Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It is Finished!

The quilt is done! Seriously. D-O-N-E!

Tada


I finished the painfully slow process of "blind hem stitching" the binding on and them did a little bit of touch up and now it is finished! I feel a little masochistic, because despite how frustrating, difficult and time-consuming this little project was, I am anxious to start another. What is that about?

Monday, March 30, 2009

What to do when you get stood up?

A friend from MN cam into town last week to go skiing and while he was here, we thought we it would be nice to hang out a bit. You know, to say "hi" and all. He wanted to meet us downtown Denver to walk the streets. This is not the activity I would have chosen, especially not at night, and when it is barely above freezing, but whatever.

So Chris and I went downtown, at the specified time, but could not get a hold of our friend. (What good is a cell phone if you don't answer it?!) Chris decided we should enjoy ourselves while we waited for a call back so we explored downtown Denver at 9:00pm with cold winds in our faces. It was actually pretty fun. Here are some pictures of the night. We never did meet up with our friend . . .


Here is Chris trying to hold up a bridge. It didn't really work . . .


A cool clock tower . . .


Me- very excited to see the Hard Rock Cafe.

(Don't worry Mom- these will come home to go in your book!)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Pet Worms

I am a little anxious to share this post with you . . . I am pretty sure it will push me over the edge from "crafty do-it-yourself-er" to "crazy-Boulderite-hippy." So I will just spit it out-

I keep worms and rotting food in a plastic tub in our living room.

There, I said it. But it is really not as bad as it sounds . . . I promise.

If you are not convinced, another very influential apartment dwelling blogger has recently posted on this topic- giving me the courage to share it with you!

Also, I have finally reaped the benefits of keeping worms- the dirt- so now seemed as good as any to showcase our only pets.

I had to order the worms online because there was no one locally to buy them from. When I went to get the package from our Community Center, the employees there were a little taken aback by my choice of pet.


They are now safely living here in this plastic house my parents and I made. (I secretly love the bin Small Apartment has- I would like to switch - but then what would I do with two bins full of holes?)


I even have a picture of the worms themselves. (I read I should turn the bin over every other week or so to make sure it continues to get air all around. Hence the gardening gloves. I don't love the worms that much . . . ) If you look close, you can see a long worm and a tiny little one. This is good- it means my worms are happy and making babies!


And here is the dirt I have "harvested." I still need to sift it somehow- but I have been using it as fertilizer in the plants I recently re-potted.


I am just putting it out there . . . if you are an apartment dweller and would like to compost, vermicomposting with red worms are for you! If you do not want to compost- then red worms are not worth it. Thanks for reading about my wormies!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens

I have found the best way to experience Seth Rogen: Monsters vs. Aliens. You get the funniness without the raunchiness.

Copyright 2009 DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved

Homemade Tomato Soup


For lunch yesterday Chris decided that he wanted Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (Chris worked from home yesterday due to the massive snowstorm that hit our area). But we had no tomato soup, and due to the snowstorm, I couldn't go get my most favorite soup- Imagine Creamy Tomato Soup.


(Seriously, this soup is so good, I have dreamed about it.) Anyway, I decided to make one from the stuff we had on hand. After searching the internet, I found a good recipe, but had one small problem . . . I would need to use a blender to puree the soup.

Let me start by saying that I am not fond of the blender. Don't get me wrong- it is the one we registered for and super cute- but I just don't really like to use it. (I like the Cuisinart.) Hubs loves the blender. The blender makes him delightful strawberry daiquiris and other girly drinks.

Apparently, the blender doesn't like my favoritism towards the Cuisinart and while making yesterday's homemade tomato soup, the blender took its revenge upon me . . . and burned me big time! Seriously.


Yeah, lets just say that today's fiasco did nothing to warm my feelings towards the blender.


Anyway, the soup was pretty good. I think it would have been better if it was a bit more blended, but I hate the blender, so . . . well, you know.

Homemade Tomato Soup
Adapted from passionatehomemaking.com

Ingredients
  • 3-4 Cups diced tomatoes (I used one 14.5 oz can and 12 frozen cherry tomatoes from last summer)
  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
  • 1-2 shallots chopped
  • 1 Cup vegetable broth (I used homemade broth- seriously, it is magical!)
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
Directions
  1. In sauce pan saute shallots, onion and garlic.
  2. Add tomatoes and broth. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Pour into blender and puree.
  4. Pour back into pan and add seasonings to taste.
Enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Creamy Wildrice Soup


I don't know, but Minnesota and Soup must be on my mind!

That, and Chris is refusing to take carrots in his lunch anymore . . . so I needed to find a way use some of the 2 lbs of carrots I had in the fridge. My mother made fantastic wild rice soup at Thanksgiving- and I have been missing it ever since. (Well not really, but humor me for the sake of the story.)

