Dinner Parties

While stumbling around the web yesterday I came upon this awesome post on the blog Cupcakes and Cashmere. Emily, the author, was talking about all of the dinner parties she had been having lately, and the really cute way she was displaying water on the table. Instead of a boring old pitcher of water, she was infusing water with different things (ie, mint, lemon, or orange) and then bottling them up in these bottles and then creating her own custom tags for them to let people know what flavor water it was. I couldn’t get over what a simple, yet ingenious idea this was! I absolutely can’t wait to use this idea soon. So on that note, if anyone is looking for some interestingly cooked, probably exploded at some point dinner, give me a ring and I’ll be more than happy to infuse some mint water in a fun glass bottle for you! Just bring your own safety goggles!

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Breaking Out My Running Shoes

The weather is so nice today! Chris and I are out in the backyard right now working. Chris is digging in his dirt pile, and I’m blogging at the table. Typical 🙂 He has so much more patience with this project than I do. Right now he’s spending more time digging bricks out of the dirt than digging dirt out of the dirt! I would have given up a LONG time ago, kind of like I did with the Ivy.

Anyway, moving on. So I decided to break out my running shoes today.

For those of you who know me, for a long time I lived and breathed running. Was I great at it? No way, but I loved it. I loved it right up until the moment I ran the BAA Half Marathon in 2009 and wrecked my knee. It had taken me so long to get to the point where I could run those distances (and longer, helloo Boston Marathon 2009!) comfortably that I was devastated when I tried to start running again only to find that a mile made me want to keel over and die. For almost 18 months now I have been sans running, and my life has been a little sadder.

Cue my sister, who has always been the one to get me started on my newest obsessions (lulu, yoga, and twitter, just to name a few!). She’s been a running machine lately, and it totally made me miss it. Add to that the new blogs I’ve been finding (like Meganerdruns) and it was all I could do to keep myself on the couch for 5 more minutes. All of them expressed the same sentiments that I did. That first mile is the hardest. What separates the couch potatoes from the runners is simply getting up and going out the door again the next morning, and the one after that, and the one after that.

So on that note, weather permitting, I will be back on the road again tomorrow in my Lulu running crops and my Addidas running sneaks. I’m setting my sights back on my favorite race: The Marathon. I’m thinking possibly Boston 2012 if I can get my charity number back, and the Chicago Marathon 2012 in October (you know you want to run it with me Beth!!). In the meantime, anyone with any great 5k,10k, and half races in mind, send me a message!

New Design

Any thoughts on the new design?

I figured I should probably make the blog a little more “custom”. The background picture just happened to line up perfectly to have brickwork lining the left hand side. The only downside? You miss the most important part of the picture!

Here it is so you can see the whole thing:

See what I mean?

Anyway, let me know what you think of the new design!

My New Favorite Thing

A while ago my parents bought a Logitech Squeezebox. This snazzy little radio lets you listen to internet radio, Pandora, Stalker Radio, even your iTunes library. I listened to my parents raving about it, and how great it was to listen to the weather in California (always sunny and 70) instead of the weather here in Boston (always 30’s and snowing).

Since Chris wanted me to learn to cook, I deemed it necessary that we get one of these. Being a life-long (and self-proclaimed) chorus geek, I always need to have music that I can sing along to, loudly. So we bought one, and as soon as it arrived it was set up to my iTunes library.

I heart my kitchen now!

We also wanted to listen to radio stations from other parts of the world. Let me tell you, GREAT decision! There is nothing better than trying to understand the guys on Captiol Radio out of the UK. One night they went on a 3 minute debate about “dodgy tummies”. And when they get really mad? Forget it, it’s not English, it’s another language altogether!

The pre-sets have become key. Chris has his pre-set stations so when I’m not around he can easily listen to his music, and when he’s not around, I can listen to mine. Luckily, we agree on the British station (I think) and 95% of the time we’re listening to that while making dinner.

It’s also come in handy when we have friends over. Sara, Kerry, and I had a great time singing along to Rent and Glee the other night while making dinner and catching up.

The only downside to my new favorite thing in the kitchen is the lack of a battery. You have to be plugged into the wall in order to have power. It would be so nice to be able to take it out in the backyard when the weather stays nice, so that we can have music while Chris is grilling. Supposedly the company is coming out with a battery pack for it, but I’m not holding my breath…

Tan is the New Black

At least in my bathroom it is. It’s the only color that goes with the (how do I put this delicately…?) retro fixtures that we currently have. While pink and green look lovely together on Easter, it’s a little more difficult to make it look as splendid in a bathroom.

