Sunday, December 30, 2007

No More Coke Den

We worked on the basement (i.e. ManCave) this weekend. Nate has been working on painting over the gross, dirty yellow walls. It has made quite a difference as you can see in the photo below. He also removed the last of the mirrored panels that were adhered to the wall with something that not even World War III could have demolished. However, the hero removed all of those panels with his trusty crowbar. As he so eloquently stated when done, "Honey, we are no longer living in a coke den". I think he may have watched Scarface a few too many times.
Before the Mirror Removal:

After the Mirror Removal:


Painting Progress (the white is the new paint, in the event you couldn't tell!):

Friday, December 28, 2007

Living in the Land of Permits

When i was a kid, growing up in rural Wisconsin, we had bonfires, we burned our garbage and we did it all without a permit. (wow do i sound old typing that sentence).

Nate & I got a portable firepit thing from his brothers for Christmas. I think I already planned three or four parties before it occurred to us that we better check to see if there are any regulations regarding the firepit.

THERE WERE.

"Burning should be confined to manufactured portable fireplaces designed to prevent the escape of sparks or burning embers. All such burning must be done a minimum of 25 feet from any building or structure, trees, shrubbery, dry grass, weeds, or other combustible material. Items that may not be burned are; refuse, leaves or garden refuse, waste materials from commercial construction projects or any other item designated by order of the Wauwatosa Fire Department."

25 FEET?! That clears us right over the next two neighbors' yards! Ok, not quite, but still - there is not one spot where we can use the firepit within regulation.

I guess we will be sending it back :(

Beef and Beer with Yellow Potatoes

This recipe has beef, beer, potatoes and bacon...how much more WI can you get?! A dutch oven works great for this recipe.

2 TB olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 in strips
1 2 1/2 pound rump roast, cut into 6 equal size pieces
1 TB salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp allspice
1 pound onions, peeled and sliced (about 4 medium)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 cups canned tomatoes
2 12 oz bottles of dark beer
2 TB brown sugar
1 TB minced fresh thyme
1 TB minced fresh rosemary
4 Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put oil and bacon into a large casserole and cook until the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside. Season beef with salt, pepper and allspice and sear in bacon drippings and oil until nicely browned, about 3-4 mins per side. Remove from casserole and set aside. Brown onions and garlic in the casserole. Return beef and bacon to the casserole. Add tomatoes, beer, sugar, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a simmer. Cover the casserole and place on bottom rack of oven. After 10 minutes, check to make sure it's simmering; turn heat up 25 degrees if not. Cook until meat is falling apart, about 2 hours. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Source: Real Simple March 2005

Ice, Ice Baby

It is the general opinion that people (i.e. John McGivern) who choose to live in this state should not complain about winter. One of the advantages of living in WI is that we have 4 seasons, winter being one of them. Winter = snow, cold, ice, slush, short days.

Well, last night I was cursing winter. Our driveway has a bit of an incline as our house is on top of a little hill. In summer, this makes mowing the lawn a pain and in winter, it makes getting your car into the garage a pain. Luckily I have a husband who is rather diligent with the shovel!

HOWEVER, while making my way up the driveway last night with our garbage bin in my left hand and our recycling bin on my right, I hit a patch of ice and BAM! On the ground with both huge, wheeled bins on top of me. I couldn't take it. I just laid there and cried...and cursed. I left the bins where they were and went to put on my big snowboots and tried again. This time, the bins made it to the garage. I still had blood all over the top of my foot where something on the bin must have cut into it and a bruise on my knee. So that's it...I am SICK of winter! (no comments re: my history of clutziness)

UPDATE 10 MINUTES LATER: Literally right after I got done with this post it started snowing! God must read my blog :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy HOL-idays!



