Wednesday, February 29, 2012

eleven things

This afternoon while sitting down to dinner I hopped on my blogger reader for some dinner entertainment (some watch TV, I read blogs). I started scrolling and noticed a few blogs I follow all had "11 questions" as the title and mentioned my friend Erika. I went to her blog and hey! There was an 11 question thing and I was tagged. So, here we go. And unlike her, I don't think I'll be following all of the rules (sorry, Erika).

Rules For Bloggers: (you must repost these)

1. Post these rules. Noted.

2. You must post 11 random things about yourself. Below.

3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post. And further below.

4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer. Don't think I'm going to get that far, sorry for dropping out of the race.

5. Go to their blog and tell them that you’ve tagged them. This trained stopped at #4.

11 random things about myself:
*I am allergic to pears & peppers.
*I have around 30 cardigans hanging in my closet.
*Sometimes when I'm at the gym with my headphones on there is no music is playing. I just don't want to talk to anyone before 7:00 a.m.
*I rarely stay awake for movies. However, I always say yes to movie nights and going to watch television at other people's homes.
*Every time I go to Trader Joes I buy frozen vegetables. Even while being a part of a produce co-op. Even if I hadn't touched the last package or two I bought the last time I went. It's a compulsion, and I don't know why.
*I will hold a snake before I will hold a slug.
*I got a stack of picture frames for Christmas, but cannot make up my mind 100% on how to hang them, so they are still sitting on my floor in a neatly piled stack (help is welcomed in committing to a decision).
*Speaking of Christmas, I designed my own Christmas cards. Printed them. And never mailed them.
*I keep band-aids in the knife drawer in the kitchen, and I'm really proud of my creativity in that choice. And thankful, when they are needed.
*I'm embarrased that I don't know how to hard boil eggs (I feel like everyone can). I looked up step-by-step directions on how to today, and am looking forward on fixing that.
*I can't remember my license number or car tag, and have no clue what my bank number is, but I do remember really random details about people (color, food, hobby, etc.). It makes for great gift giving, though it can feel a wee bit creepy.

Answer Erika's Questions
1. How many pairs of shoes do YOU own? (I need to know if I'm normal)
I went and counted--36! I was pretty surprised by this, since I only alternate between wearing a couple pairs. I think I can add a lot of pairs to my Goodwill pile.

2. If you had to have one type of plastic surgery done (and it were free), what would you pick?
A year of running and no thighs need help.

3. If you could have one exotic animal for a pet, what would you choose?
A dolphin! Because that means I'd be living at the beach with it.

4. What was your (first, most memorable, lamest, you pick) AOL Instant Messenger screen name? When did you stop using AIM (or DID YOU)?
Only and lamest...LadyGrace_17, or something like that. I remember the Grace was a play on my clumsiness, but I don't remember what Lady was from. I stopped using AIM while still in highschool; I don't think a lot of people I knew were on it.

5. If you had to move to another country tomorrow, which country would it be?
Australia. Done. Though South Africa, India, and the coast of Italy are also acceptable substitutes.

6. If you had to enter the Witness Protection Program and get a new identity, what would you choose as your new name?
Amelia Kate. I just went and googled "popular girl names in Australia;" I figured if I'm going into WPP hopefully I can go international.

7. Do you believe aliens could (or do) exist?

8. What's your favorite book?
UGH. Hard. I have a lot of favorites, and I'm reading a lot these days which sways my decision. I do enjoy reading a couple book series once a year--The Chronicles of Narnia (hmm, they're pretty high on the favorite list) during the winter, and Harry Potter in the summer (but I don't think HP is a favorite, it's just fun).

9. If you could be on a reality show, which one would you choose? (All are fair game: trashy ones (Temptation Island?? Haha), contest ones (Survivor, The Apprentice), as well as stuff like House Hunters)
Say Yes to the Dress.

10. If you had to live in another era, which one would you want to live in?
I saw Mollyanne say how much she enjoys modern conveniences, and I read a Bill Bryson book recently on the history of the home, which makes me appreciate indoor plumbing and appliances even more, so I have to second what Mollyanne said and say the 1950's.

11. If you were going to invite me over for dinner, what would you serve?
MMM! Please come over. I love cooking for people. If it's on a weeknight, it may be from the crockpot. Otherwise, I would probably serve roasted vegetables of some sort (or 2 or 3) with a solid carb, and a really good dessert. Though it slightly raises the stress level, I always tend to try new recipes when someone comes over or when I'm taking food somewhere.

This was fun! Now off to reading.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

woah weekend

Time is flying by. WAY to fast. This weekend? Was there one? (Yes, and it was good, but it seems so long ago).

