Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yellow Pages Goes Green

We just got new phone books delivered to our house this week. Everytime this happens, I think what a waste because who really uses a phonebook anymore?

Apparently other people had the same thought. You can register to opt out of receiving the yellow pages, white pages, or both here. Hopefully it works!

Sometimes those Daily Candy emails are actually worth something!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sink or Swim

Tonight we went shopping for the kitchen sink. We got some measurements from a few farmhouse style/apron front sinks and it looks like it may be a possibility!!! If one year ago you had told me that I would get this excited over a kitchen sink, I would have laughed in your face. Despite the priciness of one of these things, I thing Nate is on board. If only I could get as lucky as this woman and find one for $150 on craigslist!






Another thing that had us laughing, sick and twisted as we are, is that we finally killed one of the chipmunks that has been terrorizing our yard. Last night, I gave up trying to be nice to the monsters and told Nate to buy the most intense poison he could. Nate modified his chipmunk torture device so that he filled a huge bucket up with water and poured sunflower seeds in so that to a chipmunk, it would look like Scrooge McDuck taking a swim in his golden coins, err..sunflower seeds. He set the trap up right after getting home from work and no less than 5 minutes passed and there were little wet footprints on the deck. The chipmunk had escaped the trap yet again! I wondered if this chipmunk had indeed taken swimming lessons?!

We poured out a little of the water, went to dinner and sure enough there was a (dead) chipmunk when we came back! I guess it was "sink" for him!
Photos: kohler.com, countryliving.com, cottageliving.com

Monday, August 25, 2008

Spain...On the Road

Speaking of On the Road (see my previous post), the Mario Battali/Gwenyth Paltrow series on traveling through Spain entitled "Spain...On the Road Again" will begin airing on PBS in September. Click here to get updates and watch a preview.

This site also has a bit more info on the series. Our cousin, Caitlin, leaves to study abroad in Spain tomorrow so we are excited to watch it!

Thanks to Brown Turtleneck Sweater and Habitually Chic for tuning me into the series!

On the Road...Past, Present & Future

I have been saying that the Olympics have boosted my own athletic performance over the past few weeks. I have had some great workouts and long runs over the past few weeks! So it just figures that as the Olympics are wrapping up, I had a not so great 18 miler on Saturday. First it was very humid - humidity and I have never been the best of friends. Then, around mile 5 I could feel the beginnings of some major sports bra chafing begin. I have never actually felt this start to occur - only have been surprised to find burns at the end of runs. Well, let me tell you, it is excruiating to notice and feel your skin rubbing off with every step you take.

At around mile 10, the guys I was running with mentioned that Germany girl and I were excellent pacers. That made me smile and got me through about the next 3 miles, even though it had started to rain which only intensified the chaffing pain. We had one last water/gel/powerade station which is where I broke down. Lost my excellent group and took a short cut to the finish. Making my long run of 18 only 16miles. UGH. At least it happened on a training run and not the actual marathon.

So now I am left with two ugly burns right below my collarbone. My inlaws asked if they were hickeys! This would be funnier to you if you knew my inlaws!

At present, I just received an email from the marathon committee mentioning details of the race, etc which made me excited again. A little less than 6 weeks and it will be over!

Since some of you asked, I will provide a few more details on our future road trip vacation. We will be traveling from WI through MO to Dallas, TX. MO is our stopping point for the evening so we won't be doing much sightseeing besides what we can see from our car. We'll spend some time in Dallas, move to Austin, TX then San Antonio before heading to New Orleans. From New Orleans, we are going to Destin, FL and then to Atlanta, GA to spend a weekend with our friends and meet Baby Mee-layz.

Phew! It sounds exciting and tiring all at the same time!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where did the week go?

BUSY week - we had a houseguest, cooking classes, Olympics to watch, and a trip to plan! We are attempting the ultimate road trip later this fall with stops in Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia. Wowsa! We cannot wait!

We also received some exciting news last night - our cabinet is done! We had a cabinet made for the other side of our stove/oven to put our trash cans in. See the gross white trash cans behind me in this pic? That now will be a cabinet, after we paint it of course.

After painting, we can start the measuring process for the new Galaxy Black countertops! WOOHOO!!

In non-related news, if you are looking for a good beach read to wrap up the summer, Summer Sisters by Judy Blume may be it. Leave me a comment and I will send it to you.


Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dessert of a Lifetime



Nate noted that these are now his favorite dessert that I make. We are slighty biased towards the chocolate and peanut butter combo, but even martha calls the two a "perfect pairing".

I give you Martha Stewart's August 2008 Cookie of the Month:
No-Bake Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
Cooking spray
9 oz chocolate wafers, finely ground (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp salt
5 oz (1 stick plus 2 TB) unsalted butter
1 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup + 3 TB creamy peanut butter
10 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
1 1/2 oz milk chocolate, melted

1. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the 2 long sides.
2. Combine wafers, oats, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add chunky peanut butter and 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, whisking until well combined. Add peanut butter mixture to wafer mixture, stirring until combined. Transfer to baking dish, and use the bottom of a measuring cup or an offset spatula to firmly press mixture into an even layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Pour melted semisweet chocolate over chilled mixture and, using an offset spatula, spread into a thin layer that covers the entire surface. Refrigerate until hardened, at least 15 minutes.
4. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter in a small saucepan until runny. Drizzle peanut butter over chilled chocolate. Drizzle melted milk chocolate over peanut butter. Refrigerate until hardened, about 15 minutes.
5. Use parchment to lift out chilled block of bars. Run a sharp knife under hot water, dry well, and cut into 24 squares, wiping knife between cuts. Let bars stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. (Sliced bars can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.)

