Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp & Grits…

Shrimp & Grits are kind of a big deal in Charleston, SC where we moved from. Jedd & I like to buck the trend so both of us managed to never have them the entire time we lived there. Yes the entire 5 years though it was served at every wedding I ever attended (and there were quite a few) I was never tempted. I actually thought it was kind of a gross idea, because grits are a breakfast food. It’s like having oatmeal with pork chops for dinner, cause in my mind grits require sugar.

Well thankfully Pinterest peaked my interest and I made some yummy shrimp and grits this week. Now I realize that when it comes to grits it’s really all about the butter. If you’re watching your figure you may not want to come have shrimp & grits at my house. The recipe I used was worthy of Paula Dean, there is like this little sauce that kind of sits on the top, Jedd’s all “what makes it so rich, what’s the sauce” to which I had to say “why honey that’s butter and cayenne” as if it wasn’t really alarming.

It’s going to be worth ruining your diet for, plus I’m not sure how scientific this is but I hear the citrus from lemon cuts fat and since this recipe calls for lemon juice in my mind it eliminates the butter. Either way you should make this for dinner…just cause.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Hour: Adult Pumpkin Nog…

The problem with late September/early October is that it’s not technically anything. You might call it fall in some places but in DC it’s just confusing. It’s like a month of “surprise” weather. Today I left the house expecting a light drizzle and it turned out that today was a full on storm. Though it might be 50 degrees when I go to bed tonight it could very well be 90 degrees tomorrow. It’s because of this lack of consistency you could find yourself saying “I’ve got vanilla ice cream, sprinkles, 2/3 cups of pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice & some bourbon” what am I going to make with this. Thankfully someone thought of an answer which is why tonight’s drink of choice is what I’m calling Adult Pumpkin Nog but Jessica at How Sweet it Is calls Grown Up Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes.

Speaking of people referring to things that make absolutely no sense what would you call these:

I pour out those beautiful pellets of joy and Jedd’s all “something, something Jimmy’s”. I’m like what, come to find out some people (and by some people I mean Jedd) call sprinkles Jimmy’s. I didn’t believe it either so I had him Google it, in addition to Jimmy’s their also called hundreds and thousands. Who knew? I’m just going to keep calling them sprinkles myself, but I’m glad I know this just in case it’s ever a question on Jeopardy I have the answer.

Happy Friday!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meatless Monday: Mushroom-Cheddar Melts…

So we’ve met right? I’ve told you about all the crazy stuff I do called “dieting”? Well one of those things actually stuck and it’s Meatless Monday. If you’re not familiar with it than you can visit their website and learn all about it. Essentially for us we chose to participate in Meatless Monday as a way to force ourselves to explore meat free options several times a week. It’s easy to get into a rut with your menu and mine relies heavily on meat. Meatless Monday forced me to think about side of the box. Every week I try a new recipe in an effort to keep things exciting. Rachael Ray’s “Big, Beefy Mushroom-Cheddar Melts” were yummy, the Portobello’s tricked us into thinking we had meat.

Jedd had his with sweet potato French fries, but I had mine with seaweed chips because believe it or not the allergy I developed to potatoes is still going strong. You should try this recipe, it was yummy. Am I the only one who notices that Rachel Ray can make an otherwise healthy idea into a real bad idea? I did the calorie count for this meal and the burger comes around 520 calories and I cut down the cheese.

What's your favorite meat free meal?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

DIY: The Dresser (Part 2)…

Man oh man, Sunday morning I wake up and I’m fuming because I have that dresser in the basement and I have to go back to Home Depot again. I can’t very well leave the dresser the color it is and I don’t want to move it upstairs unless it’s white. My only other solutions would be to put it back on craigslist and that doesn’t make any sense because I still need a dresser. So finally at 1 pm I force myself to go back and get my supplies. 1 and a half hour later I have everything:

But wait it costs me $157.00. How does this happen when YHL only spent $31.51 to include the cost of their dresser. Well I should mention that I speed read and when I go to their total I didn’t actually read the total tally up details, the majority of that stuff they already owned. Had I factored in the cost of the $50 sander and $22 dollar primer, or the $6 in paint brushes/rollers, etc. I would have realized this dresser was really going to cost me close to $200.00. Which was fine, but now I’m stressed because I’m thinking oh I hope this turns out alright. I mean how awesome would this be if I had the whole “this one time when I refinished a dresser” story verses a “the one time I spent $200 bucks to throw out a CL dresser” story. So I get home, spread out all my supplies, put the drop clothes down and get the dresser prepped for refinishing:

I’ve got such anxiety about this I don’t even eat lunch and I get to sanding. Important lesson #1 wear a hair cap.