Here is a very square picture of us taken Christmas Eve. When we are not working on the house, we clean up pretty nice! :)

It is remarkable how once you have a house the gifts you get for Christmas are completely different. Last year my dad gave me some books and the Gone with the Wind anniversary DVD set. This year - money for a dishwasher. Last year Nate's parents got me some sweaters, jewelry and lotion. This year - kitchen towels, soap, and a creme brulee torch.

I am not complaining about this - hey I have wanted a creme brulee torch for about 4 years now! Nate & I were just commenting how we must be getting old b/c this kind of stuff is exciting now.

However, I was excited to open perfume, a skirt, aveda products and a coat from him!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Husband, The Hero



I started to notice that the water from our washer was not draining in the tub very well. When the water started backlogging into the washer, I asked Nate to unclog the drain. Using this long wire thing that my mom loaned us a long time ago (shh! she may not remember we have it!), he unclogged the drain!!! I was so proud. I could get back to washing clothes all night long. (not sure if my sarcasm is coming across the blog-o-sphere via photo and words here, so i am pointing it out for you!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

To Tip or Not to Tip?

My good friend Brooke (who also is a new homeowner) and I were just discussing holiday tipping. Do we tip the mailman? If so, how much? We only get the Sunday paper, so do we tip the paperguy? Yet another aspect of homeowning that I never knew about.

So I consulted good ol' google on the topic and found some articles that may be of interest:

MSN Money Central

Kiplingers

Real Simple

So in answer to my questions...hmmm..I guess I have some reading to do!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blog Makeover

Those few faithful readers may have noticed our blog looking a little differently - I got bored with the old template so will be playing with some new templates. :)

Intermediate Bathroom 2

Our house is 4 bedroom, 2 full bath. However, the upstairs bath is more like a 3/4 bath because although it has a shower/tub combo (which i hate), the shower is not usable because the previous owners never tiled over the drywall. You can see what I mean in the first picture below, which only has one row of tiles above the bathtub. Why in 43 years this was never done is beyond me.

The bathroom was a gross shade of pink when we got the place. Most things about this bathroom are gross, the floor, the towel rack, the light fixture. We would like to eventually expand this bathroom and have a separate shower and tub so that we don't have to go downstairs to shower. (we're lazy, i know). Here are the before pictures if you recall:




However, before we have the funds to do a complete bathroom makeover, we decided to spruce this room up a little bit using the leftover living room paint and putting up some shelves to contain my products. We got lucky that one of our framed High Museum Posters matched perfectly with the shower curtain and paint so unlike the rest of our house, there is even some personal decor involved! The room now serves as a nice place to apply makeup and do my hair in the morning so that Nate can use the downstairs bathroom to shave, etc. The room is very small obtaining good pictures was difficult. One is posted below. You can see more if you like if you click on the Bathroom 2 link to the right.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

I am starting to sound like a broken record. Over the weekend, we got 6 more inches of snow. That brings the grand total to 23 inches on the ground. We laughed when my father gave us a snowblower as a housewarming gift. Looks like he got the last laugh!

We also discovered a new tool this weekend - the Roof Shovel. Now, I'm not sure if this is the real name, but thank goodness our neighbor, Dan, had one. It lets you scrape the 2 foot icicles and snow off your roof and gutters so that they don't break. Sort of like an Inspector Gadget arm lengthener.

I tried clearing the bushes of snow so that people could actually see our holiday lights. During this time, i got stuck in the snow banks and fell over into the snow - which was actually sort of fun :) I'm sure come January, I will not think "fun" when i hear "snow", but for now, it is certainly festive!

Here is a pic of us in our lovely holiday attire from a recent ugly sweater party -

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Toasted Barley & Mushroom Risotto

1 TB olive oil
1 cup quick-cooking pearl barley
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms
2 large shallots, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 TB)
3 cups chicken broth, heated
1 TB minced fresh rosemary
1 TB minced fresh chives
2 TB unsalted butter
2 TB grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt & pepper

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in barley and cook until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, shallots & garlic; cook until mushrooms are heated through.

