Tuesday, June 30, 2009

9 months later...




Big News: We found and purchased new living room furniture last night! We have been wanting new furniture for a while, and shopping for it for about 6-9 months. Our current green furniture (pictured above), while extremely comfy, isn't the prettiest, nor the most practica: It seems that both Nate & I are layers when we watch TV. And having only one sofa isn't really conducive to both people laying down. The furniture also is getting worn in several places and starting to look saggy.

I may have mentioned at some point that we were researching sectionals for several months, and not really having any luck. Then we rearranged our current furniture to determine how one sectional that we found would fit in the room. Revelation: A sectional would likely not work in our living room. Our other limitation was that we did not want to have to paint or get new curtains, a rug, etc in the room.

Once we started shopping for a sofa and loveseat, there were many more options that we were interested in. We found a strong contender on Sunday afternoon and last night went to several other furniture stores to give it one last look and see if there were any other strong contenders. Lo and behold, we found a STRONGER contender and purchased it!

The bad news: It cannot be delivered until mid-August.
The good news: With the purchase of the sofa, we got the loveseat for FREE. Seriously. $1200 savings just like that. While I am going to let the final product be a surprise (mostly because i can't find it on the website!), I will tell you that it is made by Broyhill (in North Carolina) and it came from Colders. I was pretty impressed with the Broyhill line in that you have tons of options of fabrics to select from. Many places only offered a sofa in two or three colors in one texture. I like that you can not only select from a variety of patterns and colors but also textures!!! This was helpful because many previous sofas we found were either the exact color of our rug and wall (too light) or really dark brown and the exact color of our tables (too dark) or burgundy (no). Apparently someone did some sort of survey and found that many people buy khaki, espresso and burgundy couches. (Really, you would be amazed at how many sofas only come in those colors, which are fine, but not what we were looking for.)

Of course, we are square and fell in love with the exact sofa (the color! the pattern! the texture!) in the showroom, pillows and everything so we didn't even use those options! :)

Once the new stuff arrives, the green furniture will move to the library temporarily and then probably to the mancave (basement) once we fix it up a little (desperately need to remove the dropped ceiling and rank carpet that currently exist).

Feeling Lucky?


The Fabric Shopper is hosting a giveaway of a Amy Butler Frenchy Bag pattern and all materials you would need to make the bag! Fun! Head over to the site to enter.

And if you live around Chicago, there is a fabric swap occurring tonight! Details here.

Photo Source: The Fabric Shopper

Monday, June 29, 2009

Scenes from the weekend

My niece, Toni, came to stay with us for the weekend. I picked her up on Friday afternoon and it was a non-stop chatter fest until yesterday afternoon. We did lots of fun stuff:

Grilled hot dogs


Made Rainbow Cake (the "recipe" is here but really you make a white cake mix, divide it into 6 bowls, and put food coloring in it. If Toni is any representative, kids LOVE it)


Frosted it with sprinkles:


And Shoveled it in our faces:


Nate shared two of his loves with Toni: Ice Cream & a Modified Poker Chip Toss (it was here that we realized we probably should get some real toys for her!)



We also went to the zoo!



All in all, a fun time with the little munchkin.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Amaze-MINT


No, this is not about Michael Jackson, although that is some shocking news. I rather enjoyed the MJ video montage put on by MTV last night. While Thriller of course is awesome, I forgot how much I also love the You Rock My World video. RIP MJ!

My mom gave me some mint last year. I planted it in the ground and THEN found out it is an invasive species i.e. IT SPREADS. Thus, we have a lot of mint. Last night Nate and I attempted to recreate some watermelon mojitos that we had with BCK at Cubanitas. The first attempt was only ok, but after we got the hand blender out to puree the watermelon, it was perfect! While I highly recommend the Cubanitas version if you are ever visiting downtown Milwaukee, here is basically what we did (based on me watching Nate):

Make a simple syrup by boiling one cup of water and dissolving one cup of sugar in it. Puree a couple of cubes of watermelon in a blender. In a tall glass, put some mint in the bottom and well as some lime chunks. Muddle it. Pour in a little bit of the syrup with a little bit of the watermelon puree. Top with rum and a splash of club soda. Pour in a shaker or stir well. Enjoy!

I also have been adding some mint leaves to my water at work - very refreshing during this hot weather!

If any one has some great uses for mint, please share!