Friday night I had some quality time with my roommate (British night!). We went to the Royal Peasant (the lamb stew was really good!) and rented a British movie. Conversation during day with roomie via text about getting a movie:
me, "You got us a movie?"
b.belle, "No not yet...I was thinking the series Downton Abbey...It's British. What ya think?"
me, "I was thinking something a lil lighter...with Hugh Grant or Harry Potter."
b.belle, "gah"
We settled on The Young Victoria. I'm pretty sure it was good...I made it for about 20 minutes of it before falling asleep (again, me falling asleep during a movie does not indicate it's bad. It's just what I do.)

Saturday...Had my favorite Saturday walk, and then went to volunteer at Bountiful Baskets (you're asked to volunteer every 6-8 weeks). Y'all. It. was. so. cold. I didn't think I was going to make it. I know I didn't defrost until that evening.

Speaking of that evening, I (re)learned how to use a SEWING machine! My friend Mary taught me all she knew (in addition to giving me her old machine and the tools to get going--thank you again, Mary!), and I got to sewin. Napkins, placemats...oh my. I can't wait!

Sunday was good and I had a meeting Monday night, so I am just now getting to dealing with my Bountiful Basket. And oh how bountiful....
There were some things that I shared pretty quickly (pears, kiwi, and celery). But still, sheesh! So much! Tonight I roasted broccoli from last week (bestbroccoli), made cauliflower poppers (umm...I ate the entire pan), and roasted the tomatoes to food process for tomato sauce for pasta/pizza. It wasn't until I was uploading this picture that I remembered that I had squash and corn too! If you follow me on pinterest there will probably be a barrage of squash recipes coming soon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Morning Efficiency

I saw a friend for a few minutes this evening and she shared how she gets her next day set-up almost entirely the night before (breakfast measured, lunch packed, etc). This isn't a new concept, but definitely one that hasn't been on my radar for years. Our conversation obviously stuck with me (since I'm thinking about it a few hours later), and I'm now thinking on how I can stream-line my mornings. I have no problem getting up early (since I get up early every morning to exercise and straighten up my house), but I'm always pushing it getting to work because I get distracted by things like picking out an outfit, making lunch, doing a final check of purse, etc. This morning for example, I did a great job of making my lunch, which I left at home on the counter. Tuesday morning I forgot my phone.

I'm glad to be hopping in this boat. I am really efficient at planning events, meals, and my workday, but I'm lacking in extending that attention to detail to me in the everyday. But, here we go (that sounds like a resolution or something...)

New evening checklist:
-Have coffee ready to go
-Pack lunch
-Lay out gym clothes and work clothes
-Have day bag ready to go

Simple, but I think helpful! Now that it's in writing (sorta), I'll have to see how I do with it!

And here's my Bountiful Basket round-up for the week and how it's being used:
I'm not doing anything super creative with it this week, but I am soo enjoying all the goodness!
The romaine lettuce is super good with the Marti's at Midday style chicken salad I made for lunch this week. It's also going to go into a new salad inspired by a salad I had at Last Resort this week. It had field greens, fried capers, roasted red tomatoes (cooled), tuna, egg, green beans, red potatoes, and a couple other things. It was SOOO good. I can't wait to try my own version of that this weekend.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Putting the POP! back into my life

The first time I had popcorn at my friend Susan's house she made it in this old-time stove-top popcorn popper. Hello, popcorn obsession. Since that day about 3 years ago I haven't bought a bag of microwave popcorn, instead waiting to go to her house (either as a guest or house-sitter). I tried making popcorn in my non-stick pan but I was scared that I'd damage it-that's what the internet said. I could have just bought my own popper, but I couldn't find one. Then, one night last week I was babysitting and out on the counter was a hot-air popcorn popper! Hurray! I had forgotten those existed!

Yesterday while waiting to get my Bountiful Basket I stopped by Bed, Bath & Beyond because I needed to replace a cereal bowl. They didn't have quite what I needed and as I was leaving it suddenly came back to mind-"hot air popcorn popper!" It probably helped that I was walking past the section of appliances. I started looking and looking, and couldn't find one (though I did help sell a lady a Kitchen Aid hand mixer...commission, BB&B?). Alas. A salesman came by and asked if I needed any help, and he led me to one! But it wasn't sleek. It was...cute. I looked at it and said, " you have anything sleeker looking?" Quizzical look, in response. Trying again, "this is cute-sy. I don't do cute-sy. Do you have one that is black or stainless steel?" Nope.

But my love of popcorn outweighed my disdain for cute-sy in the kitchen, so I came home with this guy!
And, out of the carnival themed box it's not that bad. Cute, yes. Cute-sy, not so much.

These are the kernels I buy from The Granary...
SO GOOD. The blue ones are fluffier and the red ones are crisper.

And here's my Bountiful Basket from yesterday! $16.50 for all that goodness!

Valentine's Day Party

For years I have wanted to have a Valentine's Day Party, and this year I finally hosted one! It was such a sweet evening with some very dear ladies!

