Monday, April 29, 2013

Ham & Bean Soup

After Easter dinner, Boyfriend's mom gave me some of the leftover ham to take home. At first, I thought I would make a ham and potato soup... but then I decided that a ham and bean soup would be amazing. I'd never made one before, so I scoured the internet for a recipe that sounded good to me. And I found one! Yay! It turned out very nicely. I can't wait to make it again!!

And, for your viewing pleasure, here is yet another photo looking into the soup pot. Yes... I need to get more creative...

Happy soup time!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Kitchen Curtain Near Disaster

A couple of weekends ago, I decided to sew some curtains for the window above my kitchen sink. Until now, I had been making do with the ones that were in the window when we bought the house:

Not that these curtains are terrible, of course, I just wanted something more cheerful to look at while in the kitchen. Sorry about the not-super-perfect photo, by the way.

I decided that I would just copy the curtains that were already there for the new set. Here is the fabric I decided to use:

I chose the floral for the top two curtains and the solid green for the bottom. Our kitchen walls are painted a sunshine-y yellow, so I thought it would go nicely. When I was looking for a color for the bottom, I had really hoped to find a nice matching coral, but alas. I was unsuccessful.

I took down a curtain from the top and from the bottom to use as my pattern. This is where the near disaster comes in. I was going along just swimmingly, cutting my fabric and watching a Julia Roberts movie I had never seen before on tv. I thought everything was going great. And then I realized that I had cut the fabric for the top two curtains exactly the same. EXACTLY THE SAME. How can they mirror each other when they are the same??? OMG. I was so mad. 

Thankfully, I was able to make it work. I was so nervous, though, because I did not have a suitable amount of extra fabric to start over. So, the top two are not as big as I would have liked and they are not exact mirrors of one another, but they totally work.

Here are the finished curtains:

Ta-da!! And please forgive the miscellaneous stuff around the sink. You can also see my little burro tail plant hanging there. He's so cute. I need to re-pot him this weekend, I think. I'm very excited about my curtains, though. I can't wait to make complementary ones for the two other windows in the kitchen/mudroom!

Dog Scarf

Easter Sunday, I got up and got everything ready to go to Boyfriend's sister's house for the holiday festivities. And then I realized that I had forgotten one of the most important things. I didn't make Regan her Easter scarf!! Thankfully, this was a project that took very little time and effort and I arrived to Boyfriend's parents house to present little Regan with something springy to wear!!

In making this little scarf, I followed this tutorial (without doing the iron-on words). I went with the measurements (mostly... I'll explain) for an extra small. See, I used a fat quarter that I had picked out for this exact purpose. I just turned the fat quarter into a square, cut it into two triangles and sewed those bad boys together. Boyfriend later asked me why I bothered cutting it into two triangles and I realize now that maybe I didn't need to. Hmm. I have plans to make a great deal more scarves for the dogs in my life in the future, so maybe I will try it out.

Anyway... here is Regan after I put the scarf on her and she decided it was the worst thing ever and needed to hide next to Boyfriend's dad:


And here is little Regan after she was encouraged to pose for a picture for me. She fakes enthusiasm so well:

This picture really is as good as it gets. She was not happy with me. Boyfriend's dad didn't realize that I had made the scarf immediately, but when he found out, he started training her to wear it. Muahaha, Regan!! I win!!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Carrot Cake!

This Easter, Boyfriend's mom put me in charge of making desserts. I was, as you might expect, excited about this. That did mean, though, that I actually had to decide. It's so easy to just think about things I want to make and then never actually get to them. Haha.

After several days of pondering, I decided that I wanted to make a carrot cake. Yes, indeed. I had never made a carrot cake before, so I went trolling around the internet to find a recipe that was simple and something I felt confident about baking successfully. I found a couple of recipes that were contenders, and ended up choosing a recipe from Betty Crocker. Good old Betty. I would highly recommend this recipe. For real.

You should know that I did not attempt making my own frosting. I've never ventured down that path and I decided that an important dessert for a family holiday was not the time to try. Haha. The store-bought cream cheese frosting I did use turned out beautifully. AND!!! I successfully pulled off a layer cake! I am never good at keeping those kinds of cakes in one piece. I don't know why. Just ask my dad. His birthday cakes have a history of... collapsing.

Decorations-wise, I used a bunny-shaped cookie cutter and sprinkled those fine, sparkly little purple doodads to get the bunny shape. For the little butterflies, Boyfriend made me a little stencil with wax paper. It turned out perfectly. 

This cake was, without question, a hit. I was told by more than one person that it was the best carrot cake they had ever had. In fact, Jason has requested that I make him another when I have the time, and Boyfriend's mom has already told me that she would like one for her birthday. I'm so happy that it turned out so well, and that so many people liked it. The Duck wasn't too sure about it, though. She had her hands in her piece of cake right away and seemed to really be enjoying it... until she got into the cake. Turns out, she was only interested in the frosting. Haha. She started inspecting the cake eventually and, finding a walnut, said, "What's in this?! NUTS?!" Classic.

