Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I want to Knit. Or Crochet.

Once upon a time I used to knit all the time. In fact, M's cousin just reminded me about the time I knit in a bar for hours.

The story:

A few months after we started dating, M and I took a trip to Erie, PA. He was meeting his dad, brother, cousin and friends -- about 10 other guys -- to go fishing and watch his youngest brother play in a basketball tournament. I was supposed to meet up with two of my girl friends at Peak N Peak Resort (Erie was the half way point for us). Unfortunately, one friend got sick, and I ended up the only girl on the fishing/basketball trip. Yikes!

The day worked out ok. I got a mani/pedi and went shopping while the guys went fishing. Then it was off to a basketball game, followed by a trip to the bar to watch football. The backyard brawl to be exact (Pitt vs. West Virginia for those of you who aren't familiar).

Once I realized it was going to be a long night watching football and drinking beer in a dive bar, I went out to our car, grabbed my knitting and settled in. I knit an entire scarf. Some old man even said to me, "Honey, in all my years I've never seen somebody knit in a bar. And I'm damn old."
After that M's cousin awarded me the coolest girlfriend award because I didn't complain at all. Knit One. Purl One. That's me.

Since then I haven't done much knitting, but I'd like to get back into it. I read just read Friday Night Knitting Club, Knit Two and most recently the third installment, Knit the Season -- all by Kate Jacobs. The books left me inspired to pick up my hobby again. Plus, another one of M's cousins showed me how easy it is to crochet over Christmas. It looks easy enough. Maybe I'll do that instead?

Does anybody knit or crochet? Or follow any other bloggers who do?

Friday, December 24, 2010

What's cooking this holiday season

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

This holiday season has been so great. Per usual, I'm really in the spirit. In fact, M. started calling me the Queen of Christmas.

I've watched an awful lot of cheesy holiday movies -- ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas, anyone? We've also visited two local displays of Christmas Lights - Hartwood Acres Celebration of Lights and Oglebay's Festival of Lights (both amazing!), hosted a tacky Christmas sweater party at the cabin and cut down our Christmas tree.

I can live without the green and white cup 11 months of the year, but once Thanksgiving rolls around, it's constant nonfat, no whip peppermint mochas for me. And of course, I've had the Christmas music on 24/7 since November 1.

Last night -- November 23 -- was our first official Christmas party. I made Ina Garten's amazing roasted eggplant spread for the occasion. It was really easy, tasty and seems pretty healthy to me. It's a great thing to bring to a party as an appetizer. Or perfect if you're hosting, because you can prepare it in advance.

The downside? While I was chopping the peppers, I also chopped off the tip of my thumb. I won't get into the gorey details, but it was ugly. My brand new fabulous Cutco knives sure do cut with minimum effort. Domestic fail.

So what's cooking this Christmas?
The ravioli filling was a ratio of one egg to one cup of ricotta, plus I added seasoned salt, pepper and a touch of garlic. The pasta was 2.5 cups of flour, 2 eggs and a touch of olive oil. Typically I need the dough by hand and then use the pasta attachment. But this time I used the dough hook on the KitchenAid mixer, due to the thumb injury. It worked well enough, but I think I'll go back to making it by hand next time.

I hope you're all enjoying your time with family and friends. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Picture: The tree in Rockefeller Plaza from our recent trip to New York City. Love!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Who puts plastic in the oven?

We had our second festive ugly sweater party at the cabin this weekend, which turned out to be really fun. I'm thinking it should become an annual thing.

Since we had 20+ people at the cabin for the weekend, my mom contributed an enormous tray of homemade stuffed shells that she had in her freezer. Perfect for dinner on Friday night. It was covered with aluminum foil, so I stuck it in the oven as it was.

Fast forward 30 minutes or so. M. realizes I left the shells unattended and goes to check on them. He peaks under the foil and what does he find??


That's right. The entire tray was wrapped a billion times in plastic wrap. I guess my mom did that so they wouldn't spill on the ride to the cabin? Or maybe to prevent freezer burn? I'm not really sure, but I did learn the importance of taking a peak under the foil before putting anything in the oven.

