Monday, November 12

How to Determine You Might Have Grown Up a Wee Bit

(Though...not entirely of course.)

1. Go to Panera Bread on a Sunday morning to read the newspaper.

2. Order yourself your usual cinnamon sugar crunchy bagel-ey goodness with hazelnut cream cheese.

3. Scan the menu even though you usually order the same non-fat double latte, no flavor.

4. Think to yourself, wow, that pumpkin spice latte sounds good.

5. Order pumpkin spice latte.

6. Pay.

7. Wait for said latte to be made.

8. Say yes to whip cream.

9. Watch as the 14-year-old making your coffee creates a pile of whip cream on your coffee somewhat resembling the Grand Tetons - only whiter. And whipped.

10. Take coffee and sugary bagel-ey goodness to a table.

11. Realize that together your breakfast has the same amount of refined white sugar that Louisiana produced last year.

12. Eat bagel.

13. Attempt to drink latte.

14. Think a lot about tooth decay and of those episodes of Extreme Makeover you watched but never would admit.

15. Stop drinking latte altogether.

15. Try to think of creative ways you could remove the syrup and whipped cream from latte.

16. Fail miserably.

17. Leave 3/4 full mug of latte in dish tub.

Sunday, November 11

Menu Plans, Wish Wash and Saying No to HFCS

There's something about fall that causes me to want to do things around the house and the range from cuddling up under a blanket with a good book to actively doing things around the house. The past few weekends, I've been making progress on several projects.

1. I've almost caught up reading all of my Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines and this morning actually constructed a meal plan before going grocery shopping. This evening I kicked off my week of meals with a hearty cannellini bean, tomato, spinach and sausage stew (I subbed sausage and spinach). Very delicious indeed. For the rest of the week, I plan to try my hand at a chicken and cashew stir fry (I'm trying to replicate take out so I can eliminate all that MSG); Crisp Pork Medallions with Creamy Caper Sauce; and I'm also going to make and freeze some Make Ahead Lunch Wraps so I can avoid eating out so much.

Here's a pic of tonight's stew:

2. Today I made my own laundry detergent. Yea you heard me. I know it sounds crazy. But when I have to dish out $15 to $18 for a huge bottle of Tide, it's painful. And, I've got to think that there's a bunch of chemicals in there that aren't necessary. So I found this simple recipe online and made it myself. It took about 30 minutes and cost about $2. That will be about a $0.01 a load. Now I have some extra cash for saving for my next trip or my next splurge on good cheese.

3. I made and canned salsa a few weekends a back with the last of the good summer tomatoes and Serrano peppers from the farmer's market in Muskegon. It was my first time canning on my own and if I ever have my own garden some day, I'm definitely going to do more of it.

4. I've also been trying to stop eating high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) altogether. It's really difficult to eliminate it completely. Usually I cook things fresh, but sometimes ingredients you have in your pantry sneak it in there. Ketchup will be the toughest thing to give up I think, though I have read recipes for canning this...I'm intrigued. I also discovered recently that Worcestershire sauce has HFCS in it and the label says the recipe is from the early 20th century. I'm not a betting girl, but somehow I suspect HFCS wasn't in their original recipe. I wrote the manufacturer's a scathing letter. :-)

5. I've also made some progress on my living room pillows, but not enough to really report yet. More on that later.

Sunday, August 12

I Define Blogging Underachievement

As much as I really enjoy writing, it seems that I don't do all that much of it on here any more - for the love, I've been averaging one post per month!

But regardless, assuming anyone actually reads this anymore, I thought I'd share my top five summer highlights:

Number 5 - Herb Garden
I've always wanted to have a garden, but living in an apartment has its limitations and access to soil is indeed one of them. But, this year, I did manage to put some herbs in two four foot long planters on my patio and the herbs have grown beautifully and made my salads, sauces and dinners all the more flavorfull and delightful. This weekend I made a roasted vegetable lasagna with a fresh marinara sauce with thyme, basil, oregano and Italian parsley from the garden - delicious.

Number 4 - Patio Paradise
One of the perks of my place is the size of the patio and I promised myself this summer that I would make it an extension of my living space with some chairs, a rug and a fountain. The two chairs I bought at IKEA have the design elements and appearance I love, but also they are super comfy. I've sipped many a cocktail out there this summer and Sallycat seems to enjoy the purple rag rug as well.

Number 3 - Making Gazpacho in my Cuisinart
I knew the Cuisinart I received last winter would be put to good use and I knew one of those uses would be to make gazpacho. It's funny because the recipe for this deliciously fresh and cold soup in the Cuisinart instruction manual is actually quite delicious. After a trip to the farmer's market, I can barely wait to head home make this...and I have been all summer long.

Number 2 - Getting a shout out from one of my favorite bloggers

Number 1 - Canoe trip to the Quetico Provincial Park in Canada
I had always hear the Boundary Waters was a terrific place to go, but when I was invited to go north of there to the Quetico with a small group, I could hardly turn it down. I spent seven glorious days up there in July, paddling, trying to learn to fly fish and cooking gourmet meals over a camp fire. I tried northern pike for the first time and had small mouth bass prepared as ceviche (a cooking method where the acid and citrus from lime juice cooks the fish) - terrific! The weather could have been warmer and less rainy, but the location and the remote wilderness experience made me forget about feeling soggy. I long for the next time I go there. I have never been somewhere that I went almost seven days without hearing anything mechanical or seeing another group of people. It was the best.

Tuesday, June 12

On Bonnets, Apple Butter and Designer Dickies

I bet you didn't expect that to be the first title I'd write upon my hiatus from blogging. But it seems to ring especially true as I reflect on last weekend's activities - a trip to Shipshewana with my mom, aunt and cousin. One of the highlights of the trip, other than the beautiful contemporary mission style dining room table set that I'm still dreaming about, was a brand of terribly disgusting women's clothing called Shipshe Casuals - a brand dedicated to women who prefer to have a holiday sweater each month of the year and require that all capri pants, cardigans and other items be bedazzled, puffy painted or embroidered with creatures. The title of this post is reminiscent of the sign on one of the rotating racks..."Designer Dickies." Now I ask is that even possible? Apple necklace anyone?

This photo pretty much sums up how I felt about the sidewalk sale.

The funny part is that as I jigged about on the porch wearing the depicted hideousness, completely mocking the style of clothing that I will NEVER wear, a woman complimented me on how nicely the vest fit me and exclaimed, "I wish they had that in my size," and was completely serious and began to scan the rack. I then exclaimed "We need to get out of here immediately."

In other weekend highlight news, I have officially purchased fabric for my first "person-with-hobbies-and-out-of-graduate-school" project. The solid green and Amy Butler (thanks Jen for clueing me into her fabulousness) lotus fabric will be used to make new throw pillows for my couch to accent my green area rug and the fruit panels will go on some flour sacking kitchen towels - I just have to find the sacking.

And, here's a bit of news I should have reported months ago, I got rain boots. Be Jealous.