Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quick Update

Life has been wonderful these last few weeks. There were 9 Christmas celebrations that Mr. Husband and I attended this year, and we enjoyed each one! Have to admit it...that doesn't always happen. Gathering large families can sometimes be difficult and irritating. That was not the case this year!

A couple of quick updates:

The wall I had mentioned in the previous post; the one I want to tear down. Our construction friend didn't make it out until yesterday, but brought with him good news! Our wall can be torn down. We are both very excited and have started to "draw" some plans of what we would like to do with the kitchen. Of course, we won't be tearing the wall down any time soon. If the wall comes down, the kitchen would need to be redone. That's just not in the budget right now.

On another note, we made homemade pizza last night. Simply one of my favorite things. Having a bread machine really makes life easy. I put all of the ingredients in the bread machine, pressed a couple of buttons and an hour and half later, the dough was ready to be rolled out and topped. Pepperoni and cheese were the toppings of choice, and quite frankly, I wasn't in the mood for I left it off of a few pieces. I also like to sprinkle oregano and a bit of garlic on top of the pizza before baking, then a little bit more oregano half way through the baking process. Makes for some yummy pizza!

To continue with the cooking theme, I have greatly enjoyed my crock pot. I've already used it twice for today: once for a turkey breast recipe that called for an entire bottle of wine (it wasn't that good; next time I will use broth) and now for delcious (and super hot!) buffalo wings. Here is the recipe. Side note: I just went to their full website for the first time and it looks like they won't be updating anymore. BUMMER! I was excited to explore. Anyway, I didn't have enough ingredients to make the sauce, which is why the wings aren't completely covered. I figure that there will be enough sauce in the bottom of the crock pot to stir and cover the wings. I taste-tested the sauce (yum!) and it was HOT. I'm excited to taste when completely done.

Well, happy new year's eve to all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Wall

Mr. Husband and I took the first step in finding out about our wonderful wall with the lame "pantry." We have successfully cleared the pantry (it is only two cans deep) and found new places for each and every item. We were even able to get a few appliances off the counter to clear up some counter space. A few appliances on the counter are okay, but counter space is even better!

Our purpose for cleaning out the pantry was to open up the floor plan of our main level. Our kitchen is small and extremely enclosed, making it hard for two people to be in there at once. Slightly irriating! We made places for everything in the container, proving to us that we would not miss the "pantry" on the lame wall.

So we went right ahead and called a family friend that works in construction. He'll be over tomorrow morning to check on the wall. He will let us know if we can tear it down without having the roof cave in on us. Hooray!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tastebud Disagreement

I have heard RAVE reviews about Guinness Stew (also known as Stout Stew, Irish Stew, etc.). I was very much hoping that it would be a wonderful dinner served over mashed potatoes. Plus, Guinness is such a yummy could it be bad?

Well, it was. Just straight up not good. Mr. Husband and I got married in June of this year. While we do have dinner with family quite frequently, I cook a majority of the evenings (except this past week: we ate out or at a family member's house every night). Never have I ever had to throw a dinner away. Granted, this is mostly because my husband will eat anything. Even if it doesn't taste fantastic.

Today, Guinness Stew ended up in the sink. I took two bites, he took four. Never has this happened before. Mr. Husband, of course, was very sweet and said, "It's okay, babe." Quite frankly, I don't care that dinner ended up badly. Am I bummed about the wasted ingredients? Of course. I don't like to waste food one bit. But am I going to continue to eat something that makes me gag? Not so much. We ate our small portions and got rid of the rest via the garbage disposal.

Someday, there will be another attempt at making Guinness Stew (obviously with a different recipe).

Does anyone have a good Guinness stew recipe?  Please share...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Organized Life

Organization is something I very much enjoy. I love bins with crisp white labels. Drawer organizers bring a smile to my face.

Mr. Husband and I moved into our house and are not yet living the organized life (sad day). I know that eventually we will get there. Just not quite yet.

Today, though, was a big step toward the organized life. Our home has three bedrooms. Two are on the main living level. Being that we are in a split-level home, the two bedrooms are upstairs. The third bedroom is in the basement. From the beginning, upstairs bedroom number two was to be the office. We completed it with a computer and desk, filing cabinet and three bookshelves. Will all that space for storage, Mr. Husband and I still managed to keep a pretty cluttered and pretty messy office. The culprit you ask?

My craft stuff.

It was everywhere! Now, before I get ahead of myself, I need to talk about bedroom number hree. My husband and I love just about every outdoor summer activity and are slowly getting into quite a few outdoor winter activities. That being said, we have a lot of stuff. The easiest thing for us to do was to out all that "stuff" in the basement bedroom. Man, did it every get full! Golf clubs, snowboards, tents, sleeping bags, luggage, backpacking backpacks, snowshoes. The list continues with more stuff that was taking up way too much space and was not stored properly. Only one of the bedrooms in our house was functioning properly, and that's only because the only thing we do there is sleep.

Back to the craft stuff. I have a lot of that, too. I finally bit the bullet and bought those clear and stackable shoebox sized storage containers. I used some extra white return address labels and a Sharpie to get to work. Before I do anything, I have a habit of writing a list. I jotted down ideas for the buckets I would create: things that stick (glue, tape, etc.), things that cut, paper, stamps, block carving, paint, paint brushes, ribbon, sewing stuff, markers and crayons, stencils, ink pads, and a bin for miscellaneous stuff. I filled up ten bins! Ten bins of stuff that had previously been in bags on the floor. It felt SO good.