Add 1/2 cup broth to barley mixture. Cook, stirring until broth is absorbed. Repeat until all broth is added. Stir in remaining mushrooms about 5 minutes before barley is done. Stir in remaining ingredients and serve. Pass additional cheese separately.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time : 25 minutes
Serves: 3-4

Source: Chicago Tribune Recipe of the Week 11/17/2005

Friday, December 7, 2007

Men, Men, Men, Men, Man-Ly Men...

Perhaps it is our obsession with the show Two and a Half Men (of which I am partial to the theme song, depicted in the title of this post), but we have been doing a lot of work to the ManCave. Ahem, NATE has been doing a lot of work to the ManCave of late.

The ManCave is our basement, or rather, the portion of our basement where a pool table, bar, some shelves and mirrored panels circa an 80's exercise video were left by the previous owners. Our goal is to paint this area and get some new carpet so that when we have people over, this will be a semi-nice place to hang. Nate insists on calling it the ManCave and although I highly objected to the name at first, it has stuck. My sister, an architecture major, is even crafting a sign to hang down there.

We will be posting pictures of the progress on this in the days and weeks to come! Meanwhile, you can check out the pictures from move-in day in the new "ManCave" link on the right hand side. You will see the nastiness that is the current ManCave.

Start practicing your pool shark moves! ha ha ha

Party Time!

Well add another 1-1/2 inches of snow to the accumulation from last night!

Tonight starts the holiday party season - We can't wait for Travis & Sarah's ugly sweater party tomorrow night!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

Well, we got another 5-6 inches of snow here last night!! We could barely get our door open this morning to get out to the cars! I always love how pretty the snow looks before people start plowing, salting, shoveling, etc. Nate took this picture last night at the start of the snow:



We also finished decorating the tree. This was our first tree and we were pretty proud of it - we both had a box of ornaments from growing up and there were some pretty great stories to share. I think my favorite ornament of Nate's is the Mistle-Toad. Yes, it is a green toad that you pull a string to make it's mouth open. There are some pretty crazy ornaments out there!



AND we finally found a use for those ugly 70's style wooden post things that separate our dining and living rooms! Since we don't have a fireplace mantle to hang our stockings with care, the 70's dowels will have to do.



2 weeks and 6 days left!

Monday, December 3, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

I guess even Blogs are not chain-letter immune!

I have been tagged by Tara. Those of you that are planning your wedding will especially enjoy her blog about planning her wedding in Chicago.

The rules of tagging are as follows:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

And now for step 2 and the sharing:

1. I have been deer hunting one time and I have killed a buck. (I started crying). I was 12 years old and I won a bet with 2 boys in my class about who would kill the first deer. I have pictures if you do not believe me!

2. I took piano lessons from Kindergarten through Eighth grade. We have a piano waiting for us to move from Nate's parent's house and I am psyched!

3. I do not like when different foods on my plate touch and I eat all of one food before progressing to another.

4. I had a car in high school which was a piece of junk that acquired the name 'Fartmobile' on the way to a Robert Plant/Jimmy Page concert one summer.

5. I love free samples. I don't think this is a secret, but I bascially will sign up for anything that is free. Our mailman probably thinks I am deranged.

6. I really wish I could sing - I love singing but unfortunately am not that great!

7. I love love LOVE making lists about anything.

And now for the 7 blogs I will tag:
Sydney, Maura, Karen, Nicole, Erica, Trafford, and Bricks and Stones

Curtains



We finally found some curtains for our bedroom and got rid of the nasty roll-up shades! We had a bit of a problem because we originally bought the rods too small and did not figure it out until we had already put one up. My suggestion is to always go with the longer of the two rods if your window size could fit both.

In other news, Nate has been working on painting our basement. Our basement was half-finished. They had a pool table down there and some really gross carpeting over the cement. We are working on painting the walls and replacing the carpet so that it can function somewhat as a party room, or as Nate likes to call it, "The Man Cave".

