Sharing Words

Hi friends!

I was feeling a bit contemplative yesterday. At work, my desk faces an entire wall of windows, and I watched the snow fall quietly all day long. That, the weird and hypnotic flute music that plays, and the fact that it was incredibly slow  because so many people cancelled their appointments, sort of put me in a trance. It made me feel like sharing a poem with you guys.

Silver-Lined Heart

by Taylor Mali

I’m for reckless abandon
and spontaneous celebrations of nothing at all,
like the twin flutes I kept in the trunk of my car
in a box labeled Emergency Champagne Glasses!

Raise an unexpected glass to long, cold winters
and sweet hot summers and the beautiful confusion of the times in between.
To the unexpected drenching rain that leaves you soaking
wet and smiling breathless;

Here’s to the soul‐expanding power of the universally
optimistic simplicity of the beautiful.

See, things you hate, things you despise,
multinational corporations and lies that politicians tell,
injustices that make you mad as hell,
that’s all well and good.
And as far as writing poems goes,
I guess you should.
It just might be a poem that gets Mumia released,
brings an end to terrorism or peace in the middle east.

But as far as what soothes me, what inspires and moves me,
honesty behooves me to tell you your rage doesn’t move me.
See, like the darkest of clouds my heart has a silver lining,
which does not harken to the loudest whining,
but beats and stirs and grows ever more
when I learn of the things you’re actually for.

That’s why I’m for best friends, long drives, and smiles,
nothing but the sound of thinking for miles.
For the unconditional love of dogs:
may we learn the lessons of their love by heart.
For therapy when you need it,
and poetry when you need it.
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I’m for hard work, and homework,
and chapter tests, and cumulative exams,
and yearly science fairs, and pop quizzes
when you least expect them just to keep everybody honest.
For love and the fragile human heart,
may it always heal stronger than it was before.
For walks in the woods, and the for the woods themselves,
by which I mean the trees. Definitely for the trees.
Window seats, and locally brewed beer,
and love letters written by hand with fountain pens:
I’m for all of these.

For Galway Kinnell, and Rufus Wainright,
and Mos Def, and the Indigo Girls,
and getting closer to fine each and every day.

For the integrity it takes not to lightly suffer fools.
For God, and faith, and prayers, but not in public schools.

I’m for evolution more than revolution
unless you’re offering some kind of solution.
Isn’t that how we got the Consitution?

For charm and charisma and style
without being a self­‐important prig.
For chivalry and being a gentleman at the risk of being called a male chauvinist pig.

I’m for crushes not acted upon, for admiration from afar,
for intense sessions of self love,
especially if they make you a nicer person.

I’m for the courage it takes to volunteer, to say “yes,” “I believe in this,” and “I will.”
For the bright side, the glass half full, the silver lining,
and the optimists who consider darkness just a different kind of shining.

I’m for what can be achieved more than for what i would want in an ideal world.
I’m for working every day to make the world a better place
and not complaining about how it isn’t

So don’t waste my time and your curses on verses
about what you are against, despise, and abhor.
Tell me what inspires you, what fulfills and fires you,
put your gaddamn pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!

****

Ah, don’t you just love that? I do. More of his work can be found here. I replied to him awhile ago with a tiny poem of my own:

I’m for poetry, long letters, and laughing
’til you can’t breathe. I’m for sharing wine,
sharing food, sharing friends, and hugging
trees. I’m for lazy days. I’m for quiet nights. I’m for
modesty. I’m for meaning what you say, saying what you
mean and everything
in between.
I’m for forgiving when it counts and forgetting
when it doesn’t. I’m for gummy bears and salmon en croute,
one right after the other. I’m for late-night
conversations, long emails, and
oversharing. I’m for lake swimming. I’m for bets. I’m for taking risks
worth
taking.

*****

When I was done with work last night, this is how I found my car out in the parking lot. (I take Dave’s car on days he doesn’t work).

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Ha! Since winter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I may as well raise a glass to long, cold winters. I came home to a glass of malbec and a bread bowl full of split pea soup.

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Perfect winter comfort food.

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Cold or Snow?

The first two days this week there was a winter chill advisory. Schools in Stevens Point and the surrounding areas were shut down. Naturally, Dave had to work (as did I), but his job involves being outside, and I’m glad he didn’t freeze to death. At least it was only -40 with windchill as opposed to the last time schools were shut down when it was -70 with windchill.