Since there is not much to this soup, it is worth your while to buy the good stuff: real Minnesota Wild Rice rather than the mixed wild rice pilaf.


After about an hour, this is what you will have:


hmm, hmm!

Creamy Wild Rice Soup
Adapted from Mom

Ingredients (Note: These are approximate ingredient specifications- it is not too specific- you can wing it)
  • 1 6 oz box of wild rice
  • 1 lb grated carrots
  • 4 chopped stalks of celery (more if you have it)
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Cup chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 Cup broth
  • 1 can condensed mushroom soup OR 1 Cup Cream (It is so much better with cream, but I didn't have any)
  • 1 chopped radish (to get rid of your spicy radishes you bought accidentally)
  • Optional: My mom adds chopped almonds which are delicious, but not worth the pain I would suffer through later.
  • Optional: Mom also adds ham chunks or chicken to the soup which adds some more substance.
Directions
  1. Cook rice as box directs. Wild rice takes about an hour to cook, so give yourself time.
  2. When the rice is nearly done, saute onions, celery, carrots in oil for 5 minutes. Then add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms "release their liquid." (sounds a little gross if you ask me.)
  3. When rice is done, drain and add to pot of vegetables. Add broth. Then add soup or cream. Raise heat to blend the flavors (but not too high- you probably shouldn't boil the cream).
  4. Serve with crackers and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Epiphany . . .

For those of you who don't know, for the past 2.5 years I have been babysitting for two girls aged 3 and 6.
Today, while eating lunch at the table the littlest "client" suddenly looks to me with excitement in her eyes. She states with enthusiasm, "We are both sisters!"
I respond with some confusion, "Yes, you are both sisters."
The little one goes on to explain, "Because E is a sister, and I am a sister. We are both sisters!"

She was so proud of herself- who knew?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Favorite Part of Spring

. . . Cadbury Eggs!

A friend sent me this video and it is awesome!

I love Mail!

I love my male friend too, but I love mail! Especially when it has a package from Canada!


Thanks Lucy. You are awesome!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Do not make! (Christmas Red and Green Salad)

Here is my story- After having amazing beet soup at a pizza place in Boulder I wanted to buy beets to make more beet soup. Unfortunately, due to my inexperience in life I bought radishes. Can you see why? They are red and about the right shape, right?


I did not know what to do with a radish. I looked online, and learned how to cut them up- thank you internet. But when I ate one like the lady on the internet video, it was a bit too spicy for my liking. Ick. So I decided to try find a salad or something I could put them in. And found this one- Christmas Red and Green Salad.

The ingredients looked good- anything with Ranch dressing has got to be good, right? Apparently not. I gagged trying to get it down. And you should have seen the long teeth Chris grew while shoveling spoonfuls into his mouth to make me feel better. I ended up throwing it out.


Goodbye Christmas Salad- Forever!

Moral of the story: do not buy radishes for beets and no not make Christmas Red and Green salad. Ever.

The End.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Score!

It pays to never make plans- Chris and I scored tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Buell Theater in Denver tonight! Woot woot! Don't be too jealous. = )

Why I never want a Fair Godmother . . .

What have I been doing . . . besides loving life? Reading the fantastic book My Fair Godmother.


Mandy (the friend who works for a bookstore) recommended this one to me because she thought I would like it- and boy did I ever! Honestly, this was one of the best teen books I have read. It is fun, easy, includes some historical realities as well as plays with common myths and fairy tales. Additionally, it does not follow standard plots lines (except for the happy ending, of course). Neither Mandy nor I saw the plot changes coming, and it had just enough action to keep your attention. I would totally recommend this book to anyone!

Em at Em's Bookshelf reviewed this book if you want more info . . .

image from janetterallison.com

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bloggy love!

Brittany Ann from Living in the Moment gave me an award! How fantastic!


In honor of receiving this award I will now subject you to 7 Things I love . . . (in addition to my husband, family, friends and God, of course)
  1. Green (grass and trees, especially)
  2. Water (all types)
  3. Good music (such as The Greatest Song in The World and its tribute)
  4. Computer Animated children's movies
  5. My pillow (and its case)
  6. Generosity
  7. Aged furniture
If that doesn't satisfy your unquenchable desire to know what I love, check out 6 things that make me happy . . .

Thanks Brittany Ann!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hearty Homemade Beef and Vegetable Soup


This is one of 5 action shots Chris wanted . . . I think he just wanted lots of cheese . . .

Sorry I didn't take any other pictures- soup making is boring. Chop some veggies, open some cans, stir into pot and simmer. Not too exciting- but oh so delicious!