Luckily, the shells were still frozen when I put them in the oven, so even after 30 minutes the plastic hadn't totally melted yet. M. was able to salvage dinner and once they finished baking -- sans plastic -- the stuffed shells were a big hit.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Soup Night

As soon as the weather started getting cold, M. & I created our newest wintertime tradition -- soup night. Every week, one night -- typically Tuesday -- is designated soup night. We take turns cooking and this week was my turn.

I based my soup off of the Food Network's Butternut Squash Soup recipe (guess I'm still on that orange kick). The recipe says it's intermediate, but if you have an immersion blender, I'd bump it down to "any domestically deficient can knock this out of the park." Seriously. E.A.S.Y.

You need:
  • One large butternut squash
  • A medium onion (I used 4 little yellow onions, because that's what I had in the fridge)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 6 cups of chicken broth (I made it with chicken bouillon powder, because that's easier to keep on hand)
  • Spices
  • Cut your butternut squash and onion.
  • Saute your onion in butter, then add the squash and broth and let it cook for a while.
  • After 20 or so minutes, run the immersion blender (even leave some chunks, they taste great)
  • Toss in a few spices -- I used Tastefully Simple's Onion Onion, Garlic Garlic and Seasoned Salt, plus some pepper.
With recipes this simple and tasty, there's really no excuse for not eating healthy, home cooked meals.

Next up: split pea and ham. M. recently mentioned that he really likes it. Has anybody ever made that? I'm debating between recipes from allrecipes.com, cooks.com, and Emeril Lagasse on foodnetwork.com.

Thoughts? Recommendations? Advice?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

Of course, I've had our house decorated since the first weekend in November. It's the Christmas Crazy -- it can't be helped.

Although I wanted to, I resisted putting up our tree until Thanksgiving weekend, simply because I didn't want it to die before the big day. So after a weekend with two fabulous Thanksgiving dinners, we headed out to the farm to chop our tree on that Sunday.

Carrying our tree to the truck.

I typically prefer a Douglas Fir, but all of the Canaan Firs were especially perfect.

With our new tree.

Decorated. Looks better with the lights off.

We got our "Just Married" ornament in Hawaii. Love it! (Obviously I was thinking about Christmas in October on a tropical island).

Speaking of Christmas trees, we spent the weekend at M's cabin decorating for our tacky Christmas sweater party.

The tree is much smaller than normal this year, due to the addition of a second loft. In the past M. and his brother have actually used a four wheeler and a tow strap to pull an enormous tree through the front door.

At this point, the tree only had about half of it's lights. Upon completion, we literally couldn't stare directly at the tree without risking vision loss.

Of course the boys were especially proud of their tree topper. In case you're wondering, that's a mullet wig with a trucker cap. True story. The good news is if the tree is wearing the mullet wig, that means my husband is not...

Just a taste of the cabin decorations. I'll share more when it's officially completed.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And I seriously can't wait!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Thanksgiving Win!

Hosting our first Thanksgiving ever was a big time success. We actually hosted on Saturday since we were up at M's cabin on Thursday. And technically we used my mom and dad's home, because 14 people simply wouldn't fit in our house.

Here's a recap of the menu with recipe links. My sister and I made pretty much everything, with a little help from our dinner guests and M.

At the last minute, my sister was able to come home from college for the entire Thanksgiving break. Thank goodness, because she and I did most of the cooking at my house on Friday. Of course we had the Christmas tunes blaring and the wine flowing -- the perfect day!

While we were cooking my mom brought our grandma over to hang out for a bit. She has Dementia, so she's easily confused. While she had no idea where she was, she did know she was with her grand daughters and she was having a great time commenting on our cooking.

Grandma also looked at our wedding guest book notes and pictures for three hours. Front to back. Back to front. When she'd get to an end she'd close it for a minute. Then look down, see the book in her lap and say, "Oh boy, I haven't seen these pictures yet." And the cycle continued.

She also heckled us when we set the fire alarm off. She actually thought it was hilarious. She insisted she never did that while cooking. (Question: Did they even have smoke detectors back in those days?) She may have never caught the kitchen on fire, but she did have a few secrets of her own. Allow me to share one with you.

My Italian grandma made her own homemade tomato sauce -- always. She'd make huge batches of it and freeze it. For my Pap-pap, no other sauce was acceptable. Well a few years ago, she had a heart attack that landed her in the hospital for a few days.