I must say sanding the dresser wasn’t super hard. I’m looking at my handiwork and I am feeling a little better, but I’m just not sure how this is going to end up.

Next you have to prime it and I end up letting it dry over night, because I’ve exhausted myself.

The whole dresser thing is a long drawn out process, not giving me the instant gratification I need. I have to put three coats of white paint and then the poly which takes two days to completely dry. I will tell you in between the second and third coat of paint I did tell Jedd I didn't think it was going to look good. I could still see the grain of the wood peeking out, the third coat really made a huge difference.

Finally after five long days it’s ready to move back upstairs. I decide to keep the existing hardware because I just want to use the thing. Sorry the pictures are so dark, I didn’t realize until just now but I’ll have to put better ones up.

The dresser is actually white, though you can’t tell in the pictures because of the lighting. But you get the point. So now I have a hand sander, almost a whole gallon of left over primer and some poly. I’m on craigslist every day now looking for something else I can refinish. Looking back it wasn’t bad and finally I finished something. Plus it was nice after we got the dresser upstairs I looked at Jedd and said “see I showed you, I can refinish a dresser and it looks really good”.

Friday, September 16, 2011

DIY: The Dresser (Part 1)…

In the apartment there wasn’t enough space in our room for both of us to have a dresser. I needed one that would fit in a closet in the hallway and knowing it would be temporary I shelled out a few bucks and purchased a small white one. When it came time to move into the house Jedd took one look at the dresser and said it wouldn’t make the move. I thought he was wrong so we moved it…

Damn I hate it when he’s right. So I start looking and I’m just floored by what stores are asking for dressers. If it’s real wood they want several hundred dollars which wouldn’t be a problem, but I’m just not seeing exactly what I want. So then I start looking at craigslist and the prices are more reasonable but the color of every dresser I see is all wrong. At this time it just so happens YHL starts a project where they have to refinish some furniture they got which links back to them refinishing a dresser. So I casually mention to Jedd that I’m going to do this; refinish a dresser myself. He’s skeptical which just infuriates me. How dare he question (he doesn’t actually question he just gives me his “sure this phase will pass” look) my ability to refinish a dresser. Now before you go getting all defensive about how unsupportive he is I must admit I’m a bit of a quitter. The list of things I care to admit to have quit (so far in our 8 year relationship) include:

1. Golf: I did purchase the cutest set of pink golf clubs when we first started dating explaining to him I needed to look the part to really take it seriously. I played golf once with these clubs yet we’ve moved them four times. But it’s not my fault Golf is boring

2. Water/Juice fast: Well it was just a dumb idea.

3. Marathon training: So once when we were with the Joneses I decided I was going to do a marathon, then I talked myself down to a half marathon all within a 10 minute car ride. Then I got home and decided a 5k would be better because I’m an ugly runner. I think I did a total of three 5k (at a fast walk) and moved past it.

Um I’m sure there are more, but you get the point, plus I’m past this list because you know…I like to quit things.

So back to the dresser. Now I’m all about proving Jedd wrong so the next day I get on CL and Google dresser and magically I see a post about a $25 dresser. I am jazzed $25 you can’t beat that. I pick it up and end up driving around for three days with it in the car.