Yesterday, the cold snap dissipated. When I left work, it was a balmy 17 degrees, and it reminded me of the first day of spring.

This morning, there’s a winter weather advisory with 2 to 5 inches of snow possible. And we all know it’s going to be 5.

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Summer, come back to meeeeeee! I hope we get a long summer and fall to make up for this nonsense.

Last night, per my “meal plan,” was one-pot pasta night.

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I love that everything cooks at the same time and turns into a creamy, delicious mess of noodles. I did mussels on the side again, but I must have grabbed the frozen mussels in garlic butter sauce instead of tomato garlic sauce.

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That was not a travesty.

On the side I made a big salad with chopped romaine, chopped cucumbers, steamed broccoli, black olives, and diced tomatoes. I tossed the salad with a tiny bit of ranch dressing, enough to give it some flavor, but not enough to make it soggy.

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It only takes about 30 minutes for one-pot pasta from start to finish, so dinner came together quite quickly.

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This plate is another one of our Goodwill finds. I love it.

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Please, next time you want to make spaghetti, try it this way. It is so good!005

 

I am having the hardest time staying awake past nine during the week. It is so dark, my body automatically shuts off, and I want to curl in the blankets with a book until I fall asleep. Hopefully that changes when the sunlight lasts a little longer.

 

Meal Planning

I made a meal plan this week. It consisted of me telling Dave: “I’m making curry on Monday, pizza on Tuesday, one-pot pasta on Wednesday, and Thursday, you’re in charge of dinner because I work late.”

I came home Monday to find Dave had bread dough rising in the kitchen for bread bowls. He told me we could refrigerate or freeze them for the split pea soup he made to keep on hand. Our freezer meals are getting better and better.

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I kind of went a little spice-crazy with Monday’s curry. The curry paste I have is from one of the best stores in the world (aka World Market), and I wasn’t sure how spicy the mild was. Sometimes when you order “mild” at an Indian restaurant, it comes blazing hot.

This curry paste is really good, thick and flavorful, but not nearly hot enough by itself, so I ended up overdosing the meal a little. This week’s curry included:

  • 1 can diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 5 sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp curry paste
  • 1 tbsp hot curry powder
  • a really hefty dose of sriracha (as in, enough to make Dave’s eyes water)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

I served the curry over brown rice with another dollop of yogurt on top. It was really spicy but really good.

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I had to have a piece of wheat bread on the side to soak up all the delicious curry sauce.

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Dave was out of town for work Tuesday night, so I was home alone. I’m glad we have cats, because I can’t imagine how lonely the house would have been without him and them. It was so quiet in the house, and I just missed having him there.

I stopped at the store on the way home to get wheat flour, but I knew I wasn’t going to make pizza crust for myself at that time, so I picked up some wheat pizza crusts.

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I made one pizza with sauteed mushrooms and bleu cheese.

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And another with green peppers and olives.

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Baked at 425 for 15 minutes.

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The crust was way too thin for my tastes, but you still can’t really go wrong with pizza. However, I think I’m going to follow Smitten Kitchen’s advice and make some pizza dough to keep in the freezer for pizza nights.

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I started another Oscar movie Monday night and finished it Tuesday night: August: Osage County. It’s a black comedy featuring an all-star cast (including Benedict Cumberbatch from Sherlock!) playing various members of a highly dysfunctional family. The acting is incredible; I wouldn’t be surprised if Meryl Streep or Julia Roberts took home another award.

I ended up reading in bed for a few hours just because it was so quiet sitting in the living room by myself at night. The kitties must have picked up on it, because every time I woke up during the night, they were sleeping on different parts of me. This morning, Artemis was curled up under my arm, and Athena was sleeping right next to my butt. Weirdos. I love ’em.

Snow or Cold?

I haven’t decided which I prefer, although after shoveling this weekend, I’m leaning towards cold (mostly because my car started this morning!).

The house was in dire need of cleaning, so I decided to tackle the bathroom and the kitchen this Saturday, which took me a couple hours from start to finish. Dave washed dishes while I took out the garbage, and then we bundled up to go shovel together.

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There is seriously nowhere to put the snow anymore, so I’m really hoping it stops soon. Despite the piles upon piles, it really was a beautiful day. If you continued to stare into the bright blue sky, you could almost imagine that it would pull you into it and take you somewhere warm with an equally blue sky reflecting off cool waters.