When we bought our house, the downstairs bedroom had a lovely white desk and hutch. With the hutch removed, I knew it would be the perfect sewing table. And here my sewing machine sat since I got it, untouched. I couldn't even fit a chair in that bedroom.

In an attempt to make a long post as short as possible, I spend the day in the downstairs bedroom. I made my way through piles and piles of things. I gored our backpacking packs and day packs properly. Our snowboards are within reach (we better get more snow!). The snowshoes were moved to the garage, along with the golf clubs and tennis rackets.

My lovely labeled clear stackable bins were moved downstairs. My bin of leftover fabric is actually near my sewing machine. I have paint, paintbrushes and canvas all in the same room. And, My chair fits in the room (pictures soon).

I'd venture out and say that today was definitely a success.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Culinary (?) Creations

I'm not positive that these creations can truly be called culinary. Especially since I threw one out after one bite (it was gross!).

The first creation was Stone Soup. This is something we make in Kindergarten the week of Thanksgiving every year. I thought the Stone Soup tasted horrible, so I worked on it a little bit at home. It didn't get much better, and I'll have to give it another go shortly. It looked decent enough, the taste just wasn't up to par.

I made two batches, one with gluten-free vegetable stock (top), the other with chicken stock. Both looked pretty, but landed in the trash can mere minutes after being done.  Oh well!

The next creation was one of my all time favorite, super easy dinners. Hobo dinners!  I LOVE them, and they are SO simple to make. I involved Mr. Husband in this dinner, since I felt overwhelmed with life that day. He was a gem and chopped all of the vegetables while I mixed Lawry's super yummy seasoned salt into the ground beef.  He did a fantastic job.

 As you can see, I also use my cooking time as an "experiment with photography" time. Look how quickly his hand is moving while chopping the mushrooms!

Anyway, a hobo dinner (well, our hobo dinners this time) included mushrooms, carrots, green pepper and onion for the vegetables. I don't care for the texture of having an onion in my mouth, but they definitely need to be included in the cooking process to bring out all of the delightful flavors... So, if you're like me and despise onion, include them anyway and pick around them while eating.

We also boiled potatoes as a yummy way to serve the meal.  It was delicious!!

And to the right is the product before being wrapped up and heading into the oven. The ground beef is hiding under all of the vegetable goodness! We double wrap them in tin foil and place them on a cookie sheet.  I stick them in the oven at 350, then check them after 25 minutes to see how the beef is holding up.  YUMMY!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Therapy for All!

I need to learn to squeeze more things into life.  Here's the thing. I love to make, to create things. To me, it is soothing. I had such a productive weekend. Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree, adding Christmas decorations to our house, making stockings and pillows. It was wonderful and I loved every minute of it.

But now, the work week is back. My evenings are filled with making dinner, which in and of itself is a creation, but my culinary skills are still at the recipe-following (to a T) stage. Eventually, I would like to get beyond that point so that cooking does become a creation. I'm not there, yet. The laundry piles up in the basement and the dishes pile up in the sink, even though we have a dishwasher (thank you in-laws for the wonderful dishwasher last Christmas!).

I need to make the time to crochet at night. Or paint, or sew. If only for five minutes. Maybe sewing, painting, creating is my therapy. Therapy or not, I love it and need it in my life.

Everyone needs a little therapy, anyway.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rookie Mistake

I had some left over fabric from my stocking adventure. I also had some pillow forms lying around from when Mr. Husband's grandmother passed away. I had no zippers, so I searched for a tutorial on how to make an envelope pillow... Seemed easy enough.

Excitement got the best of me. I forgot to put the fabric with the right sides facing each other. Sewing away I went, with the right side of one fabric facing the wrong side of the other piece. Dang it!

I flipped it out and put the pillow form in anyway, in hopes of having the correct size (I did). So the pillow could have been a success.

So instead, I cut a Christmas tree out of on side of the pillow, glued it to a cross-stitch napkin, stuck it in a hoop and hung it on the way.

At least all was not lost from my rookie mistake!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Stockings!

My favorite wedding present is by far the sewing machine I got from my aunt. I love it, and just completed my third project.

My first project was a quilt for my newest (and only) nephew. Mr. Husband's grandmother started the quilt, but passed away before it was finished. I took the honor of finishing the quilt. While it turned out nicely, I still have a lot of practicing to do. Quilting is not yet a strong suit of mine.

Project number two was our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Halloween costumes. They turned out beautifully! I used store bought green sweatsuits and craft felt for the turtle bellies. Target happened to have green saucer sleds out the day before Halloween. I purchased two of those, added straps and had an instant turtle shell. The costumes were fabulous!

Number three, though, is by far my most successful project. The Christmas stockings! Mr. Husband and I don't have a fireplace, but Christmas decorations cannot be complete without stockings. I made my way to JoAnn and got four Christmas prints (on sale, to boot!). I printed this pattern and got right to work. The stockings are so adorable. As soon as my camera battery charges, I will get pictures up!