Friday, July 31, 2009

WOOHOO!


I almost forgot...Bruce tickets for MKE and CHI go on sale tomorrow morning!

Luckily, I have my fellow Bruce Groupie CP to get tickets for me since I will be in the middle of nowhere WI.

I tried winning some on the radio this morning. They were looking for caller #25. I was caller #19. DRAT!

No Couch, Adjunct Faculty, Beet Greens and Wabeno...More randomness coming your way!

The sofa & loveseat are actually getting delivered on Monday. Unfortunately the delivery window that they called us with last night was right when I had my interview for the teaching position I posted with. I didn't think that it would be a great start to a new job if I called to reschedule on account of furniture! I can now add "adjunct faculty at --- Univ" to my resume though! I already have my photo ID - which you cannot see the crater that sprouted on my chin, so that's great! ha ha ha

Now..for the beet leaves...I read in Joy of Cooking that they can be prepared like chard so that is how I prepared them. I sauteed the stems in a bit of garlic, chili pepper flakes and olive oil and then added the coarsely chopped leaves. When all was tender I drizzled some red wine vinegar on them. They were VERY GOOD. I highly reccomend. We ate them plain to try them, and then mixed them in with our Kashi Rice Pilaf. I see many beets and beet greens in our future!

We are headed to the great up nort' WI this weekend with some of Nate's college buddies, including TS, whom I haven't seen since my CHI-town days. I'm excited...although a little nervous about what debauchery may ensue.

TGIF!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

This JUST in...

...Our sofa and loveseat are in!!! 17 days ahead of schedule!

They are getting delivered tomorrow!!

(How many exclamation points do you think I can use in a single post?!!!)

Beets!

My workplace has had numerous "wellness initiatives" over the past year, including the newest: a weekly farmer's market! I think this was a brilliant idea because I rarely get a chance to go to any of the weekend farmer's markets, it is a nice break from work, and very convenient. Yesterday I brought home some beets, corn, zuchini and cucumbers. I have had beets twice in the last week and each time I ate them I thought, "MMM. I love beets. Why have I never made these before?"

So i took the $3 plunge and bought some beets.


Now, how was I going to make them? I thought for the first go round I would make them very simple. I roasted them, tossed them with olive oil, salt & pepper and they were fantastic. Even Nate, who was "moderately ok" with beets, loved them.



I saved the beet greens for tonight - The Joy of Cooking says you can cook them much like chard, so we're going to give it a go.

I also used the grater attachment on my food processor to grate a zuchini to make chocolate zuchini cake.

The last time I made and ate this cake was during my bridal shower when I had to give a blindfolded Nate instructions for making the cake. (Don't you just love bridal shower games?!)

I remembered this b/c I still had the card with the recipe on it and it was all smudged with my chocolate fingerprints. This time around, the cake turned out much better!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Our yard in bloom

A couple of weeks ago, Old MD Girl requested some photos of our plants in the comment section of a post. I finally got around to taking some last night.

Here is my favorite garden area of our yard - in between our house and garage:


Right now is the peak bloom time for every plant here, so it is beautiful!







I am very excited that the bees also love this garden!



Our tomatoes are looking good:


Our mint is out of control (seriously if anyone around here wants some, let me know!):


Our front/side yards are more green than colorful - they are more of a springtime bloom. However, we still have a few blooms:


And check out our Grandpa Ott Morning Glory beginning to climb:

We got the seeds for the morning glory from Nate's family reunion last spring. Ott is Nate's Maternal Grandmother's name so they passed out seeds as a favor - cute! I'm glad ours grew!

And finally, my mom and aunt made these concrete-type planters and look at the great cactus that is in mine:


So those are our plants! I can't keep a houseplant alive to save my life (although that is getting better) but somehow, outdoor plants like me!

I also have to give MAD props to Nate-O who has been working every night finishing random little projects around the house: he installed those magnetic door things on our pantry so that the doors would stay shut; he rehung one of the pantry doors that was slighly crooked, he retextured and painted areas of the walls that needed it and touched up trim paint where needed. Seriously, if this stuff were up to me, it would never get done!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hot Water, Running and Sewing...My Non-Sequitur for the Day

1) Our water heater was successfully installed by the same handyman we used to install our sink and faucet last summer. We are excited that it is more energy efficient than our old water heater, despite the fact that it is not of the tankless variety. Due to the fact that we needed it installed before we left on our vacation and that we don't have 3/4 of the tools necessary to complete the job, we didn't venture down the DIY path. However, One Project Closer has a how-to if any of you ever decide to.

