Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Recap

Wowsas! 2008 is over. Didn't it just get here? I feel old saying that.

Overall, 2008 was a good year for me. Some highlights:

1. Celebrating the big first anniversary.
2. Running two marathons
3. Learning to sew
4. Being "on the road" with my husband for almost 3500 miles
5. Finishing numerous house projects including curtains, the foyer, and the kitchen (even though technicially it isn't done) DIY style
6. Visiting Uxmal and "CHAAAAAAAAA" with co-workers on an international work trip
7. Getting better at public speaking through opportunities at work
8. Finally waterskiing!
9. Snow skiing with my fam up nort'
11. Diamond earrings from my hubby for Christmas!

Tomorrow I will feature my list for 2009, that is if I survive seeing TU's band tonight.

Happy Celebrating!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Recap: LOW TRAC

Among all of our big house plans, we also have new car(s) on the brain. Nate is driving the car he got his junior year of college and I am driving my parent's old sedan that was sold to me at too good of a price - my fresh out of graduate school self could not turn it down. We would likely get rid of Nate's car first given that his is older and has more miles on it, but recent events have made me want to ditch my car as well.

The main strike my car has against it is that it handles poorly in snow. Given that we live in a state where "snow" is likely 6 months out of the year, this is a pretty big strike. One feature my car has is the LOW TRAC light, which comes on when, you guesed it, traction is poor. Like the driver doesn't know he/she has no traction!? Most of the time we just make fun of the light in a heavily sarcastic way. However, two instances in the past month have incited anger in us when the LOW TRAC appeared.

Instance #1: Nate was trying to back out of my mom's long narrow driveway and he backed into her house! The corner piece of the house (sorry I don't know what it is called) was a little bent and there is some blue paint on our bumper, but nothing serious. It was mainly really funny that he did it.

Instance #2: Occurred this morning as I was trying to back out of our driveway. I have posted before on how our driveway is not conducive to the winter - it is on an incline and the pavement is so rutted that it easily ices over. If we get a good snow, my car instantly goes into Low Trac mode and will not make it up the driveway into the garage and thus has to be parked on the street while the driveway is shoveled out. Until today, I have had no problems going DOWN the driveway though. Today the car went into Low Trac mode midway down the driveway. I literally was stuck in our driveway as it wasn't moving in either direction. To make matters worse, today is garbage day so our garbage bins are on either side of the driveway and so are the glacierous snow banks. I was so close to one of the banks that I couldn't get out of the car to move the garbage bin so I was going to have to hit it. (At this point I was just hoping none of our neighbors were around!)

So that is what I did - I hit the garbage bin and it proceeded to skid across the side of my car and move an already loose side mirror! Oh well. At least I made it to work on time, and my side mirror is still hanging by a thread.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Kitchen Update

The Christmas celebration is only half over for us - we have more celebrations with my family tomorrow night and Sunday. However, thus far it has been a huge success. One of the highlights is that both my dad and my in-laws gave us gift cards/money towards our new stove/oven, which you can see is #10 on our looming Kitchen To-Do list.

The GE Clean Steel will match our other appliances that we have slowly bought over our tenure as homeowners.

  1. Sand cabinents, wood putty any existing holes

  2. Prime cabinets

  3. Paint cabinets

  4. Change cabinet hardware

  5. Change countertops

  6. Install sink and garbage disposal

  7. Install subway tile backsplash

  8. New flooring in foyer, kitchen, dining room

  9. Remove upper cabinets that divide kitchen & dining area

  10. New range/oven (our last appliance to buy!)

  11. New pantry doors

  12. New light fixtures

  13. Install roman shade in window

Although the list has not been mentioned since 10/31 on this blog, we have been doing some behind the scenes work on it. We have our white subway tiles picked out from Lowe's so now we just have to book a Saturday or Sunday to get the backsplash done. I am attempting to make the roman shade for the window out of leftover curtain fabric from our living room. We'll see how that goes!