We also had our first big snow over the weekend! My car and I actually got stuck trying to get into the driveway, so we had to break out the shovels! The snow plow thankfully did not wreck our mailbox. Some of our neighbors were not so lucky.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday Trimmings

Here is a picture of our Christmas decorations, which admitedly do not photograph well.


The spotlight highlights our new wreath, which sorta looks like it is in jail:


Here is a picture of the new tv in its new habitat:

I married Clark Griswold



I am not making this up. The picture above is not a fake. My husband actually put those two big rocks over our spotlight to hide it and make it look "more natural". Nevermind that there are no rocks anywhere else on our lawn. But I must admit just looking at this picture makes me laugh. [You can judge the "au natural"-ness of the rocks by looking at the full scale picture in the "holiday trimmings" post.]

Eat, DRINK, and Be Merry!

My aunt Jane provided the Pumpkin-tini at Thanksgiving this year. It was very tasty and sure to make you merry. She also provided some other festive drink recipes for those of you that indulge in that sort of thing.

UV Pumpkin Pie
3 ounces vanilla vodka
1 ounce 1/2 and 1/2 cream
1 ounce pumpkin spice syrup [Find in a coffee shop or www. Amazon.com $8.00 a bottle]
Mix, pour over ice and top with whipped cream and cinnamon for garnish

Cranberry Raspberry Flirtini
2 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce raspberry liqueur
ice (shake in this, then disgard)
1 ounce sparkling wine/champagne
fresh cranberries/raspberries for garnish

Peppermint Patty
1/2 ounce vodka
1 ounce vanilla vodka
3/4 ounce white chocolate liqueur
1/2 ounce white creme de menthe
crushed ice
mint sprig and candy cane for garnish
pour over crushed ice

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday Escapade

Nate wants a new TV. I am inclined to want one also given that our tv is a little small and 12 years old. It would be a nice addition to our downstairs given that our tv down their has some sound issues. (But, hey, what can we expect from a tv that we took from the curb for free?!)

So we have been tv shopping for a while, hoping to get a good sale on the day after Thanksgiving. Nate had to work this morning so I agreed that I would be a good wife and set my alarm for 4:30 and get up to go get us a tv.

I got to Circuit City at 4:55 and saw a line. This I expected. What I did NOT expect was a line that went past the end of the strip mall building, along the edge of that building and to an empty, dark field behind it. So, I put my hood up, put my gloves on and ventured to the end of the line. After 40 minutes, and maybe moving 20 feet, I came to realize that I would not get in that store for another hour at least. When a woman behind me left her group in line to check out the situation, came back and said they are letting one person in for every person that comes out of the store, I knew that no tv was worth this. (My frozen face, hands, and toes my have contributed to my decision to leave the line.)

I got back home, crawled in my nice warm bed and went back to sleep. At 10:00, Nate calls, "Well Honey, do we have a tv?!" I recanted my story and he could not believe that I waited in line that long. He checked out the website and it said that both tvs that we were considering were still in stock so I ventured back to Circuit City to get them, this time with coffee. Good thing it's only 5 miles from our house!

I get back to circuit city and there STILL IS A LINE! It is much shorter this time, so I wait for about ten minutes, get in the store and both tvs were gone. Nate was disappointed because the website still claimed that the store I was at had one in stock.

Welll...Nate JUST called me from Best Buy and they had a better tv at a lower price. "Can I get it??!" So we ended up with a TV after all!!! Lesson learned: Next year, I'm sleeping in and then going to Best Buy at 4:00 PM.

Here is a picture of our newest addition (to be replaced with in room pictures soon):

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are 2 recipes from our family Thanksgiving that were Yum-O!

