Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Way Men Are

(Photo credit tanbob)

I have permission from hubs to share this; you all gotta know I do whatever I can to keep my hubs happy including asking his permission to post his business. I love to see my hubs happy!
Hubs set up a Google document for a guy at work we'll call Tim. The document was empty so that Tim could populate it when he got a chance. A few minutes later hubs sent the link to the document to several people so they'd have access to the work sheet when Tim finished with it. Within a few minutes a guy, we'll call him Michael, called hubs.
Michael: Hey man

Hubs: Hey, what's up

Michael: Hey, that document you sent is empty.

Hubs: ...did you read the email? I said the document is blank until Tim populates it.

Michael: Oh...yeah, ok, I see that now. Thanks man

A few minutes later hubs heads to a meeting and when he gets to the room another guy we'll call Dan says:

I looked at that document you sent; it was empty

Hubs: Did you read the email?

Dan: I never read the email!

Hubs: In the email I said the document is blank until Tim populates it.

Dan: Oh! Well that makes sense then.

Haaaaaa! Michael and Dan both opened a document entitled "Tim's document" with absolutely no knowledge as to what could be in Tim's document, but they were not concerned by this. They felt pretty confident they could look over Tim's document and figure out what they needed to know.
If we called hub's email "instructions" and Tim's document "something complicated" then it all becomes clear, doesn't it. How many men do we know who would rather eat dirt than look at the instructions? On the other hand, I let the big new camera hubs gave me for Christmas a few years ago sit in the box for weeks because I was intimidated by it and thought I needed to read through the instruction booklet first which I just never got around to doing. Finally hubs took the camera out and fiddled with it for a few minutes and showed me a couple things, and I got over myself long enough to play with it a little bit and get comfortable with it. There's a happy medium between "ignoring the instructions" and "death grip on the instructions", but that's a sermon for another day.

Here's to Michael and Dan, fearless conquerors of blank documents belonging to Tim!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TWD: Caramel Crunch Bars

This Tuesday with Dorie we made the Caramel Crunch Bars; sooooo-weee, these are good! Crunchy and sweet and buttery = YUM.
This fairly simple recipe came together pretty quickly (I am slow as molasses in the kitchen, so "quickly" is a relative term), sat in my oven for about 18 minutes and then got some chocolate chips poured on top to be melted for the top layer. Ah, how to say this, THEY NEVER MELTED...those bars probably spent a total of another 30 minutes in the oven as I put them in, took them out, tried unsuccessfully to swirl the luscious should-have-been-but-wasn't melted chocolate into one luscious layer...instead the spoon sort of skipped around digging the non melted chips into the shortbread base...this process was repeated at least 3 times before I decided that now that they were sufficiently ugly I would quit, knowing at least they would taste good. Ooo, I was frustrated. I have heard that chocolate chips are engineered to hold their shape when warm, but I didn't realize they just will never melt...Annoying things. Should have just chopped up bar chocolate like Dorie haven't always followed Dorie's instructions to the letter; don't judge me!! >:[

In any case these were delicious. I took the majority to work and people were so gracious and just cleaned them right up. One taster declared they were 4-star worthy...then later decided they were just "ok" and I needed to practice my technique 2 or 3 more times and let her evaluate the results :)

I'm glad these were yummy, especially since this is my first TWD assignment completed in a long kitchen has turned into a mad science lab with parts and pieces of previous Dorie recipes laying around...the cake layers from the last assigment are done, just not iced...the dry ingredients for the ginger chocolate cake were mixed...and not another thing was done for that recipe. It feels good to actually finish something. Ahh, commitment.

Whitney of What's Left on the Table picked these yummy bars and has posted the recipe. You should make these!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pink Saturday!

Happy Pink Saturday once again!

Today I bring you a save-the-date card I recently received for a friend's wedding. How considerate of her to include some pink!

From a pink envelope...

To a pink playing card with all the important info...this is a cute nod to the fact that they are getting married in Las Vegas! The card is 3-D and sealed so the confetti shakes around in front of the info card, but doesn't get loose.