I decided last week that enough was enough, and that I was going to make the bathroom look like a “grown up bathroom”. My problem with decorating has always been that I pick up things to decorate here and there, and never figure out a plan for the room I’m decorating.

This time was different.  We already had tan and white bath towels that seemed to more or less go with the room so I wanted to build on that. I figured a few key accessories to go with what I already had would help tie the room together.

With the approval of Chris (and the pin number for the checking account!) I was on my merry way to Bed Bath and Beyond to get this project off the ground. I purchased a new shower curtain:

Tan is great!

A tooth brush holder:

Home Sweet Tooth Brush Home!

A soap dispenser that I apparently didn’t feel the need to take a picture of, and a soap dish that I did take a picture of:

Soap Dish!

I also got some new potpourri that smells like Vanilla Cake to take the place of the purple candle that no longer matched my put together bathroom.

Vanilla Cake!

And then of course I kept taking pictures of the same thing. Honestly, sometimes I just take it as a challenge to see how many different pictures of the same thing I can get.

Alternate View 1

Alternate View 2!

Ok, Back to the point of this entry. Here’s the trashcan that I bought. Seriously, I matched EVERYTHING!

Overall, I’m starting to feel much better about the bathroom. I have towels, accessories, and nice potpourri. Now if only I had a floor that didn’t have a huge piece of 2×4 in the middle of it…..

Blast from the past

Chris and I have come up with a new game plan : clean one room a little each day. The past couple of days have been devoted to the big spare bedroom on the top floor. It had become home to all the random “stuff” from when we moved in (mostly mine, yes, I’ll take the blame for the mess you’re about to see…) along with all the random “stuff” that was already here. We started out with this:

And this:

And this:

And then I panicked. Chris had to drag me back into the room kicking and screaming by my ponytail…..Just kidding about the ponytail part. The kicking and screaming is completely true.

We decided we would fill one bag of trash a day. It seemed much more manageable that way.

Once we got going though it wasn’t so bad. Chris is really good at motivating me  and keeping me on task (in case you don’t know me, I get sidetracked really……. hey look, there goes Phoebe! What were we taking about??) and in no time flat – also known as 2 days – we had the room separated into trash, keep and not ours. Phoebe (per usual) had to be included, so we gave her the job of little trash compactor.

This job is right up my alley!

So this is where the story comes in. The “not ours” pile had some great finds!

First off we found a bunch of old school stuff from my dad and my aunt that my grandparents had saved like this picture drawn by my aunt:

Or this Thomas Jefferson Project done by my aunt: You can even seen where it says her name in the corner!

Here’s “The story of the FBI” by my dad. The funniest thing is his handwriting hasn’t changed at all since 8th grade!

Chris and I really wanted to know what the story was, but it seems to have gotten lost at some point.

There were tons of other things too, like this report my aunt and her best friend did:

We were amazed at how they both have that perfect “Catholic School Cursive” writing!

After that little detour we moved on to a bag that was filled with records – Crazy!!

Chris was all bent out of shape thinking that this was stolen from a library. That lasted about 2 seconds until he noticed that the overdue fee was a whopping 5 cents a day!

We kept uncovering more and more records (hebraic chants for the holy days didn’t really interest us too much, we wanted the Beatles!!). Clearly my next decision was to get that crazy looking piece of furniture in the corner to work:

I opened the top and found this:

I also started looking for a crank to make it work, but Chris laughed at me a pulled the electrical cord from behind it. Seriously? This thing was run on electricity? I honestly never would have guessed that.

We never did get to try it out since when Chris picked up the cord is started to crackle when he moved it. We deemed it a fire hazard and I changed gears and took artsy pictures of the thing:

And so on.

Phoebe just thought we were crazy.

Weirdos...

After a while we decided to move the “Keep” pile into the other room. We walked into that room (Screamed, and ran back out) and started to rearrange. Chris found a few pieces of wood that he claimed will come in handy for building things. Under that we found a couple cinder blocks. Inside one of the cinder blocks we found another surprise:

These Farmer’s Almanacs were dated from 1944-1967. Yes Dad, we’ve saved them for you. I promise!

Pretty cool huh?