I really need to make another carrot cake soon.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nail Polish Party

I made plans to hang out with my friend Margaret tonight. She came over after work and we went to dinner down at the Waterfront (not nearly as glamorous as it sounds, believe me). It's always nice to have one on one time with friends. Margaret and I typically see each other at book club, so we don't get nearly enough time to catch up on life in general. 

After dinner, we came back to my house to watch something on tv and paint our nails. We chose to watch two amazing episodes of Law & Order: SVU. Can I please just tell you how much I love that show? 

It's the best. Ever. 

We watched one about a serial killer murderer with a pretty serious fan club and one in which Stabler gets temporarily blinded (he didn't get nearly enough screen time with his awesome staring, if you ask me). Margaret let me use her gorgeous Butter London nail polish. It's too awesome for words. 

And now I think it will be time for sleep. I'm so glad that tomorrow is Friday. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

Last week, I made a delicious vegetable chowder. I found the recipe on Lulu the Baker's blog and she did not steer me wrong. Let me tell you.

This fabulous chowder contains carrots, celery, onion, potatoes, broccoli, and a pretty serious dose of cheddar cheese. I really liked it and thought it turned out really well. Boyfriend suggested that we try it with some form of meat the next time we eat it. Maybe ham? I could go for that. Ham is delicious.

Below is a super professional-looking photo of my pot of chowder. Enjoy that. Haha.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monthly Book Roundup: March

I think that I want to try something new here. I occasionally have people ask me for book recommendations and, when Annie asked me a couple of weeks ago, I decided I could put it out there for general consumption and see what happens. I'm going to tentatively plan to write about books at the end of each month. Maybe with a little bit of a review. Maybe not. 

In the month of March, I read:

Marmee & Louisa by Eve LaPlante
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Dracula by Bram Stoker

Have you ever read any of these books? 

I really enjoyed LaPlante's book. I think Louisa May Alcott is a really interesting person, so it was exciting to learn more about her through her own words and those of people who knew and loved her. I also really like that she and her mother were so close. Learning about their relationship made me happy. If you are even remotely a fan of Alcott's work, you'd probably enjoy reading this. I also wrote about this book here, in case you're interested.

The Secret Keeper was the fourth book written by Kate Morton, and also the fourth of hers that I ventured to read. I loved her other books, but this one didn't do as much for me. I'd say you should still read it, but definitely read her other books before you read this one. 

I checked out Blake's book from the library as a kindle book. I'm really excited that I can check out e-books. They don't have a ton yet, so I can't always find something I want to read, but I've found a few. This book wasn't at all what I was expecting, but I liked it. I was surprised with the way it wrapped up, but not because it was bad. It takes place during WWII, which is always of interest to me (NERD ALERT).

Dracula was the book club selection for March. I'm really glad I finally read this book. Amazingly, I didn't know much about the story when I started it. That seems weird, right? It's a very famous story. How could I not know more about it?? I don't know. I really liked it, though. I found it very engaging and I was pretty much constantly creeped out, in a good way. 

Anyway... is it helpful or interesting to read about what I have read? Should I keep posting about this? Let me know.

One Pot Chicken & Noodles

I made a delicious meal a few weeks ago that I should share with you. Chicken & Noodles! I found the recipe in the paper one Sunday, next to a coupon for egg noodles. Here it is:

2 Tbsp margarine
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
1 can chicken broth
1/2 package (6oz.) egg noodles, uncooked
1 package (10oz.) frozen peas and carrots
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup 2% milk
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 jar chopped pimiento, drained (optional)

-In a heavy five quart saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add chicken & onion. Cook five minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
-Add chicken broth. Heat to boiling.
-Stir in uncooked pasta, peas and carrots. Stir to coat evenly with liquid.
-Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover.
-Simmer on medium heat eight minutes, stirring occasionally or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
-Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together soup, milk, 1/2 cup cheese and pimiento until smooth. Stir into pasta mixture.
-Simmer until heated through.
-Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.

This recipe turned out really nicely. You should give it a try. It was quick, it was tasty. I vote yes. Yes, indeed.        

Monday, April 1, 2013

Conversations with the Duck

This is going to be quick because I am ninety years old and totally going to bed here in a few, but here are a couple of choice conversations I had with the Duck yesterday:

Regarding the sleepover we are planning for her at our house in a couple of weeks:
Duck: "Do you have a bathtub?"
Me: "Yes."
Duck: Can I take one bath? Two? Three baths?"

When I told her that she could help me look after the garden when she visits:
Duck: "Do you have a small shovel? And a little rake?"
Me: "Yes."
Duck: Do you have big ones, too? For you to use?"

When I asked her what she would say to the cats when she visited them:
Duck: "Oooooh.... poopies!"


She is hysterical. I wish I knew how her mind worked. Haha.