Soooo cute!
Have a lovely Pink day and check out Beverly's post today at How Sweet the Sound for more pink fun!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Pair of "Favorite Things" Swaps

In my state of obsession with swaps I signed up for a whole slew of 'em in the last few weeks. I was really excited to come across a couple "Favorite Things" swaps. One was hosted by Sarah of It Might Seem Crazy But We Call It Life who paired me with Anna of One Day at a Time.

Just what are some of Anna's favorite things, you ask??

All wrapped up...

Look at it all!
-Spatula with hearts on it!
-Her favorite recipe for Soft Gingersnaps...cannot WAIT to make those!
-Mary Kay Eye Primer
-Philosophy's "Amazing Grace" perfume oil
-Choxie's Milk Chocolate Hazlenut Biscotti Truffle, yes, it was just as ridiculously yummy as it sounds
-Breakfast at Tiffany's dvd
To top it all off she included a sweet note in the "strawberries & cream" card. I love this assortment of things!
And I sent her...

-Reading material: The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer, Better Homes and Gardens magazine and "Piggies", a childrens book by Audrey and Don Wood (I love me some childrens books). Please go read all of these right now. You'll be glad you did.
-Ocean themed file folders: I read on Anna's blog that she is very organized, so I had to include a couple of these gorgeous file folders. I LOVE ocean themed items.
-Purple pens: don't you enjoy writing more when you are using a pretty pen? I love these purple gel pens, and I'm sure making that grocery list will be that much more fun for Anna when its in purple!
- Lotion: Dry skin is a major pet peeve of mine, but so is greasy lotion that won't soak in. Aveeno is very rich yet it soaks right in and leaves your hands all soft, not residue-y (I hate residue).
- Candy: I love candy. I went to the All Candy Expo last year (heaven). I just can't get enough, so I had to include a selection of my favorite candies: Cinnabon Cinnamon Caramel Pecan Cluster (oh my gosh...these are sublime), Atkinson's Chick-o-sticks and Peanut Butter Bars, and some sort of something from South Korea. I have no idea what they are called, but they are like little pieces of super fried dough with a bit of a honey taste, and they are GOOOOOD.

Yay for all the swapping! The Winter Blues Swap, in which we sent our partner 5 of our favorite things, was hosted by Josie of The Poor College Students Guide to Raising a Baby who paired me with Selissa of All Palmer.

Here are the items Selissa sent me:

- Apron that Selissa made!! (I LOVE aprons!)
- Cutie long socks! With a bit of bling, no less (that top heart is a little plastic crystal!)
- Cuuuuute headband that Selissa crocheted
- Sweet Pea bubble bath
- Peanut butter M&Ms

We each told our partners one of our favorite things; mine was the color pink and you can see that Selissa spoiled me with all sorts of pink!

And my favorite things sent to Selissa:

- Reading material: The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman and Better Homes and Gardens magazine. You still haven't read these?? Get to it!

- Bookmark: I love a fun bookmark (used to collect bookmarks when I was a little thing) and Selissa loves spring, so I couldn't resist this cutie to go with her new reading material.

- Lotion: I told you I loved that Aveeno.

- Candy: I'm just proud I had two sets of this collection of candy, and both sets made it out of the house intact. I wanted to eat feels good to admit that out loud.

- Monogrammed throw: I am cold much of the time, and I love snuggling while watching tv or reading, so we have quite a collection of throws and blankets. Also I have a weenie dog and, man, do those dogs like to burrow...gotta have a blanket for the dog to burrow in, for goodness sake. Selissa loves the color red, so I had to bust out my button monogram sewing skillzzz and personalize a throw for her.

"Favorite Things" swaps are pure fun minus the pressure because you pick what you like and send it; regular swaps (while still lots of fun) can involve obsessing about whether or not you are picking things your partner will like. A favorite things swap is great for everyone, especially first timers who are looking to get their swapping feet wet.

Thank you Sarah and Josie for hosting these swaps, and thank you Anna and Selissa for great packages of goodies!

