Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In Which I Return

I want to write
I want to run
I want to be outside
I want to enjoy campfires and singing
I want to play piano
I want to play guitar
I want to write beautiful letters with loops and swirls and sharp pointed lines
I want to bake
I want to cook
I want to wake up early and enjoy a cup of coffee in fuzzy boots and a warm sweater
I want to read
I want to have real conversations about real things
I want to laugh at silly things
I want to love my dogs
I want to watch old movies
I want to be present with my daughter
I want to enjoy the little things and stop writing lists about never ending wishes
I want to stop copying other people and just be myself
I want to stop wishing to create moments and just fucking have them
I want to have a pie chart of my daily activities and keep my days full of important things
I want to have zero pie charts and just live my life as it comes to me
I just want to be.

Lately I feel like I have so many things to get out, so many things to do, so many goals I want to achieve, so many things I want to learn. I can't do them all. I can't barely even do one or two of them. And then I think, maybe I don't really want to do anything. Maybe I just want to be. I want to be with my daughter and see her face turn up in a smile when she turns the pages of a crisp new book, or hear her little bird laugh as she takes drunken toddler steps across the creaking wooden floor. I want to go outdoors and just enjoy the sun, and listen to the leaves whispering to me. I want to enjoy beauty, instead of constantly trying to create it. 

I'm working on this. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In Which I'm Good At Like 7.5 Things

First of all, I just read Mindy Kaling's book "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and other concerns)". It was the most hilarious read of all time, at least by my standards. I even highlighted it with a pink pen so I can be sure and remember her most funny and/or poignant lines. I am currently devising a plan to be best friends with her, but haven't thought of anything good yet.

In other news, I'm reading this article called "10 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do By 30". Here's the things they think I should be good at, and how I feel about them:

1. How to budget
   Don't worry friends, got this one under wraps! If there is anything I love, it's a spreadsheet filled with color coded columns and numbers, with rows of costs owed and rows of balances remaining, and a final column at the end that shows my glorious ability to defeat debt and its underlings! A friend let me write her a budget the other day, and it was basically the epitome of everything I've always wanted to do. Sadly, I can't get paid to do this as I'm no financial wizard, just an ordinary list lover who loves seeing money disappear from bad places, and reappear in good places - like ING savings accounts.

2. How to cook at least one signature dish
   I mean, I've got like twenty at minimum. No brainer.

3. How to write professionally
   While this blog may not intuitively point in that direction, I am truly capable of writing without exclamation points, all capital letters, italics, and run on sentences containing big words littered with "um" and "like". I am really good at writing professional, polished, grammatically correct thingeys.

4. How not to part with your hard earned cash
   This is, in essence, why I had to write myself a budget. Without a structured way for me to handle my money, I am really, really good at parting with it. Like, someone should probably pay me back for all the stimulating of the economy that I have done. Anyways, since I began budgeting I can no longer say that I am incapable of hanging on to my cash. So, number 4, I have conquered you!

5. How to change a flat tire
   Well. I mean, technically I know how. But it seems silly to me to really need to know it anywhere other than in theory as my husband is a mechanic, and also very manly. I feel very much like Sherlock Holmes would about this, in that it is simply pointless for me to fill my brain with knowledge that is entirely unnecessary for me to have and will never be useful to me.
   When I was in college, my brain contained all kinds of useful information, like how to change one's headlight, check the oil, replace windshield wipers, and differentiate between coolant and oil on the driveway. Since meeting the proverbial man of my dreams, I no longer have need of this knowledge. I am quite sure I would be perfectly capable of changing my own tire but in reality, why bother, when I have a guy sitting right over there?

6. How to look up your credit report
   Now, this one I find very silly. Unless you live in a cave with no access to the internet or a television (well I guess technically if you are living in a cave you have no need of a credit report to begin with) it is virtually impossible for you to be incapable of figuring out how to do this. Freecreditreport.com, .com, .com! Also, if you are not all up on finance knowledge, don't go checking your credit report too often because it's actually bad for your credit. I don't know why this is, so don't ask me. Also, I don't really care so you don't have to tell me either.