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Cleaning and shoveling took us into the early evening, whereupon Dave started working on some ham stock while I headed to the grocery store to stock up on veggies.

Our friends were attending a Central Waters Brewery anniversary party, but Dave and I are trying to watch our funds carefully the next few months until I have my car all paid up. We were invited to dinner later, so we decided to make some guacamole together for an appetizer.

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We generally follow Alton Brown’s guacamole recipe, only we didn’t add cilantro as our friend Emily isn’t keen on it.

Dave and I cooking together is always interesting since we both have different methods to our cooking madness. Even something as simple as guacamole: I mash the avocados and fold in the tomatoes, onions, and spices; Dave mashes everything together at the same time, just enough not to over-mix. So we compromised and did it Dave’s way…008

 

I pressed plastic wrap right down on the guacamole with another one over the bowl to block all the air out. I’ve noticed that makes the guacamole last a lot longer than normal. A ziploc bag with the air squished out works really well, too. Brown guacamole just doesn’t taste as good.

We finally got a text that the gang had arrived back from the party, and Dave and I rushed over to see our friends.

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I think this is my new favorite picture of me and Dan.019

 

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Dan made us some delicious pizza, which I forgot to take pictures of, but he saved one crust to make breakfast pizza the next day.

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Yum.

My mom called Saturday to let me know that she and her BFF Debbie were going to swing through Stevens Point on their way home from Bayfield, so we eagerly made plans to meet at Call It New, Call It Antique.

I couldn’t sleep very well Saturday night so I went out to the couch to watch one of my Oscar movies: Her. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Joaquin Phoenix in a movie, but he is a great actor. The movie was weird, but really interesting, and it had me hooked until the end.

 

Dave woke up late, and we headed back over to Em and Dan’s just after noon for a short visit. Dan was working on Bloody Marys for everyone, but I had to decline since Dave and I had to leave shortly to meet Mom and wouldn’t have enough time to drink it.

Five minutes later, he came out with this for me.

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A tiny Bloody Mary in a shot glass with tiny condiments to boot.

Oh, and did I mention that my friend Amanda knit me these wonderfully warm gauntlets, in addition to giving us her old flat screen to replace our big, boxy tube screen?

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I have the best friends.

I talk to my family pretty regularly, but it had been a month since I had seen any of them, so I was really excited to see Marmie at the antique store.

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We simply had to take a picture of us trying on hats. As usual, Mom was mid-word when the picture was taken. It is a running joke in our family that Mom can’t take a picture without her mouth half open, because she always starts talking!

I also found a new creamer for Dan and Em.

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It was funny because we were just talking about creamers earlier that day, and I told them they should get one like my Mom’s where it looks like the cat is throwing up in your cup. Sorry, that’s not very appetizing, but it is funny.

The weather started to get really nasty, so Mom and Debbie had to leave right away to get home. I was sad that I didn’t get a very long time to see her, but something is better than nothing.

Dave wasn’t feeling well, so we decided to go home and lounge the remainder of the night. Look at this great tea pot Dave found at the antique store with a built in infuser.

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Our other large tea pot broke, so I’m glad we have another to finally replace it. I’m not really sure why the infuser part is so big, but a teapot is a teapot.

I picked up enchilada sauce on Saturday when I was at the store getting veggies, so it was definitely time for enchiladas for dinner.

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I decided on a veggie filling with refried beans, so I sauteed mushrooms, peppers, and red onions in a little olive oil with cumin, oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt. We don’t normally keep packaged taco or fajita seasoning in the house anymore, so I usually just eyeball spices when I cook.

The kitchen was a wonderful mixture of smells as Dave was also using his pressure cooker to make more split pea soup.

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I threw in a handful of spinach and some diced garlic at the last minute just until the garlic was slightly browned.

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Dave is getting more sensitive to dairy, so I’ve been trying to use less cheese when I cook. I’ve noticed using less cheese works a lot better when you use stronger cheeses, which is what we normally buy. This was extra sharp cheddar.

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Whole wheat tortillas.

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Have I mentioned how much I love the big counter Dave installed?

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Baked at 350 for 30 minutes.

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And topped with more enchilada sauce.

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I served the enchiladas with shredded romaine, diced tomatoes, olives, salsa, and plain yogurt. They were sold out of plain Greek yogurt when I was at the store, so I’ve had to sub plain yogurt, and it tastes so strange to me now. I’m just not used to the texture. If I can find some cheesecloth, I just might strain it to make my own Greek yogurt.