2)Being that it is a Tuesday morning, I am wiped. I actually PAID for this speedwork series that occurs every Tuesday 5:50-7:10 AM. I believe today is the half way point, and I have only missed 1 of the 8 sessions so far. I am pretty proud of this because I want to hit snooze and keep sleeping every Tuesday when the alarm goes off at 5:30. Today was a difficult day - we did 1200s and it was a hot and humid morning. But I finished, and am alive to blog about it. 8 more sessions to go!

3) I started a new project last night on my sewing machine that requires the use of the zipper foot! It was my first go at installing zippers and thus far it has been great! I also might develop my first tutorial from this experience as I am FINALLY figuring out how to do things my own way and veer from instructions. Unfortunately, I will not be able to post about this project until after August 15.

Also, I REALLY want to make a fabric banner, but don't know what I would use it for. I just think they are so pretty and fun looking!





Photos from beachbungalow8 and young house love

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kindle vs Book

Interesting article on The Kindle vs. Books.

Books win, in my opinion.

I Heart Vacation

Happy Monday!! The exuberance with which I say that is coming from a very well rested Amy back from a wonderful four day vacation!!!



We left Wednesday afternoon in the Murano. This was such a good decision as it was way more comfortable than the Grand Am was (granted we put on less than 1/3 of the miles we did last fall, but still). We stayed over with a friend in Chicago on Wednesday night and left EARLY Thursday morning to get onward to Cleveland.

No offense to anyone who is from Cleveland, but I really wasn't expecting much. What was I basing this opinion on? Absolutely nothing. And it turns out that I was way wrong - we had a fantastic time exploring a few of the neighborhoods like Little Italy, Tremont and Ohio City as well as some of the downtown sections like the Warehouse District and East 4th Street. We were also very happy with our food in Cleveland - We had lunch on Thursday at Trattoria on the Hill in Little Italy followed by a canoli and butter cookies at Presti's Bakery. That night we had GREAT food at The Greenhouse Tavern where we found that my FAVORITE breakfast that Nate makes me was actually an item on their menu - pommes frites with poached eggs and black pepper. They also had a fabulous St. Germain cocktail with lemon vodka, cucumber and mint that was heavenly.

The West Side Market also had many great food options for lunch on Friday!

While in Cleveland, we didn't just eat (although it sort of still feels like it!). We visited the Garfield Crypt & Monument in Lakeview Cemetary. It was very beautiful:



We also went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!

If you are rock music fan and love memorabilia, the Hall of Fame is awesome - we both enjoyed it a lot.

After a full 24 hours in Cleveland, we headed to New Buffalo, Michigan for some R&R. New Buffalo is a beautiful town, and reminded us of Kennebunkport. Our B&B was fabulous and we definitely recommend it. While in New Buffalo, we continued to eat and eat and eat. Our first stop was the Bentwood Tavern where we saw Dennis Farina, who I recognized from my obsession with Law & Order. Nate, being a fan of the movie, also recognized him from Snatch. Here is our stalker picture of him (look to the left of my hand):


Saturday we spent climbing the largest dune of the Warren Dunes State Park, which is beautiful and has a nice beach as well. Here we are after making the climb:


After that we headed to the Lake Michigan Wine Trail and toured the Tabor Hill, Round Barn and Domian Berrian wineries. The Tabor Hill had the best wine but I loved the Round Barn because it was so picturesque!


We also caught a New Buffalo sunset, which was beautiful!


My all-time favorite place that we ate at was our final eatery: the Pierre Anne Creperie. DELICIOUS!

We spent our final day on the beach soaking up some rays.


All in all, a great time and my second favorite vacation that Nate & I have ever taken together.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I can't wait for vacation!



While this won't be the Road Trip of the century that we took last fall, we are excited for our upcoming mini-road trip. Here is the plan:

Night 1: Chicago, IL to have dinner and stay with our friend BCM

Day 1/Night 2: Drive from CHI to Cleveland, OH. Possibly visit the nature center at shaker lakes, walk around some of the neighborhoods and hit up a restaurant from EH's list. Stay the night in downtown Cleveland.