Photo Source: Martha Stewart, who also makes a watermelon mojito

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Free paint day!


Today is free paint day at Glidden! Head on over to the website to order a free quart of paint (your choice of color!)!

We have been entertaining th idea to do horizontal stripes on the lower half of the angled walls in our bedroom. Similar to our foyer, but horizontal, instead of vertical stripes. And really, aren't bedrooms FOR being horizontal?! Ok, bad joke. You can check out more of the horizontal stripe effect at This Young House.

MMMM....PESTO! Presto!


While watering our vegetables and plants in the blistering sun last night, I decided it was time to make the pesto. Our basil fully recovered from my maltreatment and neglect and I easily got 2 cups of leaves from it to make the Joy of Cooking pesto (recipe below). We had it with prosciutto tortellini. YUM! And a Leinengkugel's Summer Shandy never hurt either.

Joy of Cooking Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until a thick paste forms (a couple of seconds). With food processor running, stream in 1/2 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and you are good to go!

Photo Source: Branch Home

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sewing Club Recap



While Nate & Co. were busy being the Milwaukee Brewers Fans of the Game (complete with gift bags!) last night, I went to sewing club! The first meeting of the Milwaukee Sewing Club went pretty well. We basically discussed what projects we were working on, resources available on the web, and what projects we would be interested in working on. Our first project is going to be to create one of Karen's purses. I am a big fan of this project given that I asked Karen to create unique bags for each woman that had a role in my wedding. I definitely am the most novice of the group though, which is exciting because I feel like I will learn a lot. We also are going to tackle clothes as a group! Making clothes is the whole reason I wanted to learn to sew.

Photo Source

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sewing Club



I have my first sewing club meeting tonight. BurdaStyle called for volunteers to start local sewing clubs (for the list click here) and our friend Karen decided to start one. I have never been to a sewing club, nor do I really know what one does at sewing club, but I am eager to find out. My sister will also be joining me next month.

Photo from here.

Basil Saved by Last Minute Transplant

"We're having a heat wave...a tropical heat wave."

I recently bought a basil plant from Trader Joes. I planted basil seeds a few weeks ago, but I am growing tired from watching them s-l-o-w-l-y grow. I want pesto NOW! I had planned on transferring the basil from it's cheap-o plastic pot to our yard but sort of forgot. It started to look a little wilty so I thought it wasn't getting enough sun and I moved it outside. Well, summer officially arrived over the weekend and when I got home from work last night the basil plant was barely making it. You will just have to trust me when I say this as I didn't take a picture. I rapidly planted it in the ground and poured tons of water with some miracle gro on it. Then i said a short prayer.

We decided to go to the lakefront last night to run, followed by dinner at whole foods. When we got home, we swore the plant was looking a little straighter.

This morning, I checked it when i got home from my morning speed workout (mile repeats, oh joy!) and seriously, it looks like it did when we bought it! Complete recovery! Here's hoping it survives through our heat index of 100 today!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Récapitulation de week-end

Friday night we went to McCormick & Schmicks happy hour. Nate has been wanting to check it out since he heard they have a really cheap happy hour menu. Cheap was right. We weren't blown away by the food, but it was fun to check it out. Then we did a little shopping. Unfortunately we had planned on giving my father-in-law those rock speakers from Best Buy and they are sold out until AUGUST! There went that idea. We also went to the Dior counter at Macy's since I had received these two scratch off tickets in the mail for their current event. Basically the Dior representative had to scratch them off to see if I won a prize (BTW, in case you haven't noticed, or don't know me in "real life", I LOVE this kind of stuff!). Unfortunately for me the Dior representative had left for the day and the replacement did not want "the liability of scratching the tickets off". WHAT?! Are you kidding? It took all the self-control that we had not to start laughing. So I had to leave my tickets at the counter for the "real" Dior woman to scratch off when she arrived on Saturday and she would call me if I won. Since I did not get a call, I am assuming I didn't win a prize. Seriously..the liability of some dumb scratch off ticket...hilarious. (However, Dior Show mascara is the best. Hands down.)

