mixture into an even layer in pan (do not press firmly). Sprinkle chips and morsels over crumb mixture. Top evenly with coconut and pecans. Drizzle milk evenly over top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly around edges. Cool completely on wire rack.
Note: They can create a sticky mess in the pan, so it's crucial to line it with parchment paper. Because the milk needs to seep into the graham cracker crumbs, don't pack the crumbs too tightly in the bottom of the pan.


Roasted Squash With Brown Sugar

Squash... I can never get enough squash! If there is one vegetable that I can always eat no matter the season, it's squash.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut squash in half.

Scoop out the goop, seeds, etc...

Add in the center 1 spoonful of brown sugar (it can be a heaping spoonful).

Add 1 tbsp of butter.

Sprinkle with pepper and salt.

Sprinkle with a tiny bit of either nutmeg or clove.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

And yes, I LOVE my squash nice and soft - I don't like stringy squash, I don't like it one bit. So I'm sure I over cook it but man... this is my favorite way!


My Chintzy Christmas Decor

You're going to laugh. I just know it. So you can start chuckling now...

I decided not to go all out decorating for Christmas this year. Partially because of the drywall, framing lumber, and metal brackets blocking the storage door in the basement and partially because I just hate taking down Christmas decorations.

So this was my solution this year:

I hung over sized ornaments from the dining room chandelier.
 And then eventually got out the mini Christmas tree. I still don't know exactly where I'm going to put it but whatever. Probably either keep it in the middle of the dining room table, put it on the bookcase in the dining room or put it on the bookcase in the living room. We shall see this afternoon.

But y'all should know something. I still have one ornament to hang up on the chandelier. But I can't hang it up until I'm done sewing the burp clothes (pictures in the lower right corner of the above photo) because I'm too lazy to re-thread my sewing machine. Ok, laugh now. I promise that I'm laughing with you!

Also, from the above picture you can see that I have a few things to do:

1. Clean the floors.

2. Give a bowl back to someone.

3. Eat my apple.

4. Take care of the dying paperwhites.

5. Put away packaging tape.

6. Clean off the dining room table so we can eat on Sunday.

Yikes, that's a big to-do list. Sort of. Ok, not really. Most of it isn't that bad. But it in any case... I wanted to show y'all my chintzy holiday decor. Maybe I will get more into it next year.

Pan Seared Oven Finished Steak

Mmmm... STEAK....

I'm also a HUGE fan of cast iron pans - not only are they super easy to clean (wipe, rinse, dry off), but the longer you have them and the more you use them the better your food tastes.

When you pick out steak, make sure it's a cut that you actually want to eat - and that it's nice and thick so you have some room for error when cooking (I tend to walk away or do dishes while cooking and forget how many minutes are left... OOPS). There's also carry over cooking, so if you pull steak off the pan or grill too quickly, tent it with tinfoil and let it rest for a few minutes longer than you normally would let it rest. No worries. I just don't like tough, chewy meat.

When I cook steak, I make it easy.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (I had baking to do, so it was preheated to 350). 

Season with salt, pepper, olive oil and if you want... seasoning. I decided to try some garlic and herb seasoning.

Heat your pan so it's nice and hot. Get some butter and oil in the pan - wait until that is nice and hot and gently set your steak in the pan.


But do open a window.

Let it sear on one side until it no longer sticks to the pan, about 5 minutes.

Flip. Sear for exactly 2 minutes.

Shove into oven.

Let finish for 8 - 12 minutes depending on how well you like it done.

I prefer medium rare - but I cooked this one on the medium well side.

It should be nice, still a little pink in the middle but the edges should be crispy and tender with nice sear marks.

DELISH. Now go make some steak.


When Bimmer Man Is Away...

I can watch whatever I want on tv. YES!!! I'm so excited to either watch Gossip Girl or maybe have a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills night or maybe just watch... well... Bravo. Whatever.

And of course since it's the week of Christmas I need to clean, finish up some sewing projects so we can eat Christmas dinner at the dining room table, and um, maybe finish decorating??? HAHA. I didn't even put up a tree this year. I decided that a mini tree, over-sized ornaments and a small rug were more than enough.

Besides, Minnesota is having a brown Christmas this year.

West Elm emailed me today saying that the awesome rug shipping (excellent news!) and tomorrow I'm going to be sanding, priming and hopefully painting the trim white in the spare bedroom. Do I really want to paint the windows? No, but I will. They tilt in to wash, so hopefully I can figure out how to do it without another person so I can paint the actual windows instead of just the window trim (Um, yeah... I can be lazy...).

And then to Home Depot to hopefully color match the Benjamin Moore color that Bimmer and I picked out.

So... Merry Christmas week to everyone! Hopefully you get everything done before this weekend and hopefully I won't spill any paint!