After she was stable, Pap-pap was still pacing around the room. We told him to relax; she was going to be fine. He just looked up and said, "Yeah but she probably won't be able to cook for a while and we're out of tomato sauce!"

What Pap-pap didn't know was that Grandma was tired of making sauce all the time. It's really a long, time consuming process. So a while back she started mixing her homemade sauce with Ragu to make it last longer. Of course she always hid the the evidence and claimed it was her recipe. Overtime, she stopped making sauce completely. She was just freezing Ragu so it looked homemade. Smart lady.

When we dropped that bomb on my Pap, he was beside himself. Frankly, I'm surprised we didn't end up with two grandparents in the hospital, both recovering from heart attacks.

Speaking of our Pap-pap (a.k.a. "Snoop" b/c he's ridiculously nosy), he also stopped by unannounced on Friday. He walked in, snooped around, flipped on the TV, made himself comfortable and proceeded to take a nap on our couch. Typical.

Then on Saturday, Sister and I finished cooking and lugged everything over to my parents' house for dinner. With 14 people at the table -- most loud-mouthed Italians -- it was all the chaos and commotion I was missing on the real Thanksgiving.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my in-laws. Without a lot of extended family in town, Thanksgiving with them was a much-needed, perfectly peaceful and relaxing day at their cabin. Thanksgiving, Part II with my extended family was pretty much the opposite -- and in my opinion an excellent way to round out the weekend. Truly the best of both worlds.

Apparently Pap-pap wasn't the only only one who was tired.

The turkey. Good thing M. handled this, because it kind of grosses me out.

My favorite -- the cranberry brie bites.

Corn bread muffins made with my new tea cake pan. So cute!

The soup.

The stuffing, half way there.

Our first Thanksgiving as a married couple.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Krinkles

Cookie of the Month Club is surprisingly still in business. In November I made Chocolate Krinkles. My friend, C.C., actually shared this recipe in the comments after my Calling All Cookie Recipe post.

I'm not much for chocolate cookies, but these are so great. A perfect holiday cookie. Enjoy!

Chocolate Krinkles
Makes 4 – 5 dozen
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
Mix oil, chocolate, and sugar. Blend in eggs 1 at a time; mix well. Add vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Cover and chill overnight.

Drop teaspoons of mixture in confectionary sugar. Press slightly. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 350o

C.C.'s Notes:
My family thinks these cookies taste even better the day after they’re baked. We’ve also found that it’s better to mix only one batch at a time, and we like to take them out of the oven a little early for a chewier cookie. Also, the mixture can get sticky, so keep it refrigerated when not using and make sure the cookie sheet is cooled between uses. Wiping a tiny bit of vegetable oil on the teaspoon also makes it easier to drop the cookies off.

The beneficiaries this installment:
  • C.C. herself since she just had a beautiful baby girl. I made her family dinner and in return C.C. let me hold her baby for a while.
  • The usual college kids: Sister, Brother-in-Law, Cousin
  • M. also got some this time around. Last month I didn't make him any extras and he swiped a few from the college kids' packages before I mailed them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Yam Casserole and My New Scale

My friend, Ke, got me a scale for my wedding shower so (and I quote) "you don't get fat after you get married." (Love her!)

I am a snacker (they say a picture's worth a thousand words), so it's not a bad idea for me to step on a scale from time to time.

At first, I really enjoyed my new scale. I jumped on and never looked down (I don't like to watch the numbers calculate). After a few seconds, I took a peak at the number and was delighted to see I lost 10 lbs! A-MAZ-ING!

Confession: I later realized that I never inserted the batteries -- who knew you had to?! -- and the number I was looking at was actually a sticker. And just like, that the 10 pounds I magically lost instantly reappeared. C'est la Vie.

But now that it's working properly, my scale has really come in handy. I used it to make sure my luggage was under 50 lbs before Hawaii. It was only 47.5, thank you very much!

And on Sunday, I used it to weigh yams. Yams were on sale at the grocery store, so I bought a couple with no plan in mind. When I got home, I found a yam casserole recipe in my "Better Homes and Gardens" cookbook. It called for 2 lbs of yams. Looking at my bag of yams, I guessed it weighed somewhere between 1 pound and 5. Not much help.