Saturday we cleaned the house and then went to Lakefront Festival of Arts. We only thought this was ok. Maybe if we had a billion dollars to spend on Art it would have been more fun. And maybe if it were not 91 degrees outside (probably over 100 in those tents) it would have been more fun too. After LFOA we headed to the Milwaukee Public Market for lunch where The Green Kitchen made us the most AMAZING salad ever. We followed that with a homemade nutter butter cookie from C. Adams Bakery. TO DIE FOR. It was here that we decided that Milwaukee is the best city ever. :)

That evening my in-laws and bro-in-law picked us up for Polish Fest. They had free tickets and since I had never been to Polish Fest, I was pretty excited. We had several different variations of pierogis, different sausages and even some kruschicki, which a man in line told us was "to die for". None of us were too impressed with the kruschicki (I would take that nutter butter cookie over this anyday). We watched some polish dancers and singers and then headed to Potowatomi - MKE's casino. My brother-in-law recently turned 21 and really wanted to check it out. I doubled my money on video poker (investing $1)!

Sunday we attended the baptism of EBH, and headed to the lake for father's day. Unfortunately we did not have the hot sunny weather of Saturday so I did not break out the wakeboard. I still got my 2 hour nap on the pontoon in though! :)

I don't want to jinx anything, but we also talked more about a European vacation this fall. I think we are looking at a London/Paris combo trip. Keep your fingers crossed!!


Photos of Paris Courtesy of Flickr's Paris Pool.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Thundercrack...Baby's Back"



I am tired. We had a massive thunderstorm last night that acutally woke me with a jump. I felt like a little kid because some of the thunder cracks really were scary! This morning our beautiful rosebush, which we were calling obscene this week because it had SO many blossoms, had lost a lot of petals from the storm.

I am looking forward to the weekend, hoping to check out the Lakefront Festival of Arts at the Milwaukee Art Museum (pictured above behind my sis & I). We also will have to celebrate the dear old dads on Sunday! Hopefully it will be a sunny, hot weekend so I can break out the wakeboarding skills..finally!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Before & After 2009 Up and Running


Woohoo! One Project Closer is doing their Habitat for Humanity Before and After project again! Our dining room was a finalist last year but did not win the big prize. I am hoping to submit our kitchen once we get the range in!!

"If your Before and After is selected to run on our site, we’ll make a $35 donation to Habitat for Humanity in your honor, and you’ll get to choose one of the following prizes shipped right to your door:

$25 Gift Card to Lowes
$25 Gift Card to Home Depot
$25 Gift Card to Amazon
… other tool prizes as they become available throughout the Summer…
At the end of the Summer, we’ll open it up to community vote. The grand prize winner will get $150 to the home improvement store of their choice!"

Selling China?

My in-laws gave us this cabinet. (Or, they were going to give it to goodwill and I thought it was too nice and took it!) I was very excited about it because I thought I could put our china in there, rather than in our plain cupboard so that we could at least see it.

We hauled it home, got it in the house, loaded up the china and now I'm not sure. I think it may look too much like a store display. Any thoughts?


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

So Excited!



My 3-year old niece, Toni, just booked a weekend at the Schlotty Bed & Breakfast next weekend! We are very excited to have her for another stay!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

14 years and running...

Today it hit me that I have been running for half of my life - 14 years. I signed up for these weekly track workouts for the summer and had to fill out this lengthy questionnaire about my running history. Oh, and I had to get up at 5:30. I contemplated skipping out for about 10 seconds, but got out of bed and to the track. I had a great workout and got to work energized and feeling great. Until about 1:00 PM when I was EXHAUSTED. I am definitely a post-work runner and have to get used to running pre-work, I guess.

In honor of my 14 years of running, I am posting this old picture of my first CC team my freshman year of high school. I'm in the back row behind the girl holding the trophy...bringing sexy back. Let's just say this was at the tail end of my awkward years!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Weekend

We had a wonderful weekend. Friday night we went out for sushi before catching The Hangover. I did not have the highest expectations for this movie, but must admit that I found it quite hilarious. Most of Saturday was spent being occupied with our third wedding of the summer. Fun times! As UW Alumni, we appreciate any chance to get a pic with Bucky Badger!


Sunday we had to get up early as I had my best friend's bridal shower in my hometown of Fond du Lac. She had a beautiful day for a shower...our first hot day of the year! We were able to enjoy most of the festivities outdoors. We rounded out the weekend with a shopping trip to Trader Joe's, dinner at Five Guys and an episode of Law & Order before I crashed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I would walk 500 miles...

