Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday: Goal Day

*Well, next weeks goal is to get it posted on time. I've had a terrible tummy bug the last two days.
  1. I want to finish my English Final ahead of schedule
  2. Read two chapters for pleasure
  3. download a Christmas book for the holidays
  4. Wrap gifts and update the gift spreadsheet, yeah I have a gift spreadsheet, don't you?
  5. lose 1 pound

  1.  get control over the clutter invading our home
  2. make yummy gifts for the secretaries of the History Department
  3. try 1 new recipe
  4. organize my recipe bookmarked list....yeah right, it grows by the hour
  1. research best way to invest in stocks
  2. research Roth IRA
  3. Earn a $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's hot in the kitchen

It is cold here. I don't want to go outside, or the grocery store, or in the office to find my phone for delivery.

What I do want is lunch. I always have food on the brain so it helps to satisfy that craving at least 4-5 times a day. My favorite lunch at present is a big plate of roasted veggies. Hey, it keeps me warm with the oven going for 40 minutes! Since there is minimal oil and it "is" veggies, I feel good about myself and my healthy plate of food. yeah right!

I use what I have in the house. This week it has been: asparagus, potatoes, and mushrooms.

1 large russet potatoe, diced  into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup asparagus, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup mushrooms, rough chop
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon steak seasoning

Preheat the oven to 425*F.
Chop up your veggies and put into a bowl.
Pour olive oil and spices over veggies.
toss to coat.
bake for 35-40 minutes based on your oven.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday: Goal Day

  1. Share a home-cooked, non hectic dinner with The Fella
  2. Walk 5 miles
  3. Read 3 chapters in Social Blunders (when you are in school any reading for fun is hard to fit in!)
  4. Lose 1 pound
  1. Vaccum
  2. Deep Clean master bathroom
  3. Stick to the meal plan
  4. prep for the party Friday...before Friday morning
  1. Check on 401K
  2. Earn $5 Amazon gift card on Swagbucks
  3. Plan out Christmas gifts
  1. homework
  2. extra credit
  3. study for LR final

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In the land of Beer...

This week the fella and I are in North Carolina, the land of craft beer. We are both two very happy people. I didn't drink beer until I met Fella, I was a scotch drinker, nice and neat (pun intended). He told me, if you haven't found a beer you like, you haven't tried enough. So true.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It is time to bake

I am traveling out of town for Thanksgiving. That fact did not stop me from agreeing to make 1 pie, 1 cheesecake, 2 side dishes, and 3 dozen homemade yeast rolls with honey butter. Have I lost me mind? Of course I have, and to top it off I am baking a 5 layer birthday cake.

What else is a woman suppose to do on a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Slowing down time

I am in the foothills of Tennessee this weekend. We are brought here for both work and pleasure. The fella has a conference he is presenting at, and I am enjoying strolls through empty campuses covered in orange, red, and gold trees.

I walked all over Maryville Campus yesterday. I felt like I had the whole place to myself. The students have retreated home over fall break. It was peaceful, quiet, and perfectly crisp. The few people I did bump into were from the SWEHA conference. Truly brilliant people to sit and have a chat with.

We aren't to far from The Great Smokey Mountains. We took a drive through them yesterday and it reminded of why I love this time of year so much. The trees are putting on a vibrant show, everyone sells apple cider ( or mulled wine), and when we get home we lobotomizing two of the most perfect pumpkins you have ever seen.

Since you put up with my gaping absences I will share my favorite mulled wine recipe with you. It's on heavy rotation in our house during Autumn and Winter.

Mulled Wine
1 bottle (750ml) merlot
2 cinnimon sticks
2-3 cloves
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
juice of 1 small-medium orange
orange peel, careful to avoid the white pith (bitter)

In a large dutch oven or stock pot bring water and sugar to a simmer. As soon as the sugar is incorporated add the wine and orange juice. Drop the cinnimon sticks in, add cloves and orange peel.

*I push the cloves into the orange peel and little it simmer in the wine. It is much easier to pull them out this way that accidentally serve a clove up in a drink to friends. 

