31 May 2011

3 Day Weekend!

Three whole days off with nothing to do except drink wine and be happy?  Shonuff.

Nothing really exciting exciting or fancy here, just relaxing and doing household stuff.  There were a couple of walks to the park, there was some baking, there was some ice creaming, there was wine, there were laughs, and there was laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.

And I'm not even mad about having to return to school tomorrow, because we're down to single digits now, baby!  Nine days.  Nine more days of ninth graders!  (At least until late August.)

Here are too many pictures of what our weekend looked like.

How much is it again to clone a dog? 

 It's a travesty that Brothers & Sisters has been canceled.  

 Awesome moth camouflage. 

 Ice creaming.  Brace yourself for this one.

Laundry makes Mitch tired. It's really hard to fold all of those towels without thumbs.

I tried to steal this puppy.  For serious.  If Matt wasn't such a sissy pants, Mitch would have a new brother right now. 

Two exciting things did happen this weekend.

1.  I decided that, after a 5-month clothes-buying hiatus, it was high time to buy some new jeans.  So I marched my butt into Gap, and hell if my favorite jeans weren't on sale, with an additional 40% off the clearance price.  Shoot yeah!  Thank you, the Gap.

2.  When we were returning home from the park, Matt suggested that we go to Mexico for dinner. (You know, because of general laziness and because we didn't want to do the dishes in the sink.  It might have had a wee bit to do with the $1.99 margaritas, too.  Hmmmm.)  After about .0001 seconds of arm twisting, I agreed, stating that I would only have one margarita.  Yeah, right.  See, that's the thing about delicious $1.99 margaritas; you don't just have one.  So I had two, which was basically like me being the most self-controlled person on the planet.  And while we were there Matt was all bragging about how last time he had margaritas at Mexico he came home and ellipted for an hour.  And while he talked about that I just made a disgusted face and was all, "Mew mew mew mew mew."  But guess who ellipted 500 calories away after returning home from Mexico this time?  It wasn't Matt.  In other news, Brandon and Kelly are lamesville.

*****Hey!  Don't forget to go check out my reviews page where you can enter to win a $100 HomeGoods gift card just by leaving a little ol' comment!*****

29 May 2011

Homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies

I've mentioned a while back that my mom, who dropped out of high school, homeschooled my brother and me for a year.  And how I spent my entire sixth grade year not learning to dance or discovering life science, but instead watching I Dream of Jeannie, jumping on the trampoline, and eating oatmeal creme pies.  

Oatmeal creme pies still hold a special place in my heart*, so it seemed only fitting that I should try my hand at making them when I found myself with a big bowl full of sugary creamy goodness (a failed attempt at making marshmallow creme cheese frosting).

I'd never actually made an oatmeal cookie, probably because I'm not that big a fan of raisins and it seems that oatmeal and raisins are always hanging out with each other.  But just recently, Cassie was telling me about how she's never made anything from Smitten Kitchen that disappointed, so I went there first.  And hell if Cassie wasn't right.  Oh, Deb.  You and your perfect cookies.

Full disclosure: I also chose this recipe because I already had all of the ingredients on hand.  You probably do, too.

So I set out to make the cookies, and about four minutes later they were in the oven, making the whole house smell amazing.  

And about 12 minutes after that, I had a bunch of little bites of wonderful.

Throw in some creme, and voila!

These were super fast and easy, and the only thing that I don't like about them is that I can't stop eating them.  Will someone please come to my house and eat all of these cookies before I polish them off.  Matt's not a fan of oatmeal cookies**, and Mitch and I are dieting.***

Oh, and these are so quick and simple that you could totes whip up a batch to take to a Memorial Day picnic or something.  Or whip up for yourself to eat whilst lying on the couch on your extra day off this weekend.

*And some real prime real estate on my ass and thighs, too.

**Who the hell doesn't like oatmeal cookies??  When Matt pulls this kind of crap, like when he talks about how he doesn't like pizza or about how he absolutely must get on the elliptical, I wonder to myself, "Can this marriage last?"  


Oatmeal Creme Pies

For the cookie.  (Only slightly adapted from Deb's recipe.)

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slighly less thick.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

For the creme.