It's my 500th post!! To celebrate, I'm talking about FOOD! Nate & I love food, thus the following photo montage:

Lobsters at a roadside lobster boil in Kennebunkport, Maine

Nate even donned the plastic bib


Enjoying a lovely breakfast on a morning pontoon ride that Nate planned before my sister's graduation a few years ago:


CAKE!


Waiting to dig into a Kitchen Sink sundae at Beaches & Cream in Walt Disney World with the fam:


Preparing to suck down an oyster with Frank & the ATL crew:


Eagerly awaiting our Costa Rican fare on our honeymoon:


Posing with one of the many packages of cremas i ate in Costa Rica


Speaking of cookies, our friends B&LB accompanied us to a Brewers game last night (where one can't NOT have a Klements sausage with secret stadium sauce) and brough us some Late July Dark Chocolate sandwhich cookies. WOWSA. They do not look like anything special, but are very "intese and decadent". Apparently they sell them at Pick 'N Save here in WI. It also doesn't hurt that Late July is family owned and uses organic ingredients!

Although we like a wide variety of food and aren't too picky, we don't eat that much Indian food so we are going to attempt to incorporate some things into our menus. If you have any great Indian recipes, please share!

AND...we planted some vegetables...that are successfully growing!!! We started with tomatoes, zuchini, squash and some herbs. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sewn is Up!

Sewn is up! Sewn is "A quilters and sewers playground for fabrics, patterns, colours, and everything creative!". It seems a lot like Ravelry for sewers. I am excited to check it out!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Weekend Recap

Wowsa - I am really tired.

We had quite the big weekend - one of those when you feel like you need a weekend just to recover from the weekend.

Friday night we went out with four other couples for a fish fry, WI style. We went to Seven Seas on Lake Nagawicka because they have beautiful outdoor seating overlooking the lake....that doesn't open until NEXT weekend. Oh well - we still had a great, semi-private room with a lake view so I can't complain too much. I have to say that this fish fry was only average in my opinion, but I was glad to try another one as we make our way through WI fish fries :)

Saturday morning I went for a run while Nate had a racquetball date with Wade. And can you believe it - I did my favorite loop (5.4 miles) without having to walk! My "blech" days may be over. Then we had to get ready for Chris & Tara's wedding! Unfortunately the weather did not meet the "June wedding" expectation. One would not expect it to be in the 50s and rainy, even in WI. No matter, the day was beautiful and a good time was had by all.

In fact, my feet still feel broken and bruised in a million places from all of the dancing! We danced through "the last dance" (oh..the last dance -that's for you BLK). I think Nate and I enjoy the botanicals a little too much at weddings - here we are at our friends' wedding a few years ago in Kennebunkport posing with part of the floral arrangement on the ride back to the hotel.

On Saturday night, as we were helping clean up the flowers at the end of the night, we (and some other friends) had some more fun with florals:

CLASSY!

Then yesterday we had a graduation party for Nate's cousin Ben, who finished high school! Dual foot massages were in order last night!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Because I don't have anything else to blog about...


Even Marion Cotillard cut her hair all off! I love her. I first became enamored of her in A Good Year, which is one of my favorite movies. I think the movie is based slightly on A Year in Provence, which I own but have never read. I own the movie and soundtrack and watch and listen to them a lot. I don't think the movie received great reviews, but I am a sucker for a love story and kooky characters.

You may remember Ms. Cotillard from La Vie en Rose (it's American title), for which she won an Oscar. La Vie en Rose is also excellent. I bought an Edith Piaf CD immediately after watching it. Another movie I highly recommend.

You also may recognize her from her Dior ad campaign.

New Book Club



If you can't find something, Do-It-Yourself. I have missed being in a book club since moving to Milwaukee. While living in Chicago, I joined 4 different book clubs, and ended up staying with 2 of them until I moved. At first, I liked not having a schedule of books to read, but increasingly, I have missed talking with fellow bookworms. Unfortunately I haven't really been able to find such a club here so I just started one. And who knew that 9 of my friends or friends-of-friends were also looking for one! Sometimes, things just work out. I'm excited!



Photos: Top from Apartment Therapy, Bottom from Brown Button

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dining al fresco and two recipes

Today we FINALLY had a quasi-nice day. The past three nights, it has been VERY COLD but we have resisted turning the heat on. IT IS JUNE PEOPLE! One should not have to turn on the heat! Grrr...

