Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Work In Progress...Maybe

It's called the "Ugly Adolescent" stage
But, honestly, it didn't start out that great.
The floor looks better, right?
But I digress.
I'm not ready to give up on this little project.
I really think it has potential. 
Most creative endeavors hit this ugly stage.
The only thing is, I usually know where I am going next and 
I don't usually showcase the scary point.
Well, I don't know where I'm going next and you should 
all be afraid. 
Be very afraid. 

Christmas is coming.
And this "table" is mocking me. 
Maybe it just needs a new home....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Battle Plan

I had a stroke of genius last year.
Some families work Thanksgiving where each person brings a 
dish to the host house and the host cooks the bird.
But what fun is that?
I'd way rather cook *with* you!
So here, everybody gets a job!

Gaye is in charge of getting enough sage in the dressing.
Breese is in charge of peeling 10 pounds of potatoes.
Once many years ago she commented that she didn't feel we had enough potatoes.
She is still paying for what she *thought* was a random comment.
 Mike, Dave and the dog and Big Mary 
stay out of the way and look pretty.
Shanna is mashing the potatoes. 
Gaye is grunt gravy stirrer. 
Grandma advises. 
Daniel, Michael and Michelle are in charge of 
water glasses and candles.
 I get to take the beauty shot :o)

We are a matriarchal family. 
But in a good way.

I figured out a couple of years ago that I really like putting 
Thanksgiving dinner together but I also really
enjoy a couple glasses of wine once all the food is doing it's thing. 
I also figured out after a day of much more cooking than eating, 
just one glass of wine makes me kinda forgetful.

This is where my stroke of genius comes in.
So, in addition to helping with the prep, each person is given a 
food item to be responsible for. 
It is their job to make sure their assigned dish makes it to the table.
Along with the rest of the food.
Preferably before Friday. 

Here's where Grandma's stroke of genius comes in.
Next year everybody gets a clean up assignment. 
Seems the division of labor on that front has been a bit off
in recent years. 
Go Grandma!!!!

Just Wanted to Share

Seems people had a lot on their minds.
This wall is going to be fun. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Crisis Averted!!!

Totally over the purple!
Yep, that's chalkboard paint there.
I got chalk *markers* in fun neon colors.
The chalk goes on wet, 
dries and then can be removed with a wet cloth.
I wasn't *moved* by any vanities I saw.
This antique(?) dresser in Amazing Grace's scary
room in the basement sang to me!
"Get me outta here!"
 So I did.
Yes, yes, those are goldfish. 
Yep, there too.
But I promise, 

You hear that, Mom and Big????

....well, unless I decide that I HAVE to have a little 
fish bowl with a real one. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Beauty of Facebook

 I have been blessed with wonderful girlfriends over the 
course of my life.
I have had death defying adventures with many of them.
Some more so than others....

Teresa and I met while working in the kitchen of
 St. Anthony's Hospital in Rockford some time in the seventies.
We defied death by getting in a little prop plane 
with a few guys we had met on a ski trip to Colorado. 
Mom still talks about that phone call......
Teresa lives in Wisconsin. 
We would do the whole Christmas card thing
to stay in touch and then life happened. 
And then Facebook happened.
And then she called last Friday, she was in town for the weekend.
Hmmm, I think we look better!
But who doesn't, I don't think the seventies were
kind to anyone.

Indra and I met in the eighties.
We were both stay at home moms and just had enough in common
with enough different that we had a blast. 
We had a falling out.
We were young and dumb.
I learned a lot about how to be a good friend from that.  
Indra moved to Tennessee. 
A bunch of years happened.
And then Facebook happened.
We met half way in St. Louis and realized what a precious 
gift we had in each other. 
Sometimes friendships are made stronger by being
 put through the fire. 

Marci and I met in Junior High. 
Back when it was called Junior High.
I always told my kids that they were paying for my misspent youth.
I knew what they could be doing wrong because I already did it.
With Marci.
I moved to Rockford my Junior year of High School.
Marci and I would get in touch at random times.
We went to each other's weddings.
Our daughters were born just months apart.
But life happened. 
It was probably 19 years and then
Facebook happened.
This picture was taken at Marci's first born's baby shower. 
We used to borrow each other's clothes back in the day.
Nice to know we still have similar tastes.