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I ate my dinner while making my way through another Oscar movies: American Hustle (which I did not finish). The characters and acting are amazing, but I’m having trouble getting into the plot of the movie. Dave was listening from the computer room and said it sounded like Grand Theft Auto, but it’s actually based on a real story.

It was only Sunday morning when the news came out that Stevens Point schools were closed again due to the cold, so we turned up the heat before heading to bed and said goodbye to the weekend and hello to another work week.

 

 

Reunited at Last

This week went by fast. The clinic was really slow during the holiday season and will be again soon with many of the providers on spring break, so it’s been non-stop all week. I’m still thinking about climbing into one of their suitcases so I can go somewhere warm and sunny as well.

Thursday night was another late night at work, and I was welcomed home to a wonderful garlicky aroma. (With a heartfelt “Chelly’s home, Chelly’s home, yay!” because I know some people are wondering).

Dave was in the kitchen making a version of fish and chips. Instead of dredging the fish with flour to hold the batter, he followed Alton’s pellicle method, which worked beautifully.

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I told Dave, “I’m not just saying this because I love you, but this is the absolute best fish I’ve ever tasted.” It was light, crispy, and flavorful without being greasy or oil-infused at all. We had no tartar sauce in the house, so I whipped up a tartar-inspired sauce with plain Greek yogurt, chopped pickles, dill weed, sriracha, mustard, salt, and pepper which was a nice accompaniment to the hot, crispy fish.

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The “chips” were roasted fingerling potatoes with an entire head of garlic. Of course they were good.

He also roasted some frozen mixed veggies and grape tomatoes with balsamic. Dave is the only one who can make these vegetables palatable for me. As a rule, I don’t like cooked carrots, and I don’t like peas at all (except, weirdly, I love split pea soup, and I don’t mind them in curry).

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Dinner wasn’t ready until 9:00pm, and I was so hungry that I finished my entire Dave-sized plate, which left me full until the next afternoon. I invited Dave to do another guest post on the blog with his pellicle method, but we had an even better idea of sharing the blog as a joint project, which I think would be really fun. All who want Dave to join Designs on Dinner, say ‘aye!’

Fortunately, Dave had off Friday despite an earlier meeting, so we could go pick up Serenity from the mechanic. The mechanic assured me that if I wanted to take the guy who sold me Serenity to court, he would back me up, and he saved the pieces of the burnt valve and spark plugs. I’m not sure yet that I want to get in that mess, but for $2,700, I think I might.

I returned Bob to Dan (well, I don’t know if he names his cars, but that’s what I called him, as in : “What the f am I going to do without a car for three weeks?! Wait, what about Bob?”)

We laid low last night and decided to scrounge for dinner, so I pulled out my other frozen Indian dinner.

This one was curried peas and cheese with rice and chana malasa.

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It was good, but not as good as the Palak Paneer. I think they tame down the spicy flavor to appeal to more people, but I like my curry to have a little bit more of a bite to it.

This morning I woke up and was very excited to see Serenity through the window.

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The mechanic assured me we would have 100,000 more miles together, and I hope he’s right. It’s good to be reunited.

It’s a Rich Man’s World

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” ~Oscar Wilde

I have been almost constantly thinking about money this week. I hate it. I try not to think about all the money I owe, because it makes me question my self-worth and feel horrible about myself. I loved the college I went to, but if I could go back in time, I definitely would have never gone to a private college, unless I was going to be a doctor or lawyer. Dave and I work so hard, and it seems like we never get anywhere.

I’ve been waiting to hear the status on my car for almost two weeks now, but a large part of me never wanted to get the call that it was done. It is. And the total damage went from the estimated $2200 to $2700. I feel physically ill trying to think about that much money. It actually doesn’t look like a huge amount until I remember that was about half of our wedding. Yeesh.

I’ve actually been staying in pretty good spirits lately when I don’t think about money and how much I hate snow and winter. I read a great book this week, The Fault in Our Stars.

It’s marketed for young adults, which is probably why it only took me three days to read it. It’s a Romeo and Juliet story about two young cancer patients that manages not to be maudlin, which in itself is amazing. Even more than that, the dialogue is wonderful, the characters are incredibly real, and it’s a fresh look at cancer from a young person’s perspective.

