Thursday, January 31, 2008

What's on TV?

I've always wanted to take part in the Nielsen TV Ratings, so you can imagine my surprise when they called us at our new house around Christmas asking to participate in their program. {I'm guessing the new land line prompted the call} We got our viewing diaries earlier this week, and starting today, we get to keep track of the programs we're watching for one week.

I feel so important, like I'm really a part of the "Top 10 most viewed television shows according to Nielsen Media Research" that you see on TV and in magazines. To top it off, they threw in some moolah {$30} to sweeten the deal. Hooray!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Apricot glazed pork medallions

I discovered this recipe on the Food Network last week, and added it to my menu for the week. It has a slightly Asian twist and is super-easy and delicious! My parents and brother came over to help us enjoy them. We ate them with fresh stir-fried green beans and some steamed rice {per suggestion of the Food Network. Such lovely colors on one plate!}.

Apricot Glazed Pork Medallions
{with my tweaks, since I didn't use the exact recipe. See the original here}

1 lb Pork Tenderloin cut into 1/2" thick medallions {I actually ended up using a pork loin roast}
2 T. Sesame Oil
2 T. Minced Ginger or 1 T. Ginger Powder
1 1/4 c. Apricot Preserves {18 oz. jar}
2 T. Tamari Sauce {I used some generic stir-fry sauce instead}

Heat sesame oil in medium sauce pan. Sear pork medallions. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add ginger into the sesame oil and pork loin juice mixture and cook for about 30 seconds. Spoon apricot preserves over and add tamari sauce. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 3-5 minutes or until meat is cooked to desired wellness.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On the hunt

Blake and I are trying to find three stools for our breakfast bar area. They'll be really handy while we entertain since we aren't planning on upgrading our little table for awhile. I like this style, but am open to anything. Our overall decor is generally a little more classic and modern and I'm thinking the color of the stools should more closely match our cupboards {oak} or table {light wood}. Any ideas for other places to find cheap-but-great bar stools??

Monday, January 28, 2008

I love this type of humor

And, since it's been so cold outside {with the exception of today's lovely weather}, this is appropriate. :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Trying something new

For the past three weeks, I have been planning our dinners {supper} on Sunday afternoons. I like it for the following reasons:

1. Saves money on groceries because I only buy what I need for the week
2. I know approximately how much time it takes to make a dish, so it saves time
3. I'm able to plan for more healthy and balanced meals
4. It prevents us from eating out so much, or reaching for the oh-so-convenient frozen pizza
5. I can tell mid-week dinner guests the menu for the evening days in advance
6. It encourages me to try out new recipes. Once it's on my menu for the week, I find myself more determined than ever to try them out. This also means...variety!

I am not home every night because of rehearsals, obligations with the musical, meetings, etc., so I plan meals for the nights I know I will be available to cook. This means I get to make nice meals 3-4 nights a week, which allows for a few extra days of cleaning up our leftovers. It feels so great to know that we're not wasting food {even though getting Blake to eat leftovers is one of the biggest challenges in the world!}.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Funny

I'm a YouTube junkie this evening. This clip is hilarious. Nothing like pranking a politician on his campaign trail!

Fantastic Lasagna

Growing up, I thought the only way to make the sauce for a lasagna was using the handy jar of spaghetti sauce. Don't get me wrong, it's still tasty, but having eaten lasagna at other people's houses that tasted {and looked} nothing like my mom's, I wondered what they did differently. When Danielle lived with us this summer, she made lasagna for us one evening, and it was positively delicious! The difference was that she makes her own sauce. Tonight, I recreated her lasagna {minus the cottage cheese}, with fabulous results. I've posted the recipe below if any of you are interested in giving it a whirl. Bon app├ętit!


Lasagna a la Danielle


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Makes a 9x13 in pan --> I cut the recipe in half and made it in a 9x9 pan.


Sauce Ingredients:

2 lbs hamburger

¼ large onion

2-3 cans of mushrooms --> Since I'm not a fan of canned mushrooms, I used fresh, sliced ones

1 large can of tomato sauce --> I used one 15 oz. can + one 8 oz. can in my 9x9 recipe

3+ large cloves of garlic chopped


Sauce Seasonings to taste:

Oregano --> I used the most of this herb

Parsley

Basil

Rosemary

2-3 bay leaves


Lasagna Noodles --> I used 7 in my 9x9 pan, chopping off excess on the edges and reusing them on different layers

Container of cottage cheese (whatever %)

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese


Directions:

Brown hamburger and diced onion with a little salt and pepper. Add mushrooms ½ way through so they can cook down a bit


Once browned, add tomato sauce, garlic, and the rest of the seasonings to taste.

