12.31.2007

Happy 2008!

Happy New Year's Eve!


Let's see, how about a quick check-in on my goals that I set a year ago?

The house is more unpacked and organized, but it's not exactly simplified and we've still got quite a ways to go. But, some progress was made (many thanks to my hubby, who helped out with that goal over the weekend by unpacking a bunch of books and arranging them on the bookshelves in our red room!).

I did learn a bit more about photography, as seen here and here. I just love me some close-ups! I can't wait to learn even more in 2008, and maybe I'll even finally get my dSLR that I've been longing for. :)

I definitely sewed more, but didn't really scrap more. I've kind of fallen off the scrapbooking wagon, and I'm not sure if/when I'll get back on. It's a great hobby and expression of art, but I'm just not into it now. But sewing? Oh yeah, bring it. (a sewing-heavy wrap-up of my handmade holidays is coming up, just as soon as a few more gifts are received)

Be more active....check. I haven't blogged about it yet, but Karl and I joined the gym a little over a week ago. It's kicking my tail big time, but in a good way. We took our first yoga class this past weekend, and Oh. My. Goodness. I'm still sore! I lost 1.0 pound during our first week of seriously working out, and Karl lost 1.5. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Make more meals at home...definitely accomplished this goal. 2007 taught me that I really love to cook, and that every once in a while I'm pretty good at it too! :) Granted, there are still plenty of days where I don't feel like tackling the never-ending mountain of dishes (how do 2 people produce so many dishes??) and we end up grabbing take-out. But those days don't happen as often as they used to, so that's a good thing!

What are my goals for 2008? Let's see...

* Grow a vegetable garden and learn how to can fruits & veggies

* Reach my weight loss goals in a sustainable fashion, and help Karl do the same

* Sew a quilt

* Enjoy the great outdoors (which will be much easier thanks to our sweet Christmas gift from Susan and Rocky!)

* Make our house more energy-efficient by increasing the insulation and weatherizing (is that even a word?) the doors and windows

* Finish off the red room to make it a usable space

* Travel more

* Continue working on my 2007 goals

Here's wishing everyone a safe, healthy and happy 2008. May you reach all of your goals and then some.


(We gave Henry a haircut a week or so ago, and he's so soft and cuddly now. The only downside is that his cute little curls on top of his head are so much shorter...but he's still so darn cute. I just can't get enough of the little guy.)

~Laura

12.28.2007

Christmas Food

This Christmas, we decided that we were going to have a quiet day at home. No flying, no driving…just spending the day in pajamas at home, enjoying lots of good food. :)

Christmas morning started out with overnight oatmeal, using this recipe. A bit less oat-y than the traditional oatmeal that I’m used to, but still quite tasty nonetheless. Next time, I think I’ll put in raisins and a little less water.

Then for lunch we kept it on the lighter side and just had our favorite caprese salad – slices of fresh mozzarella layered with juicy tomatoes, a sprinkle of salt & pepper, a drizzle of olive oil & balsamic vinegar and top it all off with some fresh basil. So. Freaking. Good. :)

For Christmas dinner, we put our heads together a few days earlier and came up with a plan for what we most felt like eating. And what did we come up with, you ask? Well let me tell you!


Chicken pot pie and mashed potatoes. Otherwise known as Comfort Food Extraordinaire. Otherwise known as Mmmm, Mmmm Good. Otherwise known as….well, you get the point!

First, the potatoes. Karl thinks these should be called The Ultimate Potato. They are from the Pioneer Woman (who is not only a great cook, but a great photographer and writer as well…check out both of her blogs!). This is the 2nd time I’ve made these potatoes, and they are so, so good. This time, I cut the Pioneer Woman’s recipe in half, used low-fat cream cheese and a few tablespoons less of butter than what it called for. And I added in some garlic powder to the mix just for fun. Sinfully good, these potatoes are. Must be reserved for special occasions only!