I also found out that the author is one of Dave’s favorite video bloggers, which made me really happy. Dave doesn’t like to read, so we never talk about books together, and this made me feel a little closer to him in the literature world.

Dinners this week haven’t been terribly exciting. Monday was my late day, so Dave either cooks or orders out. This week, he ordered pizza. Always good. I could probably eat pizza twice a week and never get sick of it. And curry. And sushi. And one-pot pasta. Now I think I ran out of days.

Tuesday, I pulled the rest of my cauliflower sauce out of the freezer to make fettucine.

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A cook’s best weapon:

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Dave bought me some good gin last week to make martinis. He knows the way to my heart.

I love that the fettucine noodles only take three minutes to cook. And they’re so pretty! These were a mixture of spinach and basil fettucine noodles.

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I almost wish I would have left the noodles and sauce alone, but I wanted to use up last weekend’s leftovers, so I stirred in some beef and chopped potatoes.

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It was yummy, but by the time Dave ate, it was all gluey and cold from sitting out, so I’m sure I had a better dinner than he did.

Yesterday I was in a bad mood after work, so I came directly home to a tangerine melon bubble bath and the rest of my book. I felt a lot better after that, so I whipped up some hummus and made myself a snack plate for dinner.

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I’m certain I could also have a snack plate for dinner twice a week. This one had cucumber slices, broccoli, carrots, pickles, avocado, pepper jack and smoky swiss cheese, and black bean hummus.

I’m already anxiously awaiting the weekend, as I have grand plans to clean the house, shovel the sidewalk, and power through a few movies for my Oscar party in March. With a martini.

Shelby for a Weekend

Hey guys! I hope you had a good weekend.

Mine was splendid but, as usual, was over far too quickly. The visit that had been put off far to long was finally here.

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Artwork by C. Morgan

 

SHELBY’S COMING TO POINT!!!

I was off-the-wall excited for Shelby’s visit. I hadn’t seen her since the day after Thanksgiving, which is far too long to be away from one of your best friends. It’s amazing how close we have become in such a short period of time, and I can’t imagine where Dave and I would be without our Shelbster.

Friday we had a pretty low-key night. We stayed in, had some beverages, ordered out, and watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

We were in bed pretty early Friday night, which left us all day Saturday for bumming around. We started our morning with coffee and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and took turns showering before we started prepping for dinner.

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Dave sauteed some onions for French onion rolls and for a Potato Tian that he put Shelby and I to work on.

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Shelby loved that she got to mix the potatoes with the oil and spices by hand.

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I’ve never made a tian before, but it was gorgeous. I was especially glad that I finally got to use the casserole dish I got thrifting the day after Thanksgiving.

With the potatoes prepped and the bread dough rising, we decided to do a little thrifting ourselves.

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This was our first time at Nice As New, a resale shop sporting mostly clothing. We each ended up with a few things, including a new sweater for Dave that I was most excited about.

We needed a pick-me-up and something to nosh, so we headed to Emy J’s.

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I ordered one of my favorites: a Matcha Latte with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.011

 

Because friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.009

 

I wanted something light, so I ordered a Greek salad with whole wheat toast and balsamic dressing on the side.

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Emy J’s has really delicious wraps and sandwiches and while this salad was really good, I was kind of surprised that it was the same price as a wrap. For $8, you should get a salad the size of your plate. Still, it was the perfect amount of food.

We headed back home for a little bit to beat down the dough and let it rise a second time. You really have to babysit bread! Dave is better at babysitting than I am; that’s why he’s the baker.

We wanted to fill our growlers for that night, so we headed to O’so Tap House.

013 And of course we had to have a beer (or two) while we were there…

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I tried a Sweet Lady Stout for the first time, which was rich and smoky with a hint of sweetness. It was good, but not as good as Night Train, which I chose to fill one of the growlers with.

For the second round, we all ordered Holy Wah, which ended up filling our second growler.

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Shel and Chel at O’sos! Notice how we’re wearing matching shirts. Most of my friends and I get our clothes at thrift stores or Target, so we have quite a few of the same tops. I guess I don’t really have original style…

When we left O’sos, we were all hungry but dinner was far off, so I made a snack plate to tide us over while the roast, potato tian, brussels sprouts, and rolls cooked.

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Toast points made from the rest of Dave’s homemade rye bread, carrots, celery, pickled brussels sprouts, pickles, cheese curds and homemade ranch dip with Greek yogurt.