I simmer this for about 5 minutes and serve or I leave it on the lowest setting on my stove and let people ladle it out at their leisure for parties.  Some friends even serve it out of their slow cookers/ crock pots.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sourdough starter day 1

I combined 150g flour with 250g of water for a total of 400g. It is left out on the counter and uncovered.

My favorite Salsa

I whipped this up months ago when our garden started to produce more peppers than I knew what to do with. We have been making this ever since. We put it on everything.

Restaurant Style Salsa
1 can (28 oz) whole San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 chopped frozen onion (or fresh if you have it)
2 cloves garlic
3 jalapenos, diced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cumin, ground
1/4 cup cilantro (or to taste)
juice from 1 small lime

Combine all ingredients in a blender and give it a whirl until you get the consistency you like. Less for chunky salsa, more for smooth salsa.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Don't you just hate it when you have been traveling, come home, unpack your luggage and realize that some item, usually small, is missing. I can't find my tweezers, and instead of just buying a new pair I am going over every inch of luggage, hand bag, and carry on we have. I can be like that sometimes.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life Has Resumed

I stopped blogging for so many reasons; grief, school, a move, and travel, just to name a few. During all of those times I often wanted to write up a blog post or share a great restaurant, but it just wasn't he right time to pick blogging back up. Today though, feels like the right time to bring blogging back into my life. I am looking froward to sharing some of the things that were going on this past summer and what the fall holds in store for us.

More to come....

Monday, May 9, 2011

thereapy in the dirt

I have been putting most of my short attention span into gardening. Its been going pretty well. After my father passed I was overwhelmed with a desire to return to the "normal". I wanted to be back on my routine schedule, going to the same places, seeing the same people. And for the most part that meant getting back into my classes. Well, oops! That ended last Thursday. What is a girl to do?

She breaks out the cute tools and gloves and starts playing in the dirt. I haven't got much of a spot for gardening. In fact I only have a second story balcony. You know I would let something like physics or two flights of stairs get in my way (errrm, the fellas way). I have been putting my extra energy in flowers and herbs. Nurturing is therapy right now, thinning out plants is therapy, enjoying nights on the balcony surrounded by my creations is therapy.

This has actually been more of a challenge than I thought. Most of the balcony is in complete shade. A small corner is full sun. Practically no in-between. I am attempting to grow mint in complete shade. I think it might just work because the summers are so hot here. Other than that, just winging it every single day.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

a season of changes

On April 15 2011 the most important man in my life passed away, my dad. I was always following him around as a child, desperate to help in any activity he was currently occupied with. I learned to work on cars, fix anything, and have great times with anyone.

My father never met a stranger and that was never more true at his funeral, I have never seen so many people packed into a chapel. The loss of his larger than life personality has left a gaping wound in me. It aches.

I called this man after every test, every goofball move I made. I was mad at The Boyfriend he was my first call, if I was excited about a job, he was my first call. And just between you and me, he was the only person I ever drunk dialed... a lot.

I got back to Nashville with only one of classes left. My heart isn't in it, but I won't throw the semester away. I am looking forward to a month off so I can stay in bed with the sheets over my head like I want to. In July we are headed to England so The Fella can do research. I promised to get my ever enlarging behind out of London and see the rest of the country while he is at Kew.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A funny story from work

Right now I am working on cleaning, preserving, and indexing divorce cases from the early 1900's. One of the funniest things I've seen so far was a woman, during a deposition, said she wanted a new lawyer because her cousin was representing her. She attested to the fact that her lawyer consistently did worse than she, herself in law school. She made a move to represent herself. I just thought what it must have been like at the thanksgiving that year!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I have not given up blogging

I am being slack. We are nearing the end of my semester and I am always in study mode. I am registering for summer and fall classes in the morning and my sister is coming to town for a visit on Tuesday. Yeah, stressed about just a bit. I will return next week, I promise to be a better  blogger from now on.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Girl Friday, yes ma'am

My sweetie pie and friends all know that I am something of a Girl Friday. I fix things, mostly others work. It is safe to say I am an organizer by nature. If I am bored I will start reorganizing entire rooms. Nothing happens until I have a list in my hand. Believe it when I tell you I have a Master-List of my little lists.

