2.28.2007

learning to shake

...and getting rewarded with a rawhide bone!

2.23.2007

All hail Craig's List!

Remember those couches I mentioned a few weeks back that I needed to get rid of to make room for the new? Well this weekend marks the first weekend that the new couches could technically get in (this is week 6 in the 6-8 weeks), so we posted the couch and chair set in a few places. Umm, less than 4 hours after we posted them on Craig's List and we'd had 4 inquiries into them. A very nice couple came and picked them up this morning, at exactly what we asked for them!


So farewell green striped couches, you have served us well. You were an extremely generous gift from my mom when I needed furniture the most.


Now bring on the new couches! The only dilemna this poses is that now we have an almost completely empty living room and Lydia is supposed to be sleeping over with us this weekend. Hmmmm, I'll have to get creative.

I could get used to this Craig's List business...

2.22.2007

Valentine’s Day, revisited

I always have grand intentions of having the best, most romantic Valentine’s Day ever. And then life happens. And then I’m making Karl a card after work on the day of, he gives me an in-progress drawing for a card, and we get a take & bake pizza from Papa Murphy’s because neither of us feel like cooking. We are SO romantic! Maybe next year I’ll take PTO or something so I can focus more on my grand intentions and less on the mundane details of everyday life.

Anyway, the one thing I did plan ahead was our gifts…and I decided (much to my husband’s chagrin) to get a gift for myself at the same time that I got a gift for him. So I picked out and bought gifts for both of us. :)

As anyone who knows Karl is well aware, he is a huge Firefly fan. Jayne, especially, is his favorite. Apparently there is an episode of Firefly in which Jayne wears a shirt that has the number 28 (which just so happens to be Karl’s favorite age and his 2nd favorite number, he'd like you to know) and some graphics around it. I found the shirt online at Cafe Press and surprised him with it. He was so pumped for his new Jayne shirt!



For myself, I ordered a little something from one of my favorite craft bloggers. Manda, at Tree Fall Design, makes some really beautiful things, and when she started making sock puppies I just knew I had to get one for myself.



Since it was a Valentine’s Day gift, and since I love argyle, I ordered Cameron…a red, pink and gray argyle puppy. So exciting to get the package from the U.K. so quickly after I ordered it, and to have one of her beautiful tags that she makes for each order!



Now I just need to get my darn shelves hung so I can have somewhere to display this little pup so that he won’t get attacked and destroyed by the other little pup in the family.



Look at that naughty little Cameron – attacking my most recent favorite fabric find, Alexander Henry’s apples + pears found at JoAnn’s! I just love it when they sneak in designer fabrics at non-designer prices. I almost ordered this one online a while back, and I’m so glad that I didn’t because it was more than $1/yard cheaper at J’s! I’ve been really impressed with our local J’s lately, they’ve got some really cute fabrics in stock. Stay tuned to see a super easy baby blanket made with some J’s fabric.

2.21.2007

brought to you by the letter P

P as in puppy kindergarten, puppy training or potty training…take your pick. :)

We started puppy kindergarten at Paws Abilities this past weekend. There were soooo many cute puppies there! One little pug, Sophia, was lucky that she didn’t get snatched up and brought home with us because she was so dang cute.

We enrolled in a 6-week course that focuses on the basics for puppies – potty training, name recognition, basic commands, etc. Henry may have started out a little behind schedule, but he’s coming along nicely with his homework. He’s gotten really good at the “name game” where we get him to respond to his name when called. He also gets super excited to play hide and seek with us (we hide, he seeks), and has the “sit” command down pat.



The other big development is that we finally took our puppy trainer’s advice (along with the advice of nearly everyone else we know as well) and crate trained him over the weekend! We started out by buying a crate that should fit him when he’s fully grown, and we put his dog bed and some of his favorite toys inside. Of course, Cooper had to be one of the first ones to check it out.



Henry, on the other hand, took a little bit longer to join the crate party.



After a day and a half of the crate sitting open in our dining room, Henry was going in and out of it willingly, and had even taken a few naps in it. So Sunday night we bit the bullet and shut him in the crate for the evening. A few hours of ridiculously loud crying and screaming ensued, and then the little guy finally wore himself out enough to go to sleep (after we moved the crate into our bedroom so he could see us). We woke up around 5:00 in the morning to check on him, and he was sleeping soundly! Night 2 went even better, with just a little bit of whimpering in the beginning of the night. We finally have our bed back! And, Karl reports that Henry is napping in the crate willingly during the day. What a good little boy!

Now, if the potty training were only as easy as the crate training…

2.20.2007

tasty bites

I really need to work on a few things with photographing food: (a) actually taking photos of it before wolfing it down, and (b) figuring out how to take better food photos. I mean really, a photo of a purplish mushy mess doesn’t look very appealing so how am I going to convince anyone how delicious it tastes??

Needless to say, I’m going to talk about three tasty dishes today but I have no photos to share. :(

First up is a 30-Minute Meals winner, You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta. I’d made this one a few times in the past, but hadn’t put it into heavy rotation for some reason…until my friend Julie reminded me of just how good a recipe this is. Since her friendly reminder, I’ve made this recipe twice in two weeks! Thanks, Julie, for bringing this one back to my attention!