The pantry doors have been a bit of a let down. We wanted to get the bi-fold white doors to replace the doors we currently have. However, they do not make the doors to fit the size we need and special ordering is too expensive. With an upcoming bathroom remodel on our minds, we are being mindful of what special order options are really worth it or not. I think our Plan B for the pantry doors will be to paint them and update the hardware. We have a lot of paint leftover from the cabinets so Plan B would only cost us the hardware.

Until then, back to celebrating the holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

This is the current view from our driveway...and it is still snowing. I'm not exactly sure where we are suppossed to put all this snow that we have to keep shoveling? I'm off to find out!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a Schlock Invasion

Schlocks have hit the blogosphere, folks.

Kennedy is eagerly awaiting hers.

Ella is chillin' in hers.

And it all started with Little Linus, I mean, Miles. :)

Christmas Eve Eve

Last night I managed to finish one of my remaining homemade gifts - the chef's hat to accompany the apron I made for my almost-3 year old niece. I'm pretty happy with it and can't wait to see it on her!

We also were able to wrap all of our presents and put together and deliver cookie plates for the neighbors. Phew. I think I am finally ready for the holidays.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Kickoff

Well our Christmas is officially kicked off - this past weekend, my mom took myself, my sibilings and our significant others skiing up at Indianhead for Christmas. It was a total blast and some great skiing. I highly recommend Indianhead to those of you in the midwest that can't get out east or west to ski/snowboard.

Tonight I have to get around to finishing some Christmas shopping and wrapping our gifts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I've been tagged by Nicole of Simply Chic.

According to this tag, I am supposed to
1. Link to the person that tagged you (Check)
2. Post the rules on your blog (Check)
3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself (Check)
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs (Check)
5. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

Here are 6 random facts about me:
1. I love olives (See Meze Platter recipe below!)
2. I recently started a weight lifting program and have moved up a level so I feel pretty buff.
3. I'm addicted to Magazines.
4. I really like the new show Leverage on TNT.
5. I have a not-so-secret crush on Dwight from the Office.
6. I cannot leave my office at night without straightening/filing organizing everything on my desk. How's that for neurotic?

So now I am suppossed to tage six random people from some blogs I read fairly regularly.

1. ChaCha from Chasing Imperfection
2. Finny from FinnyKnits
3. Sarah Danielle from Jeune Marie
4. Joslyn from Simple Lovely
5. Jennifer from Newlywed Diaries
6. Erin from Apartment #34

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Meze Platter

Has it really been almost a week since I posted? Wow. My apologies.

I believe I mentioned this hummus after Thanksgiving - my aunt brought it and Nate & I devoured it and got to take home the leftovers.


Avocado Hummus with Toasted Pita Chips
2 cloves garlic
1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
1 cup chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1 avocado, halved, pitted
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T olive oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Salt to taste

3 pitas
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mince garlic for the hummus in a food processor. Add rest of ingredients and process until smooth. Transfer hummus to serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil to serve.

Brush both sides of the pita with oil and cut into wedges. Arrange on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake until golden, 5-7 minutes. Serve chips with hummus.

To complete the Meze platter, it is recommended that you provide fresh chopped tomatoes, olive tapenade (made by chopping green and kalamata olives), feta cheese and tzatziki with the hummus and chips so your guests (or you and your significant other) can mix and match.

Blend 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber with 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint and 3 T plain yogurt. Garnish with chopped mint.

Source: Cuisine at Home Magazine February 2007

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Handmade Holiday

I am trying to do handmade items for some of my gift giving this year, although I got a late start on it so certainly the majority of it will not be handmade.

Last night I whipped out 5 lavender eye pillows, which I turned out better than I anticipated. I got the pattern from Amy Butler's website for free (OF COURSE!). I did not make the carrying case for the eye pillow b/c I thought that was a little strange.

Basically, you make a pillow, fill it with rice, dried lavender flowers and dried beans, and sew it shut. I made the pillow part out of muslin given that one is never going to really see the pillow.