Now I’m committed to doing this thing. I need supplies and I get on YHL and make myself a list thinking gosh this looks pretty easy. I’m also seeing how others did this and it’s soooo much cheaper than buying a new dresser. The list I come up with is as follows:

1. Hand sander

2. 200 grit sand paper

3. 80 grit sand paper

4. Plastic drop cloth

5. Cloth drop cloth

6. Gloves

7. Frog Tape

8. Kilz Clean Start No-Voc Primer

9. 2 small foam rollers

10. 2 inch paint brush

11. Things to pour paint in

12. Dust rags

13. White semi gloss latex paint

14. Minwax polygloss

15. Hardware

Fast forward to Saturday (Labor Day weekend) and we have on our to do’s to go to Hell to make my mom a spare key and I’m going to run in and get my 15 items. I should start this by saying we only had 30 minutes to get in and out.

As you can imagine it didn’t go well. First off it was packed and every time I stopped to get something some Home Depot employee would engage me and totally ruin my concentration. All came to a head at the drop cloths; I had gotten everything except for the paint and the drop cloths. I go to the isle with the drop cloths and someone (thankfully) had taken one out of the package already so I decide to spread it out in the isle to see if it’s the size I need. As I’m spreading it out this employee starts in on me “How much do you need, how big is the space your trying to cover” to which I’m like well I don’t know so I’m trying to figure it out, to which the employee snatches up the drop cloth and is like “well you’re not going to be able to cover the whole room and open all the packs” to which I say “first off I didn’t open that it was already open” and he’s all “well you should figure it out the size of the space first” I just leave, I’m super pissed cause I’m thinking where are you guys when I need some help, when I don’t need you your all interrupting my concentration and stressing me out. Now I’m hyperventilating and I see Jedd and he’s like do you have everything and I just go “f*ck it” and I leave the basket and we get the key and check out. He’s like what happened and I’m just like I needed more time I’m going to go back tomorrow.

I leave Home Depot thinking “Well if I abandon this project now all I’m out is $25.00 and a little pride”…

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Do you Freecycle? & why I’m just getting my birthday gift in September…

In reading blogs I sometimes come across things that I have no idea what the person is talking about and Freecyle is was one of those. DIY Del Ray kept mentioning how they’d gotten things from Freecycle and am so glad I learned about it. Essentially freecyle is a method of recycling things you don’t want and ensuring (hopefully) that they don’t end up in the dump. For my purposes I have only used Freecycle to give away, listing an “offer” and within an hour I have been greeted with several (21) emails for people who wanted something that had no useful value to me.

In addition to offering you can post a want. I don’t know how that works out, but should I decide to use it for that purpose I’ll let you know.

But onto my “item that had no useful value to me” also known as things I purchased but didn’t really need item 1 million and 1. So every year I make New Year’s resolutions and one thing always on there is to lose a little weight. I ALWAYS decide on some crazy diet and this year was no different, I decided “juice fasting” was the key. Now I must mention that I was actually interested in water fasting but after reading about it decided that a short term water fast followed by a weeklong juice fast was going to be more doable to me, rather than a full 30 day water fast. I know what you’re thinking and yes it does occur to me NOW that for someone who loves to cook and also EAT the food I make a liquid fast of any type might be a little stupid, but you know.

So I have this crazy idea and I know it’s crazy but I REALLY want a juicer. I have this little game I play with myself when I know I am about to embark on something truly absurd I make myself either earn the money or wait until my birthday or a holiday so I can ask someone else to purchase the item I surely don’t need for me. Luckily enough right around this time my birthday rolls up and OMG if Grandma Howard (who I absolutely love) doesn’t send me my birthday check. And if it isn’t right around the amount I need to make two purchases:

Oh when I purchase these two items at Target I cannot contain my glee. I embark on my two day water fast like my life depends on it, consuming NOTHING but water for 48 hours. Does this sound dull and unappealing? Well it should because it was. So then after talking to Jedd who thinks this is absolutely the worst idea and after getting a call from my friend who I haven’t seen in three years saying her and her kids were unexpectly in town I decide to allow myself one meal before the juice fast. That meal was a hamburger from Ted’s with peanut butter on it, but let’s not talk about that. So that night I get home and I make some juice and by some I mean A LOT. I make pitchers and pitchers of juice, we juice everything; carrots, grapes, strawberries, a whole freaking melon. I must juice $30 worth of produce in preparation for the seven juice fast which is to begin the next day. Well the next day I drink some juice, a lot of juice, but then that night I decide juice and water fasts are stupid and I start eating real food again.