SIMMER for 15-20 min or until the sauce is well seasoned/combined...REMOVE BAY LEAVES!!!


While sauce is simmering, boil noodles and drain.

Put a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of the pan so the noodles don’t stick, then put a layer of noodles…

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles, then layer cottage cheese, and Mozzarella cheese. Repeat until all noodles are used leaving just a little sauce to cover on top of the noodles so when you top it off with mozzarella cheese, it has some moisture and doesn’t bake onto the noodles completely...

Bake in oven until cheese is just starting to brown. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Another project

Remember how I wanted to change the color of our master bathroom? Well, after getting ready this morning, I decided I couldn't wait any longer. While Blake was away, I took advantage of my day off and started painting! Here's a little look at the before and after:

Our positively blah bahtroom before its makeover

After a little painted face-lift, I think it's absolutely gorgeous

The dark brown is beautiful. My bathroom is so cozy now. Next on the agenda is to find some white frames for the photos that I have for the bathroom, above the toilet {woodsy photos from my trip to Muir Woods in San Francisco seen here- #3,4,5}. I'm thinking one of these two. The first one is simple and the cheapest. The second one is especially lovely because of the subtle stripe design running through it. Hmmm...what to do...what to do?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A special day

My parents are married 31 years today. We went lunching today to celebrate. See Jennifer's blog for more!

Mom's got dad...by the shirt!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Gaming

Hopefully within the next five years, Blake and I will have a lovely entertainment and gaming area in our basement. I'm most excited about purchasing a shuffleboard table. If you've never played, you're missing out.

This is the model I like {minus the cheesy optional score thing}, but we won't be purchasing one that is 22' long. I'm not willing to give up that much of my basement for one fun game. :)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On my mind

1. I am sick of the snow, but glad I don't have to drive in it today. I've been paranoid since my little run-in with the ditch a week ago.

2. Exciting things are about to happen with my career, and it's all because one {very important} person really believes in me and appreciates the work that I do. In fact, he thinks I'm the only person, in his mind, that can do the job the way he wants it done. I can't wait!

3. I want to paint our master bathroom. The color is just a blah-tan {the same as the other bathrooms}, but because there is a stand up shower with doors, I can't even add personality with a shower curtain. I'm thinking dark brown {same as the dark walls in our basement, since we have about a gallon left over} to bring in our furniture color from the bedroom, and then keeping our current sage accessories {our bedroom walls are sage}, which will nicely offset everything else that is white {toilet, shower, sink, floor}, with silver accents {complimenting our towel racks, lights, etc.}. Yes, I probably spent way too much time thinking about it, but I'm hoping it will look as nice as I imagine when we're finished. :)

4. I'm already sick of the Wizard of Oz musical, and I still have over two months of rehearsals before show-time. Lord, help me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I wish I was handy

One of my choir members gave me this lovely quilt rack. It's great because we've been needing a place to keep blankets in our always chilly basement {besides on the floor next to the couch}! The best part about this gift is that he made it himself. I wish I was handy enough to make stuff. Maybe someday I'll try my hand at a little table or something. However, that would require a saw and various other tools we don't own. So, I suppose, there-in lies my problem. For now, I'll happily find spots for all of the hand-made gifts I receive. So pretty! :)

We love this

My sister, Jennifer, gave Blake and me the magnetic four-in-a-row fridge game as a housewarming gift. The idea behind it is exactly like Connect Four or tic-tac-toe. You make your move whenever you're at the fridge or as you come and go through the kitchen. There's even a handy piece that keeps track of who's next to move. It takes us a week to get through one game, but we I love it!


In fact, we love the game so much, I'm tempted to remove the grocery lists, pictures, postcards, etc. to the side of the fridge so I can get this neat little game! It's like a Marbleworks {Discovery toys were the best!} set for your fridge!