There are roughly 30 years of friendships here.
Time and distance were not going to make reconnections easy.
Some people disparage Facebook and "social networking".
Not me. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Who Knew A "Cookie" Could Cause So Much Strife?

I Fixed it!!!!!
Don't ask me how.
It had something to do with cookies and cache.
Whatever those are. 
As for this delicious dinner,
Aggie marinated some drumsticks in olive oil with
 5 spice powder and then cooked them with an Asian BBQ sauce that she made up.
She gave me the ingredients but no amounts (thanks, Aggie). LOL
I'm not big on drumsticks but I do enjoy pork tenderloin.
I marinated mine in some sesame oil and 5 spice powder.
I browned it on all side and then poured my rendition
of Asian BBQ sauce on it and popped it in a 375 oven
for 20  minutes. 
A little quinoa on the side with an Asian dressing and sliced almonds and
some sautéed asparagus with red onions makes a meal in my book.
I'm a happy girl. 
Mike's a happy guy.
All is right in the world.

Mike also says all hell breaks loose when I say that.
I'll keep you posted....

I Think I Get to Name This One

I'm in Heaven.
I'm back in my kitchen.
I asked Aggie for an idea for something to "create". 
She had suggested a drumstick idea she whipped up for her kids.
This is what I did with that inspiration.

(insert photo here)

Ummm, It's coming up 
"Server Rejected"

What the HECK does THAT mean?????
Ok, was really happy to be cooking again, not so happy
to be Blogging again!
It won't let me upload images. I hope my IT guy's
wife reads this and he decides to help me :o) (son).

So, I guess I will suspend this post and in so doing leave you 

I will look into my technical difficulties and return to you.
Carry on amongst yourselves.....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Too Many Days, No Posts

So, I don't really have anything to post at the moment.
My life has been consumed by the "Floor Odyssey"
I guess I'll share this:
Aside from the new floor
This transformation was made with 
2 gallons of paint. 
Take out the people and decorations, this is what 
my living room looked like one week ago. 

I love paint. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Having a Crisis

I *had* a purple powder room.
I'm not *going to* anymore. 
(have a purple powder room)
But I think that back wall is going to be a giant chalk board.
I'll put a ledge with chalk at seat height.
If you know what I mean..
Sometimes people get bored and there aren't any
recent People Magazines, um, handy.
The walls behind the washer and dryer were never painted 
so a little purple there will help.
This is inside the entry closet.
It's actually been that color for a couple of years.
I just wanted to share.

I think I am sad to loose my purple powder room.
It's time.
Time marches on.
Time waits for no man. 
or Merry.
Chalk board will be fun, right?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

My Dad was a Veteran.
My Dad was an Artist.
My Dad had a family.

My dad was many things.
 Mom says he was never really quite the same after the war. 
Unfortunately, he is mostly
remembered for what he became rather than what he was. 

I thank all the Veterans for what they have given for all of us.
My heart is heavy for all the families and what they have given.
It's their day too. 

But Kristie's Kitchen Isn't!

....closed, that is. 
And someday I will post my musings about aprons.

Kristie hosted our friend, Julie's, 50th birthday party last night.
It was just a chick thing. 
The ten of us who head up to Wisconsin once a year
to spend a long weekend together. I have many things to say
about this amazingly random (but not) group of women but
I think I really want to talk about last night. 

Kristie was kind enough to ask for my input for last night's menu.
I threw out some suggestions and she decided on a fabulous
Chicken in Mushroom and Wine Sauce dish (one of her specialties), 
wild rice, and the Tomato Goat Cheese Tarts I made a
 couple of weeks ago. I offered to bring the tarts
but seeing as how I was short one kitchen at the moment, asked if I 
could just come there to cook. Kristie liked that idea so much that
she invited Val and Carol to join us.
 It was the party before the party!