Plus I really don’t like juice much; I have to be in the mood for it. Fast forward to Labor Day weekend and I realize I have no space for the juicer and it’s hard to clean. So I freecycle it but then I’m telling Jedd about it and he’s like “you basically just wasted Grandma’s birthday money”. Well every year I send Grandma a letter telling her what I did with my birthday money and I’m realizing now that I’m a horrible person because I didn’t write her that letter this year because I was too busy. Thankfully I’m a horrible person because now I can use the money for something else and I wasted my own money on a juicer (these are the little games I play with myself).

So honey when I come home today with some shoes or a purse you swear I don’t need just remember they were gifts from Grandma Howard.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kitchen cubbies…

Obviously when you buy a house that isn’t new construction there are going to be some things you don’t like. For me the relatively short list does include one thing that has baffled me, what to do with the kitchen cubbies.

Obviously by the stuff I put in them you can tell I had no idea of what their possible use could be. I think they are probably a result of two things:

1. I think the cabinets were clearly installed wrong. I don’t know if that was by the previous owner’s choice or by accident. My reasoning for this is the cubbies face windows on both sides. I think they should actually be seen when you walk into the room. This would make them useful for housing photos or cook books. But as they are they seem pretty useless in my opinion.

2. If they were installed that way on purpose I think it was because an error was made when the kitchen was configured. I think maybe when the cabinets were ordered the previous owner was going to put the fridge where the stove was and vice versa. Instead it ended up being flipped, though I’m not sure it would have mattered the other way, and as a result the cabinet cubbies again are facing windows making them useless.

Or so I thought. It just so happens one of my fellow bloggers who I love moved into a new rental and low and behold her cabinets have the same cubbies. When I saw the picture of her new kitchen I could have kissed her because she had found not only a great solution for how to use her cubbies but she also stored dry goods in a manner similar to mine, which would also free up some inner cabinet space.

So fast forward to this weekend and I determine that using the cubbies to house my dry goods would also allow me to add about a dozen new mason jars, so we made that purchase from the Container Store and I was eagerly waiting for the appropriate time to tackle this project, which brings me to “A day in the life of” post number 1:

Let’s say you were to get an invitation to brunch at my house on a Sunday morning what would you expect me to be doing an hour before your arrival? Well if you guessed putting dry goods in mason jars to store in cabinet cubbies your guess would be spot on. An hour before Amy came to my house I set up my little station making sure to use a pan to catch the spillage so I wouldn’t be cleaning up the floor and table five minutes before she arrived.

I love this method of storing because it allows you to see what you have on hand.

I was a little baffled the first time I saw this wondering how Emily at the Daily Garnish knew when things expired, um is she a genius or what:

Clearly I am not because I have to steal all my home décor ideas from people I’ve never met on the Internet, but who cares. Oh no that’s not accurate I have actually met Julie so it makes knowing all about her new kitchen less strange. About five seconds before Amy walked through my front door I set up my cubbies and now they look like this:

Riveting, I know. What interesting things did you do this Labor Day weekend? Cool people set up cubbies, btw.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Brunch is AWESOME…

This weekend we had Amy over for brunch. Amy and I used to work together and were able to see each other five days a week for almost three years. I miss that then to make it even worse Amy moved an hour away to Baltimore making it harder to see her. I hate when people move, but I love when people come over for brunch. Everyone who knows me knows I may not say “Hey friend I am glad you’re my friend” to your face, nope instead I like to express how fortunate I am to have you in my life through food. I like Amy, A LOT as evidence by this:

That folks is some homemade French toast that will knock your socks off as found on How Sweet It Is. I would love to link you to the recipe but my work has some anti-How Sweet It Is block. I’ll have to update it when I get home.

And as if that wasn’t enough I also made some lovely individual egg cup thingies, also How Sweet It Is.

Then I sat down and stuffed my face before going to my least favorite place.