We would have continued on our adventure, but the dust had us both sneezing like crazy so we decided to take a break. Hopefully we’ll get back to it soon, there’s a lot of progress being made!

Check back in again soon – I did some decorating in the bathroom today!    🙂

Tales of a Domestic Disaster

I took a break from house updates today because I felt the need to be domestic. All I wanted to do was bake banana muffins for Chris. Nothing fancy if you are pretty much anyone else in the world. For me, it was an epic undertaking.

I had been intrigued with baking since my friend Mackenzie had showed me some amazing cupcakes that she was making, and since Colleen had said “Baking is easy, all you have to do it follow the directions”. Little did she know who she was talking to.

Mom brought me a muffin tin that she gently told me “Came with plenty of experience, maybe it will help you”. It was my grandmother’s, who is an AMAZING baker. Somehow, I think this gene skipped me.

Before jumping into the story of today’s muffins I should probably give you a little background. I *try* to make my mom a birthday cake every year for her birthday. A few years ago she got a new stove instead of a cake. True story: I was baking her cake and somehow managed to explode the oven. All I heard was a huge BANG and saw flames. There was no cake that year. Last year I managed to bake the cake, but failed miserably on the frosting. I thought a Magic Bullet Blender would work to make the frosting. Fact: it does not. The frosting was so runny that instead of saying “Happy Birthday Mom” it said “sakjfhasoeiruhsldkjfh”. Chris fixed it with some artistic frosting maneuvers, but it wasn’t exactly what I had been envisioning.

So back to the muffins. I decided muffins out of a box simply would not do. I went onto the Food Network website on a suggestion from Colleen and hunted down the easiest recipe I could find. I carefully wrote down all of the ingredients and trudged off to store in the 90+degree weather. Upon returning home, I was ready to go. Then I got sidetracked by talking with Grandma, hunting for a wedding dress, playing Wii Fit, looking at bridesmaid dresses… well you get the idea. Around 3:30 I finally got going. I carefully followed all the directions. Things were going great until it came time to mash the bananas.

“Not a problem! Just squish them with a spoon” I thought to myself.

Bad idea. The first banana went shooting across the kitchen. I decided I needed to try another approach.

“Use a spatula?”

A little better, but not overly effective. Finally I just gave up, took off my engagement ring and washed my hands really well. Then I picked up the bananas and in pre-schooler mode began to squish them (it was a great combo of gross and wicked fun). The rest of the ingredient mixing went off without a hitch.

Pouring the batter into the muffin pan definitely did NOT go off without a hitch. It was a mess that only I could possibly create.Well, me, and probably that pre-schooler I had channeled for the banana squishing I mentioned earlier. There was batter pretty much everywhere except in the lovely pastel baking cups my mom had so kindly sent with the muffin tin. There was batter on the table, on the tin, on the cat, on the floor, you name it (I blame Phoebe for being in the way when that one glob hit the floor. She is capable of jumping heights of olympic proportions, and is not a huge fan of bananas. Now I know!). It was at that point that I let out a very pitiful whine that went something along the lines of “I’m a Domestic DISASTER!” (hence the title!). After a little practice, and a lot more whining, I was finally able to get the batter in the baking cup, and on my (now) merry way I went.

I had properly pre-heated the oven and was ready to put the muffins in. 12 minutes later I went to rotate the pan, per the directions, and somehow managed to burn my neck. I’m still working on how exactly I managed this. I think it had to do with the fact that the oven was giving off huge amounts of heat, and my necklace got really hot, landed on my neck when I stood up and burned me. OUCH!

I just ate one of the muffins I made. I have to say, not half bad. They are a little dry, so I will probably try a different recipe next time, but they are edible (SCORE!) and I think Chris might even like them. Lesson for the day? A burned neck and a mad cat are all you need to make pretty decent muffins.

Here is the recipe I used, along with the link to the website!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly brush a 12-muffin tin with butter and set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk the banana, oil, milk, eggs, salt, and vanilla in a large measuring cup with a spout or another bowl.

Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into the center; then stir with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are moistened but still lumpy. Do not overmix the batter or your muffins will come out dense. Gently stir in the nuts. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin.

Put the muffins in the oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking. (Insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin to check if it is done. Toothpick should come out clean). Cool muffins in the pan on a rack for a couple minutes. Turn the muffins out of the pan and cool on the rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Copyright 2003 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/banana-muffins-recipe/index.html

Let me know what you think of these if you give them a try!