7. How to manage your money digitally
   I can only take this to mean "go paperless", which I did years ago and I find anyone who hasn't done so to be quite silly. The end.

8. How to swim
   Uh. I can doggy paddle. I can backfloat. Oh, and I am REALLY good at lying on my blue brookstone pool float with a margarita in one hand and Star magazine in the other. Swim to save my life? Doubtful. This article says, "On the most basic level, it will keep you safe whether you’re ever caught in rough waters or ice skating on a frozen pond." Ok so first of all, I could have come up with way better reasons for needing to know how to swim. Like, "you will look like an idiot when you go on an expensive vacation and are the only one on the 'lets-swim-with-stingrays-expedition' who won't put a snorkel on".
   Second of all, I have no intention of ever being caught in "rough waters". And if I ever am, I will immediately give up and drown because I have already come to terms with the fact that I simply will not survive. I do not swim in the ocean as I have a deep, mostly justified fear of the ocean. Mainly the non-caribbean ones. I am scared of not being able to see what's at the bottom, of large waves, of the tide that's obviously going to sweep you out to sea where you will be lost forever, and of the sharks (that you can't even see because of the whole not-seeing-to-the-bottom problem) that are inevitably swimming around, just waiting to pounce upon some unsuspecting victim. This is mostly different from ponds and lakes. Different in that I will swim in them, but there is always that underlying possibility of some kind of Loch Nessy monster grabbing your foot or a deformed X-Files creature just waiting to seal your doom, so I usually end up back in the canoe. I'm so much better at tanning than at swimming.
   Thirdly. Exactly what frozen pond is one in danger of skating on here? This isn't some Little Women novel where we are all frolicking in overgrown woods and there is a random pond that no one really seems to know about where we play all winter. If such places do exist, I live no where near them and never will. Well, I did when I was 6. I digress. Ice skating where I live at this time in my life only takes place on a very crowded ice rink. You pay an exorbitant amount of money to get in, wait in line for what seems like literally eternity, and by the time you get onto the rink you are cold and then after 5 minutes of skating you wonder why you were so looking forward to going around in circles with what is basically just dulled knives strapped to your feet. Skating on a frozen pond as a reason to learn to swim is entirely ridiculous. But, I could never swim in order to save myself from a shark or a tidal wave or a sheet of ice over my head, so...number 8, you have beaten me!

9. How to move on
Huh. I actually think I am pretty good at this, as my anger at a situation usually only lasts a few minutes or at most a few hours and then I move on. Only unless I feel I have been truly wronged will I confront an issue or stay mad for a period of time. I mean, I think I'm pretty good at moving on. I know quite a few people that are bitter about things that happened forever ago that didn't even matter. And I know for sure I don't want to be like those people. So I mean, I think I win at number 9.

10. How to strike a balance between work and life
This, I am AWESOME at. The end.

So it appears that I'm only not good at like 2.5 things. I'm ok with this. And in case you were wondering, I am not going to take swimming lessons at the Y.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Salad, Garlic Basil Sugar Rub, Peanut Butter Cup S'more Bars

Summer Salad 

 Avocado, tomato, feta, grilled chicken. 
I had to take a picture and post because it just looked so restaurant worthy.