Monday, January 14, 2008

My current obsession

HGTV...I don't know why, but I just can't stop watching. I will occasionally channel surf, and attempt to find something else, but inevitably, I always end up back at HGTV. Blake puts up with my addiction when he's doing other stuff, and I leave it on for background noise when I'm cooking, cleaning, or whatever. I said I was going to bed an hour ago, but then Househunters and My First Place came on, and I had to watch them both, of course!

I even found myself using HGTV as a reference this past weekend when my mom was throwing out ideas for her kitchen! Though, in my defense, I have learned a lot about the logistics of design from simply watching hours and hours of HGTV. :)

My favorite shows on HGTV :
1. Househunters {Regular and International}
2. Designed to Sell
3. My First Place
4. Property Virgins
5. Deserving Design
6. Curb Appeal
7. My House is Worth What?
8. Design on a Dime
....and I have a feeling I will quickly become addicted to Colorsplash and Color Correction if I could just figure out when it's airing. The above list are usually the shows that are on when I turn on the tube.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Reunions

This weekend was a whirlwind of spending time with friends we haven't seen in ages. What a blast! Friday, I dropped Blake off at the babysitter's {AKA: card club} and then spent some much-needed time with the girls. The best part was that Abby was back for an interview at a local hospital. It had been awhile since the four of us could hang out. It just reminded me how much I love the chemistry of our little four-some. We're quite the team.

Saturday sparked a reunion of the college roommates. Jill and I have remained in touch even though we only lived together for the first two years of college {scary to think that was 7-8 years ago!} We had so much fun living together, and hanging out last night, so Blake and I are both excited about the possibility of seeing more of her and her boyfriend, Brandon in the future.

Some highlights from the weekend:

Abby and I with our goodies for the movie. By the way, Juno is a spectacular flick. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. As some random lady told us before the movie, "it's a quality pro-life movie."


The highlight from Saturday night, was the wonderful karaoke abilities of a lovely old lady named Nora. Yikes. Check out the vid below to hear a small clip of her singing Abba's Dancing Queen. Yes, it's the same person singing the whole time. Sorry the video isn't great for picture, but the audio is the most important!



Our newest project

After we found the perfect shelves, this project took us less than 10 minutes from start to finish. Easy peasy. It looks nice, too!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thanks to...

...UPS! Because of the package run-around on my curtains {delivered one replacement and two and a half weeks late}, I ended up receiving a refund from Target for my purchase and essentially got these pretty curtains free. Now that's customer service.


Also, a big thanks to:

1. The people who designed our auto-read gas meter. We had the utility company stop out today to fix said meter because it had stopped reading our gas usage. That means a super cheap gas bill for us this month! Normally, they would use an average of the previous month's bills, but since we've only been in residence for a month, and the place was vacant before that {new construction}, their rep says they really can't charge us for much. Hooray!

2. The kind strangers who helped push me out of the ditch this evening {Blake and I have both had incidents with snow, ice, and ditches this winter!}. This wet, heavy snow is so slippery. I was only going 20 mph on my way home tonight, ended up spinning out, and came to a rest with one tire just far enough into the ditch that I couldn't drive out. That lovely couple stopped in the crappy weather and then hopped into the ditch and helped me out. I hope they made it home safely as well. I love random acts of kindness. Now it's my turn to pay it forward.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

That catchy tune

I love that song, The Way I Am, by Ingrid Michaelson on that Old Navy commercial about their sweaters. Actually, I've only heard a small part of it, but it's so catchy. If you don't remember, check out the commercial below:

Reasons

I have been blessed to be able to spend nearly every day with Blake since Dec. 19. It's great to see him every day, after nearly three years of seeing him only 3-4 days a week. Today, these are some of the reasons why I appreciate and love him so much:

1. He calls me on my crap
2. When I'm wasting time on the internet, and he knows I'm just cycling through the blogs I read, updating my own, or "stalking" people on facebook.
3. Making fun of me is probably one of his favorite past times
4. He actually thinks I'm funny! And when I deny it, he very cutely says, "you are!"
5. Whenever we drive places, he's usually the wife sitting in the passenger side of the car. He always says it's because it's my car, but I think he likes to feel like he's being chauffeured around.
6. He got his hair cut in a Cost Cutters inside a Wal-Mart today, and was mildly embarrassed about it.
7. He's got style. Lounging around today, he's wearing a collared checkered shirt underneath a sweatshirt. Funny thing is, I could see him wearing things like this in his middle-age.
8. We went out for pizza tonight {yay for gift certificates!}, and he stopped eating because he felt awkward continuing eating when I had been finished for awhile.
9. We have been parked in front of the TV watching VH1's top 100 songs of the 90's for a few hours now, and he keeps trying to guess the next song on the countdown. {My fave Backstreet Boys were at #3 with I Want it That Way}