It works well for the fella and I since he is a big picture kind of guy. I am a little details make the world better woman. Together, we can actually finish a project, most of the time.

Because I only have classes 3 days a week I have a significant amount of spare time. I was told I need something else in my life and it was true. I got in touch with the local library and offered to volunteer and tutor. They didn't have any volunteer positions open! Really???

But it worked out you see. The man who interviewed me said that the library is also responsible for the state government's archive. AND, that they had a place for me. I was ready to scream I was so happy. As a paralegal student I have firmly believed that I would rather work for the state than a private practice. This is my tiny little toe in the door. It isn't Kew Garden but its not bad!

I wonder if I should buy a new pair of shoes for the occasion?

Monday, March 21, 2011

what I'm digging on now

Several of the blogs I enjoy reading have put up their current five favorites or something similar. I thought it would be a pretty easy blog post but I actually had to sit and think awhile.

1. Seedlings- I started some seeds back in February. They have been living in my bedroom window and it is such a sweet surprise every morning when I see them. The surge of green, life, and renewal makes me feel like I can do anything.
2. Playlist- I have only recently started making playlist for my workouts, study sessions, trips to the grocery store. Something about it makes me feel like I am in a movie and they are playing the soundtrack behind me. I  feel a little more glamorous.
3. Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter- I love a good porter or Stout. But this beer makes me go back to Swiss Cottage in London anytime I drink it.
4. Golden Girls- When I am headed in the direction of being "Vintage" I want all of my problems to be fixed by sitting down and eating a cheesecake with my girlfriends.
5. The Fella- Seems silly, but there is always something new that I love or makes me giggle. Or even the flowers be brings me just because I am basket-case that he loves.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

For Japan

Today is a day of silence on Jamie Girl's Blog. Go to these sites instead:

Shelter Box *where I donated

Red Cross

Mercy Corps

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Step on a crack

Throw out your back. I did that. Yesterday, in the middle of the night. With pain so bad I had to scream for the fella to help me back into bed. I spent the morning at the chiropractors office while she did her best to realign me. I am going back tomorrow for good measure.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

flappers and whiskey

Last night was a dear friends 40th Birthday Party. Her chosen theme: 1920's speakeasy.

Being the good friend that I am I completely forgot about it until the morning of. People, I've had at least two months notice. I even had a sticky note on my bathroom mirror to remind me. And.I.FORGOT. So, naturally I panicked. 

I don't have a flapper costume or a Gatsby-esqe gown hanging in the back of my closet. I went to the local costume shop and looked around. they had several cute dresses. I gathered them up and tried them on. Apparently they are made for size 0 only. Fine, I got a frappachino to ease my pain and went to the fabric store. I was going to make own damn flapper costume with matching headband. And I did. Cute huh?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I can't get my booty in gear or my skinny jeans!

Ugh, its one of those days.

You know the kind. The starts off bright and gay, you walk into your closet and think, hmm, yes, those skinny jeans are mine. And then it happens, they don't fit. No matter how much pleading and begging they don't obey. The day goes down hill from there.

You have "0" motivation for anything except that soul saving brownie someone brought to your desk. Work, study, projects; they just sit there while you do nothing.

If you are having that kind of day as well, here is a plate of brownies for you

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Easy Dreamy Coconut Ice Cream, 3 ingredients

I am tired of winter. REALLY, really tired of it. I have seen enough snow, sleet, and ice. This is my cure...

So last night I was on baking kick, making the Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread. So, I needed ice cream to go with my short bread, naturally. There just were two problems.
1) I was much to lazy to go back to the store for ice cream
2) I don't own an ice cream maker.

What I do own is a great loaf pan. I mixed up a batch of this 3 ingredient ice cream and poured it into the loaf pan. After the mixture set (about 4 hours for me) I used a fork to fluff it up like you would rice and put in back into the fridge for the night.