So I went upstairs and stepped on my scale (not wise when you're wearing clothes and boots). I took note of the number and then stepped on the sale again, this time with my yams in hand. Victory! The yams weighed 2.8 lbs. Perfect!

Now on to the recipe.

Note: It's almost like a dessert, but fun for a Sunday night dinner.

  • 6 medium yams or sweet potatoes (2 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

  1. Scrub yams or sweet potatoes. Cut off woody portions and ends.
  2. In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook yams, covered, in enough boiling, salted water to cover for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool slightly. Peel and cup up yams.
  3. Mash yams with a potato masher or with an electric mixer on low speed. Add milk, brown sugar, butter or margarine, egg, vanilla, and salt. Beat until fluffy. Add additional milk, if desired. Turn into a greased 10x6x2-inch baking dish.
  4. In a small saucepan melt butter or margarine over low heat. Stir in brown sugar, flour, and pecans. Mix well. Spoon pecan mixture over casserole.
  5. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Serves 8.
The recipe was perfect, since I already had all of the ingredients at home. I set out to make the casserole. Step 1 -- no problem. Step 2 -- Dutch oven? Forgive me, but the only Dutch oven I've ever heard of doesn't cook yams...

After a little Google searching, I realized that I'd have to boil the yams in a pot with a lid since I don't own a Dutch oven. It worked out just fine.

For step 3, I recommend the Kitchen Aid. It took a lot longer to mix than I thought, so I was glad not to have to hold a hand mixer. In the end I still had a lot of chunks, but M. confirmed that actually made the recipe even better.

Do any of you own a Dutch oven? If you do, do you find that you use it a lot?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quick Tip: Don't Lysol Wipe Your Mirror

This weekend I was haphazardly cleaning the bathroom. I usually start by running a Lysol wipe over everything. I raised my hand to start on the mirror when I remembered...

Rewind back to August. Seven of my lovely college friends were staying with me for the weekend of my wedding shower and bachelorette party (so fun!). As I recall, I decided to whip the house into shape before their arrival.

Thinking a gleaming bathroom mirror would be a nice touch, I took a Lysol wipe to it. It left the mirror looking quite cloudy. I could barely see my own reflection, but I thought once it dried a little, it would be fine.

Fast forward about an hour. M. entered the bathroom to brush his teeth and I heard: "What happened to our mirror?"

Me (from the other room): "I cleaned!"

Loud sigh. Then silence...

What's that about? I walked to the bathroom to find out why the exacerbated sigh and witnessed the foggy disaster. Opps!

So I grabbed a bottle of something from under the sink (Tilex? Mildew remover? Honestly, I'm not even sure I read the label). Armed with some bathroom cleaning product, I took aim and pulled the trigger. As I started wiping the mirror (again) when I heard M. laughing as he ran downstairs.

A few minutes later, I was still trying to get the mirror clean when M. reappeared with a bottle of Windex. He informed me that it's really the only product that works on bathroom mirrors. Duly noted.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving, Take II

Guess who's cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year? Yup, that would be me.

Remember last year? First my family tried to keep me from cooking anything. Then after much protesting, they put me in charge of heating up frozen corn. And I screwed it up.

Well, my kitchen skills have improved considerably since then. I'm not completely Domestically Deficient, but I'm still a far cry from a Domestic Goddess. Maybe a Domestic Diva? My friends did get me an apron to prove it (Love!). However, since it is the holiday season, I'll be sporting my Cooking Claus apron on Thanksgiving. I digress...

On Thursday we'll be at the cabin with M's family. Then on Saturday it will be Thanksgiving, part II with my family and I'm hosting!

The Menu:
  • Cranberry Brie Bites (appetizer)
  • Italian meats, cheeses and crackers (appetizer)
  • Cinnamon Apple Squash soup
  • Salad -- my mom's contribution
  • Corn Bread Muffins
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch (a hit last year!)
  • Corn (would stink if I screwed this up... again...)
  • Turkey -- M. is in charge of this!
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Vegetables -- my aunt will be bringing the veggies
  • Pumpkin Log
  • Apple Pie -- another mom contribution
  • Alcohol -- my sister claimed this responsibility. Shocking! (not)
Am I missing anything?! Have any of you hosted a holiday before? When I cook dinner for four, I struggle to get everything out on time and at the same time. I'm a bit worried about preparing such an extensive meal for 10-12 people. Any advice?