Sausage, Cranberry and Pecan Stuffing
Ingredients
8 cups (1/2-inch) pieces firm white bread (3/4 lb)
1 1/2 lb fresh pork sausage meat, crumbled
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
3 celery ribs, sliced 1/4inch thick
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (8 oz), toasted
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Toast bread in a large shallow baking pan in middle of oven until dry and pale golden, about 20 minutes.

Cook sausage in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring and breaking up large lumps, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.

Add butter to fat remaining in skillet and cook onions, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add celery, apple, and garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage and stir in bread, pecans, cranberries, sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer stuffing to a buttered 3- to 4-quart shallow baking dish and drizzle with broth. (Use 1 1/2 cups broth if you like a moist stuffing, 1 cup if you prefer it drier.) Cover with foil and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until bread is golden and stuffing is heated through, 20 to 25 minutes more.

Cooks' note:
• Stuffing can be assembled (but not baked), without nuts, 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Toss in pecans and bring to room temperature before baking.

Source: My Aunt Jackie and Gourmet Magazine

Green Bean Casserole
The GBC is one of my all time favorite Thanksgiving dishes, despite the utter grossness of the cream of mushroom soup and frozen green beans. My mom gave me this fresh recipe from Cooks Illustrated (Nov/Dec 2006) so I gave it a try. I will never make any other kind!

Topping
4 slices sandwich bread, each slice torn into quarters
2 TB softened butter
salt
pepper
3 cups canned fried onions

Beans and Sauce
2 lbs. green beans, ends trimmed and halved
3 TB butter
1 lb. white button mushrooms
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
3 TB all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
salt & pepper

1. For the topping: pulse bread, butter, salt & pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl and toss with onions; set aside.

2. For the beans and sauce: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fill large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts water to boil, add beans and salt. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

3. Add butter to now empty pot and melt over med-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms relase moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 mins. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmeruntil sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

4. Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in an even layer in 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until topping is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Accessorizing Part 1


Now that we have the furinture situation in our living room squared away, we can buy accessories! Over the weekend we found a rug and a side table lamp for the living room. The walls still look bare but that will come with time.



Here is what the room looked like when we got the keys:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Butternut Squash Risotto

We made this over the weekend and it was great!

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
4 cups of butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and grated (about 1/2 of an average sized squash)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan

Warm the broth in a small saucepan over low heat.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and pepper and cook for 4 minutes. Add the sage and cook for 1 minute. Add the squash and garlic and cook until the squash begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally and waiting until it is absorbed before adding more. It should take about 30 minutes for all the broth to be absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan. Spoon into individual bowls. Serves 4

Source: Real Simple Magazine

Let there be light!

We had another house-packed weekend and one of the things we did is replace most of the light fixtures. We had a bathroom one to replace, 3 hallway fixtures and one kitchen. We got a great deal on a package of fixtures from Lowe's for the hallway and kitchen, and a clearance bathroom fixture at the HDizzle (Home Depot).

We were limited with the bathroom fixture since there is only about 6 inches of space between the medicine cabinet and the ceiling, but we were able to find one that matched our towel racks.

Here is the fixture before:


and here is the "after":


Our other project was the hallway. The old fixtures were ugly but they also did not let a lot of light through so we were hoping to get brighter fixtures, especially given the hallway is painted a dark color.

Here are the old fixtures:


and the new:


More of what we did over the weekend will be forthcoming!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Plumbing Permit


Well, add this to the list of "things I never knew before I had a house". Our dishwasher (above) is very old and is a piece of junk. You basically have to wash the dishes before you even put them in there or they will not get clean. So...a new dishwasher is currently at the top of our list of things to get.

Nate went to Lowes (b/c he is becoming more and more anti-Home Depot) to check out some prices and the man there told him that he needs to secure a plumbing permit from the city to install a new dishwasher and that they are $200!

In a desperate attempt to save the plight for my new dishwasher, i got on the phone with the permit police at the city. Turns out you DO need a permit, but they are only $20.