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I love these people so much.

At long last, dinner.

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Everything was so delicious. The brine that Dave used for the roast was amazing; the same one that he uses for his ribs. Unfortunately, the potatoes were a little undercooked and crunchy, but the caramelized onions and mushrooms underneath the dish evened that out.

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As did the crunchy cheese on top.

Wine + food coma = sleepy Chel. I was in bed before midnight again, which resulted in me waking up early to finish the rest of Allegiant. I haven’t really been impressed with the last few book series I’ve read. Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: they all seem to start out really strong, but the second book is weaker, and the third weaker still.

My conclusion: there is no next Harry Potter series.

So we started Sunday morning with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

After showers and a quick trip to the store for vodka, we headed over to Dan and Em’s for Sunday Bloody Sunday. Dave wore his new striped sweater.

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So handsome.

Game of the day: Pass the Pigs.

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This was a housewarming gift from our friend Jake, and this was our first opportunity to play it since we received it.

The game is pretty simple: throw the pigs like dice and earn points (or lose points) depending on how they land.

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So simple, yet so fun.

For a late lunch, Dan and Em promised us curry, so we chopped, stirred, and sauteed our way through the afternoon.

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Dan bought most of the ingredients for the Chicken and Mushroom Curry from a local vietnamese market, including this 20 lb bag of Basmati rice.

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Heavenly. I’m definitely going to be making my own curry more often, although I made Dave promise to make some naan to dip in it.

We finally had to say goodbye to Shelby and send her on her merry way, as much as I didn’t want to. I distracted myself with knitting before Dave and I watched the final episode of Sherlock season 3.

AAAAAGGGH! Is how I felt after I watched it. And how I felt when the weekend was over.

Lately

It has gone from cold to ridiculously snowy. I am anxiously awaiting the end of winter….and it’s only mid-January. I can’t wait to trade shoveling for running.

My sister Moriah knew I had kind of a bum start to the year, so I was thrilled to get this in the mail from her on Monday.

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A handwritten letter with a picture of Aurelia and my grandma’s new puppy Burt, as well as a $5 bill.017

005Completely made my day. And reinforced my belief that I have the best family ever.

Since Dave said he would be content to eat one-pan pasta once a week for dinner, I granted his wish. Monday’s dinner:

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I used a pot instead of a pan this time, so it was really one “pot” pasta, but I burned the crap out of the bottom of the pot, and I had to let it soak for an entire day before I could clean it. Oops.

This version was made with leftover pizza sauce from the night before, chicken sausage, shrimp, spinach, and kalamata olives.

I’m glad Dave likes this dish so much, because I have missed pasta. We ate it so much when we moved in together our senior year of college that he got kind of burned out on it.

Tuesday I had an off-site class for work, which was punctuated by numerous weather checks for school closings and closed roads as the snow continued to dump down. Our teacher shortened our lunch break so we could head out early, because the roads were just awful with horrible visibility due to the wind.

There was so much snow in front of our driveway that I got stuck trying to pull in, so I had to leap out of my car, grab the shovel, and try to shovel myself out as quickly as possible with a line of cars behind me. Fortunately, some incredibly nice guy pulled over, grabbed a shovel out of his trunk, and took turns directing traffic and helping me shovel until I could pull in. After thanking him profusely and insisting that I could take it from there, I spent the next hour shoveling the 9 inches of snow piled up in the driveway.

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Good fences make good neighbors?

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I wanted something hot and spicy to warm me up afterwards, so I decided on Heidi Swanson’s Weeknight Curry from Super Natural Every Day.

I don’t own the cookbook, so I snagged the recipe from Em and Dan when I was there on Sunday. Then I discovered it’s online, so you guys can make it too!

I actually ended up splitting the recipe down the middle and making two different versions: one for me with cauliflower, zucchini, and tomatoes, and one for Dave with chickpeas, peas, and tomatoes.

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It’s nice to know that you can use pretty much any veggie for this recipe. Other changes I made were adding about an extra tablespoon of curry paste as well as a couple teaspoons of dry curry powder. Maybe I have deadened taste buds, but I like using a lot of herbs and spices, and the two tablespoons of curry paste spread over all those veggies wasn’t nearly enough. I also added some nonfat Greek yogurt, because while coconut milk has nice flavor, it doesn’t have nearly the same wonderful texture that yogurt lends.