Also, I want to do a little table favor for everybody. Have you seen any cute ideas this year? The Dining Diva recommended Hostess with the Mostess. Lots of cool ideas.

Hope you all have fun holiday plans! Can't wait to read about them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanks, Shutterfly, for the free holiday cards

I just read a post from That's Sassy about 50 free Christmas cards for bloggers on Shutterfly. What a great promotion! I was in the middle of making two photo books with my favorite wedding pictures, when my mom asked me to help her with her Christmas card.

What better way to help? Blog about it and get half her order for free.

I must say, I'm not that cheap. I wouldn't write a blog promoting Shutterfly holiday cards if I were already planning to use them. In fact, I already have the cards designed, I just have to order!

If you're also a blogger, I recommend looking into the promotion. And if not -- Shutterfly is running a 20% off holiday card promotion at the moment. You can also get 50% off photobooks, free shipping on orders of $30 or more. Checkout the special offers and take advantage!

Happy Holidays!

P.S. I also used Shutterfly to make my wedding guest book and I love it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Christmafied House

I absolutely love the Christmas season and everything about it. So to avoid severe depression when it's over, I start my celebrating on November 1 every year.

Between my Pandora Christmas station, and the 550+ Christmas songs in my iPod -- I've managed to already surround myself with the sounds of the season. It only gets better after Thanksgiving when Christmas is on the radio, too.

I also spent Sunday Christmafying the heck out of our house. The best part about owning your own house is you can start decorating WHENEVER you want and with WHATEVER you want. The new hubs -- let's start calling him M. -- fully supports the Christmas Crazy. After all, he knew exactly what he was getting into before he popped the question.

Next up, I have to work on Christmafying my new in-laws' cabin. I love traditional, tasteful decorations, but there is a part of me that thinks the more flash and flair the better. I secretly wish my house was like the one in the Wizards in Winter video! This year I left the taste at home and will be bringing the tack to the cabin.

For the past two years, I've went completely overboard stringing lights through every inch of the cabin. I also incorporated all sorts of decorations in all shapes in sizes -- from the tiny Santa knickknacks to the enormous blow-up snowman and Christmas bear. The loft is especially fun to decorate. Over the summer, M's family added a second loft and a grand staircase, so the possibilities are endless this year.

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at the cabin with M's family last year. I have to say, it was really great to wake up in a cabin decorated to the max in the middle of the woods, surrounded by snow. Does it get any better than that?

I should mention the "cabin" is two floors and equipped with cable, wireless Internet, a couple full bathrooms, a kitchen nicer than mine at home and a laundry room. So we're not exactly roughing it.

Here are a few pics of what I did to the cabin at Christmas last year.
We couldn't find a wreath big enough for that fireplace, so M. made one out of several coat hangers. We now refer to it as "the wagon wheel." Random parts of it blink sporadically. Pretty fantastic.

The original loft. Now there's a second one across from it (on the left of this pic).

The living room!

Little knickknacks.

The blow-up Christmas guys (and my brother-in-law on the computer).

With Buddy, the best beagle ever. Yes, we're wearing puff paint sweatsuits. M. asked my mom to make him one for an ugly Christmas sweater party. I got one too, and we both wore them with pride all day on Christmas.

My KitchenAid stand mixer was a gift from my in-laws at Christmas last year. Clearly they've read my blog!

From last year's Christmas sweater party at the cabin.

My Inspiration:

And so begins the 2010 Christmas Crazy. Love it!

P.S. That little pup in the first picture is Stella, my family's dog. Love her!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If we start turning orange...

I wouldn't be surprised. And no, it's not because we're into GLT.

It's pumpkin season and for the last few weeks, I've been cooking anything and everything that's orange.

What have you been making this season?


I've dedicated a few posts to my Naan Pizza creation. I even mentioned grilling it during the summer. Now I recommend trying the very seasonal butternut squash and onion pizza. Amazing!

butternut squash
olive oil

Cut a butternut squash into little cubes, removing the skin.
Slice an onion (as much or little as you like).
Put the squash and onion in a baking dish, add some olive oil and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg (I use a generous dash). Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until squash starts to feel soft.