I chose Coconut because I need something that reminds me of warm days on a sunny beach.
Easy Dreamy Coconut Ice Cream

1 cup milk
1 (15 ounce) can cream of coconut (find in drink mix aisle)
1 ½  cups heavy cream

1. Combine the milk, cream, and cream of coconut in the container of a food processor or blender, and mix thoroughly.
2. Add in flaked coconut if desired or mini chocolate chips. Or if its been that kind of week, both :)

Pour mixture into a loaf pan and freeze 24 hours.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread

I made these last night and they are divine. I pulled it from Smitten Kitchen (a favorite foodie blog). I diverted from the recipe only slightly. I used coffee instead of espresso because its what I had and I used. 2T. I also don't have gallon size zip-lock bags so I rolled it out between cling-film, wrapped it up and popped it in the fridge. Worked fine.

Created By: Smitten Kitchen

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate minced, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

1. Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

3. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.
Notes: I often use 1-2 tablespoon of strongly brewed coffee in its place. I don’t prick the dough and it hasn’t made any difference other than it looks better.

Wondering what to get me for my Birthday?

Well, this is what I want. I want it really really badly! I hope the fella notices this blatant attempt at subtly. He-He!

I just think it would look fabulous in the planter with the English Daisies. If you want one it can be found here on ETSY. I think its $8.00 USD.

*No, I wasn't offered a free one for posting this or advertising for the shop owner. I just like sharing the goodies I find across the inter webs.

Purex Crystals, the new fabric softener

I got a surprise in the mail today. The UPS man showed up with a package for moi. I know, exciting right! I found out a while ago that I was a selected to a Purex Insider. I wasn't expecting a welcome package, but that's what I got. Guess what I was in the middle of today? Did you say loads of laundry, you got it!

Inside the box was a sample bottle of the fabric softener crystals. I immediately tore into it and added it to my next load of laundry. I always use fabric softener on my clothes. That does make it a hassle when I have to set aside my sports/ workout clothes, towels, and the kids pajamas. All have to be washed separately without softener because it effects their ability to wick away water and keep kids clothes fire retardant. That's because most fabric softener is oil based.

With the Purex Crystals I tossed my gym clothes in with the normal load. Because the Crystals are 92% natural they are not oil based and won't adversely effect your clothes. WIN! That is at least one less load of laundry I have to do. Don't you have better things to do? I know I do.

I am hooked. I was able to add it directly to the load when I started it. I don't have to wait (and then forget about) the rinse cycle to add the softener. Again, saving me time. I know this will be a staple in my laundry room.

easy to use
extends life of clothes
keeps clothes fresh for weeks
natural products not oil based

It did have a strong small out of the bottle but when it came out of the washer the sent was very light
It is on the expensive side at over $5 at my Walmart

*I am a Purex Insider. That means that I am able to test new products (at no cost) out before they get to you the consumer. I am honest, some say brutally so. I will not give a good review unless that is how I truly feel.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Balcony Garden day 7

Its day 7. I was starting to worry that my petunias would never pop up from the dirt. I'm pathetic. I actually grabbed the tweezers last night and began gently digging for signs of life. somehow I thought, maybe they are too deep and need my help? Yeah, I need to get out more.

Well, feeling like a fool I noticed that 5 of the 10 petunia seeds had broken the surface. I am giddy. I keep walking over to check on them, and see if anyone else has joined the party.

UPDATE: WE ARE NOW 6 OF 10! 2.23.2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Balcony Garden day 5

Some of the seeds have popped up from the soil and it gives me such a zeal for gardening.

These are the English Daisies. I am practically giddy at the thought of them blooming up in the planters. I actually went to the big lots today and bought window boxes on the cheap. $5 a piece with dish. They were $16 at walmart. So if you are trying to garden frugally I highly suggest checking out your local Big Lots or Dollar Tree.

And since I was in the garden section I had to purchase a new packet of seeds. I had to, the Vandy garden gnome made me!!! Bet you don't have him growing in your garden, do you?
I purchased mint. I am going to grow it (fingers crossed) in the window in the kitchen. It gets about 5 hours of sun a day so we will see. I wasn't willing to take it outside after reading stories of it taking over everything. Well here is hoping I have this in a few months.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What, you think you're going?