We used chocolate graham crackers in place of the wafer cookies and dark chocolate in place of the milk chocolate. Delish!

Recipe & Photo Source: Martha Stewart

Friday, August 15, 2008

More Books!

Leave me a comment if you want any of these and i will send them to you with one stipulation: That you continue to pass them along to someone else when you are finished.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is still up for grabs.

Jemima J by Jane Green

A Girl Named Zippy
by Haven Kimmel.

Clicking on the title will take you to the amazon.com write up of each book.

Another Thursday Night...

We went to a great restaurant last night, Antigua. Immediately upon entering the doors, we both looked at each other and exclaimed, "It smells like Costa Rica in here!". So in addition to the great food and great service, we had an unexpected romantic date as we recalled things from our honeymoon (in Costa Rica).

Then it was back to viewing the Olympics...and more crafting. I made a sleep mask to coordinate with the lounge pants I made earlier this week. It was actually really comfy. I don't know anyone who uses a sleep mask, but its intended recipient will be on some long flights pretty soon and I figure it may be of use. The pattern and directions were also in Amy Butler's In Stitches, which I am finding is really great for beginning projects because the patterns are included with the book and the directions and figures are very thorough.

Mask & Pants:


Giving it a try:


We are very excited as we are FINALLY using the rest of our economic stimulus check to purchase a computer tonight! We have been using my computer purchased my senior year of college, making it slightly outdated ;). WOOHOO!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Recipe Action

We made this for dinner a few weeks ago and it was pretty tasty:
Mediterranean-Style Pot Roast
1 2-3 lb. boneless beef chuch pot roast
1 TB Cooking oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic, undrained
1/4 cup sliced pitted ripe olives (we used kalamata olives)
1 TB Worchestershire sauce
2 tsp dried herbs de Provence, crushed
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Trim fat from meat, if necessary cut meat to fit into your slow cooker. In a large skillet brown meat on all sides in oil. Drain fat and put in slow cooker. Place all other ingredients except for the feta cheese on top of the meat in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8-10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4-5 hours.

Serve with rice or noodles and top with feta cheese.
Source: Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook

We also made breakfast for a bunch of friends last weekend and both of these received rave reviews:
Brunch Casserole aka Bacon Pie
1 bag of frozen hashbrowns (shredded)
1/4 cup chopped onions
salt & pepper
2/3 cup butter

mix hashbrowns, onions, salt & pepper and press into a 9x13 pan. melt butter and pour on top. bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

12 eggs
1 1/4 cups half & half
2 cups shredded swiss cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup bacon, ham or sausage
any other ingredients you like - green pepper, mushrooms, etc

mix all of the above and pour on top of the hashbrowns when they are done. bake entire thing for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees
Source: My mom

Baked French Toast
French toast ingredients:
1 loaf of French bread (13-16 oz)
8 eggs
2 cups half & half
1 cup milk
2 TB sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Praline topping ingredients:
2 sticks of room temperature butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 TB light corn syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Slice bread into 1 inch thick slices. Arrange in buttered 9x13 pan in 2 rows, with the slices overlapping. You can also put extra bread in the middle of the two rows - it turns out better if you can cram as much bread into the pan as possible. If the bread is fresh, put pan into an oven (about 425 degrees) to dry out the bread slightly as it turns out better with drier bread. In a large bowl, combine remaining french toast ingredients and beat with a whisk or beater until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the mixture. I also like to let them soak and then turn the bread over after a few minutes to make sure the slices are covered with the mixture. Spoon mixture in between slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the praline topping ingredients in a bowl and spread over the bread before baking for 40 minutes until puffed and lightly golden.
Source: Paula Deen on Foodnetwork.com

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Latest and Greatest in Crafting

Here are the before and after pictures of the vent covers in our living room that Nate replaced a few nights ago.
OLD


NEW



We realized last night that we are as far as we can go with our in progress kitchen until the new cabinet is made for the trash. So, I dug out the sewing machine to clear a few projects out of that queue!
This project has been a long time coming. My mom took my sister and I to California several years ago and I found this fabric in the fashion district. It reminded me of "old Hollywood" and I thought it would make a cool robe. So I bought it for my mom or sister to make me the robe. Fast forward a few years and I still had the fabric, but no robe. My mom gave me an "easy-sew" pattern. While I didn't really think it was 'easy', the robe is now finished, with a few noticeable mistakes.