Oh before I divert my attention to DIY nightmares see this little guy…

That knife is by far the best knife I have. I am systematically going to replace all my knives with those. If you cook do yourself a favor and buy one of those knives. Thanks Heidi & Rob for giving us ours.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Maybe we are “handy”…

So this weekend was jammed packed full of miscellaneous home to do’s as you may have seen on the Labor Day list. The list is jammed packed full of things we want to do in preparation for being out of town next weekend (would be robbers don’t get excited because my mom and the boys will still be at the house). Some of our projects though small were important and also got me revved up for my big DIY project of refinishing the craigslist dresser I found. One of those projects was addressing the gap in our front door.

This is one of those things that every single time I looked at it I thought “what in the world was the previous owner doing with all her time”. The woman lived here 7 years and never ever took the time (15 minutes we timed it) to seal up that annoying space where the door didn’t meet the floor. At night the street light would be clearly visible under that crack making me think “I know all my air-conditioning is seeping out”.

Yes mom I do care about those things now that I’m paying my hard earned money for it… I didn’t believe you back when I was 13 but yes, yes air-conditioning staying in the house is very near and dear to my heart now too.

It surprised me how easy this appeared to be for Jedd to do. Basically he got a handy saw and this metal piece for the door from Home Depot (a.k.a Hell) which he then sawed down to the size of the door:

Once that happened we removed the door and installed the strip:

We're a real professional operation, we laid down a bunch of blankets and laid the door down in the gap between the hall way and living room, we go for the "whatever works" approach here:

After that we rehung the door, and kept all my a/c in the house:

Another exciting thing to happen was that I started attempting to refinish a dresser myself. I plan on doing a whole post dedicated to it but here’s a classy picture showing the importance of sanding with a hair cap on:

That’s not dandruff, its sawdust. Oh another thing kind of exciting happened this week and it's making our neighbors love us:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Time can be alarming…

I must admit I’m not very observant. People have commented on this to me often. Things will occur that let me know that time has passed, someone will ask how long we’ve been together and I’ll think um….damn has eight years passed stranger? I feel like I just met you. My boys will have another annual checkup and I’ll be all “didn’t I just bring you here for this last June…of 2010”. Today was one of those days where a blurb on msn made me realize damn, damn, damn I’m getting old. What was that blurb….Keanu Reeves turned 47.

Now why would this be so amazing to me…well I remember when my Keanu crush began in the 80s like most people when he was in a little movie called Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In 1989 a crush was a crush there was no thought other than he was kind of cute, but in the movie really stupid. This was my first acknowledgment that maybe just maybe I leaned a little more towards liking boys because they were cute verses they had any substance. Most people wouldn’t know but my Keanu crush runs deep, I’ve seen each and every movie he’s ever been in. Most of them two or three times. Should he be on a rare TV interview I always stop. As time has passed my crush when from being based on his looks to the fact that he seemed, at least from my “fan” opinion interesting. I think it was some time in 2000 when I should have realized the transition into adulthood had begun, not for Keanu but for me. In 2000 I remember seeing him in both the Watcher and Sweet November and remembering that he didn’t seem as adult to me. He still wasn’t someone who if they presented themselves in real life would be of any interest, but he didn’t seem so far in age from me.

Recently things have happened that bring Keanu (yes, I refer to him by his first name because after a 20+ year love affair…all from my end of course, we’re on a first name basis) up in the news and now I think of him fondly. I wouldn’t say I have a crush, but I remember having a crush. I haven’t thought about it really until today. A little pic of Keanu with the caption “Happy 47th Birthday Keanu Reeves”.

The reason I knew that obviously not only had significant time passed for Keanu but it must have for me too. With hilarity I thought 47; I mean if things were different I’d actually consider dating a 47 year old. That’s a bit alarming, because 10 years ago he would have been way too old for me I thought. It’s the little things that make you look around and think “I have really got to pay attention because life is so fast…ten years has flown by”.

I don’t know what you’re doing right now, but stop, look around take a mental snap shot, because this too shall pass. Whether things are good, bad, or indifferent try and take it all in because it’s not just Life, its YOUR LIFE.

Labor Day Weekend List

Boy there is nothing I love more than a long weekend, coffee and a list.