That was the question that fella posed to me last night while out celebrating. He has had a hard time working on his prospectus for his PhD. Topics and sources have changed many, many times. But, but, last week he got the go ahead from his committee and the ducks were lining up nicely. Then yesterday evening he asked me to help him find some great archives from Chinese missionary trips. I found some of the best in the world and compiled the list in order of substantial archival information to the most intricate rare specimen ( one photo isn't really worth the trip). So what does that mean? It means grant money and research trips. So we went out to celebrate.

At some point in the evening we started talking about some neat places close to one of the top archives. Me, being a little TYPE-A went ahead and made a google map while I was putting a list together for the top three archives of other excursions. Yes, I got ahead of myself. However, it was at this point when I was telling my fella,"oh my gosh, the best Italian restaurant is three blocks over" he looks at me and says...
"You think you're going?", "Don't you have classes this summer?", "Are you going to get a job?"

I wanted to punch him in the nose. HARD!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I took a sanity day

I have two classes that I should be in today. Instead I am at home taking a sanity saving day. Both the step-kid and the boyfriend are out of the house until late this evening. I still feel guilty for doing this, gah!

I just got sick of hearing, why aren't there clean dishes, glasses, socks, jeans...and on and on. I was always on top of it when I was a full time stay at home. Now, I have two days off a week and spend most of it in the library doing homework. Now, the boyfriend is home a lot more, he has 3-4 days off a week. What does he do while he's home? If you said the dishes, or laundry you don't know my fella. Instead he plays computer games or watches DVDs while I am out.

So, today I just couldn't stand all the why, and where's and stayed home to tackle the mountain of laundry and run a few loads of dishes. Take the recycling to the center and pick up everyone's crap and put it away. No, my sanity day isn't spent napping or taking a bubble bath, I'm cleaning. F^@K!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Starting the seeds for my garden, Day 1

I had my first garden last year. It was a container garden given that my only outdoor spot was a 2nd floor balcony. One bit gets full sun, another gets partial shade and the back corner is full shade. Last year a learning curve to say the least.

I went to the farmers market and simply picked out flowers I liked the look of. Unfortunately they were almost all full sun flowers. The lasted about a month before giving up and dying. This year I went online and studied what worked well in Shaded areas and container gardens. I have one of each variety this year. I have some cascading petunias for the full sun rail. I bought English daises for the partial sun rail. And the sad back corner will gets lot of color (fingers crossed) with inpatients.

I purchased them as seeds because 1) its cheaper and 2) I like watching them grow and peak through from the dirt. It gives me a real sense of ownership. I should see the first signs of life in about 7 days and the last of them by day 14. Wish me luck that my garden is full of these wonderful flowers this summer...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pizza Dough, 4 hour rise

Well, I was home alone and decided to have a pizza for lunch. I swear this is the last one...till I try it again :)

12 oz. (by weight) high gluten flour 
7.4 oz. (by weight) cold water
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4-3/4 tsp. instant dry yeast (depends on cold or quick rise)

12 minutes in a kitchen aid mixer @ 2-speed
rise on counter for 4 hours
cook in a 500 degree oven
Makes one 16" pizza.

Still saving swagbucks

Like a lot of you I saved my swagbucks and cashed out for Amazon Gift Cards $5 last year. I banked them in my Amazon account, watching it grow...slowly. When December rolled around I made a list of gifts to give and went shopping on Amazon. I was able to pay for it entirely with my gift card balance. Thank goodness in the current economic climate.

But this year I am trying something else. My sweetie is putting money into a Christmas fund at the bank. I am using my earnings from another site to receive pay-pal and that goes into savings. What about the swagbucks? Those are now covering the little expencese that crop up along the way.

I need new measuring spoons. I have bought the cheep, plastic $5 sets at least four times in the last two years. This time I am investing about $25 in a stainless steal magnetic set that will last a lifetime. It is a bigger invest meant (yes, even at $25) up front but in the long haul worth it. That is where we are directing swagbucks this year. We want to use it to offset buying a more expensive investment item than the cheapest thing we can get away with using. I will keep you posted on the shopping!

If you are new to Swagbucks I highly suggest you look it over and sign up. Here's why--->
It’s a fun site that gives you “Swag Bucks” for doing things like searching the web, doing surveys, shopping, and voting in polls.  These Swag Bucks can be redeemed for all manner of swag: books, magazines, jewelry, movies, sports cards, music, gift cards, and lots more. ***I’ve also tipped my hand as to what the best deal on gift cards from Swag Bucks is:  Amazon gift cards.  They’re only 450 SB for a $5 Amazon code.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A lazy girls Red Sauce

It is snowing, again. It is snowing hard, again. I am comforting myself with carbs and butter on this lazy day.

I always have a package of Buitoni mushroom filled pasta in my freezer. It cooks in minutes and always satisfies my craving love of pasta. Today I wasn't in the mood for a mere drizzle of olive oil. Nope today I needed Red Sauce! But-- I already told you I was being lazy, so what gives? I have a simple recipe for the sauce that comes together quick and is super versatile.

Lazy Red Sauce
1 14.5oz tin of tomato puree
1/4 cup water
3 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
pinch of sugar
handful of Parmesan cheese

I combine all of the ingredients in that order in a sauce pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes with a splatter screen over it. Its done, go eat some pasta.
By the way, it usually keeps about 3 days in the fridge and a few months in the freezer.

I am a Purex Insider

I received a email last night informing I had been selected as a Purex Insider!!! I will get to review new products and share the news with you. I will be able to do giveaways so that you too will know how fabulous Purex is. I am looking forward to this for myself and for my blog.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The lady needs a spa day...

And so the boyfriend provides. February 3 was our 4 year anniversary. Let me tell you, that man spoiled me rotten!!! He arranged for us to have a private and personalized wine tasting at The Wine Loft. I was super happy with the wine selection. The food was good but defiantly not great. We ordered the shrimp and blue cheese pastries.

Only three of the four advertised came out. Our waitress told us one more was in the oven and she would bring it out when it was ready. I was a bit confused over that hick-up, is it really hard to put four in the oven at the same time? It basically boils down to puff pastry with one shrimp inside with too much blue cheese and some walnuts. A very little bit of chili oil drizzled on top. We both left the restaurant starving even after our shared dessert, a small slice of key lime pie.

Then we came home to unwrap gifts. I was practically giddy at the thought. The Boyfriend gave me Bridget Jones' Diary. An all time favorite for me. Then, I got the first season of the Tudors. I have been moaning for a while now that I am the only person who hasn't seen the hit show. I guess shushing me was a gift for us both.

But the Prize of the night. I got a spa package. The spa is Apropos in the Green Hills area of Nashville. It includes and hour long hot stone massage, hand massage and manicure and paraffin dip with my pedicure. I can't freaking wait to go. I am however waiting to make the appointment until the snow is gone. I am not wasting a pedicure on snow boots. I am dreaming of those 3 hrs of bliss.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Missing London today...

I am missing London terrible today. Sometimes it just sneaks up and hits me and sometimes I barely even think about my beloved city. So what happened?

I was doing some grocery shopping and noticed a new specialty isle toward the back of the store. Now, I live in the middle of nowhere (capital of Tennessee) so specialty calls to me. I need special in my life. I approach the isle and see something chocolaty. Cadburys. Then, brown sauce. etc... Now individually they may not seem special (well, the Cadbury is always special) but it was an entire isle dedicated to British food items.

This was not the food emporium of Harrods, but it was a little something to hold on to until I jump the pond again.

Friday, February 4, 2011

baking somthing up in the oven... (White Chocolate Lemon Cake)

As if! There is no baby in there.