I chopped all the onions and discovered that we each
have our own intuitive way of prepping ingredients, and they 
aren't all the same. Kristie was very gracious about what 
I have to believe she saw as "oddly cut" onions, but I don't
 believe they harmed the finish product (?) 
Val helped with the mushrooms. 
Carol stirred stuff. 
Nice plate, huh?

Val made a chocolate cheese cake and a  rolled pumpkin cake. 
I can't believe I didn't get a picture of that! 
What was way cool, though, was watching her unroll the cake,
 lay the filling on it and then roll it back up.
It sounds so intimidating but not so much any more having
witnessed it firsthand. And now I know Val can make one of those
puppies for me anytime I want :o)

It was so much fun to be able to be part of the preparations
and enjoy the time together. 
It made me think about the chopping party before Michael's
wedding and the salad making day before Court's.

We may gather around the table but I think it's the food that
gathers US together. 
And, I love girlfriends. 
That is all. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Kitchen is Closed

But we can still make coffee!
Notice the lovely shade of country blue where the stove sits.
The kitchen was the very first thing I painted when we 
moved into this house. Like the first week!
You can tell how desperate I was for that blue to be gone, 
I didn't even wait for Mike to get home from work to move the stove.
"I'll just paint around it!"

I think I'll leave the blue there. It feels like an archeological dig when
you redecorate and find traces of what went before.
Our last house had two layers of wall paper on almost every wall. 
You could absolutely date the era of each previous remodel.
The living room had one of those forest murals. That was fun!
At my mom's town house someone had let the kids
"sign" the walls before they papered. Cute.

When I take old furniture pieces and paint them I will quite
often leave the underside alone. You can see bits and flecks
of previous colors and finishes. I think it adds to the piece's
character, it's personality.

Hmm, now my mind wanders to my face. 
I suppose all these lines that are showing up on it are just part
of my character, gives me personality.
Hmmmm, not buying it yet.
Pass the Botox!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chocolate Waffles and a Doll

Oh, yes, you can!
My family has been making chocolate waffles since I can't
remember when.
Mike and I started adding a layer of frosting about a 
year ago and have found Nirvana. 
It's simply a box cake mix that you make according to the directions.
You just cook it in a waffle iron! 

My Great-Aunt Olive used to make waffles for my sister and I guess
she used a round waffle iron. Gaye decided the only good waffle
is a round waffle and our whole family has subscribed to that 
theory ever since. Hmm, I don't remember
 Aunt Olive ever making waffles for me.

 I do remember going with her to the Doll Hospital to have
 her childhood doll repaired. Her sister had an identical doll 
and when Aunt Grace died, Aunt Olive had her doll buried with her. 
Some doll museum had approached Aunt Olive to have her doll
displayed there. Aunt Olive wouldn't hear of it. To put her
beloved doll behind glass. Nobody talking to her. 
Don't ask me why it was OK to bury Aunt Grace's doll. 
That's another whole psych study.
For some reason we did not do the same with Aunt Olive's doll.
So, here she sits. 
Gaye got waffles, I got a doll.
I try to say Hi to her once in a while. 
I think if you didn't know Aunt Olive and her love
for this doll, she might have that kind of creepy Chuckie look.
I know she had a name, but I don't remember it.
Her little dress is absolutely disintegrating. 
Aunt Olive was a special lady.
I don't think I can give her doll away. 

Shanna is four generations removed.
I think I'll let her figure it out.
If you know what I mean ;o)

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Little Treat From the Summer

This is Aggie's Black Bean Grilled Burrito. 
Except she calls them Skillet Grilled Burritos. 
Semantics aside, it's a great little dish.
I did not put spinach in mine because Mike is pretty sure that
 he doesn't like it. Kinda like he's pretty sure he doesn't
 like Chinese food, but that's another whole can o'worms. 
I used Aldi's "Fit and Active"Multi Grain Wraps. 
I took Aggie's good advice and used some shredded 
rotisserie chicken just to make life easier. 
There's a yummy Creamy Cilantro-Jalapeno sauce it
all gets mixed with. Aggie notes where she has swapped
out ingredients. Some people may call it "substituted"
but that just implies you fell short and didn't have 
what was deemed necessary. 
I rather to think of swapping out some odd ingredient for something 
else I must prefer because I have it in my kitchen. 
It's all in how you look at things. 