When the squash and onions are done baking, scoop your mixture onto Naan bread. Sprinkle with cheese on top. I used a mixture of shredded mozzarella and parmesan. Then bake at 375 for another 10-12 minutes.


I also busted out the new pasta attachment for my KitchenAid. Love it! My first creation was pumpkin ravioli. I used an Epicurious recipe for the filling and just used semolina flour, eggs and a touch of EVOO for the dough.

Making your own pasta is a bit time consuming, yes. But difficult? No! And in my opinion -- it's well worth the extra effort.
Start dough by making a flour volcano and filling it with eggs. Then begin mixing the eggs with a fork, gradually adding more flour to the mixture.

Eventually I ditched the fork and used my hands to kneed the dough. The dough hook for the KitchenAid supposedly can do this for you, but a friend convinced me it's better done by hand.

The finished product. I used a sage butter sauce. So good!


After I made the pumpkin raviolis, I had some left over pumpkin, ricotta cheese and a few extra pasta noodles. So I made a pumpkin lasagna. This was my first ever completely improvised recipe and I'm not even exactly sure what I did.

I think I took the leftover pumpkin and ricotta, tossed in an egg, some parm cheese and a few spices. I had cut my extra pasta dough into lasagna noodles a few days before and had been storing them in the fridge. So I just used those to complete the recipe.

Personally, I think it could have used a few other spices -- maybe more salt and pepper? But other than that, it was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself!


I saw a recipe in a cooking magazine and decided to give it a try. I altered it a little bit and made it immersion blender friendly. We liked it so much, I made it twice. Try it with a nice chunk of sourdough bread. Delish!

2 pounds of carrots, peeled and chopped (roughly 1 inch pieces)
1 white onion, chopped
3 cups of chicken broth
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
2 table spoons honey
2 tablespoons butter

Melt butter in a deep pot (better for immersion blender later). Add onion and saute. Next add carrots and chicken broth. Cover and cook on high until the broth starts to boil. Then lower to medium low and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the carrots start to get tender.

Use the immersion blender to blend the carrots and onions while the soup is still cooking. A few chunks are ok -- actually they add a little something extra. Once the soup is pretty much blended, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, salt and pepper.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

DIY: Wedding Guest Book

I made a scrapbook on Shutterfly to serve as our guest book. I'm not naive enough to think this is an original idea that's never been done before. I'm just really pleased with the final product and wanted to recommend to other brides-to-be.

I've been meaning to make a photo book that includes pictures of just the fiance and me from the first night we met (New Year's 2006) until the wedding. The need for a guest book was the perfect motivation!

All pictures are in chronological order with a lot of white space throughout the book, so guests will have plenty of room to write messages of any length! It's a year book meets scrap book kinda deal. I can't wait to see what our guests have to say. I highly recommend!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Work & Wedding

Last week, my coworkers had a lovely wedding/baby shower for my friend and me. (Important note: she's expecting, not me!)

Fiance and I registered at a few traditional places, but we also registered for honeymoon activities.

Well, my coworkers got us a Hawaiian Luau, which we're both really excited about! But even better, they pulled together their favorite recipes in a personalized cookbook. I love it. I figure since everybody contributes their best recipe, then I have one heck of a cookbook. So I'm going to pull a modified Julia Child and make every recipe in the book at some point in the next year. And with their permission (some were super secret family recipes), I'll share a few with you.

Last week at work was also simultaneous wedding prep. I really don't want Fiance to know anything about my wedding outfit, so I brought my shoes to work to break them in. I wore them around the office for five days and didn't have an ounce of pain. The shoes are a-go!

Since I was breaking in the shoes, I decided to multitask and give the new earrings a try. My ears are really sensitive to most metals, plus one hole is slightly ripped. Thus, I'm never able to wear drop earrings. But they would be SO perfect with my dress.

I tried on a pair at a bridal shop and my ears were inflamed and red after about 3o seconds. Despite a little pain and suffering, I wasn't ready to let the look go. So I invested in a quality pair of beautiful drop earrings. They're long, yet light. Perfect!

However, with my track record, I wanted to make sure my ears could handle them for at least a few hours. My goal is to make it through the ceremony and pictures and change to my diamond studs at the reception, if necessary. I put the earrings in while I was at my desk for a few hours each morning and afternoon. There was a little pain and some adjusting to the weight, but no redness or inflammation. In my opinion, that means the earrings are also good to go!