Valentine's Swap

A Thrifty Mrs. hosted a Valentine's Swap and paired me up with Rosey from Agapanthus and Goldsworthy. Rosey lives in Australia and makes the cutest softies which she blogs about at I Cant Sew and sells in her Etsy Store I Cant Sew Creations.

Look at these lovelies Rosey sent me!

- Penelope the softie bird (bigger picture below)...look at the beautiful pattern and colors of that fabric (um, yes she can sew)
- Softie heart (more evidence of ability to sew)
- Sweet cherub
- Dressed up chickie

- Candy and vegemite! The hearts (there were more...that have been consumed already) were made in Melbourne, Australia, and the other chocolates have been made since Rosey was little. She said they used to be wrapped in foil, and the kids would try to collect all the designs. And vegemite! I was so excited to see this as I've heard of it before ("Land Down Under" by Men at Work, anyone??) but never tried it. Rosey recommended a very thin layer spread on buttered toast, so that is what we did for part of our breakfast this morning.

Verdict: It reminded me of a beef buillon cube: salty and meaty (yes, I have eaten one of those middle school I was curious and went through my mother's spice cabinet trying all manner of things; she was gone at the time as I'm sure she would not have condoned the wanton eating of random spice cabinet items. Yummy = packet of Equal poured into a spoon with a chocolate syrup layer on top. And Fruit Fresh crystals are yummy all on their own. I bet she wondered where stuff was disappearing to). Hubs sampled the Vegemite and said, "Very salty" and "If I didn't have any meat to put on my sandwich...".

Look at cutie Penelope! She came with a little card telling her story. You can get a wee softie like Penelope in Rosey's Etsy shop, I Cant Sew Creations. You can't see it, but Penelope has a ribbon attached to her back for hanging in some cute little nook.

This little bird makes me laugh...I pecked at hub's cheek with it when I took it out of the box. So CUTE!

Click here to read Rosey's post about the swap. What a sweet box of lovely items; thank you so much, Rosey!

I sent Rosie:

- Softie kit: Sewing tin, fabric, thread, ribbon, buttons, crochet hearts (from Etsy seller Annie Design)
- Edible love notes: edible paper and edible fun is that!
- Stained glass hearts from Etsy seller
- "Love" banner I made: Rosey's favorite color is yellow and for Valentine's she chose pastel pinks.

I have to share my adventure with this package. When I took the package to the post office it weighed 4 pounds 3 ounces and the lady said, "Postage will be $45." It was like one of those cartoon moments where your head whips around and your eyes bug out...


"Seriously!" she said all cheerful like.

"I-I-I can't DO that...", so I found out how much postage would be at 2 pounds and 3 pounds and I went home and ripped open my snug little box and took out a big ole vanilla candle that weighed over 2 POUNDS! I know this because my repackaged goodies weighed 2 pounds 0.7 ounce and postage was under $20: I can DO that. Learn from me: research international postage rates before you get all attached to everything you've packaged hurt me to take that candle out of that box. Rosey likes flowery scents anyway, so I think it was all for the best.
Thanks to Thrifty Mrs. for hosting this swap and thank you, Rosey, for my lovely Valentine's treats! They are so sweet!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fancy Hot Dogs and Duck Fat Fries

Oh read that right: strips of potato fried in duck fat.

**NOTE: I didn't take all the pictures in this post...I have labeled the pictures taken by other people and linked those pictures to each person's Flickr account.

People, I love food, I love food, I love food. I used to read Slash Food and Serious Eats religiously every day, multiple times a day. Since the list of blogs I read has gotten stupid huge something had to go, so now I use these blogs for reference purposes only, but still...I love food.

Which brings me to Hot Doug's. And the fact that I really love variety and new riffs on classics. Most of the time I would rather have 2 bites of 5 different things than one big serving of one thing, even if I like that one thing a while lot (mom's macaroni and cheese, Paula Deen's corn casserole (which we double by the way, except the butter...1 stick is plenty. AND I recently replaced the sour cream with fat free Greek yogurt to great success), etc).