 Garlic Basil Sugar Rub
-1/4 cup chopped basil
-1/4 Chopped parsley
-2 fine chopped garlic cloves
-1/4 Olive oil
-1 tsp Salt
-3 Tb Brown Sugar
-1 tsp Cumin
You can tweak the amounts of everything to taste. I've never measured when making this, the amounts listed are my best guess.
Pat meat dry with a paper towel, then rub the mixture over the meat. Cook and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cup S'more Bars

-1/2 cup softened butter
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 1/4 cups flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 cup crushed graham cracker
-mini peanut butter cups
-1 - 2 cups marshamallow fluff (Don't actually worry about measuring it, this is just about how much you will need. Fluff is too messy to bother with exact amounts.)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper.
-In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. 
-With the mixer on low, slowly mix in flour, baking powder, salt, and graham crackers until just mixed. 
-Spread approximately 1/2 the dough on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Lightly press the peanut butter cups into the dough, then spread the marshamallow fluff on top.
-On a separate piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, spread the rest of the dough into a square shape. Flip over on top of the marshmallow fluff and press down lightly.
-Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours so the bars can set, then remove from pan and cut into squares.

Monday, July 16, 2012

In which there is ice cream!

My family came to visit this past weekend, and after reading my new August edition of Women's Day magazine, I was inspired to make homemade ice cream just for the occasion.

I made two kinds - Strawberry Cheesecake (aka my dad's favorite kind of ice cream) and S'more. No big deal. I was drawn to these particular ice cream recipes because you don't need an ice cream maker. Just an electric mixer. Brilliant! And can I just say, so good. Both had the taste and texture of real ice cream, and were far more gratifying and enjoyable because they were home made!

10 Graham crackers
2T butter, room temp
4oz bittersweet chocolate
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup mini marshmallows
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Side notes: I just buzzed regular chocolate chips up in my magic bullet instead of buying minis. You could also chop up regular sized marshmallows instead of buying minis. 

CRUST Heat oven to 350. Line the bottom of an 8-in springform pan (a cheescake pan) with parchment paper (i didn't line mine and it was just fine. Just sayin'.) In a food processor (or in a bag with a meat hammer!), grind 8 graham crackers until finely ground. Add butter until blended, then press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely (about 20 mins).

CHOCOLATE LAYER Melt the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave. Using an electric mixer, beat the chocolate, 8 oz of the condensed milk (1/2 cup + 2 T), and 3/4 t of vanilla until combined. Add 1 cup of heavy cream and beat until thick, stiff peaks form (this takes a few minutes. be sure not to overbeat!) Fold in the marshmallows, then spoon on top of the cooled crust and spread evenly.

VANILLA LAYER Beat the remaining condensed milk, vanilla, and heavy cream until stiff, thick peaks form and then fold in 1/2 cup of the mini chocolate chips. Spread this on top of the chocolate layer. 

OPTIONAL Break the remaining 2 graham crackers into tiny pieces, and sprinkle on top, along with the remaining chocolate chips. 

Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours, and up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

If you want to make just regular old ice cream, just use the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and heavy cream. I am looking forward to make all kinds of fun ice cream concoctions this summer!

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb fresh pureed strawberries + 2 tsp sugar
Side note: This recipe uses fresh strawberries. I used the frozen kind that come in a syrup. Because they are just so gosh darn deliciously sugary sweet. And next time I make this, I am totally going to do the graham cracker crust like the S'More cake has. 

Line a bread pan (usually 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 pan) with parchment paper, allow to hang down around the sides of the pan. 

Using an electric mizer, beat the condenseed milk, cream cheese, and vanilla in a bowl until combined. Add the heavy cream and beat until thick, stiff peaks form. Don't overbeat!

Spoon half the vanilla cream mixture into the pan, spreading evenly. Tap the pan to get rid of any air bubbles. Fold 1/3 of the strawberries into the remaining mixture, not quite mixing all the way so you get that fun swirly look. Spoon into the pan. Spread remaining strawberries over top now, or when you serve.

Freeze for at least 4 hours and up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In which Ariel & I throw a party

A few months ago, my friend Steve called me to invite me to a surprise 30th birthday party he was throwing for his wife and my lovely friend, Nina. The surprise was a trip to all the different wineries in their area, followed by a bbq at their home. I was all "yeah, sure, I'm in". And then I hung up and wondered how he would ever pull off a surprise bbq. So I called back and said, "Steve, what are your plans for food and decorations?" and he goes "oh my god Sarah, I have no idea. I can't buy anything or she will know!" and so then I said, "Steve, I got this." And then called Ariel to inform her that we had our first party planning gig ever.