Some people are “so over” Rachel Ray, but I think that while she’s a little over-exposed at the moment, her recipes are still solid. And for the most part, they really do take right around 30 minutes to prepare – a nice thing indeed for a weeknight meal.

You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta
Adapted from Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute Meals

Link

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka (make sure to use good vodka, or else it's just not as good)
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups shredded chicken (shrimp or salmon would be good, too)
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half (this will take 2 or 3 minutes). Add chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves.

I like to serve this with a Caesar salad and some crusty rosemary bread from Trader Joe’s. Quite the crowd pleaser, if I do say so myself. If you want a bit more spice, add in some crushed red peppers.

Next up is a marvelous side dish from our gal Giada, Red Wine Risotto with Peas. We had a wonderful meal with some wonton-wrapped shrimp (a little Asian/Italian mix), an antipasto salad, this risotto and some delish focacia bread from Trader Joe’s (I heart TJ’s so much that it deserves its own separate post). I should have cooked the risotto at a lower temp to make it a bit creamier, and I completely over-salted it. Despite all of that, it was still really good…just watch the salt!

Red Wine Risotto with Peas
As seen on Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis
Link


3 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced (I usually add more garlic!)
1 cup arborio rice, or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus additional for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the broth and keep it warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Stir in the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the rice and cook for about 2 minutes until the rice is toasted. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Repeat, adding 3/4 cup of hot broth 3 more times, stirring often, about 18 minutes longer.

Add the remaining broth and simmer until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the peas and parsley. Add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Spoon the risotto into bowls. Sprinkle additional cheese over and serve.

Really tasty! The peas give a nice pop, and it’s a great comfort food for a cold and rainy night.

Finally, I’d like to share a chicken salad recipe that is quite possibly my most favorite chicken salad ever. That’s the great thing about the internet, is that you can find all of these fabulous blogs – photography, cooking, humor, crafts, scrapbooking…you name it, there’s a wealth of information out there for it. This recipe comes from a great food blog, and I modified it just slightly (she’s a little too healthy for me…ha!).

Curried Chicken Sandwiches
Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
Link


2 c leftover cooked chicken, chopped
1 rib of celery, diced
1/3 c onion, diced
1/4 c dried cherries, chopped (I used whole Craisins)
2 T pecans, chopped
2 t curry paste (I used crumbled Golden Curry mild sauce mix and mixed with a tiny amount of water, and I probably used more than 2 teaspoons)
4 T mayo (use more or less, to your liking)
salt & pepper
fresh spinach
buns

In a medium sized bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Add in the curry paste and mix well so that everything gets combined. Add in the mayo (you may want to use more if you like a wetter consistency) and the salt and pepper to your taste. Combine well.

Lightly toast your bun and build your sandwich! Spread a thin layer of mayo (optional, I didn’t do this and it tasted great) and add on a couple spoonfuls of the chicken salad mixture and spread over the bottom bun. Cover with fresh spinach leaves and add the top layer of bun.

Fabulous with a toasty Kaiser roll!

One final food item to note. Karl and I went to the new(ish) Whole Foods in Redmond on Saturday night and Mama Mia, this place is amazing! It’s an evening of entertainment all on its own! The place is so well organized, and the produce (oh, the produce!) is just beautiful. We found tons of lactose-free food options for Karl, and as a treat to ourselves we each got a cupcake. Check out this selection, it was very hard to choose just one.



In the end, Karl got a carrot cake cupcake and I got a vegan chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing. So decadent!

2.08.2007

20 days

Each time I think about how we've only had Henry with us for less than a month, I'm just flabbergasted. It feels like he's been in our lives forever!



Our little man - romps endlessly with the cats, cuddles up with us when he's sleepy, wants to be the center of attention all the time.



I just love that face!

Happy Birthday, Grandma!!

Happy Birthday, Grandma! We miss you and love you and can't wait to see you again! We wish we were there to celebrate with you!


Love,
Laura, Karl, Henry, Cooper & Hobbes

2.06.2007

Me Likey

Remember that bag I sketched last week? I actually followed through and made it! And I dare say that this might be my favorite bag ever. I'm so tickled with myself for figuring out how to do a box pleat...and even more tickled that my machine actually sewed through those thick layers!



I found the main fabric (a khaki colored thick cotton) on clearance at JoAnn's. And that ruler fabric? Oh mama, I'm in love. :)



And while I was attempting to photograph my new bag, someone decided that he needed to investigate the strange goings on...



...and well whaddya know, Cooper approves of my bag as well!

2.04.2007

free like a bird

Happy birthday, my friend!! It's too bad you couldn't have a Seahawks birthday this year (and have it be successful, unlike last year), but I hope you have a good one nonetheless!



:-)

2.03.2007

Happy Birthday, Susan!!

Happy Birthday, Susan!



We love you and hope you have a wonderful day. I couldn't ask for a better mother-in-law!

Love,

Laura & Karl