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It has a name

A few days ago, I posted about a gift we received from Fr. Loecke. {See post here} I asked if anyone knew the name of said gift; my dad informed me that it is called a mini tabernacle. After he said it, everything made sense. It's even shaped like a tabernacle. Thank heavens for my Dad and his never-ending font of knowledge...now if only I could get him to read my blog on a regular basis. I only discovered the name because I showed him the pictures on my camera! :) Nonetheless, he's a genius!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Dreary

This weather is the worst. Cold, wet, and foggy. How depressing {but pretty cool photos, no?}:


If I'm going to have fog, this is the kind I prefer {I love San Francisco fog}:


Sunday, January 6, 2008

This is what happens...

When Blake and I have some free time. Really, I sort of pity Sophie. She lets us do this to her. No complaining, no squiggling, no trying to escape. She just takes it. Actually, I think she sort of enjoys this stuff. Silly dog. I present to you {as Blake has dubbed her}: Sophie-G.

Work in progress

Putting our new bookcase together was an interesting project. As you can imagine, it was one of your typical store-bought items, held together with screws {Allen wrench style}, and wooden dowels. I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the project. It seemed as though everything would work, and then we ran out of the wooden dowels. It wasn't our fault. IKEA just didn't include enough in the packaging. Which, is sort of a sour point. I suppose if I was going to pay that amount of money knowing I wouldn't have all the materials necessary to assemble my product, I might have approached it a bit differently. But, there we sat with a 2/3 completed bookshelf and only 9 dowels short of a finished product. Luckily, wooden dowels can be purchased at your local hardware store {but only in packs of 36 here}. Since we have an excess of wooden dowels, I'm hoping I can find some other project for their use. That was $2.13 I was hoping we wouldn't have to spend. However, despite that little bump in the road, the bookshelf is still so awesome.

As promised, some pictures of our wonderful new bookcase {it's so pretty!}, and the mess that ensued. It's still a work in progress, as we are slowly going through our boxes to try to find things to put here {hence the ridiculously messy room!}. There's a lot more space than we had anticipated, but hopefully it will encourage the growth of our book collection. I also want to spice it up with some of our decor items and some candid photos. We'll see what we come up with.

The mess. Can you tell where we were sitting?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The greatest gift

Blake and I had a very lovely get-together tonight with my work staff at Fr. L's house. It's wonderful to see the ladies I work with letting loose and finishing off a few bottles of wine. Afterward, we offered to help Fr. clean up a bit. He happily agreed, and then mentioned that he had something he wanted to give us anyway. I never could have expected what he had in store for us: A beautiful religious piece that once belonged to Fr. Petty! I am still not quite over the shock. I just want to stare at it all night long. It's so beautiful! Does anyone know what these are called? I am going to find the most perfect spot in our house for it. I love it so much.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Look what showed up

Blake and I made our second trip to IKEA yesterday. Our main goal was to pick up our bookshelf, but we ended up also finding curtains to match our rug, and a few other random items. Check out our {mostly} finished basement scene, for now anyway. We still need to hem the curtains, but I'm waiting for Blake to finish his gallon of syrup first! We stopped off at a random small-town Wal-Mart. They had so many super-sized items for sale, it was ridiculous! Pictures of the bookshelf are on their way {once we have time to put it together}. I'm super excited!


And, when we got home, I found a lovely package on our doorstep. I was so happy to see what finally showed up! Our house is well on its way to becoming our home. Bonus: I got notice that Target had submitted a request about offering me a refund. So we'll see if I managed to get some free curtains! :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Keeping up with our busy week

Yesterday, we had a lovely day with Blake's family. Our nephews are growing so quickly, and we don't get to see them as much as we'd like. Some highlights:


Outside of work, we did manage to fit in a showing of P.S., I Love You on New Year's eve. What a great movie! I cried, and laughed, and cried some more. It was much like the emotions I felt as I was reading the book, though they changed the story a bit for the movie. I've got a few more things to do for work yet this week, but I'm gearing up for the first round of the Wizard of Oz auditions this afternoon. I can't wait!