Now, on to the pot pie. We really love Twin Hens pot pies. These little pies are to die for, people! But the prices are a bit steep and the portions are a bit small for a Christmas dinner. So what’s a girl to do? Figure out how to make it on her own, of course! :)

I scoured a whole bunch of pot pie recipes on allrecipes.com, and here’s what I ended up doing:

Ingredients
* 1 fryer chicken (ours was ~3.5 lbs)
* Chopped fresh veggies: 1-2 cups carrots, 1/3 lb mushrooms (we used shitake), 2-3 small potatoes (we used baby Yukon gold), 2 stems celery, ½ of an onion
* Frozen veggies: 1 cup frozen peas
* Chicken broth, about 4 cups
* 1/3 cup butter
* 1/3 cup flour
* 2/3 cup milk
* a healthy glug of sherry
* seasonings – salt, pepper, celery seed, cayenne, fresh thyme
* minced garlic
* phyllo dough

Directions
* Remove the phyllo dough from the freezer and set it out to thaw. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

* Roast the chicken (I put a little oil on my bird, then seasoned it up with Johnny’s seasoning and pepper, then roasted it at 425 for about an hour…or until the juices ran clear), set aside to let it cool down. Remove skin and feed some of it to the dog…then regret that move because you realize it means he is never ever going to leave your side as long as you are in the kitchen for fear that he may miss another sweet treat. Remove as much of the meat as possible (I got about 14 oz from my bird) from the bone, then dice it up and set it aside.

* In a saucepan, boil the carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, celery and peas in about a 50-50 mixture of chicken broth and water (enough to cover the veggies)…for 5-8 minutes, or until the veggies are just beginning to get tender (they will soften up more later on when you bake the pie). Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

* Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook onions until they are soft and translucent. Add in the minced garlic and cook for about another minute. Whisk in the flour and let that cook for about 30 seconds, then whisk in the seasonings (I used ~1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ¼ tsp celery seed, couple sprigs thyme and a couple shakes of cayenne…next time, I’ll use a bit more salt, a bit more thyme and I’ll probably add in some fresh rosemary as well). Slowly whisk in the liquids (2/3 c milk, 1 ¾ c broth, glug of sherry) and let it all simmer over med-lo heat until the sauce thickens.

* Mix together the veggies and meat, then pour the sauce over it all and gently stir.

* Take either a deep pie plate or a small casserole dish and place one of the phyllo crusts on the bottom. Spread the veggie/meat/sauce mixture on top, then put the other phyllo dough on top and pinch the edges to seal.

* Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 25-35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling away. Probably a good idea to put a cookie sheet underneath your pan so the drippings don’t get on the heating element and cause your smoke detector to go off. I’m just sayin’. ;)

* Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

There you have it….heaven on a plate. :) All of our veggies were either from Pioneer Organics or Top of The Hill Produce here in Renton, and the chicken was from Skagit River Ranch. We firmly believe that quality ingredients = quality food…and these recipes really showcase that philosophy!

Okay, thanks for letting me ramble on and on about cooking!

12.24.2007

Merry Christmas Eve!


Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!

We hope you all have a lovely holiday, and we are sorry that we aren't able to travel and visit with all of you. Perhaps next year, when we feel more comfortable leaving the puppy (or flying with the pup), we'll be able to make a trip back to Missouri.

We're celebrating Christmas Eve with our dear friends tonight, and using a gift certificate that we opened a little early. :) I can't wait! Thanks, Brian and Michelle!

Okay, now can we open the rest of the gifts??


What if I look extra cute? Then will you let me??


Merry Christmas, y'all! :-)

12.16.2007

Can't blog, too close to Christmas...

Remember last year, when I said that I wasn't going to stress myself out by waiting until the last minute to make homemade Christmas gifts? Yeah, who was I kidding? I always wait until the last minute!

It's just so hard for me to not give handmade gifts for the holidays, because I really believe that handmade is the best and most thoughtful way to go. Next year, I may even take the pledge. This year, however, I'm just making as much as I can. Hence, the quiet blog. Still haven't gotten that zipper figured out though, so I'm moving on to Plan B.

Cooper, as you can see, is totally bored by it all.


As soon as he gets up from his nap, I'll be able to cross 2 more gifts off my list. :)

Happy Sunday!

11.29.2007

one fear conquered...

...one to go!


You were totally right, Carrie....super simple!

Now I just have to get a zipper foot.

11.23.2007

Happy Birthday, Big Guy!

Today, our little Henry turns ONE! So to commemorate this momentous occasion, here is a video featuring our favorite tricks. :)



We've had such a great time since the Henster came into our lives. Such a fun little pup. We love how cuddly he gets at night, how he'll happily nap away with us as late as we want on the weekends, how excited he gets when we come home from work and how cute his curly little tail is when it's wagging away.

