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.