After I mixed the yogurt in, the texture was so much creamier. If only I had some naan to dip in it.

010Perfect dinner. And can we talk about how pretty my new bowls are?

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Dave and I got a nice, boring Ikea set four or five years ago, and while they have served us well, I am very tired of them. So we keep picking up new and funky pieces at thrift stores when we can find them. I’ll probably just settle on a cool mismatched set before we ever buy a nice matching set.

I used my bowl again Wednesday night when I made creamy gnocchi for dinner.

You’ll never guess what I used to make the cream sauce…and didn’t tell Dave about.

I don’t know why I feel like I need to trick people into liking things, but I certainly seem to do it a lot. I had 3/4 of a cauliflower left over from Tuesday night’s dinner, and I’ve been wanting to try this creamy cauliflower sauce recipe for awhile that I pinned on Pinterest.

I’ve made faux mashed potatoes before, so I kind of knew what to expect. Creamy, garlicky, buttery sauce that doesn’t clog your arteries? Count me in.

I thought about turning it into fettucine alfredo, but even though Dave is back on board with pasta, two nights in a week is a bit of a stretch. I looked in the cupboard and found some whole wheat sweet potato gnocchi….perfect!

First I sauteed some spinach with sliced sundried tomatoes.

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Then added the cooked gnocchi and some chopped chicken sausage to brown them up a bit.

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I added about 2 cups of the cauliflower sauce and added some leftover peas in the fridge as well.

013Okay, we all know I topped it with Parmesan cheese, too.

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Washed down with some newly found delicious pinot noir.

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Baking Fools

Hey everyone! How was your weekend? Mine was pretty low-key, but nice.

On Saturday I got out of doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen by going outside to shovel for an hour or so.

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It was good exercise, and it was nice to finally be outside again in warm weather (ie, 30 degrees). Dave stayed in to clean the kitchen and then started on some bread with a 50 lb bag of flour he brought home last week from work.

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Tarragon, garlic, and sharp cheddar.

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(Yes, this loaf of bread is gone already).

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He also made a loaf of caraway rye bread and a bread bowl for some lucky girl’s soup this week.

I wanted to bake a special treat for my co-worker Jessica’s birthday on Monday, so I took a quick poll online and settled on caramel brownies. (One of my friends suggested jello shot strawberries….too bad they’re for work!)

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I took a trip to the store and ended up with this bundle of ingredients. No, there is definitely nothing good for you in here. That’s why I made it for other people.

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The other Chelsea Leahy who lives in Washington (whose last name is now different) emailed me the recipe. She said it’s a popular one in her family, and I can see why. Chocolate, caramel, more chocolate….

Caramel Brownies

  • 50 unwrapped caramels
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 pkg German Chocolate Cake mix
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 8 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add unwrapped caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk to a microwave safe bowl and heat until melted.

In a separate bowl, mix butter, cake mix, and the remaining 1/3 cup evaporated milk.

Press half of the cake mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake for six minutes. Remove from oven and pour caramel mixture over the top, sprinkle with chocolate chips, top with the remaining cake mix, and bake for 18 more minutes.

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Dave and I each had one piece before I cut and boxed them up for work.

I started getting hungry around 6:00pm but didn’t want to eat dinner yet, so Dave made me a snack plate with pickles, cheese, crackers, and sardines. I was so full after my snack plate that my plans for reubens were dinner were squashed, and I decided to make myself a breakfast reuben the next morning instead.

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Sandwiches on homemade bread are the best.

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Especially when they’re filled with some of Dad’s homemade sauerkraut and my favorite mustard ever (creamy lemon caper dill).

I felt like baking again on Sunday, so I decided on Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I can’t remember which recipe I used last time, but I found this one on Real Simple’s website. I didn’t have any shortening, so instead of adding more butter, I decided to substitute some milled flax seed, a., because I have a lot of it, and b., because it makes you really smart. Too bad I only ate one.

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I boxed up the majority of the cookies and brought them over to my friends Dan and Em’s house as a thank you for them letting me continue to bum their car. We also brought over our new game Castle Panic to play since football season is now over. We don’t want Em to get bored. 😉

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The first round did not go well. We did a very poor job at protecting our castle, and the monsters stormed the citadel.

Fortunately, the second round went much better.