The Christmas Card Conundrum

I just realized something.

Not all of our friends are on facebook.

Yes, I did type that correctly. NOT ALL OF OUR FRIENDS ARE ON FACEBOOK.

And I don't ever send out photo Christmas cards. I like to buy the cards that benefit some charity - like the Unicef cards or something like that (but then when you read the fine print they generally say something like, "we donate up to 1 million dollars" and then you think to yourself, "YOU ASSHOLES. You're cheating the poor needy kids by only donating 1 million dollars!" I also have a tangent on the commercials for non-profits where they have celebrities begging for money for charity - dude, they make more the general public and they are part of the 1%, why don't they just donate their money instead of begging the regular people for  their money and save themselves on marketing? Screw making a commercial, the celebrities could probably PAY for the commercial. GAH).

And I don't type notes and stick them in the cards. I rarely type any sort of greeting except for "Merry Christmas, hope all is well" and then our names. And yes, Rusty is part of the family and yes, he does sign his own name every once in awhile. I did buy a special inkpad for dog paws for one year.

I really don't give out much information about us. At all.

In fact, if I got one of our Christmas cards in the mail, I'd probably think, "If they aren't going to tell us a freakin' story about themselves, why bother sending one at all?"

And then I remember why I do it.

Because it's pretty fun. And I like receiving cards so I feel like I should send them out because other people like getting Christmas cards too. I like to share the Christmas card love.

But I digress.

Not everyone knows that I'm pregnant. I guess I don't advertise well enough. But it's not like I want to rent a billboard or anything like that.

And a few days ago we got a Christmas card from a couple that moved to a different state and they had a little note typed up with all of their news from the year (their lovely dog is 2, they bought a house, they went on vacation). THESE ARE THE PEOPLE NOT ON FACEBOOK.

And I had already sent their card out.


Maybe next year we'll do a photo card.

Hopefully they won't think that we just took some random baby off the street to put in our Christmas card photo.


Open Letter to My Dog, The Asshole

Dear Rusty,

Not only is it gross that you eat rabbit poop, but it's disgusting that you grab your stuff-less rabbit and then gum it for 30 minutes and try and shove it in my lap to get attention. I really wish there was a doggie mouthwash.

Also, when I whistle you are normally very obedient and come when called from outside to the door, but this rabbit poop thing that you've got going on, I don't get it. And don't pretend that you don't hear me, I see you with your muzzle on the ground, I see you snacking away... BUT I BUY YOU RABBIT TO EAT. Real rabbit. Real rabbit MEAT. NOT FREE POOP FROM THE BACKYARD.

So please, do not eat it.



P.S. Also, the security measures that I go through at Swanson Meats on Raws for Paws pick-up days is ridiculous enough that you really shouldn't be eating poop.

P.P.S. Buck, you reminded me of how often my dog is an asshole at the Holiday party on Saturday night and how much I don't share with people how much of an asshole my dog is even though when people meet Rusty they think he's the best dog ever. I promise, I will share more awesome stories and hopefully make you laugh more.


5 Awesome Reasons to Own a Dog

1. You can blame all unwanted bodily functions on the dog so when the dog really does fart, you remember exactly why you CAN blame bodily functions on the dog.

2. Your shit disappears. Again, just blame it on the dog. Somehow I'm still missing a shoe from a few weeks ago and I can't find it. I remember leaving it at the bottom of the stairs... BUT NOW IT'S GONE. Maybe we really have a ghost?

3. Free entertainment. Watching a retriever shake a fake goose to kill it is pretty funny. But not when he does it in the living room in front of your big screen tv and it's come flying loose a few times. Same with a Kong Wubba. Not only has he snuck it into the house on occasion, but I'm pretty sure he does it to piss me off on purpose every once in awhile. See here:

4. It's fun to share snacks. Like apples, bananas, raspberries, strawberries, carrots, etc... If I suddenly don't feel like eating healthy, I can just give it to the dog. That way he's eating healthy, right? Plus it's also hilarious watching a dog try and eat an apple. And a carrot if they've never done so before.

5. The best part: morning snuggles. And NOT being hit in the face with a very large paw. It's a miracle when I don't get hit in the face with a paw. I've actually blamed a black eye and a very large, bleeding scratch on walking into a wall. WHO DOES THAT? Someone with a dog who doesn't know how large and scratchy his dog paws are, however, how in the world do you explain that to your boss without it sounding like spousal abuse? I have no idea...


Handmade Holiday Ideas

So my new obsession is handmade stuff. Not just made by me, but pouring over other people's ideas of crafts, gift ideas, etc... and me wondering how people have enough time to do them. And marveling at how creative people are!