To celebrate the nice day, we decided to dine outside. While doing so, we commented, "Why have we never done this before?!" It was quite lovely. (picture me saying this with a British accent, b/c I just got done watching SYTYC...DANCE).

I made Cold Sesame Noodles for din din and it was delish. I also am posting the chocolate chip biscotti recipe I mentioned over a month ago. Both recipes are from the very best cookbook out there: The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. For shiz- I have made a lot of stuff out of here and every single thing has been great.

Cold Sesame Noodles
Feeds 4-6, unless you are a Schlotty when this feeds 2 with some leftover for lunch tomorrow

Note from the cookbook: We prefer the flavor and texture of the chunky peanut butter, however creamy can be used. If you cannot find fresh Chinese egg noodles, substitute 12 oz dried spaghetti or linguine. You can easily add cold shredded chicken to this as well.

5 TB sesame seeds
5 TB soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 TB rice vinegar
2 TB light brown sugar
1 TB grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Tabasco
1/2 cup hot water
1 TB salt
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles
4 scallions, sliced thin
1 medium carrrot, peeled & grated
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded & sliced thin

Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 TB sesame seeds. Puree the remaining 4 TB seeds wtih soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and Tabasco in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds. With machine running, add hot water 1 TB at a time until sauce has the consistency of heavy cream (you may not need all the water).

Cook noodles in boling water until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Add scallions, noodels, carrot, red pepper, and sauce to a large bowl and mix. Sprinkle with reserved sesame seeds.

Chocolate Chip Biscotti
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 TB unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 TB grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time then vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.

Split the dough in half and use floured hands to press each into a 2 x 13 inch loaf, spaced about 3 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.

Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lower oven temp to 325 degrees.

Transfer loaves to a cutting board. Slice each loaf on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices using a serrated knife. Lay the slices about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet.

Bake until the slices are crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, flipping the slices over halfway through. Transfer biscotti to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June 3 is National Running Day



Happy National Running Day!

Several cities are having fun events to celebrate. Click here to search for an event by city or state.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Swaptree Love...the end of Book It

I will no longer have "BOOK IT" giveaways on the blog because I just signed up for Swaptree! Swaptree is one of the many online book swapping services out there. I signed up for it because you can do books, games, music and movies. You simply enter the ISBN for books you want to get rid of and this creates a "items I have" list. Then you can do the same thing to creat an "items i want" list. Swaptree finds matches and notifies you via email of potential trades. I listed several books last night and this morning found a trade in my email!

You are responsible for paying for shipping to the person you're trading with.

If you are interested, leave a comment with your email and I will send you an invite. Of course you can sign up on your own, but I get a free shipping label for people I invite.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Inside, Outside and a Good Hair Day

Over the weekend, yard beautification continued. Many of our flowers have bloomed, including my favorites, the irises:

Each day I see a few more that have bloomed in this bunch.

We also bought some hanging baskets for the pergola. We first had to buy these giant S-hook things from Hawk's nursery for the baskets. Here are our baskets - they are some sort of trailing breed of geranium.



Some other blooms in our front yard:


I think the hanging baskets were a great addition - our house view from the street has improved:


In terms of the inside of the house, we also worked on that. We have been shopping around for new seating options for the living room for about 6 months now. We were considering a sectional type sofa. The problem we often run into with furniture is finding smaller scale items. I think furniture is not really designed with small cape cods in mind, but more for the open concept living room/dining room/kitchen floor plan. So shopping has been slow going. We found a potential sectional option over the weekend and went home to mull it over. Nate is much better and visualizing things in his mind than I am so we actually moved our current sofa and chair into a faux sectional arrangement in our living room to determine if it would work. Again, this is something we maybe should have considered doing a few months back because it absolutely eliminated the sectional as a possibility. Our living room is strange as it also needs to serve as a front hallway and passway to the upstairs so while the room is large, the usable space in it is not quite as large. We now have a new living room arrangement:


Another fun addition to this room is the side table you can see peeking out from behind the chair. This used to be in my father-in-law's store but was moved out and loaned to us! I love it.


I am growing more attached to my new short 'do. I think I finally have figured out how to style it in a way that I like. I also think it is more versatile than I originally thought as well. I have experimented with clips, headbands and curl creme and found a few options to mix it up with. Here is a recent pic that demonstrates a good hair day. Suave Nate has a date: