30 December 2007
27 December 2007
Of course Bella made the big haul for Christmas. She is well-stocked with play food, vehicles, books, etc. Here she is washing up in her new kitchen.
22 December 2007
14 December 2007
We are at the U of M Forestry Club tree lot, where we picked out a tree in approximately 9 nanoseconds due to the super duper freezing cold.
Forestry guy: Can I help you find something?
Us: Balsam! 6 feet! Put it in the back!
Forestry guy: I bet she would like a candy cane.
Us: Yes! Put it in the back!
But we got home and calmed down as all of us thawed out. Including our super cute tree. The next day Bella helped decorate it.
Oh Crafty Planet, I love you. Oh, and I especially love Brent, for not minding me taking a skirt class on his birthday. What a guy. Thanks cutie!
09 December 2007
While in Rochester last weekend, Dad and I got the baking bug and decided to make a loaf of cheese bread from a recipe in Cook's Illustrated Holiday Baking. Before we realized it was a quick bread, Dad had hauled out a Hobart-sized Kitchenaid mixer and a barrel of bread flour. Alas, it was just boring old quick bread! But it turned out quite delicious. It was definitely best almost right out of the oven, with the internal cheese gooey and the external cheese crusty. But it wasn't bad toasted the next day with sloppy joes.
Quick Cheese Bread
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces sharp cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sour cream
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Spray 9x5 loaf pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup parmesan.
3. Whisk flour, baking powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Add cheddar to coat.
4. Whisk together milk, butter, egg, and sour cream. Fold into dry ingredients. Pour into pan. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake until golden brown and it passes the toothpick test (be careful not to mistake molten cheese for raw batter!), about 45-50 minutes. Cool slightly and turn out of pan.
07 December 2007
04 December 2007
30 November 2007
I'm a pretty good cook. But I just have such an issue with knowing how to use my slow cooker. I want to use it so bad. So when I saw this recipe for using up extra Thanksgiving turkey by making it into slow cooker chili, voila! I was excited. And, since I wasn't feeling like getting out of my cozy pajamas and extracting myself from my lair, Brent even went to the grocery store and successfully obtained exotic things like fresh green chiles. (I drew a picture on the list to be extra helpful.) He's my hero. And tucking into our big bowls of turkey chili with a side of sweet cornbread, I just felt so content. MMmmmmm.... this is what I'm thankful for.
27 November 2007
I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! We had a family extravaganza, with cousins and aunts and uncles and giant inflatable turkeys coming out of our ears. The feast was everything you could dream of for a storybook Thanksgiving feast... my favorite item was the bread. The bread I baked! Conceited? But of course!! Brent and I took Wednesday before off and I kneaded and raised up a storm (while he played World of Warcraft). I restrained myself this year to 118 rolls in four varieties. I had planned to make sweet potato biscuits the morning of Thanksgiving, but when I finally took inventory and saw that I had enough, I scrapped that. It was a good thing too, because when I cut into the baked sweet potato later IT WAS WHITE. WTF? I think I must have bought the "yellow" kind and what they really mean is that it's potato-colored. Borrr-ring.
01 November 2007
Here is the little Halloween monkey. She only wanted to go to Sandy's house across the street and wouldn't say Trick-or-Treat. But she was pretty cute when people answered the door, she'd say OOO OOO OOO and try to push her way into their house.
I promptly got annoyed with answering the door for a million little ding dongs for three hours, and was officially a sugar-high Halloween curmudgeon by 8:15 pm.
17 October 2007
Pumpkiny Pumptastic Pumpkinville! This weekend we sallied forth to the land of pumpkins, out at Pinehaven Farms in Wyoming. We went on impulse, although I start dreaming of these pumpkin days as soon as the State Fair closes for the year. The forecast for October in general is cold and dreary, so I have heard, so when we woke up on Saturday to a sunny, crisp morning, we couldn't resist packing up and going to get our pumpkins. We enjoyed eating hot dogs and kettle korn in the pumpkin patch, seeing very cute tiny little goats scrambling around at all the attention, riding on some very bouncy dune buggies, taking a tractor train ride, running through a hay maze, watching a pumpkin get shot out of a cannon, and seeing Farfel the pumpkin-eating dragon (who, it turns out, would rather have sammiches). With the exception of Farfel, who was, predictably, too scary, Bella loved the morning in the pumpkin patch. She climbed all over the pumpkins and then picked one that was sitting alone on a haybail, perfectly round and happy looking (I like a cheerful pumpkin). It was too heavy for her, so as she attempted to manhandle it over to Brent, she was gruuuuunting and groooaning. UGH! ERRRGH!! Hard work indeed, and so dramatic. At home, she proudly pats it, "Pumpkin. BELLA's pumpkin." Sometimes she puts it in her shopping cart, except not in the merchandise part--in the baby seat part. Like they're going to Target to buy it some pants. I think that's love.
The only thing that could have made our storybook pumpkin patch day better would have been a big bag of cinnamon-y pumpkin mini donuts. I have never had a big bag of cinnamon-y pumpkin mini donuts, but don't they sound magnificent?