I think I first read about Hot Doug's, the self-described "Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium", on the Chow message boards (GREAT resource for finding good food) while doing research for our 2008 Chicago vacation. I am absolutely driven to find the best unique food while in new places, and Hot Doug's sounded like it fit the bill.

So we went on our first day in Chicago, exhausted as we were (we tend to procrastinate on the packing until we are forced to stay up shoving things in bags the entire night before we leave). We figured out the bus map, rode the bus and walked the block with scratchy eyes and hurting feet, and we waited in the HOUR AND A HALF line. And people, it was WORTH it. We went back the day before we left town...we do NOT repeat places when in a new city because that means I miss an opportunity to try something new, so now you know Hot Doug's is truly special. Hot Doug's has great regular hotdogs that most would find pretty exotic. But then you come to Today's Specials.

For some reason one morning recently I found myself reminiscing about my time at Hot Doug's and thought I'd check out the day's specials. Oh, my heart aches (because I'm sad, not because its clogged with duck fat or anything), to read the list of "encased meats" I'm missing:


Today: February 6, 2009
The Game of the Week:
Spicy Smoked Alligator Sausage with Creole Mayonnaise and St. Pete's Blue Cheese

The Erick Lee Purkhiser (Today's Celebrity Sausage)
Gyros Sausage with Spinach Raita, Kalamata Olives and Haloumi Cheese

Other Specials

Saucisson Alsacienne: Bacon Sausage with Creme Fraiche, Caramelized Onions and Pepper Affinois Cheese

Smoked Applewurst Sausage with Lime-Ancho Mayonnaise and Cotija Cheese

Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Sauce Moutarde, Foie Gras Mousse and Sel Gris

The Atomic Bomb: Spicy Pork Sausage with Sweet & Spicy Curry Mustard and Jalapeno-Havarti Cheese

Smoked Mexican Chorizo with Tomatillo Mole and Habanero-Jack Cheese

Jack Daniels and Fennel Smoked Pork Sausage with Lemon-Pepper Dijonnaise and Marieke Fenugreek Cheese

The Teuben: Corned Beef Sausage with Russian Dressing, Sauerkraut and Swiss Cheese

Cherry Pork Sausage with Spicy Citrus-Apple Salsa and Chaubier Cheese

Smoked Cajun Pork Sausage with Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise and Smoked Gouda Cheese


Maybe to you these sound weird or me these sound exciting and compelling and like I MUST TRY SOME OF THESE!!!

My limit is 2 hot dogs at a time, and at first I thought the Game of the Week would definitely be one of them. Words like "Smoked alligator", "creole mayo" and "blue cheese" make my heart go pitter patter. I've never had alligator, and I LOVE trying things I've never had; creole mayo fits the bill as a "riff on a classic"; and blue cheese makes everything better.

(Alligator Dog Photo credit: dwfree1967)
(Mmm, look at that St. Pete's Blue Cheese...yes, I would like some of that)
But then I saw the Erick Lee Purkhiser (sadly found no picture of this one), the Saucisson Alsacienne...
(Saucisson Dog Photo credit: emyduck)

...the Foie Gras and Sauterne Duck Sausage (though the tree hugger in me is pretty opposed to the idea of foie gras...get ready for some gross video if you google that one)...

(Foie Gras Dog Photo credit: santheo)
(Are you kidding me...I am drooling right this very minute)

... the Jack Daniels and Fennel Smoked Pork Sausage...

(Jack Daniels Dog Photo credit: ehfisher)
...the Teuben...
(Teuben Photo credit: ::bianca::)

and the Cherry Pork Sausage (no pic of this one either)...what is that, 7 total?!?! Oh nooooo, what to do??
Hubs probably wouldn't be much help because he loves the Italian Sausage dog. Sometimes he'll accompany me into the food frontier and have me order 2 dishes I'm interested in so we can share them, but sometimes he's the guy who eats vanilla ice cream (as in by itself...nothing on it...*shaking head) and orders the Italian Sausage dog that you can get at any of a number of other places.
But that makes him happy which makes me happy, so I don't give him a hard time, I just silently curse the fact that 7 must be whittled down to 2.