Actually it is the boyfriend's mother's birthday. She always makes other people a pound cake on their birthday so I thought I would make her a cake. I, personally, am a little sick of pound cake so I am making a white chocolate cake with lemon curd filling. I like this recipe because it starts with a cake mix. It is Jamie/fool proof! And really how bad can a cake be if you doctor it up with white chocolate and a layer of lemon curd?
Yes, I will post some food porn for you when it comes out of the oven.

White Chocolate Lemon Cake
by Anne Byrn


  • Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
  • Flour for dusting the pans
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Lemony White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
  • 1/2 cup store-bought lemon curd (half of a 10-ounce jar)
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

3. Melt the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a small rubber spatula until it is smooth.

4. Place the cake mix, water, oil, whole eggs, egg whites, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the slightly cooled white chocolate. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.

5. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well combined.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.

7. Bake the cakes until they are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 28 to 32 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes.

8. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each into a rack, then invert again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

9. Meanwhile, prepare the Lemony White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below).

10. Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with the lemon curd. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with frosting.

11. Place this cake, uncovered or in a cake saver, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes.

* Then store it, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze it, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a cake saver, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Ingredients for the Frosting

  • 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

Directions for the Frosting

1. Place the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well-combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine.

3.Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and melted white chocolate, and blend on low speed until just combined. Add the confectioners' sugar and blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 30 seconds.

4. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute more.

5. Use to frost the top and sides of the cake of your choice.

*I shaved a little of my leftover chocolate over the top of the cake for that tah-dah! effect

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kitchen rut

I can very easily get stuck in a rut in the kitchen. For the last year I have been obsessed with making a really good (not perfect) New York Style pizza. I have come close some times, I have also missed the bark entirely one most occasions. I have invested money in specialty tools, and wasted days waiting for three day rises on doughs. Why?

I can't say. I love pizza. It is one of my favorite foods and in my opinion you can't beat NYC style. But today I made my last rutty pizza of the quest. I just don't feel like putting more effort into the search and constantly being disappointed. I will probably make pizza on occasion but it will no longer be a once a week dinner feature like it has been.

So, are you wondering about my new obsession? It is actually to try a new recipe every two weeks. Lets face it, every week it a stretch with out schedule but with two weeks I can realistically plan, shop and execute.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I can't...move

I am sitting in bed looking out the window at all the snow on the ground and can't for the life of me seem to make myself get out bed, shower, and off to classes today. Gah, how pathetic. At least tomorrow I can sleep in as long as I want to. Here's to making it though the day, what ever it may have in store for you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

frozen veggies vs. Fresh produce, where I stand

I love broccoli. It really is ridiculous how much I love the taste. I always have too, I was the little kid who thought if its green it must be good. Those other kids just didn't know what they were missing out on!

So, since I use so much broccoli in my cooking I decided to purchase a bag of frozen florets from both Kroger and Wal-mart instead of my usual purchase of two fresh crowns in produce.

The bag from Kroger was the biggest disappointment. I specifically bought the bag titles florets and upon opening the bag found mostly stalk with count them, 4, 4 florets in the whole bag! Gah, what a rip off!

The bag from Wal-mart was surprisingly significantly better. It was completely florets. I didn't have to toss any stems/ stalks from the bag. That scored big points with me. Secondly, it still had a fresh taste after it was cooked. The bag from Kroger had a very distinct frozen taste once cooked.

I am not telling you to buy frozen over fresh but if you want to stock the freezer like I did, I would say Wal-mart brand is the most satisfying choice.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Meal plan Monday

Monday: Pizza (take away)
Tuesday: Left Overs
Wednesday: Broccoli and Rice
Thursday: Pasta
Friday: Party- snack food
Saturday: Beef stir fry
Sunday: Pinto Beans

Thursday, January 13, 2011

review of first day of class....

I just got back from my classes about half an hour ago. I am so thrilled. The faculty is interesting and so far I feel like they are still "in teaching" for the satisfaction of it. I have homework, boo. I have even more reading to do, big boo.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Week 2 of the 52 week challenge


I was focused on the areas of the house that felt like my personal space the last few days. That worked out really well for me because week 2 on my list of organizing goals was to reorganize and purge items from our closet. I admit I love clothes and shoes and purses, oh my!