Hearty Homemade Beef and Vegetable Soup
Adapted from Cheap. Fast. Good!
  • 1 lb ground beef (we actually used beef!)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 15 oz can red kidney beans or pinto beans
  • 2 14 oz canned broth or 3-4 cups (we used one cup frozen homemade broth and two cups store bought)
  • 1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes (no salt added if you are into that sort of thing)
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 Cup frozen peas
  • 1 Cup frozen corn
  • 3-4 stalks chopped celery
  • 1 tbsp dried bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
Directions
  1. Brown meat and onions in a 4 1/2 quart dutch oven (like this bad boy here).
  2. Add pressed garlic to pot.
  3. Drain beans and add to pot along with tomatoes with their juice, broth, and tomato paste. Also add 1-2 C water depending on how thick you would like the soup. Raise the heat and stir well.
  4. Add corn, celery, peas and seasoning. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes so so.
  5. Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quilt Part 134

I know I just posted about the quilt the other day, but I have made it to a very important milestone and would like to share . . .

I have finished quilting the quilt!


As you can tell, my basting was far from perfect- all the wrinkles on the top are not supposed to be there. Oops.

As it turns out, quilting the quilt was by far the hardest part for me. I have a rug burn on my elbow from trying to turn the quilt to make curves! I tried to quilt the quilt in the same fashion as our wedding quilt.


These curves are tiny- the flowers are about the size of a half dollar (if anyone knows what that means). I don't know why I thought I could quilt like Aunt Kay- she is so good at quilting. Here is a close up of my curves.


Mine are about the size of large apples, and they still are not smooth. Oh well. I am super excited to be getting closer! I just need to cut the trim and put it on. This should be fun . . .

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Homemade Carrot Cake

For dessert the other night, I made a scrumptious Carrot Cake. It was one of the best I have ever made- because of two very important mistakes- I spilled the spices and grated too many carrots.

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law because her carrot cake was always fantastic. However, because I am a little haphazard in the kitchen (which makes Chris cringe) and I make mistakes, I now have an improved recipe.

Carrot Cake
  • 2 C Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 C oil
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • lots of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger*
  • 4 C shredded carrots**
*The original recipe called for 2 tsp cinnamon, but I decided to mix it up with a mixture of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg totaling 2 tsp. However, I dropped the nutmeg in the mix and a lot came out. A lot. And the cake was good. So yeah, its up to you.

** The original recipe called for 3 C shredded carrots. I peeled my carrots,


then shredded them in my super fun Cuisinart,


and measured them - only to find I had over 4 cups of shredded carrots. I only needed 3- but what can you do with a cup of shredded carrots? I didn't know of anything besides coleslaw, so I just threw all 4 cups into the batter. I think it made a huge difference. The cake was uber moist.

Directions
  1. Sift all dry ingredents.
  2. Add oil, eggs and carrots and mix well.
  3. Grease and flour 3 8'' layers (or two 9'' pans with one 8'' pan).
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Frosting
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
Directions
  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add cream cheese, beat until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla.
Ice cake and hide all your mistakes. = )



(Please excuse my mediocre frosting job. I was chatting and frosting at the same time, and apparently that is too much for me.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hamburger-Wild Rice Casserole


Apparently the spicy southern cuisine is finally getting to me because I have made another fairly traditional hot dish! Wild rice Casserole is super duper easy, holds well in the oven, and leftovers are divine. Give it a try if you are ever feeling the call of the Great North (or maybe just your stomach.)

Hamburger-Wild Rice Casserole
Adapted from North Country Cabin Cooking
  • One box Uncle Ben's Wild rice Pilaf
  • 1/4 Cup chopped onion
  • 1 lb ground meat (we used bison, imagine that)
  • 2 10.5 oz cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 Cup broth (we used homemade vegetable broth)
  • sliced mushrooms, asparagus, celery, green beans - all to taste (I put in 1/2 Cup to 1 Cup of each)
Directions
  1. Cook rice as directed.
  2. Brown meat and onion in sauce pan.
  3. Combine meat, rice and all other ingredients and spread in 9 x 13 pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Easy as pie! Sorry I don't have any other pictures to show you- we had some big eaters over, and the 6 of us plowed through the whole thing! (It is supposed to serve 12 . . .)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Homemade Baby Doll Sleeping Bags

Today is the 6th Birthday of one of my 'clients.' Woohoo! For her birthday I made her dolls these sleeping bags:


Here they are all rolled up:


I couldn't really find any patterns online, so I just went for it on my own. I think they turned out alright. I am pretty proud of them actually. Some of my best work so far, if you don't mind uneven corners and un-parallel sides . . .

But in other news, this weekend I finally bought more batting for the quilt, sewed it to the other batting, basted it all together and started quilting! Very exciting.