So what'll it be? As hard as it is to leave any behind I think I'll go with the Foie Gras (if I'm gonna be party to torturing a duck just this once, I guess I'll make it part of a hot dog-nirvana experience) and the Teuben...or the Jack Daniels/Fennel Smoked Pork? Honestly I'd probably ask Doug or whoever was taking orders their favorite between those last two. Food people can largely be trusted to steer you in the right direction, so don't be afraid to ask the worker's opinion.

And speaking of, its Hot Doug himself!

(Hubs said he didn't think Doug was that hot :D ) Thanks, Doug, for taking the time to take this picture with me! There was a LINE of people at the counter, and yet he was so nice to smile for a picture. (I hadn't slept in approximately 24 hours by the time this picture was taken. And my contacts dry out when I fly so I stuck with the had-em-since-8th-grade glasses...nice.)

Care to see what we enjoyed during our two trips to Hot Doug's??

Brandy-Soaked Portuguese Chorizo with Saffron Rouille and Queso Arico Cheese

Smoked Shrimp and Pork Sausage with Cajun Tarter Sauce and Blue Cheese

Bacon-Infused Duck Sausage with Morello Cherry Mustard and Venison-Cognac Pate

Bell Pepper Wild Boar Sausage with anchovy goat's milk butter and Saint Rocco cheese

Oh, and don't forget the duck fat fries on Friday and Saturday...I don't need my usual Heinz 57 sauce for dipping, and I'll even eat the non-crispy ones. These things are WORTH EVERY CALORIE (I say that having no idea just how many of those are in these babies).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pink Saturday AND Valentine's Day on the same day...swoon!!

I wish you each a lovely day...

(Photo credit: mysocalledjunkylife)

Full of thoughts of lovely things...

(Photo credit: remembermeemily)

Glitter and lace and angel wings...

(Photo credit: kandeland)
And most of all,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Circus Treats

This cup freak anybody else out?

This is just one of the wonders we saw at the circus this past weekend. I could not in good conscience buy that for a small child...I am just juvenile enough to laugh nervously every time I look at it and say, "You're eating out of a pony's head" and no child should have to go through that.

We took hub's little sisters and his mom to the circus for Muffin's 5th birthday (no, no one named the child Muffin; I just can't put her real name on here). Meanies that we are we didn't buy them any pony brain snowcones or whirling light up sticks or clown hats or anything. I grew up lamenting the fact that my meanie parents NEVER bought me anything at the zoo/circus/ball park, and now I see why!! A bag of cotton candy with a cheap wizard hat was $12!! Insane!! Good job, Mom and Dad! I'm glad you stuck to your guns! I had too much stuff to play with anyway. (Note: Here I use the word "never"..."never" is a strong word and I'm sure they got me something at some point at a place like that, it just wasn't the norm.)

Asia the elephant gave a painting demonstration before the show and you could enter a drawing to win that painting. Who won the painting you ask?? Have I ever told you that hubs leads a charmed life?

How cool is that!! We have a piece of art painted by an elephant! Hubs keeps saying, "Really? Are you sure?" whenever I tell him I'm excited we got it. Art by an elephant! That's cool!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pink Saturday via Pink Monday

Update: As Heather pointed out in the comments I should have reminded everyone about the pink dress I got married in. Check out this post; the dress is gorgeous!
Happy Monday! The wonderful Beverly of How Sweet the Sound hosts Pink Saturday in which we post about all things pink. I signed up and let time get away, so I'm having a Pink Monday.
I'm a tad obsessed with weddings and even more so with the color pink, so I am sharing some gorgeous pink dresses I've found. Photo credits and links are all included.

(Picture by xjojox on flickr)
Love those fuchsia pink bridesmaids dresses and that gorgeous sash on the bride! Click here for another gorgeous fuchsia dress.

(Picture by geokin 2000 on flickr)
This is a fairy tale dress if I've ever seen one.

This was my favorite dress of all, though its a bit more of a prom dress. Love that color!
Can't get enough of pink. Have a very pink week!