Right now I'm trying to figure out how to look at this and not 
be consumed with envy. 
I'm so happy for Aggie. 
Really I am. 
And actually, the post is going to be very useful when 
Mike plans our trip to Napa.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Power of Pie

This is quite possibly the most expensive piece of pie you are likely to ever see.
My husband and son like apple pie.
They LOVE Ann Erickson's apple pie.

My aunt likes to support her church's bake sales.
She LOVES Mike and Michael. 

Can you see where this is going?
 Ever since she figured out how much my guys love
 this pie she has made it her mission to be 
certain nobody else in that church gets their grubby mitts
on her guys' pie. She calls Ann as soon as she knows there
is a bake sale in the offing and she puts her money down.
I don't have an exact dollar amount but it has been intimated that
it is considerable. Ann then calls us and arranges the drop. She 
is always very certain to remind Mike to thank his Aunt for it. 
I think we forgot once or twice. oops. 

Big Mary was lamenting one day that she just doesn't get
to see Michael and Michelle very much since they got married.
I suggested she hold the apple pies "ransom". 
You know, have Ann deliver them to her and then she 
could call the guys and tell them to come and get some. 
I felt it was genius. 
She's too sweet for that. 
So, here's the pie. 
Sitting at my house. 

I'm not so sweet.
I believe Michael will be stopping by tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts

I love Ina Garten. 
And I'm pretty fond of Val.
She gave me Ina's cookbook, "Back to Basics"
for my birthday. 
Actually, I love Val and am pretty fond of Ina.
Val is a quiet woman but is very passionate about things. 
It's kinda cool if you think about it.
 Someone who feels very strongly about many things and 
those around her know it, but somehow she 
is able to make us aware of those things without pounding us 
over the head with her views. You have to respect that. 

It cracks me up that my posts will start out being about one thing
 and then inevitably turn and wind up being about the 
people in my life. God has blessed me with
 amazing people in my path. 
But back to the food. 
How cool is this picture?
I really am not good at the photo side of this blog thing
but I think this one catches all the components of the tart.
Ina's recipe was for four 6 inch tarts with one
large slice of tomato in the middle.
I wanted to feed 6 people dinner and felt the tarts would
need accompaniments. So, I switched to mini tarts and
 bought a pint of small mixed heirloom tomatoes. 
Making 18 mini tarts was a bit labor intensive but was totally 
worth the effort. 

Then I got a vision of how I wanted the plate to look. 
I cooked mini farfalle, dressed it with some Rosso Pesto
(that I picked up at Aldi) some toasted pine nuts, fresh basil and a little
shaved parm on top. Then a little green salad with 
thinly sliced apples, craisins and walnuts tossed 
with a raspberry walnut vinaigrette. 
Once again my photographic abilities leave a bit to be desired
but you get the idea. 

And just to come full circle and end with a people thing, 
I love that Ina eats her cooking.
Just saying, you can't really trust a skinny chef.....

Cookie Stuffed Brownies

I was talking with a gal the other evening and was telling her 
about cookie stuffed cupcakes. She told me about basically the
same thing but with brownies!
I toyed with the idea of making the brownies in cupcake
form but decided to go the easy way and just make a pan.
I used a "family" size brownie mix that I am not
convinced is any bigger than a regular mix. I think they put those
words on the box to make me want them more.
As you can see "family" size was not so generous that
the cookie dough was able to sink down in. 
Don't get me wrong, it did not diminish the delicious factor,
just the aesthetic factor. 
But I said that already, didn't I?

So, next time I believe I will get two of the "family"
sized bad boys and make a layer of brownie batter,
plop down the cookie dough, 
and then another layer of brownie batter on top
then bake. 
They will probably need a longer bake time but how 
much fun to have the cookie inside to be a