Then you make a removable slipcover for the pillow. At first I was thinking, "Why do you need a slipcover for the pillow?!" But Ms. Butler makes a good point - one may want to WASH the part that touches the face. So here are my lavender eye pillows in their removable slipcovers:

I am really happy with how they turned out and it was a great project for me to practice straight sewing without having visible stitches. My next thought was, "Who is really going to use a lavender eye pillow??" So I laid on the couch and tried one out...I must admit I thought it was relaxing! But I made Nate try one for a second opinion - he wasn't that gung ho about them, but did say that they "smelled really good". At the very least, people can use it for a drawer sachet or something. Dried lavender is supposedly a natural moth repellent!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gift Tag Downloads

Three websites have free holiday gift tag downloads:

Amy Butler


Martha Stewart

Click on each name to download the pdf, put some cardstock in your printer and print away!

Photo Source: Martha Stewart

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Book It

If you are interested in reading The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, please leave me a comment with your contact information and i will mail it to the first person who comments.

Book It is made possible by people who send me/give me books to read and do not want them back, namely my friend EA.

Putting Craft Skillz to Work

BurdaStyle is asking members and friends to donate handmade bow ties to be auctioned off at the American Cancer Society (ACS) Pink and Black Tie Gala on May 7th 2009.

Want to help? Download the David Bow Tie pattern Sew it up in pink and/or black fabric and send it to BurdaStyle by May 4th 2009.

BurdaStyle 325 Gold st Suite 201 Brooklyn, NY. 11201

If you would like to include a personal story with your bow tie you are more than welcome to. Write it on a note card, that way, whoever wears your bow tie will know the story behind it.

What a fun, creative way to help out a great organization!

O Tannenbaum!

We are in the midst of another snowstorm! Last night we decorated our Christmas tree. I love the smell of a fresh tree - our whole house smells delicious!

We had to rearrange the furniture a bit to make it fit in the window, so now our living room went from super green to ULTRA extreme green. We have to find a new sofa!

And our nativity, which I love:

Getting the tree was pretty easy this year. Last year we got our tree from Lowe's, which we both thought was lame. This year we went to this little tree lot that had the lights and the carols. We looked at the price tag of the tree - $75. We both are too cheap to pay that much for something that is going to be at the curb in less than a month so guess what...we headed back to Lowe's and got the same tree for $32. So yes, we are lame for a second year in a row. An additional plus for Lowe's is that it is very close to our house and given that we have to drive with the hatchback of our VW Golf open to accomodate the tree, it is better to do that from not too far away. Driving in 6 degree weather can get a little cold!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Preparations

The weekend was a good one. My mom and sister came over to make Christmas cookies - it was a 9 hour extravaganza! We ended up making the following concoctions:

Peanut butter balls
Chocolate covered peanuts
Old School Rock Candy
Cut-outs (of course)
Gingerbread Men
Peanut Butter Hershey Kiss cookies
Pecan Snowballs
Homemade caramels

I also made my niece, a 2 1/2 year old fan of Diego, this apron for Christmas.

She is a fan of cooking so I thought it would be a fun thing for her to have. I still have to make the coordinating Chef's hat, but am happy with how the apron turned out. I went by 3 different patterns, this one, one of those free Jo-Ann pamphlets, and one my aunt made me (as seen on my mother above).

And....we got a Christmas tree! We haven't decorated it yet, but pictures will be forthcoming!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Introducing Schlotty Couture

I am shamelessly promoting my new blog/endeavor - Schlotty Couture, my attempt to sell the baby shoes (now called "Schlocks" thanks to AH).

You may recall the posts on the shoes here and here.

Head on over to Schlotty Couture for more information!


I received an invitation to this salon holiday party a few weeks ago and planned on attending because they were offering 20% off Aveda products (although BCK and I were debating if it was better to get 20% off or double Aveda points?). Nate accompanied me to the party and we were surprised to find free mini services and holiday cocktails. After having a Poinsettia martini (3 parts champagne, 1 part triple-sec and 1 part cranberry) I got a hand treatment and he a pressure point massage. All people who got the hand treatment were entered into a raffle for a $100 gift card to the salon good for services or products. We left the party feeling relaxed and headed home to watch a movie. Mid movie I received a call - I WON ONE OF THE GIFT CARDS! Woohoo!