We had many inspiration evenings, mostly via pinterest, and then several weeks of arts and crafts and perusing thrift stores and michaels and garages and basements and yard sales for lucky finds. The party colors started as "lots of bright ones", then "bright ones and polka dots" then "shades of ombre pink with gold and feathers and polka dots" and then somehow it ended morphing into just "shades of pink". I'm not sure how it kept wandering around like that, but the way it turned out was prettttty fab and, as usual, I wish I had taken better pictures and then wished that I had a better camera. First world problems, alas my life.

First project of mine, I wanted to make a word sign. While perusing my garage, I discovered a whole sheet of leftover styrofoam (how in the world do you spell that?!) board from when we remodeled and insulated the guest bathroom. Then I browsed www.dafont.com to find the perfect letters, printed them all out as big as they would go, and cut them out with scissors to make stencils. There were letter stencils at Michael's but they weren't as big as I wanted and they were like $17 for a set. So forget that. So I stenciled them out on the board and cut them out with a razor blade. And then, I got to buy a bottle of hot pink spray paint! The day I sprayed them was sooo windy and I was super annoyed for 15 minutes. Wind and spray paint just don't do well together. 

Then I hot glued ribbons onto the back of the letters to hold them all together. The hot glue totally worked by the way and all but one of the letters held the whole party!.

Ariel was all "I'm going to paint an ombre tablecloth" and I was all "I have faith in you but I have no idea how you will make that work." So she found a bedskirt/sheet at Goodwill for $2, got a couple shades of pink acrylic paint, and some painters tape. She mixed the pink with different amount of white paint to make all the different shades. I think she went through 3 bottles of acrylic to do the whole sheet? 

Voila! OMG I was so excited!

Here we are at Nina's house, post decorating. We decided to celebrate with a PBR. Because we are classy ladies. 

One of our many treats was a fruit bowl, in a watermelon, because we don't mess around. 

Menu writing - I had a picture frame in my basement that was the perfect size, so I just turned the picture around, and then wrote on the glass with a pink dry erase marker. 

Here we are! Nina's dog helped, sort of. 

Tablecloths and sheets come in handy for everything. Especially tablecloths that are leftover from my wedding. I knew the day I bought them that I wouldn't regret and I certainly have not. They have been so useful to me and many other people! It was probably one of my most genius moves ever. Need some tablecloths? Oh yeah, ask Sarah, she has like 35 of them. 

Anyways. Also, I bought a frame from Michaels, and got pink sticky sparkly letters so that everyone could use a letter to sign their name with. A Happy Birthday Autograph Board!

Sugar rimmed cups for the "Nina-ritas". I was going to buy some rim sugar, but the stupid Giant didn't have any (this is because they are simply NOT wegmans). So I made my own - sugar shaken with a few drops of food coloring. Then dip the rims in some lime juice and dip in the sugar. 

The little drink table - pink lemonade and Ninaritas. Recently I have discovered a new hidden talent - margarita making. Here's my recipe: 1 can of frozen limeade, mixed up in a pitcher. ~1 cup of triple sec. ~1 cup of tequila. Shake of salt if you want it. The end, delicious. Sometimes I do part water and part sprite, nothing wrong with a little fizziness!

And my delighftul chalkboard sign. I finally bought chalkboard paint a few weeks ago to make this, and I can't wait to cover my whole house in it muuhaha

The main attraction - balloons! letters! food! Well, we didn't take any pictures of the actual food. Just tables pre-food. Because I am the worst at photo-oping. 

To make the balloon trees stand up, we used two buckets of sand with PVC pipe stuck in them, then wrapped the pipe with streamers. Then tied the balloons on with ribbon. It worked very nicely! Except for the set of three balloons on the top right totally deflated before anyone even showed up. Oh well.