Day 2: Venture over to the Rock & Roll hall of fame! I am sad that I won't be able to take pictures inside the hall of all the Bruce memorabilia. We booked one of the Rock Hall's packages to get the hotel room, tickets, parking all for one low price of $139!

Nights 3&4: After the Rock Hall, we will be heading to New Buffalo, MI to spend the next 2 days and 2 nights at this cute B&B.

Days 3 & 4: I anticipate lounging on the beach, eating good food and venturing to the Warren Dunes State Park.

Day 4/Night 5: Make the 3 hour trip back home. Sounds like the PERFECT getaway for me!

We have quite the upgrade in road trip amenities since last fall: we will be driving our Nissan Murano instead of the Grand Am (which was quite a decision, let me tell you!) and using our Garmin Nuvi GPS instead of the AAA Trip Tik (we did still get the AAA books for MI & OH though :) ).

Finally, a big shout out to EH (who hails from the Cleveland area) and AH on anniversary #3!! It seems that LEATHER is both the traditional & modern gift for #3...hmmm. That could be interesting! ha ha ha

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Supplemental Income!

Last year, I substitute taught a course for a local private university. I did this mainly to help out a colleague, although I did get paid for it. The course is a required health class for their physical therapy students, and encompasses many aspects of public health. It turns out that my colleague can only teach one of the two sessions the university wants to offer next semester so I am going to take on the other session! I am excited as part of me always wanted to be a teacher, and I enjoyed by two week stint as a sub last year. And let's face it...the supplemental income will be nice too!

The Lovely Package Exchange!

I will get to the lovely package exchange, but first some housekeeping in the form of a comment response: Ethan from One Project Closer left a comment asking if the bibs were water resistant. The bibs are not water resistant but they are machine washable, which I think would be important. :) I mailed a them off to a couple of friends, so I will know how they hold up after a washing or ten!

I am excited to participate in the Oh, Hello Friend lovely package exchange! Details can be found here. Recently I found all of this paper, notions, fancy cutters, etc in my craft closet. I used some stuff on invitations for my best friend's bachelorette party but have PLENTY more in my reserves. The package exchange will be a good way to get crafty and get some inspiration in return! I LOVE stuff like this!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reversible Bibs & Water Heaters




I whipped up a few of these reversible bibs using a template from here. I added some heavy weight interfacing in between the fabric to give it a bit more substance. These are very easy to make!

The rest of our weekend was fun - we are a bit tired (and sore) from helping my dad move into his new house. We rented Milk...i thought it got a bit slow in parts, but I still was crying at the end. Today we trimmed a lot of our bushes and bought a new water heater. We did purchase a tankless one on Friday, but after reading up on them and scoping out our current system, we took it back for one of the energy star tank kind. It seems as though the tankless variety do not perform well in the northern part of the country due to the fact that the ground water is much colder here, particularly in winter. Some reports from customers of Lowe's (who eventually returned them) said that they had to wait up to 20 minutes for hot water in winter. However, inspecting our current system made the tankless version impossible. For the kind we would need to get, we would have to re-vent and re-locate the our current set up as we would need a dual exhaust system instead of our current single system. So the 50 gallon, 12 year warrenty, energy star standard water heater won out. It is getting installed on Wednesday morning.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Joys of Home Ownership


We have to replace our water heater. We have been finding water around it and it is 12 years old. Everything I have been reading indicates that it is no longer cost effective to try to repair it. Now we are reading to see if we can replace it ourselves. Has anyone attempted this? Is this a Schlotty-friendly improvement?

When you want a vacation, get a prescription

Remember my big mission to give blood that failed (again) because I almost passed out? I may have neglected to mention that often I will pass out at "doctor's" offices when nay a needle is around. I say 'doctor' because I once passed out at the chiropractor. I passed out (in a mini-skirt) at the eye doctor while living in Chicago a few years ago. This was my first time doing this at the EYE doctor. Since then I haven't done it again...although I came very close last night. All of these experiences have made me notice the warning signs early on so that I do not end up spread eagle on the floor in a pool of sweat and wake up with my legs up on a chair. After almost fainting, my eye doctor wrote me a prescription (seriously) for a vacation.