This begs the question, are they REALLY going to check if we have the permit or not? What a farce.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yard

Next summer we want to work more on our landscaping - we have a lot of cool plants already including this bush that is gorgeous right now!




We added a "yard" album to our list on the right.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Leaves!


Look at our giant leaf pile!

Furniture Complete!

We have our media stand and coffee table to match our side table! We weren't expecting to have it until after Thanksgiving so it was a fun surprise to get the call Friday!

Here is our new coffee table:



and media stand - our tv looks a little tiny on here but eventually we may upgrade that as well.



here is our previous media stand so it definitely is an upgrade!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sufferin' Succotash



I arrived back from a work trip last night and although the ben's chili bowl chili smokes were delish, I was definitely craving vegetables. So I made this for my husband for dinner.

Scallops Succotash

Olive Oil
One small onion
Garlic cloves
Zuchini
Tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
2 cups frozen lima beans
1 lb scallops
1 TB cider vinegar
fresh chopped basil

Cook onion in olive oil in a saucepan until softened. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add zuchini, tomatoes, corn & lima beans and cook until vegetables are the way you like them - about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, pat scallops dry and salt/pepper both sides. Cook until opaque in separate saucepan, about 5-6 minutes.

Return to vegetable mixture, add vinegar and basil, toss. Serve topped with scallops.

YUM! You obviously can substitute veggies/seafood to accomodate your preferences.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Trick R Treat



Our first year of trick or treating in our neighborhood went pretty well. We were going to dress up to hand out candy, but Nate could not find his Fred Flintstone costume and my Wilma costume did not survive the party a few years ago. Thus, I donned some glow eyes and that was that.

The neighborhood we live in tried something new this year and registered all kids who were going to participate in the nighttime trick or treat on Halloween (Wednesday). Registered kids were asked to donate a bag of candy and then they got a glow necklace to wear while trick or treating. Houses that signed up to hand out candy (like us) in turn got some candy given to them and a sign to hang in their door.

Our 3 bags of candy and sign were delivered on Sunday and we were told to expect 75 kids. We also expected to get a couple of kids on Sunday given that that was the citywide day for trick or treating. Well, we were close to exhausting some candy on Sunday so what did we do? Bailed and ran errands. We actually got stopped on our way to our garage and asked, "oh, are you leaving - so no candy?" And this was by an ADULT.

Wednesday night came and we had candy for 150 - 2x the amount we were told. Trick or treating started at 6 PM. Our candy was done by 7:15 - and that was after we rummaged in our pantry to find some GHIRADELLI dark chocolate squares and some dove valentines candy to hold down the fort for a few more moments. So we again had to pretend we weren't home for 45 more minutes until it was over! I initally was annoyed at this given that many of the kids out weren't from our neighborhood, but then the next day I heard that in some neighborhoods, police had to escort trick or treaters due to pedophiles. Hmm...I guess I can afford to give a kid a bit size snickers so that he can trick or treat in a safe neighborhood.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Roman Style Chicken

4 skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 Box pasta

Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and prosciutto and cook until the peppers have browned and the prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil water and make pasta as indicated. Drain pasta.

If serving immediately, add the capers, pasta and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve. If making ahead of time, transfer the chicken and sauce to a storage container, cool, and refrigerate. The next day, reheat the chicken to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the capers and the parsley and serve.

Makes a LOT so cut in half if you don't like leftovers!

Source: Everyday Pasta by Giada DeLaurentis

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recipe



Nate & I enjoy cooking and because our house changes are getting to be more and more minor, we will be putting some recipes on here to take up space. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jazzin' up the Living Room

We exchanged our side table - so the one now is scratch free.



The matching media console should be arriving at the end of the week and the coffee table by the end of the month.

We also received a finished wedding gift - my aunts, nana, sister & mom got together to make us a quilt that matches perfectly! Here is a close up:



Other than that, our weekend was filled with more yard work, passing out candy to trick or treaters and painting the upstairs bathroom! No more pink!

Amy:16; Nate:1



Here is a picture of Nate reading his new magazine subscription. It came in the mail and he announced, "finally, now i have something to contribute to the coffee table". He has a looonnngg way to go to catch up to my stack, ha ha ha.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bad Luck Wednesday

Last night we finally decided to take the plunge and buy a media stand, coffee table & side table. We received some wedding money earmarked for these things and have been shopping for them for a while. We get to the store, buy them and find out that only the side table is in stock. No problem - we load it in the car.

Next we go to Home Depot and score with a replacement light fixture for our bathroom that was 50% off, get some shades cut to replace the gems that were left to us (that no longer go up when you pull them down) and some other odds and ends.

We get home and the shades are too short, despite us giving the woman that cut them a piece of paper with the measurements. They were an inch off. This was about the 10th incident we have had with Home Depot. After 3 phone calls to the HDizzle, we are "allowed" to take them back and get them recut.

Nate then starts unwrapping our side table - and it has a SCRATCH on it. So, that has to go back as well.

We stopped doing any house-related projects after that and had a vodka tonic.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Houseguests!

We had our first official houseguests over the weekend! (Actually, Nate's brother Nick would be the first official but we're not counting him b/c we made him sleep on the couch b/c we had no beds at the time).

Luckily, they were 7 years old and 1 1/2 years old so there were not too many complaints. For kids, the best part of our house had to be our staircase - do you know how much fun it is to bounce a superball up and down those stairs?!

Liz
Age:
7
Relation: Amy's cousin & god-daughter
Likes: Creating her own guest room on our living room floor, DVRing Hannah Montana, and eating Kemps Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream with the mint fudge cows


Toni
Age:
1 1/2 years
Relation: Amy's Niece
Likes: Digging in houseplants, running circles around the coffee table, and kissing our framed picture of her dad


and a shout out to Nick because he got up at 3:30 AM to take us to the airport for our honeymoon
Nick
Age:
23
Relation: Nate's Brother
Likes: Living in FL and double fisting long islands

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Testing out our Green Thumbs among MANY leaves

Just when I thought I was safe from yardwork (i.e. lawnmowing), I learned yet another yard-related consequence of home ownership - LEAVES. Given that we lived in a woods growing up, raking leaves was optional. It was something to do if you were bored on a fall day and wanted to fill up those pumpkin trash bags (you know the ones). Inevitably we always had a stick or ten in the leaf pile that would puncture a hole in those bags within about 3 hours.


Fast forward 20 years and now we have leaf pick up times and rules about leaves. All leaves have to be raked to the curb between Oct 14 and Nov 1. And wouldn't you know that our lawn seems to be bathing in several inches of leaves, while our neighbors have one tiny pile. Are they sneaking out at night and pushing their leaves onto our yard?! (just kidding)

Over the weekend we successfully reigned in our leaves - thank goodness someone had the foresight to buy us a rake for a wedding present! Then this morning, I noticed that only a small portion of our gigantic leaf pile (taking up our entire curb) was picked up. Hmmm...Perhaps I will need to consult the rule book about leaves one more time.

Additionally, we attempted to do something with our empty flower beds. Nate's grandmother gave us some dafodil bulbs and my Aunt gave me some Iris bulbs. We'll see if we actually have irises and dafodils come springtime. We also did some trimming of exisitng flowers and plants. I'm not sure that we really knew what we were doing, but we at least felt like we were gardening, if that counts for anything!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Baby Steps...all the way to Target

We are at the point of having lots of little things on our list now that some major stuff is done. Two little things were crossed off the list tonight while at Target. We wanted a mirror for our bedroom wall and the mirror that came with our Pottery Barn furniture set was over $200. Then, while shopping at Target one day, we came across the exact same mirror for $60! Add in my 10% off shopping day (a consequence of WAY too much Target shopping) and we had a $54 bargain.

Before the mirror -



After the mirror addition - apologies for the crooked picture!



We also have been shopping for a desk, something we did not want to spend a lot of money on given that neither one of us works at home, but it would be nice for the computer. Well, lo and behold, we also found a desk at Target. And we did both notice that Target's furniture quality has greatly improved over the years, and still requires some assembly:



You can see the finished product in the Bedroom #1 link to the right. This room houses a twin bed we inherited and the desk and slowly but surely is starting to take shape.

So that was our Monday night. I am now going to join Nate in watching 2 1/2 Men.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Necessary Objects

Through our project, we have made many a trip to our neighborhood Home Depot as everyone who has owned a home warned us about. Luckily, our HD is only 2.8 miles away (my car could probably get there on autopilot). Here is a list of things that we recommend any new home owner to have:

1. TOOLS! Pliers (needlenose and regular) screwdriver (phillips & regular), an electric drill with bits, an alan wrench, a crowbar, hammer(s), and a box cutter are ESSENTIAL. Knowing how to use them will come with time, experience, and a few broken nails :)

[Tip - ask your father for these for Christmas the year BEFORE you intend on buying! ha ha ha]

2. PAINTING SPECIFIC TOOLS! Good brushes are a must (or so I'm told) along with working rollers, trays and the handy trimmer bucket. Painting tape (1-1/2") is also very helpful but ignore the 14 day guarantee b/c after 1 day, we had trouble removing the tape. (Don't worry, I've already written a letter to Scotch to complain).

[Tip - the handle of a broomstick fits any paint roller and is handy for hard to reach places like the ceiling]

3. Which leads me to my next item...BROOM! There will be dust and not everyone will leave you an antique dustpan when you move into their house!

4. RADIO! You may have to negotiate radio stations with anyone who helps you, but it's a small price to pay.

5. BOOKS!
The Ultimate Guide to Home Improvement by Creative Homeowner Press has been helpful


6. If you have hardwood - MURPHY'S OIL SOAP

7. GOO GONE - Takes paint off wood trim easily. HOWEVER, this also melts the plastic in cheap poster frames, right Nate?!

8. MEASURING TAPE

9. Rake, Shovel and Lawnmower for Yard related items.

10. An electrician available for consult - We almost got zapped replacing the ceiling fan in our bedroom.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Mailbox!

Some people braved the heat last weekend and ran the Chicago Marathon - we braved the heat to replace the mailbox!

Sometimes it's the little things...I love my mail and my mail was getting very wet in our old rusty mailbox so utilizing our energy star refund gift card from HD, we got a new one! Little did we know what it would entail - we share a mailbox post with 2 neighbors and it was not easy to remove and replace but it is done and it looks great! As our friend Carol pointed out, you think the home projects will be quick and easy, but then they either a)take twice as long as expected, b)end up creating more projects or c)all of the above.

And, did you know, mail does NOT come on Columbus Day?! (the horror!)

[picture will be posted soon]

Monday, October 1, 2007

We're Baaack!

Well, after a month-long hiatus, we are back to working on the house. Our washer that came with the house died before our wedding(that didn't take long) so we had to buy a new one, which was delivered Saturday. Thus, much of our weekend was occupied doing a month's worth of laundry!

We also worked on organizing stuff, more painting, and setting up the rooms. Our guest room is complete so if anyone wants to stay over, let us know! (Pics in the Bedroom 3 link)

Our master bedroom is almost done. Here is a before pic:

and an after pic:

More pics of the master bedroom can be found on the link in the right hand toolbar.

The downstairs bathroom was another project we took on this weekend. Here is a before pic:

and after 2 coats of paint and our new towels, towel racks, cupboard hardware, rug, shower curtain, and curtain rod:


More pics of the bathroom can be found by clicking on the Bathroom #1 link on the right toolbar.

Thank goodness for registry completion discounts and giftcards!