Sure, there are a few things I wish he'd pick up on faster...maybe not barking at the neighbor's dog so much, being better about being off his leash and not running away and not attacking Hobbes so much. But hey, even at 1 yr old he's still very much a puppy. And he is well-loved for sure!

Some of you know the story of another little fuzzy-faced dog that we attempted to adopt from a shelter in Yakima before we got Henry. The woman with the dog was a complete and utter loony, and refused to even consider us for adoption because we both work full time and were therefore rendered completely unworthy of being a competent parent to a dog. I won't get into all the details, but suffice it to say that I was so mad at this woman for how unprofessional, how unspeakably rude she was to us that I tried to find the executive director of her shelter to give them an earful (oh and what an earful it would have been!). As it turns out, she was an independent person running a shelter out of her own home...so there was nobody else to complain to.

Anyway...the point of all that rambling is this: the woman at that shelter was off her rocker, but in a way I'm glad that it happened the way it did(although I sure hope that fuzzy-faced pup found a good home) because it allowed Henry to come into our lives at just the right time (that, and a wonderful leap of faith from Cheri....thanks, Cheri!). Henry completes our little family, and we love him to bits.

Click here to see more photos. :)

Happy 1st Birthday, Henry!!

11.21.2007

Alooooooooooha!

Aloha! Just got back from a lovely little trip to my favorite Hawaiian island...Kauai! Here is a summary of our trip, in photos.

Scenery:






Flowers:





Coffee!



Roosters!

Us:

There are a few others that I'd like to share, but I'll have to split those up into a later post since this one is already so photo-heavy. :)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

11.11.2007

Birthday Boy


Happy 33rd, Karl!

_____________________________________________

From the very first moment I saw you
That's when I knew
All the dreams I held in my heart
Had suddenly come true
Knock me over stone cold sober
Not a think I could say or do
'Cos baby when I'm walking with you now
My eyes are so wide
Like you reached right into my head
And turned on the light inside
Turning on the light
Inside my mind hey

Come on baby it's all right
Sunday Monday day or night
Written blue on white it's plain to see
That rainy shiny night or day
What's the difference anyway
Baby till your heart belongs to me

If I had some influence baby
With the powers that be
I'd have them fire that arrow at you
Like they fired it right at me
And maybe when your heart and soul are burning
You might see
That everytime I'm talking with you
It's always over too soon
That everyday feels so incomplete
Till you walk into the room
Say the word and I'll go
I'll jump that moon hey

Come on baby it's OK
Rainy shiny night or day
There's nothing in the way now
Don't you see
Winter summer day or night
Centigrade of Fahrenheit
Baby till your heart belongs to me
Thursday Friday short or long
When you got a love so strong
How can it be wrong now mercy me
Jumpin' Jesus holy cow!
What's the difference anyhow
Baby till your heart belongs to me

--Be Mine, David Gray

_____________________________________________

I couldn't have said it better myself. :)

11.04.2007

UFO sighting

Unfinished objects, that is.

This morning I decided that since we got an extra hour with daylight savings time, I would take the extra hour and turn some of my UFOs into FOs (finished objects).

First up, a new bag for me. Karl brought home Amy Butler's Sew-It Kit for me a few weeks back (what a sweetie, right?!). I loved several of the projects (even though quite a few are repeats from her In Stitches book), and decided to make her market tote first.


After finishing it, I realized that I sewed the main body together sideways (it was supposed to be wider than it is tall...oh well!). I made a few slight modifications to the pattern: used heavy duty canvas as an interfacing, added some interior pockets and made a covered button and loop closure. Next time, I think I'll add an exterior pocket between the straps.

This is one big bag. To give a bit of perspective, here's an action shot:



Next up was a gift for Karl's boss, who is expecting his first child any day now. A set of 4 burp cloths, roughly 10 in by 18 in, with terry cloth on one side and flannel on the other. Super simple!


Then I moved on to a baby blanket that has been giving me pause for a while now. It's for Melissa's first niece. Lesson learned from this project? I don't like working with stretchy fabric like chenille (which is what I used on the back of this blanket)! Actually, I learned this lesson before with minkee...but it's so soft and cuddly that I keep trying again! This turned out a bit puffy, but I hope the recipient likes it anyway!