Looking good! Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Black and White Cheesecake Squares

While Chris' Mom was out of town last week, Chris and I had my father-in-law over for dinner. We had Tater Tot Hot Dish because Chris was jealous of the one I made for our friends at church. I added some mushrooms and celery and it was even better than the original recipe! Very Delicious.

For dessert, we had these . . .

*This photo was designed to mimic the photo in my Martha Stewart Living- but I couldn't find the photo online to show you- so just pretend it is normal display brownies like this, ok?

They are Black and White Cheesecake Squares. mmhmmm. However, making them was a little bit stressful, because right as I started to put it together I found this in our fridge.


The cream cheese had a nice deep gash in it. Darn. I had to call Chris and ask him to stop by the store and get some more cream cheese on his way home. Definitely a bummer.

But Chris pulled through, we got the cream cheese and made the dessert just in time. whew! (I know you were very concerned. (Or not, because I already told you we had them for dessert. Anyway . . . ))

Here is the recipe if you are interested.

Black and White Cheesecake Squares
Slightly adapted from Martha

Ingredients:
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Directions:
  1. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Cream butter and granulated sugar with a mixer until smooth. Add 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla, and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture. Increase speed to medium; beat until incorporated.
  3. Reserve 1 cup of dough; cover, and refrigerate. Press remaining dough into bottom of prepared dish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake until base is set and edges are puffed, about 25 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack.
  4. Mix cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and remaining egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl. Spread over cooled base; crumble reserved dough on top. Bake until filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in dish on wire rack. Cut into 24 squares. Squares will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I was Featured!

Ashley at Domestic Diva Fancy was so impressed by my ribbon organization (it was a small stroke of genius) that she asked to feature it on her Saturday's Scrapper! I agreed, of course. So check it out!


Tres tres Fab Award

Jennifer from This Girl Loves Pink awarded me with this beauty:


She is very sweet, and has lots of good stories about her day to day struggles and successes- check her out!

Thanks Jennifer- you are pretty fabulous yourself!

Also, I would like to thank everyone for their positive comments and encouragement yesterday. It meant more to me than you know. Thank you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I just don't get it . . .

I have finally gotten my thesis back from my reader. I have been anxiously waiting for my reader's feedback. But now that I have feedback and the ball is back in my court I just can't seem to make myself do it. I am so close to finishing- why can't I pull myself together?!

Come on over for a keg . . .

Of Root beer baby!

We had some good friends over for dinner last night and they brought us this magnificent specimen:


Have you ever seen such a thing? Chris and I were not big into the college parties- so we never really lived the college keg dream. However, thanks to Ian and Heather (and Whole Foods), last night we fulfilled a right of passage and had blast!

Here are some pictures of the keg and the fun we had . . .

This is me giving the keg an enthusiastic thumbs up!


And Ian trying open the darn thing . . .


And Heather and I living it up while Ian pours out the good stuff.


P.S. Dad- Besides the root beer you made- this is by far the best I have tasted. It reminds me very much of the stuff you made. I love you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Closet Organizer, shh, it's a secret

Get my pun? I am so funny- I know- restrain yourselves. Seriously, stop, you are embarrassing me.

Anyway, I have been a busy little bee over in our little apartment! I have attached the closets and laundry room with little mercy. Here are my results thus far. . .

Coat Closet Before:


After:


(Please ignore the two bottom shelves- they filled with my scrapbooking stuff- and that is a whole other can of worms that I have yet to open.)

I know that these look a lot the same, but I did some re-arranging, and made things a bit more "together."

My most brilliant move of the clean, however, were my ribbons. I cannot get rid of them (especially now that I can make Taggie Blankets), but they were always getting tangled up. So I came up with this clever system.


I have a million of these black plastic things that our developed photos used to come in, way back in the day when we actually had film. Gosh! I placed one end of the ribbon inside the box, snapped it shut, and then wound the ribbon around the outside of the box, taping it down at the end. It is fantastic!


As far as the bedroom closet goes, I was able to consolidate some stuff from the coat closet, so now all our bedding (and air bed) are all in one spot. Exciting, I know.


But the closet it far from done. Hopefully I will not get lost in the mountians of school papers and books towering in the closet so I can show you all progress in the decluttering arena! Wish me luck . . .

As a side note, I finally hung our engagement picture and was signed at our wedding back up. (I took it down after two years to update our living room mantle. Plus, it seemed a little narcissistic to have ourselves at the focal point of the room . . .)


Here is is, in all its glory, hiding in the closet. Like the caricature of me at age 13? Yep, it was done at my good friend's bat mitzvah, and laminated by my dad a few years ago. Thanks Dad.