You could really use whatever creme filling you'd like here.  I am partial to cream cheese frosting, so for that you need:

3 oz. cream cheese
1 tbsp. butter
1/3 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar to desired taste and thickness (1/2 cup to 1 cup)

Cream the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl.  Add the vanilla.  Slowly add the sugar.  If you sift the sugar first, it'll be more smooth.

Note: I didn't chill my cookie dough because I wanted the cookies to be a little more on the flat side.  If you want yours thicker, chill the dough for thirty minutes or so.

26 May 2011

She's a Lady!

Fun facts about ladybugs that I found on the internet and learned before there was an internet:

  • Ladybugs are cute.
  • Red ladybugs are ladies.  Black ladybugs with red spots are really called manbugs.  Tanya taught me that.  She is a veritable wealth of knowledge.
  • Ladybugs are good bugs because they eat bad bugs.
  • Ladybug in Spanish is mariquita.  Manbug in Spanish is senorbugo.  I didn't ever study any other languages, so I don't know any other translations.
  • Ladybugs will usually not kill you.
  • Ladybugs don't even taste good.  That's why other bugs and animals won't eat them.  
  • Ladybug wings are kind of like a spaceship.
Also, ladybugs are awesome.  I stalked one this weekend while she (red with black spots, that's how you know it was a she) toured Cassie and Hugh's lemon tree.

See ya, lady. . .bug!

25 May 2011

This and That

1.  There are only 11 more school days (with kids) remaining this year.  That's not very many days.  Also, I am amazing at the math.

2.  This summer I will not be working, and because I won't have as much disposable income, I'm working to find fun, free (or very inexpensive) things to do.  Any suggestions?

3.  Trying to turn us into cloth napkin people.  It's easier to do because Kim (of fancy silver fame) also gave me a big bag of Matt's grandmother's linens.  We used them last night, and I felt so sophisticated.  Basically, if you come to our house we'll do things like have string quartets and jewels baked into cakes.

4.  Make these Brussels sprouts, even if you don't like Brussels sprouts.  Every time we make them, they are the star of the meal.  I want to take a day this summer where I do nothing but make and eat these.  Not really free, but could be fun, right?

5.  If you haven't seen Bridesmaids, please do.  I need to talk to someone about how much I love it.  Go see it and then call me so we can laugh about it.

6.  This little ol' blog turned two a couple of weeks ago, and I totally missed it.  Shoooot.  My very first post was done kind of on a whim when a snake jumped out of some bushes and tried to kill me.  Just a few days ago, our sweet little old mailman met Matt and me in the driveway to deliver our mail, telling us that there's been a snake hanging out on our front step.  Later I noticed the note he'd written at the top of our insurance bill.

I love cute mailmen.  I do not love snakes.  That damn snake has now tried to kill me and our mailman!  Snakes will still kill you.  That's what we've learned in two years.

What will the next years bring?  Hopefully more baked goods and less danger.

23 May 2011

Flip Burger!

One of the destinations during Cassie-and-Mandy's-excellent-adventure-around-the-capital-of-the-great-state-of-Georgia was Flip Burger.   Cassie'd been there a number of times, and every time she would tell Matt and me about one of her visits, we would drool all over ourselves, swearing that we needed to travel up to the ATL to get us some of that deliciousness.  Oh, and also, the chef of Flip Burger is none other than our favorite Top Chef contestant of all time, Richard Blais.

So, yeah, I was more than a little excited to go there.  (I felt kind of bad that Matt didn't get to join me on this trip, but not bad enough to not go myself.)

Every single little detail, every sip, every bite at Flip Burger was incredible, perfect, tasty.  

If I could eat there for every meal from now until the end of time, I would.  (Probably have to get an elliptical installed in the restaurant, though, so that I could live longer and eat more burgers and drink more milkshakes.)

Our trip to Flip Burger wasn't just delicious, though; it was also productive.  It was during our lunch that  I accomplished one of my New Year's resolutions.

See, way back when, when we were ringing in 2011 and nursing our champagne hangovers, I pledged to-- during this, the year that I would turn 30--eat a runny egg.  Because I'm mature like that.  Forget all of this self-improvement rigmarole!  I needed to eat an egg that wasn't scrambled! (BTW, I didn't even eat eggs by themselves until after I had graduated from college.)