Vacation starts at 5 PM today...for a little while. We have a party at RN & JS-soon-to-be-N tonight to meet the other members of the wedding party and then we are helping my dad move into his new house. Monday we are heading to America's largest waterpark with my family for the day: Noah's Ark. We used to go here every summer when I was a kid and I haven't been back in a long time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Lotus Dress

So I want to make this dress:


I wonder if I will have an amazing fun time wearing it that the woman in the picture appears to by having. I think the pattern is cool becuase you can actually make a variety of things from it: a sleeveless shirt, a cap-sleeved shirt, a sleeveless dress, a cap-sleeve dress, a tunic. Finny Knits posted a recap of making the dress, that is quite funny. I feel like I might be in an Amy Butler rut, but I really do like her stuff and her patterns are very easy to use. I have used two patterns (from Butterick I think) that were "EZ SEW" that caused me to drink wine, curse, and have Nate try to interpret. I think I'll stick with my Amy Butler rut :)

BUT...before I embark on this, I need to finish my hot pink linen skirt. Before I finish that skirt, I need to get tracing paper. I also need to get a new sewing machine needle since Nigella didn't seem to get along well with Pfaff.

Brooke's Frenchy Bag Shots

Brooke provided me with a few shots of her bag - thanks Brooke!

Close-Up

Inside: 2 pockets and a magnetic snap

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nigella Yoga Bag




Last year we got my mother-in-law a yoga mat, block, strap kit for her birthday as we thought it might be an activity she might enjoy. Lo and behold she took a class with some of her friends. This year we continued on the theme and got her some cute black yoga capris and I made her the Nigella Yoga Bag pictured above. The bag was very easy to make, has 3 outer pockets and is lined in a coordinating fabric. As I was continuing my last seam around the top, my sewing machine needle broke! Apparently several layers of home decor weight fabric is too much for the needle size - which I knew, but tried to finish it anyways. You can get the pattern, courtesy of (you guessed it, Amy B) here.




I also was reading about this DIY scrub and whipped up some of that as well. This picture isn't the greatest, but I put a cute label on the jar:


The recipe called for 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tsp vanilla and a few drops of lavendar essential oil. I did not use these amounts. I only put 1 tsp of vanilla in and used maybe 1/8 cup olive oil - just enough to get the brown sugar covered in the oil. We'll see how it works!

First Book Club


Last night was the inaugural book club meeting and I think it went really well! I basically sent an email out to people that I know in the MKE area. Some of them were interested, some of them invited other people and blogging about it even attracted someone! In total, we have a group of 15 women and will meet on the 2nd Monday of the month, rotating hosts. I made way too much food, but I guess that just means that my lunch today is really good. :)

Seven of us made it to the first meeting. Our first book was Love & Other Impossible Pursuits. I gave this book 3 stars (out of 5) on my Goodreads profile, but it seemed that everyone else there really enjoyed the book. We had a great discussion about it. I'm eager to see what our next book is!!

After book club, I had a craft project to finish up for a birthday gift. I will be blogging about this tomorrow, after the recipient opens it!

Photo Source

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend Time Travel

Another busy summer weekend is over. We headed to my hometown after work on Friday night and stayed with my mom for the weekend. We had a few beers and some wine with her after she whipped up a quick shrimp scampi for dinner, and then went over to BLK's mom's house to have a few birthday beers with her.

Saturday we went with my mom to the Main Street Days sale and I got some great fabric for I don't know what yet :) Saturday afternoon we got ready to go to my 10 year high school class reunion. We had a fabulous time and got home around 3 the next morning! A couple of caveats: 1) I went to a really small private school - my graduating class was only about 80 people. 2) Our class generally got along well; and 3) I am still very good friends with many of them. 3 of my best friends are from high school.

So really, this was like partying with several of my friends! It was really fun to see where those people that I haven't talked to since graduation are at in their lives over nacho bar and beers :) We ended the night having a Michael Jackson dance-a-thon, partying like it was still 1999.

Sunday, my sister had planned on making us all lunch so we had some QT with my mom and siblings before heading to the lake for my mother-in-law's birthday dinner. We were under the impression we were celebrating this Tuesday night so I haven't quite finished her gift, but will post it when I am done!!

Tonight we have the first book club meeting at my place, which I am looking forward to!

Here are some pics from the reunion:



And, a pic of the frenchy bag I made for BLK, who is posing with the Snuggie her sister bought her for her birthday - lucky duck ha ha ha.

BTW, I did have BLK's permission to use this photo :)