I can sew simple stuff (and before I got pregnant, I was working on a Sew Liberated Tunic which I now have to put off until next summer, but that's ok, I might find different fabric that I like and have to make 2 of them!) and I can follow patterns, but I do get frustrated and irritated if I have to rip out stitches more than once.

So I'm sharing with you easy things that can be made hassle-free. Yes, these things suit even the most easily irritated person (me!) when it comes to making things myself.

A pillow from BHG.com. Cut out snowflakes and fuse to a pillow. Insert pillow insert and toss onto couch. For those of you that are overachievers, sew the snowflakes onto the pillow. (Fusible interfacing is SO EASY!!).

5 different Christmas stocking ideas from BHG. Not only can you say, "Screw this pattern! I'm only half-assing it!" but you can also say, "I'm making this the most decorated stocking ever!" So you've got both sides of the coin here.

Clothes Pin Christmas wreath. Spray paint clothes pins, put them onto a wire clothes hanger with painted wooden beads between the clothes pin. Hang with ribbon.

10 Christmas Gifts in a Jar. Yes, please, people... COOKIES. QUICKBREAD. Who doesn't love some quickbread and cookies?

So people, take all these small handmade things into consideration. Low maintenance, easy to make, easy to give, easy to keep! Happy holiday crafting!


New Development on the Rusty Front

A few weeks ago we discovered Rusty with garbage in his mouth. From the garbage can.

I thought maybe when I threw it away I missed the garbage and he picked it up off the ground...

And then it happened again.

And again.

And again.

Have I ever mentioned that my dog is an asshole?

So yesterday was the last straw.

I heard rustling around in the kitchen and I thought that Bimmer Man had come in from shoveling and that he was getting himself a snack from the kitchen. Then the rustling stopped.

And Rusty walked into the living room WITH GARBAGE IN HIS MOUTH. LIKE HE WAS ALL PROUD OF HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS. My jaw dropped open. And there he stood, wagging his tail like he was the awesomest dog around.

My 'fraidy cat dog is now brave enough to shove his freakin' muzzle into the garbage can and pull out something tasty. Where has my awesome trick of putting the garbage can in front of the door to keep the dog out gone????

So this afternoon I think I'm going to be taking a trip to the Container Store to buy a nice garbage can with a lid. Ouch. You know when parents complain about their children growing up? Well, that's how I feel about my dog digging in the garbage can.

I want my scared-of-everything dog back. Life was so much easier when you could keep him in the corner with a cardboard box.


If I Haven't Been Decorating OR Cooking...

What in the world have I been doing?

I've been crocheting like a mad woman. The above is just a very small sampling of what is in my closet. I have so many freakin' handmade scarves, but just not enough to do a craft fair - I think if I had really put my mind to it this past year, I could've had a stock of maybe 75+ to do a 3-day craft fair but alas... I was lazy and didn't think of it until October.

So instead I opened up an Etsy shop and just sort of left it... didn't advertise, didn't really do anything, let it sit... let it fester... and then finally got up the courage to list the scarves. And I sold one. EXCITING. So now I have to keep crocheting scarves to keep the stock up. HOW IN THE WORLD DID I GET MYSELF INTO THIS? Oh, by crocheting in the first place and having way too many scarves for ME to wear.

And confession: because I really didn't put too much stock into Etsy, I totally crapped out when taking pictures. I honestly didn't think I'd sell anything or anyone would even look at it. HA. I guess I better get my rear end into creative gear and start taking better photos...

Happy Sunday!


Beef & Bean Enchiladas

I couldn't even wait to take a picture before I ate them. DELISH.

I guess authentic Mexican doesn't really occur to me at 1:30 in the afternoon, the only thing that does is messy, gooey, cheesy, beefy enchiladas. Screw the finished photo and just let me shovel them into my mouth.

So I went a little Sandra Lee here - but don't give me too much crap, because not only did I not go authentic (like use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas), but I just shoved stuff into the tortillas and prayed that it would be good.

And alas... I've got leftovers to satisfy... YUM.

Beef & Bean Enchiladas.

1 lb ground beef
1 can of black beans
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 clove of garlic - roughly chopped OR put through a garlic press. Whatevs..
1/2 cup of water

Cheese for topping
1 can of enchilada sauce that you find in the Mexican/Latino section of the store or from a Mexican food market. Yes, I did actually go to a Mexican market for this on my way home from work. HA.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Make the beef mixture. Ground the brown beef, drain off the fat. Add in the onion. Once the onion is clear add in the garlic, bean, cumin, chili powder and water. Let simmer until mixture is nice and thick.

Fill tortillas with beef mixture and squish into a rectangular pan. Top with enchilada sauce. Top with cheese. Bake for roughly 20 minutes or until cheese is super bubbly and makes your mouth water.

Serve topped with sour cream, guac, green onions, or anything else that your little heart desires.