Our closet was beginning to look like it was alive though. We weren't really interested in wearing out clothes at the back of the closet because it was not worth the fight or jungle trek to get there.

It took me and entire day to complete it. I purged an amazing amount of clothes. Both mine and the boyfriend's.

Next weeks challenge sends me to a different part of the house. I have to reorganize the the laundry area. I am not looking forward to this one. Not at all. But I think I will start doing before and after pictures.

Starting to get a little worried

I am so excited to go back to college but as of right this moment I am also on the verge of tears scared. I don't know why. I know I can handle the classes. I know I am making the right decision to complete my degree. I am not really worried that my teachers won't like me or the people in my class.

So what is my problem? Maybe it is just my nerves. Maybe, its that my books haven't arrived yet because of all the snow in our area and I am very superstitious sometimes.

I did get a Starbucks giftcard for Christmas so I was thinking of stopping for a treat on my way to class in the morning.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SNOW; love it or hate it, I have it

It began snowing here on Sunday night and it finally stopped entirely last night. We have a few inches on the ground and plenty of ICE. We didn't go anywhere yesterday and stayed warm inside playing with a fire in the fireplace.

I love snow, I always have. It is beautiful and I think the world looks calmer and more peaceful when covered in snow. Here is the kicker. I can't leave the house once it starts snowing. I am white knuckles scared of driving in the snow. I simply don't go anywhere, make do with what I have and constantly maintain a supply of hot chocolate. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

But on the 26th of December we had to take the kids back to their mother in Raleigh. Going threw the mountains and driving in snow just about put me off snow for life. It was a foot deep, one lane that was clearly not the "lane" and we were driving on packed snow and ice. I believe I cried, yelled, and prayed hard. And then it started snowing again. Sigh, at least I am home now.

Monday, January 10, 2011

52 weeks or organizing

I am hooked on orgjunkie.com right now. I am trying to follow her suggestion of meal plan mondays although I don't know how strictly I will follow it. We tend to have lots of schedule changes round here.

The next of her projects is 52 weeks of organization. I know it seemed like a lot to me too! But it is really more about breaking the projects down and accomplishing them one at a time and keeping it ongoing rather than spending one weekend doing the whole of the kitchen and then two weeks later your kitchen is back in the same state, that is if you ever finished in the first place, hehe.

Week 1 for me was under the sink in out master bathroom. I pulled everything out and I mean everything! I tossed over half the contents. I was really pleased. I shouldn't have let it get so bad, but I did. this will show up again on the list of 52 because I want to make sure I am being vigilant about purging things we don't need.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday: Szechuan three pepper chicken
Tuesday: Broccoli and egg noodles
Wednesday: homemade pizza
Thursday (first day back at university for me): Flank steak over rice
Friday: out of town
Saturday: out of town
Sunday: out of town

Friday, January 7, 2011

  hip pressure cooking: Beginner Basics: Learn to pressure cook, one recip...

I received a pressure cooker for Christmas and i am so excited about this series!

hip pressure cooking: Beginner Basics: Learn to pressure cook, one recip...: "Starting mid-January I will begin a recipe series for those of you who have been sitting on the fence and waiting for an excuse to start us..."

Happy Fabulous 2011, i'm back y'all

I finally feel like the chaos that is the holidays have left my mind, body and soul. Hoorah! I am looking forward to so much this year. I am going back to university January 13th to finish my public administration degree. The boyfriend is getting back on track with his research to finish his PhD. And maybe the biggest thrill. His son is going to graduate in may and we are moving back to our condo downtown in August.

This year I decidedly set broad goals (not resolutions). Here they are
  1.  be smarter about my finances and using my money wisely
  2. work on deepening my relationship and building ever stronger bonds
  3. stay on course to finish my degree 
  4. improve my cooking skills and range by attacking the "to try" pile of recipes in my binder
So far we have been pretty good about getting on track. We have made several recipes. Boyfriend is even cleaning up dishes, wow!

I get my financial aid package on the 24. I can wait to not be broke!

cheers, here is to the new year