I recently heard on the radio that in a survey people said what they would like to spend their last hour on earth doing was 1) talking to their loved ones 2) drinking champagne 3) having sex. I believe if cinnamon-y pumpkin mini donuts existed, they would have definitely come in at a solid #2. Cuddle up with loved ones*, have a pumpkin mini donut. Ahhhhh.
*except in my case, a primary cuddly loved one would be saying, "Watch George the Monkey movie? Pease? George?"
Tonight I finished the display boards for my dad's retirement party. I had so much fun looking through all of his IBM memorabilia. Dad with long hair: ha! Dad with army hair: ha! Dad with big moustache: ha! I used my beloved Martha Stewart Crafts items and a couple of Stampin' Up things, and it turned out just right. A project completed--how satisfying!
Speaking of projects, my bamboo sweater is clogging up the knitting pipeline. It is coming along, slowly but surely. And after that, I have a backlog of about a hundred baby gifts and two Christmas stockings. I'm also coveting these car organizers and these tea drinking mice and, above all, this soft garden gnome. And my 'B is for Butterhead' alphabet fair scrapbook is coming along nicely, too. At least I resisted temptation and purchased all the halloween costumes for the family to clear up my calendar for more exciting crafting.
01 October 2007
But after hours of rain on Saturday, our fortitude was a bit soggy and we packed it up and came home. We happily discovered that my parents had stopped by and dropped off a big bag of homegrown apples.
Apple crisp! The perfect comfort food.
Then it was time to catch up on a little Tivo watching. The start of the fall season has been quite exciting. We've tried out a few duds, but so far we're sticking with "The War" miniseries, Survivor: China, The Office, Family Guy, Boston Legal, Curb your Enthusiasm, and the dwindling episodes of Top Chef. whew! I can't wait for Project Runway, starting (I think) November 14. Sometimes I feel bad about watching so much TV. Maybe I should work on breaking the habit? Ugh, that sounds hard and only moderately worth it. Maybe I'll do it later.
In a perfect world, I would:
--get up early*
--keep up with friends
--make the most of freetime**
*I always feel like I could get more done if I would just get up earlier. This is probably unrealistic, since if I get up too early I tend to be a teensy bit crabby for the next 18 or so hours.
**in such a way so as not to stomp around the house snarking at Brent because I spent my 'free' time doing laundry and scrubbing toilets.
I sure hope everybody has lists like that. At least I don't have things on there like 'bathe more' or 'snort less coke.' And I'm sure if I thought more deeply about it, I would have much more sensible things to improve about my world. Ack, another thing to add to the list.
So now, to go make the most of my freetime... by surfing the internet!
29 August 2007
Bella and I spent the whole day together at the fair. We started off with (what else) a waffle, in Heritage Square this time. Thanks to drama queen weather forecasters, the crowds were sparse and we got to do everything we wanted with no frustration. We walked right up to the SuperJump, no waiting! But we watched a couple big girls anyway, just to get the concept so no one would be scared. Bella didn't emote much, so I can't conclude if she liked it or not. I thought it looked really fun.
Then we ran into Fairchild, who posed with Bella, who was more interested in a guy in front of her wearing a fanny pack. At least I got a picture.
Our next stop was the Little Farm Hands area on Machinery Hill. Oh the cuteness! Brace yourself:
She was so proud of her apron and she toted her farm bucket around, putting much more into it than was required, so I was always taking stuff out behind her back. She didn't seem to wonder where her six pumpkins and ten eggs and twenty-seven apples had gone. Into her magic bucket! At the end, you earn a dollar selling your farm goods, and Bella was busting when she used hers to buy a tiny box of Honey Nut Cheerios. It was just the damn cutest thing ever.
Then we had worked up an appetite, so we got a crepe and watched some hip hop breakdancing. Bella danced around while eating all the berries out of my crepe. Then we met up with Alison, Jed, and Joe, got to see some doggies, watch the parade, get rained on, and take a nap. In the middle of it all, we ran into Bella's favorite neighbor: 8-year old Emma (of pirating fame). That was just the icing on the cake.
I don't hesitate to say that it was my best day ever at the Fair.
28 August 2007
Tonight Cafe Accordian played in the Bazaar, my favorite concert of the Fair. I went with Alison and Jed and afterward we enjoyed doing childless, adult-y things, like drinking beer and falling prey to pitch men and playing skee-ball and carefully photographing butterheads. B is for Butterhead in my alphabet fair scrapbook.
I managed to restrain myself slightly and only bought a microfiber mop and a trunk organizer. Oh and some pumpkin spice syrup to put in my coffee. Mmmm. Speaking of which, don't the pumpkins look cute at the fair?
They look happy to be there. As was I.
26 August 2007
Here we are on the Giant Slide, which is never too crowded, no matter how crowded it gets. It magically expands to hold the necessary number of people. Oh magical giant slide, I love you.
Other exciting highlights from today:
- Bella decided naps are for babies who don't mind missing precious fair time (she slept until 10 this morning!)