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Hooray for co-op games! It’s really fun working as a team against the game instead of against each other. I guess someone came up with this idea after too many Monopoly fights with their siblings (“If you don’t sell me Park Place, you’re stupid!” “Hey, you didn’t tell me you landed on that one with all the hotels last turn!” Oh, those were the days).

Dave and I stopped at the grocery store for a few items, and I whipped us up a big salad and some French bread pizzas for dinner.

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Whenever I make a big salad for dinner, I try to make it like Panera’s Greek salad, which is my favorite. I used spring mix, red onions, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, and feta cheese, then tossed it with just a smidge of Newman’s Lite Sundried Tomato Dressing. Despite the fact that I put a few too many onion slices in it, it was delicious.

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I made pizza sauce with crushed tomatoes and herbs, then sauteed some mushrooms, green peppers, and onions for the topping.

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Complete with olives, mozzarella, and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Dave and I ate dinner while watching the second episode of Sherlock: The Sign of the Three. It was so good, I want to watch it again already. I laughed, I cried, I was sad when it was over.

And I’m not just talking about the weekend.

What. A. Week.

Boy, I have been bad at posting this week. The days sort of just ran into each other.

I dressed like this for work every day this week.

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Complete with a sweater, fleece, and two pairs of gloves.

And I came home every night to cuddle with Athena.

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How can people think cats are evil when they snuggle in the crook of your arm like this? (hem, Mom)

My friend Tess made this addictive buffalo chicken dip for New Year’s, and I decided to use the rest of our shredded chicken on Wednesday to make buffalo chicken sandwiches. Buffalo chicken dip is normally made with a block of cream cheese, a bottle of ranch dressing, and buffalo sauce, so I knew I could healthy it up a bit for sandwiches.

I added buffalo sauce, dried ranch powder, and some plain Greek yogurt to the shredded chicken. Unfortunately, I added too much yogurt, and instead of a sandwich filling, it turned into…..buffalo chicken dip.

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Super messy, but good. I also added spinach and guacamole and served it on a hoagie roll.

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For the veg, I roasted brussels sprouts in olive oil with salt, pepper, and rosemary, then topped them with bleu cheese when they came out of the oven.

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I’m glad my parents didn’t force us to eat brussels sprouts when we were young, because I simply love them now.

Thursday was another late night at work. I got a call from the mechanic that Serenity has been running on three cylinders instead of four due to a broken valve, which she’s been doing for over a year…meaning, before I bought it. The total estimated cost to fix: $2200. I went back to my blog to see where I bought the car: Wisneski auto sales.

I had to laugh when I read what I wrote then: “I have to say, the two people I dealt with in purchasing a new car and selling my old car were the least untrustworthy car people with whom I have ever dealt. I usually go into every mechanic or car shop expecting the other person to try to screw me over (especially because I’m a woman), but I had a really good gut instinct about Denny’s Auto Service and Wisneski Sales.”

Note to self: even when your gut is telling you otherwise, salesmen always lie. (Or everybody lies is probably more accurate). Apparently with the lemon law for cars, the ball is not in my court.

I came home extremely frustrated, and Davy had already gone to bed, so it was a scrounging night for dinner. Remember when I used to get curry all the time from Woodman’s? There is no Woodman’s here, there is no curry to be found in the grocery store, and there is no Indian restaurant. (Although their apparently used to be one called ‘Curry in a Hurry’, which I naturally think is fabulous). So sad, since Indian is one of my favorite cuisines. Dave found these frozen dinners in the grocery store last weekend, so I scooped the two varieties they had up.

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This meal just reminded me how much I miss Taste of India. I could have done without the rice entirely and eaten two helpings of palak paneer. So yummy….too bad they cost $5 a piece.

Last night was one of the first Friday nights that Dave and I did not order takeout for dinner. We cooked up some bratwurst in marsala wine, which we topped with pickled peaches, sauerkraut, and mustard. The bratwurst just didn’t do it for me–perhaps I only really like grilled bratwurst.

We also had roasted fingerling potatoes with broccoli. The broccoli was so good that I picked nearly every remaining piece out myself to eat. Can’t help it–I’m a roasted broccoli addict.  We intended to marathon I Love Lucy until the John Wayne episode, but my husband is decidedly an old man now, and he fell asleep on the floor before 9:00. I lasted until 10:30 to prove a point, though my eyes were drooping much before that.

We agreed not to talk car stuff until today, which I am not looking forward to. In fact, I think I’m going to buy a horse instead.