Then I got down to making Amy Butler's wide-leg pajama pants that are featured in her book, In Stitches. The patterns and directions in this book are very easy to use. Here are my finished pants:


I will be making the sleeping mask that is also in the book in the same fabric as the drawstring for a cute gift for a certain someone that I don't think reads this blog, but you can never be too careful!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Find your home's "walk score"

Enter your address into this website and it will map out the mileage to the nearest grocery stores, bars, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. The grocery store is a lot closer to us than I would have thought, but we still only score a 37 out of 100 making us 'car-dependent'.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend shopping

What a fantastic weekend we had. Good times with friends, catching some rays, a great long run, Olympics watching, and of course, some home repair. Nate changed the heating vent covers in the living room and they look fantastic. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of them, but they are similar to the one in the Dining Room.

We also went shopping for light fixtures for the kitchen. Our current light fixtures are in the middle of the kitchen and over the sink. We are toying with the idea of putting some sort of pendant fixture where there cabinets used to be. I don't know if track lighting (see below) or single pendants would be better.


I really like this fixture to replace the one in the middle of the kitchen:


And we also would have a small pendant to put up over the sink as the current light fixture, which we put in last fall, doesn't really fit the space. We did not make any purchases yet, mainly because there are not too many options that we are liking and I am a little nervous that it will be light fixture overload in the kitchen since it is such a small space.

Photos from Pottery Barn

Find Your Style

Find your decorating style with this fun quiz. Mine turned out to be "super-cool country" - "minimalism and cottage-style are right for you". Not so sure about the minimalism piece - as that is something I don't consider myself, although i would like to be more minimalist :) However, the cottage-style was right on.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Broadway Paper winner!

YAY! I won another contest! This time, I won a card from Broadway Paper, a beautiful shop in the 3rd Ward in Milwaukee. Tracie, the shop owner, has a contest every Friday on her blog. Check it out!

RUSTY!!!!!!!!

Here is a view of the dining room FROM OUR KITCHEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, I couldn't help myself there...I'm still really excited that those cabinets are down.

Last night Nate reapplied the molding at the top of the new cabinets while I attempted to replace vent covers. As we improve things in the room, the rusty vent covers stand out more and more, and we always forget to measure them before we go to Lowes. Check out the rust factor on these - gross!



SO, last night we decided enough was enough. I mistakenly thought that this would be an easy upgrade. WRONG. The previous ownders had put enough nails in those rust buckets that they were almost impossible to remove. Never fear - Nate and his trusty crowbar got the job done.
Here is our new bathroom one:

And the new dining room cover:


We have seven more of these babies to go!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gary is our hero!

Even though I reminded everyone in the blogosphere to tune into Project Runway last night, I missed it because HUGE things were happening in our kitchen. Remember these cupboards, which made it impossible to be in the kitchen and talk to anyone that was not standing right next to me?

Well..TADA! They no longer exist! Our 5-door cabinet is now a two-door cabinet!



Here is the old view from the living room area:

And the new one.I think this is my favorite house project so far - I was pumped!


Thanks to my my 2nd cousin-in-law, Gary, (aka cabinet maker extraordinaire) who did most of the removal. He also is custom making us a cabinet to go on the other side of our stove that will be a garbage drawer so you don't have to look at our gross garbage. YAY! It is unbelievable how much of a difference 45 minutes worth of work makes - our kitchen get so much more light, and looks so much bigger!
Now we have 2 more cabinets to paint and some drywall to fix & paint!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Are you a...?

1...Runner? Sign up to participate in the USTAF Stretch Study. "Ever wonder if stretching before runs does any good? If you run at least 10 miles per week and are older than 13, you can help USA Track and Field find out. The national governing body of track and field, long-distance running and race walking has launched a large-scale study to determine the relationship between pre-run stretching and running injuries, and they’re looking for participants. Each participant will be randomly assigned either to stretch or not to stretch before their usual running routine. Those assigned to stretch will follow a detailed four-minute protocol of pre-run stretches over a period of three months. To learn more about the study or to register to be a participant, visit www.usatf.org/stretchstudy."
Source Windy City Sports.

2...Quilter? Amy Butler released two free quilt patterns today! Check out her website to download the PDF patterns.

Source: Amy Butler Designs

3...Project Runway fan? Don't forget to tune in tonight!

Source: Bravotv.com

4...house junkie? Consider heading over to Hooked on Houses for several blogger house tours!

Photo source: From Hooked On Houses blog

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

T minus 2 months


Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon is two months from today!

Updates!

Well, I am really starting to stink at blogging, as almost a week has gone by with no post. Here are some updates:

1: We are having the cabinets removed tomorrow night!!!! I really think this will be a dramatic change and cannot wait!!

2: Pianos are heavy. We were going to attempt to move a piano from my in laws house to our house tonight. Good thing Nate's dad gently suggested a piano mover. :)

3: We still have not caught the rodent in the yard. However, it did eat all of the peanut butter off of Nate's homemade trap and still survived. I had to laugh at that - the bottle was licked CLEAN.

4: Our wedding season has officially ended. Congrats to BK & JK, who are in the midst of their own kitchen makeover.

That is about it - tonight I am going to Diva Night with my mom & aunt in the village. Hopefully we can find some sweet home goods!