I know your thinking that the last thing I need to be doing after I've been manically posting to the blog all day is drink some coffee at 5:22 pm. I'm gearing up for a three day weekend loaded up with fun exciting task, ok well really a bunch of stuff I want to do but haven't had time. Here's the list, I figured if I put it out there maybe, just maybe I'd get 1/2 the thing done:

1. Make spare key for mom
2. Get CL dresser out of car (as of Friday it's been driving around for 3 days with me)
3. Pick up stuff from Home Depot to refinish dresser
4. Take back dog coats to Target (cause yes the dogs need new coats)
5. Take back stuff to the container store
6. Take back stuff to Home Goods
7. Pick up shoe rack from Crate & Barrel
8. Set up baking jars in kitchen cubbies
9. Freecycle excess pots, pans & Tupperware
10. Jedd to install strip under front door
11. Take mom key and excess laundry detergent
12. Prosecco, Strawberry bubble bath
13. Plant grass seed
14. Upscale thrift
15. Alexandria Habitat for Humanity
16. Clean bathrooms
17. Laundry
18. Possibly paint stair risers
19. Get Jedd to agree half bath should be painted with yellow and white stripes
20. Meet with client
21. New client tax return
22. Reroute mail in bag
23. Take old dresser to dump
24. Jones' dinner
25. Amy brunch
26. Clean & freecycle juicer (gosh I suck)
27. Fix lamp in living room
28. Clean out fridge
29. Jedd to research new tv

If you don't hear from me just keep checking back, I am planning on updating this as things get done.

Blogging vs. Facebook…

So I’ve abandoned Facebook. I mean I still have an account but I never log in anymore. When I do get a message and I have to actually log in I’m confused that people are still using Facebook. Now there is this whole Google+ thing and all I can think is “oh God make it stop”. I can’t keep up with all the ways I can try and make the internet about me. I’m thinking of getting rid of Facebook because I also tweet, which I think is so much more appropriate for those random 140 character thoughts I have that I and probably I alone thing are worth putting out there for all to know. The app. I use on my phone posts the same random thought to both Facebook and Twitter and mostly the same people follow me on both so they’d still get the same information each and every morning that it’s 5 am and I’m soooooo tired.

Another thing about Facebook is what everyone has been saying is that it’s really quite fake. If I only keep in touch with you on Facebook I’ll see perfect pictures of your family, see what a great day you’re having, and old pictures of you before you put on 25+ pounds. Blogs on the other hand are real, or they should be and keeping that in mind I’ve decided to be truthful… house is still a mess.

P.S. This post is dedicated to the Jones’ who are coming over for dinner tomorrow. My email of full disclosure stated “I must tell you we’re currently redoing our exterior stairs and there are no posts or handrails, as a result I would recommend flats”.

Happy Hour: Earthquakes & Hurricanes…

DC had an earthquake last week. I’m sure you heard about it, we made the national news. It was very dramatic. Basically this is what happened 30 seconds of the earth quaking added HOURS to peoples metro commute. For us it meant nothing, I drive and Jedd telecommuted. I was forced to evacuate my office for 30 minutes all so the people who own the building could get to Greenbelt and walk in the building for five minutes and then declare everything safe. I have no idea what they could have seen in the 5 minutes, but I went back in. Because I’ve kind of fell off of Happy Hour and had been thinking I needed to find a suitable drink for this week I turned it into an excuse to Google “Earthquake cocktail”. Yup I’m not surprised there is such a thing. I didn’t know that when I searched it, I was half joking.

The earthquake happened early in the week and by Friday it was all about the Hurricane that was approaching. I was not impressed having lots to do. I actually needed to take some things to the dump. Heaven forbid we lost power. The news is all “you need to prepare by filling up all your bathtubs and sinks with water so you can have something to drink and flush the toilets with”. That’s even more annoying because now I needed to clean all the bathtubs and sinks, I was out of town the weekend before last and had planned on doing it that weekend but figured it would a good idea in preparation for Irene. I thought “Well if I’m going to clean for a Hurricane I should drink one to”, at least that’s what I was thinking when I googled the term “hurricane cocktail”.

For those of you who contacted me concerned about our safety we’re fine. We were lucky there was minor destruction to the neighborhood.

The most exciting thing at our house was we watched a really crappy movie “Rango”.