- A parade full of motorcycles
- "Sheila" from Andover taking some skinny girls to school in a Baby Got Back contest
- Running into Brent's sister, 1 of the million people
- Official fry comparison: World's Greatest vs. Fresh Fries. Fresh Fries wins.
24 August 2007
We enjoyed a big belgian waffle at Blue Moon before starting off on a big day of Fair-going. We met my parents first thing. Bella was a little crazy today, I think she got bored with her stroller. We'd let her loose and she'd run all over the place like a crazy person. Eventually she fell asleep with her head dangling out of one side of the stroller. I had to be careful not to hit it on stuff as I strolled along.
There were a ton of firetrucks there for firetruck day. The workers were even wearing shirts "The World's Largest Fire Prevention Awareness Event." Wow, World's Largest? I am moderately impressed. Don't get me wrong, I do love firetrucks. But who picks these theme days anyway? And if ours is the largest in the world, doesn't that just tell you, no one cares enough to have a bigger Fire Prevention Awareness Event... because it's boring! It's the same preachy intentions that turned the Technology Building into Condescending Dork Pavilion*. Just listen to the crap on the CDP Stage: Wind Energy Jeopardy (lame), 10 Ways to Save Energy in Your Home (lame!), LEDs! Emerging Choices in Home Lighting (lame!!). Remember just a few years ago, when it was all segways, eye-scanning laser beams, and high definition tv? damn. that was so much cooler.
If I could pick theme days, it would be Salsa Chopper Day, Stroller Racing Day, Toga Day (so obvious), No Free Tote Bags Day (this keeps out the seniors), Dress Like Your Favorite Fair Attraction Day (good luck, fish pond lovers), etc.
*with nice bathrooms and very exciting free milk
23 August 2007
A foggy opening day to the Great Minnesota Get-Together. I went for a quiet first morning, enjoyed a crepe and a cup of coffee, and began plotting out my twelve days of fun. Later in the day I went back for a corn dog and some quality bunny barn time. Jed tried one of the new food items, fried fruit (on a stick, of course). Then we all went and added a nice piece of fairwear to our wardrobes. If you see something very soft and aqua, it's probably Alison.
Tomorrow Bella and I are meeting up with the grandparents. But all they're going to want to do is ride the ejector seat over and over. Sheesh. Bella's excited because it's fire truck day!
21 August 2007
Bella would not normally have kept an eye patch on for longer than, oh, 0.3 nanoseconds. But since Emma was doing it, she was all for it. "Yaaar, I be a big girl!"
I even got a picture of her saying YAR, but it is out of focus, as many of my pictures tend to be. I really should learn what all those buttons on my camera do. At least I caught one of her in a moustache.
This 5th birthday party was a reality check for me. There were pirate games and pirate prizes and a pirate pinata and a giant ship-shaped (ha) cake. This is what mothers do! This is what Bella will want in just a couple years! Well-thought out incredibly labor intensive and planned well in advance theme parties. I just hope she gives me some advance notice on what theme she will prefer. Otherwise she's getting whatever theme is easiest. Probably "Christmas Clearance."
I just read a book, Unclutter Your Life, and it was so motivating. Yeah, the bottom line of the book is totally duh: GET RID OF STUFF. But let's face it, it's way easier to knit on the couch and watch Top Chef than it is to go through kitchen cupboards and clothes closets. But I was motivated enough to do both of those things. Yay for me! Yay for whoever buys my stuff at Goodwill! Yay for clean kitchen cupboards!
Brent was awesome enough to read me Harry Potter while I was quickly doing all these chores before I lost motivation. Which was very fun, like having a human iPod. He even walked around the house reading to me while I was exercising the bunnies. Going from room to room, stepping over baby/bunny gates, pausing while I yelled at Pepper.
We stayed up late the night of the last chapters. And so ends the HP reading aloud, which has sustained us since even before we were married. I remember Brent reading HP4 (I think) while I sewed my bridal veil, and he read HP6 while we painted Bella's nursery. It's the end of an era.
Couldron Cakes, part of a Harry Potter theme dinner to celebrate the last chapters of the book. The rest of the dinner was Quidditch Players Pie, Professor Sprout Slaw, and Butterbeers.
Fair countdown: 2 days!
30 July 2007
By far my favorite category of foods is Pumpkin foods. And if I had to pick my favorite subcategory of my favorite category, it would be pumpkin Breakfast foods. So when I served up piping hot pumpkin waffles and pumpkin coffee for breakfast last Sunday, I couldn't have been happier. And when Bella started cramming them in, that was even better. A chip off the old pumpkin.
It's a little off-season for pumpkin (for most people, not for me, I am in constant need of pumpkin) but I start to get antsy for fall this time of year. When the cicadas are out doing that buzz thing, that's what really gets me. BUZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzz. That is the sound that means that it is shortly Fair Time. The most wonderful time of the year. Fair countdown: 24 days. And after the fair, to soothe the world's despair, it will be pumpkin season. Yummy, spicy pumpkins.