The decor: PINK.
The butler and table were both wearing pink tablecloths. My pink depression glass was pulled out (my dishes are white so they'll "blend" with whatever I use--plaid at Christmas, spring greens, etc.). I framed a graphic I made for a work project and had a card I made at women's day out. There were patterned pink napkins. Sweet Brookie-Bell picked up some lillies for me for the table, and I found some cream taper candles. [Bonus buy...$4 for TWO (2!) candles at Target. Found 6 for $2.25 at Bed, Bath & Beyound. Woo-hoo!].

The menu: Dinner
I initially planned to make my spinach-broccoli lasagna. It's always a crowd favorite, and I consider it a "fancy" thing to make. The Sunday before the party while I was flipping through my recipe binder looking for the lasagna recipe I came acrosss a recipe I printed off months ago called "you won't be single for long vodka cream pasta." At first I rolled my eyes, then I paused. "You won't be single for long." Haha. And yes.
Served with it: oven roasted asparagus, green beans, a salad from Tiff, and bread from Kelli.

The menu: Dessert
I came across a recipe a while ago for whoopie pies--two cake like cookies with a cream filling...fancy oreos, if you will. But better, obvi. The labor intensity of them always put me off a little, so I wanted to make them for a really special event. A Valentine's Day party qualifies! And oh my. They. Were. SOOO. good. Good to the extent that I couldn't keep leftovers in the house.


Clearly, one dessert just wasn't enough and I also made a chocolate cream cheese strawberry pie. Let's just leave it at there were no leftovers.

Francie bought chocolate covered oreos!

Supporting Desserts:
Trader Joes chocolate truffles and gummy hearts!

The Guests:
Love them!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whine with my cooking.

So...that last post where I went on and on about how wonderful Bountiful Baskets was? How I based my entire meal plan on it? Well, guess who doesn't have one this week (or the week before because of a mishap)? Yep. Me. I feel SOOO lost without it. "But Diana, you didn't even know about it before this year!" I say to myself. I guess dependencies start fast with me.

That being said, cooking wasn't that fun last week. Or in my eyes successful. I made a train-wreck of an Indian dish (passable, but not what it was supposed to taste like...if a recipe calls for heavy cream, half-n-half is not an entirely successful flavor replacement. That fat is needed for a reason.). I did pasta primavera for group, which was a little lackluster (it tasted good [I think]; I'm just not a huge fan of pasta dishes). I made pumpkin-pecan cream cheese bread that I messed up the cream cheese layer on...the layer went mostly nonexistent. And the pumpkin-white bean chili had beans that were a little too tough. Whine, whine whine.

BUT, again, those things did taste good (again, I hope). I know how to better make the bread next time, and that dried white beans need 7 not 5 hours on low in my crockpot (live and learn). I did make a STELLAR kale and onion tart with some super good flour from Mary (which was also in the pumpkin bread. And in my greek yogurt pancakes this morning).
I have higher hopes for this week.

As whiny as the above just was, this week was good and Saturday was SO much fun--a women's day! We cooked (both pumpkin things from above were for it), we crafted, we knitted, we ate, we chatted.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

bountiful basket train

I tried to think of a cute acronym for what has been consuming my past few weeks, but I couldn't get anything cute from "reading" and "cooking." When I look back at the past few weeks, that's the bulk of what I've been up to.

I'm on the Bountiful Basket train, which makes cooking THAT much more fun. It's a food co-op that costs $15, and you get a ginormous basket of fruit and vegetables once a week. And for the most part it's really good quality (I had one week that wasn't amazing, but the other weeks have been off the charts). When I make my meal plan, I list all the meals for the week, write in if I have meetings/plans, and carry on. I usually make 2 meals a week, eat off of those, and freeze some. Because of Bountiful Baskets I am completely committed to using what I get in my basket and its been requiring some creativity. Most of it is normal veggies I'd buy anyways (salad, broccoli for "Best Broccoli") but then there have been some wild cards like cauliflower. I'm not a cauliflower fan, but I pinterest searched cauliflower the week it was in my basket and came across cauliflower pizza. The "Crust" was riced cauliflower mixed with egg and cheese, baked, and then topped with what you want and baked again.
It was REALLY good! I made my own tomato sauce (with onions from BB) and put cheese on top, and wasn't disappointed.

Also in the kitchen department...
Apricot bran muffins. Nothing from in them came from my basket, but it made for a nice change from cereal every morning. I worked with a Betty Crocker recipe, and cut down the sugar to 1/5 cup on the first batch. On the second batch I thought "apricots are sweet enough" and cut out all the sugar. Turns out they need a wee bit of sugar. I had muffins from that batch with jam.
Beef Stew (with carrots, onions, and potatoes from my basket; hey there co-op pineapple and bananas in the background!) and a brownie pie (for someone's birthday, not just for me for giggles).

And I made a pumpkin soup. OMG. It was a recipe that a friend in town makes and it was really good.

On the reading front, I had a lot of assigned readings to knock out. And then, it happened. I was introduced to The Hunger Games. You could say they're a page turner...I read each book in about 4 hours in one sitting. Pitiful.