I got the pork chorizo burger (which was, by far, the most amazing burger that I've ever eaten--ever), and pushed the top half of the bun down and, eeek!

I was a little afraid.  Okay, a lot afraid.

So I dipped one of the prongs of my fork into the egg and tasted it very gingerly.

And then, an exhange:

Me: Oh, it just tastes like egg. 

Cassie:  Yeah.  What did you think it would taste like?

Me:  Poison slime.  But it doesn't.  It's basically just egg sauce.

Cassie:  You're an idiot.

Not only did I eat an egg, but I also ate honey mustard sauce (must've had some cinnamon or nutmeg or something in it to make it extra delicious).  I'm basically like the most mature, most adventurous eater who's ever lived.*

And then I got a Cap'n Crunch milkshake, which is kind of like taking two steps back from my super mature adventure mode.  Whatev.  It was awesome!  I will be trying to recreate it at home very, very soon.  Someone get me some liquid nitrogen!

Anyway, just needed to share.  Matt and I have big plans to return to Flip Burger in a month or so, and I'm sure I'll have to fill you in on Matt's inaugural visit, too.  What new foods will we try?

*Also BTW, one time I went to a friend's birthday dinner with a bunch of people I didn't know, and I sat across from this guy who basically just bragged about himself for the entire meal.  He kept referring to himself as a very adventurous eater, and with every utterance of that phrase he convinced me more and more that he was, perhaps, the biggest tool on the planet.  But he was an adventurous eater.  Now Matt and I just make fun of that guy.  But that's because we're unadventurous eaters, I suppose.

This Is a Time for the FANCY SILVER!

I think the lesson we can take away from this story is the same one that would apply to eating decent ketchup: good things come to those who wait.  

I mentioned a while ago that while we were on spring break, Matt's mom's best friend Kim bestowed upon us quite a few amazing gifts, not the least of which was just a massive box of fancy silver.  You know, like silver silverware.

Like, stuff you'd use when serving the queen.

See, Kim is a champion shopper--for all things, including antiques.  She was even with Sue when they found my Amish Butterprint bowls.  Anyway, way back when, when Matt and I were engaged (and doing everything to avoid calling each other fiance because we were so freaked out by the sound of it and the way it's hard to say it without sounding like a pretentious a-hole), Kim presented me with three different silver patterns that she could find relatively easily, and asked me to pick the one I liked best.

I picked this pattern, Grosvenor, because of its general amazingness.  It was so different and cool, and I loved the detail and the shapes of the different utensils.  For my bridal shower, Kim gave me a box with about a dozen of the pieces, promising to get me the rest in the future.  And then, with all of the hubbub with the wedding and the honeymoon and wine drinking and ninth grader corralling and baking and getting fatter by the minute, I kind of forgot that I had more silver coming my way.

And then over spring break, we had breakfast with Kim and she casually mentioned that she had my silver in the car and that, oh yeah, it was basically enough to host a wedding reception.

She wasn't kidding.

So we got the box down to the lake, and I began to fondle my silver.  And Sue taught me all about silver: about how you're not supposed to use lemony detergent, about how you put it with felt to keep it from tarnishing too quickly, and how you can use this amazing stuff called silver polish to make it all shiny and beautiful. 

So we polished.

And we polished.

And we rinsed.

And we buffed.

And we polished some more.

And then Sue was all, "We should totes refinish the silver box" (except that she didn't say it like a fool like I just did) and so we did.  Because my mother-in-law is not only like the most knowledgeable person about fancy silver, but she's also got a tool collection that would put Tim Taylor to shame.  

So while Matt and his dad went hiking and then Matt retreated to the dock to bury his face in a book, Sue and I got all handy.  

Now I have fancy silver, and a fancy box to put it in.  But I'm not fancy.  Shoot.

BUT!  It still works great for occasions that are less fancy, like when you need to ladle more barbecue sauce onto your ribs. . .

. . .or you need to finish off that piece of cheesecake from TGIFridays.

Works for me.

Do you have fancy silver?  And, if so, when do you use it?


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