Ahh, much better when it's all folded up! :)


Finally (FINALLY!), I finished up a Christmas gift from last year...my final set of place mats. I really struggled with finishing this project, because so many things went wrong with it. It ended up being a little too small for a full place setting, I couldn't quilt straight lines for the life of me and I wasn't entirely sure what to do with the white squares in the middle (which was my inspiration fabric). Again, hopefully the recipient likes it! As Karl often tells me, I'm very hard on myself when it comes to things that I make...


Happy Sunday, all! I'm off to work on another sewing project (I'm on a roll!)...and maybe I'll have a glass of wine while I'm at it. :)

(please excuse my poor photos today...with the exception of one, they were all taken inside in poor light...but I knew that I needed to photograph everything today or else I'd probably slack off in posting)

11.02.2007

before and after, home edition

Honey, what’s that weird noise coming from the laundry room?

Uh oh, our washer is broken! Since the dryer is at least twice as old as the washer, I’m sure its days are numbered as well. Let’s go ahead and go shopping for the new high-efficiency front-loader set that we’ve been talking about (after we take the cold, soapy, soaking wet clothes out of the broken washer, that is).


What the heck, let’s get the stackable set so that we can eventually remodel our laundry room to expand the little 1/4 bath that’s in there now.

Great idea! Guess that means we’ll have to pull down the cabinet that’s over the old washer/dryer set to make room for the stackables.

What the….?


Umm, is there supposed to be drywall behind cabinets? Because, well, there isn’t any. Perhaps this is why the laundry room gets so crazy cold when the outside temperature drops!

Okay, we've got 2 days until the new washer/dryer gets delivered. Time for a lightning round home improvement project!


Ahhh...much better! Thanks, Dad, for all of your help!

And...scene. :)

As a side note, I must admit that I was feeling a bit sick to my stomach at the thought of spending so much money (we were planning on getting a new washer/dryer eventually….just not now, right before a big vacation and the holidays). But now that the new set has been delivered, installed and used a bit…I am in LOVE with them! I did three loads of laundry the first night! :)

10.31.2007

Happy Halloween!!




No cool pumpkins this year, but a super spooky mantel and some fun window decals will do the trick. :)

I've got a 'horror' story to share, but I'm not quite ready yet. Stay tuned (said in my spookiest voice)...

Happy Halloween!!

10.23.2007

11 months old


How can I sew when I've got this adorable face looking at me? Resistance is futile...

10.21.2007

before and after

Henry got a haircut!



Happy Sunday!

that is sooo domestic...

...but I love it! :)


I made the apron from In Stitches yesterday, and I'm so enamored with the way it turned out! It was my first Amy Butler pattern, and I was nervous because I've heard that her patterns are sometimes hard to understand. I had to re-read the instructions several times, I thought the pocket construction seemed a bit overly complicated and I would probably re-think a few of the measurements to be a little more practical (a bit wider and a bit shorter)...but on the other hand, Amy Butler's way of attaching the ties and waistband was pretty ingenious. I will definitely be making more of these!


See that bowl I'm holding? It's full of Chililicious, and holy moly is it good. I've been meaning to try this recipe for about 6 months, and now I'm wishing I would have tried it sooner! I let it simmer away yesterday while I made the apron, and it made for the perfect end to a day of sewing. Yummy!

10.18.2007

windblown

We're in the midst of a windy evening here in the Emerald City (although not nearly as bad as last year's storm!), so while I go chase our patio furniture around the yard, I'll leave you with a few pics of two of our furbabies.


The pics are from the end of August, but I'm just now getting around to posting them. If I showed you a picture of Henry today, you'd see nothing but a big fluffball...he needs a haircut something fierce!

10.10.2007

last weekend, we...

:: Went on a quick getaway with some friends ::


:: Got our exercise in at the zoo! ::




:: Saw a whole bunch of animals, but had to skip the big cats due to time constraints (sorry, hon...next time, I promise!) ::




:: Had complimentary champagne with our Mexican breakfast in Old Town ::


:: Showed off Karl’s super cool new glasses ::


:: Splashed in the beach off Coronodo Island ::



:: Had a lovely weekend, indeed. ::