In other news, we got about 4 more inches of snow the other day and are expecting more this weekend! I know that I will be sick of the snow come February (or March, April, May...) but pre-holiday season, I love it.

Last night, we headed over to the C's house for some cookie decorating and gingerbread house making. You can check out a picture of the house here:

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter & Parmesan

When Nate & I lived in Atlanta, I once bought him "Comfort Italian" cooking classes for a gift. He loved them, despite (or because of) he was the only male with all of these middle-aged women feeding him wine. This is one of the recipes they learned in the class, which I tried for the first time tonight. YUMMY!

1 lb. baking potatoes, skins on
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup (more or less) all purpose flour
2 tsp olive oil
4 tsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated parmesan
5-6 leaves of fresh sage

Boil the potatoes in water to cover until tender, 30-40 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to pan over low heat and shake gently back and forth to dry the potatoes (I find this step to be unnecessary). Allow potatoes to cool, the peel them and mash with masher. Pass through a food mill or ricer (or use a fork). Transfer to a lightly floured surface, make a well in the center and add the egg yolk. Sprinkle the potatoes with some of the flour and slowly work it in. Continue until all the flour has been added. The mixture should be smooth but slightly tacky.

Divide into quarters and roll each piece into a long rope, 14" long, 3/4" in diameter. Cut into 30-40 pieces and roll under the tines of a large fork. At this point the gnocchi can be frozen or refrigerated until ready to cook. Bring a large pot of salted water until boil and then drop in the gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi until the begin to float to the top, then cook an additional 30 seconds. Drain. Meanwhile heat butter and olive oil in a large saute pan and gently fry the sage leaves over medium heat. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper; add the gnocchi and toss to coat with the sage butter. Serve immediately and garnish with freshly grated parmesan.

Giada makes almost this exact same recipe in her Everyday Pasta cookbook, except she uses thyme instead of sage.

Recipe Source: Alison Lueker, Executive Chef Sun in my Belly Cafe

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Drain is FIXED! (For Real this Time)

We owe a HUGE thank you to WB who came over to assist with the drain unclogging saga.
WB has access, through his job, to many crazy tools, including this industrial sized power auger:

No, this is not a joke. I came home from yoga and found this thing in my kitchen and burst out laughing. You even had to wear these protective, and creepy, gloves to operate it, as Nate is modeling:

Unfortunately, the power auger was too industrialized for our little kitchen pipes, despite WB's alterations to the end piece. He did not give up, though, and by bending and widening the end of our little snake, they finally powered through the clog. Ladies and gentleman, let me say that YOU KNOW when you have powered through the clog - disgusting black clumps will get stuck at the end of the auger. (I did not think you would want to see a picture of this). I almost think I need to write the company that makes the snake to tell them to include this tidbit of information in their instructions.

Thanks to WB and his perserverance, our drain is now officially declogged without calling an (expensive) plumber! WOOHOO! Burches: Dinner is on us!

Weekend Update

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. All three of our thanksgivings were very nice, and had some great food. My favorites were an avocado hummus appetizer my aunt made, my mother-in-law's pecan chocolate pie and turkey at my dad's. YUM.

I did not tackle the black friday shopping as we didn't need a TV like last year. I attempted to go to Jo-Ann Fabrics to get some supplies at around 3 and it was still pretty crazy. Crazy enough that I didn't even end up getting any fabric. No sale price was going to convince me to stand in that line!

We worked a bit more on our sink, but were unable to open the main pipe in our basement, despite our new weight lifting plan at the Y. Hopefully we will be able to get it open this week sometime, although our drain is moving, albeit still slowly.

In other news, we put up our outdoor holiday lights yesterday right before the big snowstorm! Yes, we were priveleged enough to shovel 5 inches of snow out of our driveway this morning!