As for additional wedding prep, there were a lot of little things to handle in early September, but now we're just kind of coasting into the weekend. There have been a few minor hiccups along the way, but overall, planning has gone really well. The important thing is that everybody is on great terms and really excited for the wedding. I've heard wedding planning can tear families -- or worse -- bride and grooms-to-be apart. I'm so glad that hasn't been our experience at all. If anything, it's just brought our families closer together. A blessing for sure.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pesto Recipe?

Does anybody make their own pesto sauce?

Last night I made chicken and pesto pasta, and it was too easy. I grilled chicken on our foreman while the pasta was cooking. Then I mixed bite sized pieces of chicken into the pasta and added fresh homegrown onion, garlic and a jar of pesto sauce.

Seasoned with a touch of salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese, it was definitely tasty. But I think I'm ready to make my own pesto, especially since I use it on Naan pizza all the time.

Anybody have a great recipe suggestion? Please share!

Friday, August 27, 2010

What do you do when there's too much to do?

Leave town!

The wedding is rapidly approaching. September 25 -- less than a month away! So with a million and one things to do at home (plus class started again this week), Fiance and I are instead traveling. You know, because we have so much time to spare.

Our friends got married in Napa on August 14, so we packed our bags and headed to California for five days.

The highlights:
  • The wedding, of course! It was more like a cocktail reception with dinner on a beautiful balcony at the Avia Hotel. It was unique and really fun.
  • Brunch at Ad Hoc. The chef is incredible.
  • A visit to the Full House house, as well as to the park where a scene from the theme song is filmed. There's a difference. See pictures below.
  • Alcatraz. I've done the tour before, but it was Fiance's first time. We both loved it.
  • Finace's 30th birthday! We had to celebrate night before at Will's Fargo, because we spent basically his entire birthday flying home from San Francisco. Does anybody else think it's kinda funny that he lost three hours of his 30th b-day to a time change?
At the Franciscan Winery

Picking and eating grapes. Yum!

It has a fresh coat of paint and a new door, but this is the actual Full House house.

This is from the theme song, but none of these belong to the Tanner family.

A cell at Alcatraz where an inmate tunneled through the vent to escape along with two other prisoners. They were ever seen again, nor were their bodies discovered.

Enjoying 17 mile drive. Foggy, overcast and quite chilly -- but still beautiful.

I climbed a rock mountain.

The Lone Cypress inspired the Pebble Beach Company logo.

This weekend we're off to Shenandoah for our annual hiking, apple picking and winery visiting trip. This will be the fourth year and each time we've stayed in a different spot. Fiance always spends a lot of time researching the perfect place and he never fails to amaze me with his selections. I'm especially excited about this year -- we're staying at a Vineyard Bed and Breakfast. Bed, Breakfast and Wine -- how perfect is that!?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cookie of the Month Club

Have you ever heard of a Cookie of the Month club? The gist is you purchase a membership online and cookies are sent to the lucky recipient every month.

I think it's a great gift idea. The problem is, they're a bit over priced in my opinion. So I decided to start my own cookie club.

The beneficiaries:
  • Baby Sister, who just started her senior year of college this year. It's almost impossible to believe.
  • Brother-in-law-to-be, who is just beginning his freshman year of college (and is one of the biggest cookie monsters I know).
  • Fiance, who -- like is brother -- loves cookies. I made him a few extras.
  • Friends. We went to a friend's house on Saturday night and another friend's on Sunday, so I brought along a couple dozen cookies to share.
The goods:
The baking part was fun for me. I'll use any excuse to get out the oh-so-beautiful-and-wonderfully-functional KitchenAid stand mixer. Plus I got to legitimately wear one of the fabulous new aprons I got at my shower earlier this month. Last night I wore one just for kicks while Fiance was cooking dinner.

Ten dozen cookies later, Cookie of the Month club also became a fabulous excuse to use my new Martha Stewart cookie/cupcake carrier.

Lastly, mailing was a piece of cake. I used the USPS flat rate shipping box. Two dozen cookies fit -- barely -- into the small box. So two shipments and less than $10 later, they were off to our little siblings.

Here's to hoping the college kids get more than a box-o-crumbs. Love you both!