The menu! 

Did you know you can get pink raffia at the Dollar Store?! It's true. I wrapped a few mason jars with it. Cute, right? Obv. 

I had this wooden box sitting in my basement, perfecto.

Despite that lack of food pictures, we did end up feeding people, I swear. 

I totally spray painted the bottoms of a bunch of clear plastic dishes, and the handles of clear plastic serving utensils. Because I love a good excuse to spray paint things. 

PVC pipe anyone? With balloons and flowers stuck in the tops. I felt a little trashy poking flowers into PVC pipe, but I felt like it really looked nice so hopefully no one thought poorly of me!

We can NOT take credit for this cake, but isn't it fab?!

The birthday girl and I!

Then,. Ariel and I were like "wait, time to clean". Ariel stabbed the balloons. I'm pretty sure she enjoyed it.

Post cleaning, we discovered that we truly make a fabulous team, from planning, to crafting, to cooking, to decorating, to cleaning. On to the next one!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In which we get a new patio and many flowers

My darling husband and I have been planning since last fall to add on to the current patio in our backyard. I don't really think it looked quite this bad when we moved in - I think it got so muddy and patchy because of all the foot traffic back there. This leads me to assume the previous owner was very unpopular and so there was no one coming over to stomp out the grass. I'd rather have no grass than have no friends, but that's just me. So anyways, this is what it looked like before we got started:
Michael and his brother shoveled out and leveled all the ground first. I pick axed like, 1/3 of it, so technically I helped.
Dan was SO EXCITED to be shoveling stone! 
Then, Mike and his Dad discussed many important things, apparently. This was in between Michael laying modified stone over the dirt. This was made level by using two pvc pipes of appropriate size and leveling the stone to them.  
Then, sand over the stone, and the pavers on top. Michael laid all but 20 of them in the end, I was so proud. He was too, except for the next 4 days of his life when all of his muscles were mad at him.
And then yet another brother came over to help - at this point I thought they were almost done, but 3 hours later I discovered that was not even a little bit true.
My mother in law swept sand into the cracks for a good hour. I was glad of this, as I was not interested in this job, not even a little bit.
Here it is! Its amazing! I love it!
I don't think I could be more proud of this - every day I walk outside and can't even remember what it looked like before, or why there even was a before. Why would you NOT have an amazing patio like this?! 
Cam provided some modeling for the photos. Michael also used some 80-pound each stones/bricks/pavers (I don't know what they are called) to line out the flower bed. Next he's going to put wood on the top, so we will have seats! He is brilliant at things. 
I did actually work all day, just not on the patio - my mother in law and I spent the whole day gardening. We made over all the flower beds out in the front of the house so that they finally look nice and are sans fake flowers, and we also planted about 10 pots. Here is some proof of our labor!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A little grill time

This past weekend, we made a huge change to our backyard - added on to the patio! I have some pictures but haven't taken a final "look how amazing" picture so I don't feel like I want to post any yet. So, maybe tomorrow? Anyways, we spent yesterday evening enjoying the fresh air on our fancy new patio with some delicious food from the grill. Then some friendly faces came over and we lit a fire in the fire pit. We reminisced about how little Cam was when she was a puppy, discussed the intricacies of gun control and environmentalism, drank maybe more JD than we should have for a Tuesday night, and enjoyed pandora's Indie Rock station. And to think I just wanted to watch television!

Worcestershire Lime Chicken, Roasted Parmesan Veggies

I butterflied two chicken breasts and had them sit for about an hour in some worcestershire sauce and juice from one lime. Veggies got some butter spray (I don't care what you say about that!), kosher salt, and parmesan cheese. You don't even know what parm does to roasted veggies until you've tried it. It's really the best thing ever. 

And here's Kitty, being curious! Yes, her name is Kitty.