Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Collectors

The Collectors is the second book in David Baldacci's Camel Club series. Same characters, new adventure! Like the others, it's set in Washington DC which only makes me want to go back to DC for a visit. I haven't been there in 5 years. Anyway, onto the book......

Caleb Shaw, Camel Club member, works in the Rare Books division of the Library of Congress where his friend and colleague Jonathan DeHaven has been found murdered. Caleb is named as the executor of Jonathan's personal rare book collection. While going through his house to catalogue the books, Caleb et al notice some strange goings-on next door with Jonathan's neighbor. Of course, Caleb, Oliver Stone, Reuben Rhodes, and Milton Farb find themselves in a heap of trouble with many bad guys after them while trying to figure out who killed Jonathan and the speaker of the House (who also died under mysterious circumstances) and try to do so while stating alive.

Meanwhile, con artist Annabelle Conroy is attempting to pull off the biggest con of her life. She intends to steal $30+ million from Jerry Bagger, Atlantic City casino king, for wronging her in the past. Some time ago, Annebelle and Jonathan had been married. Upon word of his death, she heads to DC to pay her respects and ultimately assist the Camel Club in solving their mystery.

I enjoyed the introduction of Annabelle in The Collectors. Her background is captivating, even though I already knew she'd come into the picture since I started with the most recent book. This story was not quite as exciting as The Camel Club but I still found it a suspenseful read. We learned more about the characters in the Club and their pasts which I liked. The interactions between each man and Annabelle were also entertaining. Give this a try if you liked the first one. Keep on going! Taking a break from the series for a couple other reads for now. Don't worry....they'll be back!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day to you!

Cookouts, pool openings, fun! Also remembering those who served our country. Don't forget them. That's important. The other day my mom asked if we were going to a parade today. This brought back screaming memories of my marching band days. Through 4 years of high school I didn't get to sleep in today like everyone else not in band. Oh no, I was suiting up in my uniform at 8:30 am to march a few miles. Playing the same patriotic songs on loop, in wool, while keeping my knees high and my toes pointed. And it was usually around 80 degrees with 100% humidity. Ooooo-weeee those were some good times! So, "No" I said to my mother, "We're not going to a parade."

Enjoy the day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #21

It was a carb-y kind of week here at Chez G. The best kind of week, in my opinion. I have had this Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for years and have never made a single recipe from it. Actually, I think John brought the cookbook to this marriage. Not sure who thought he'd be doing the recipe testing from it.....

English Muffin Bread: I always forget that I like English muffins. We never ever buy them but put one in front of me and I am all over that with some jam or honey. Mmmm! While I didn't feel like weighing and shaping each individual muffin, I figured I could certainly handle one loaf. The original recipe makes two loaves but I halved it. Also, an important tip is to make sure you have yeast on hand before starting, which I did not. This mixed up easy enough but let me tell you, my loaf had no nooks and crannies. This was a dense beast of bread. John loved it. I suppose it had a good flavor but it was not what I envisioned and also didn't match the picture in the cookbook. That always makes me feel like a failure.

Puffed Oven Pancake: John is the pancake maker around these parts. Every Sunday, without fail, he offers up pancakes or waffles fresh from scratch. This is what the guests of the Chez G B&B have to look forward to. Breakfast is included and our reservation book is currently empty....hint, hint. I myself have never made pancakes but having come across this recipe in the same BHG cookbook I thought it looked easy enough for me to handle. No flipping necessary! Well, it sure was tasty but it didn't exactly puff up except for on the sides. The recipe doesn't say so but I always wrap my pan handle in foil before I put it in the oven, just in case. They had a good flavor anyway but I'm not sure I need to take over the pancake making.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

World A'fair

This past weekend John and I met some friends downtown at the Convention Center for the World A'Fair. It's a HUGE international festival where countries represent themselves at booths with food and wares to sell. There are dance and musical performances and lots of other things to see. I have wanted to go every year we've lived here and finally made it. Mostly, we were headed there to eat. Well, we also watched some dancing too. We saw the Greeks dance, which was basically them grape-vining around in a circle. We saw the Indian dancers which my friend teaches. They were really good! Cute little girls in colorful costumes dancing to a happy song. But my favorite was the Scottish group. There's not much else I like more than a good Scottish step dance. I could watch that for hours. Do you think it's too late for me to learn how to do this? The calves on those kids! So much jumping! Kilts! After them, we left when the southern Slavs took the stage. Their music and dance were super depressing. After the first song, the narrator talked about how the music told the story of a girl searching for her lost love but would never find her. Pass! Onto the food......

We wanted to sample cuisine from around the world so we weren't planning on getting a full meal anywhere, just nibbles from everywhere. Here is the caloric embarrassment we consumed. Keep in mind that John and I split everything. That makes it better.....right?

  • Philippines - Banana Roll: this is basically mushed banana in an egg roll. We started off sweet unintentionally

  • Columbia - Arepas: This is cheese melted inside cornmeal cakes and fried on a griddle. Yes, please!

  • Hungary - Cabbage Roll: I only had one bite of this to appease John. I don't like cabbage. Not even in roll form

  • Ethiopia - Lemonade: I have a sneaking suspicion that Ethiopia cannot take credit for the invention on lemonade but I was super thirsty by now. Let me tell you something, here in the states, Ethiopians move S-L-O-W. They will also hand you your cup of lemonade and then re-fill a cup shoved in their hands by some thug who will stand way too close to you before they take your money. They will then give you all ones in change for your $20. At a snail's pace. Also, their lemonade has zero flavor.

  • Korea - Bul Go Gi: This is kind of like teriyaki beef. It was tasty!

  • Vietnam - Fried Rice and a Shishkabob: Fried rice in Vietnam is the same as everywhere else. I couldn't tell you what kind of meat was on that kabob but it was good. Also in Vietnam, I inadvertently cut a line of about 15 people to get this food. I honestly had no idea what I had done until I was walking away. Then, I felt really dumb and should have apologized to everyone behind me...but didn't.

  • Southern Slavs (all lumped together over there) - Kifle and Rum Ball: We were looking for something sweet. This was cheap and didn't disappoint.

  • Scotland - Shortbread: Like the dancing, this was the highlight of my day. Is there anything better than a cookie full of butter? I don't think so.

  • Holland - Appelflappen: This is an apple slice fried and then doused in powdered sugar. De-lish! Also it's super fun to say.

I'm not sure how much we spent on all this. Nothing was more than a couple bucks. It was $5.00 to get in with the Kroger discount tickets. So, all in all, a fun day!

What are your plans for the upcoming holiday weekend? We're having a stay-cation! There will be shopping and eating and drinking. Hopefully you can find something equally as fun to do!

P.S. I just discovered that Blogger has spell check, after 2 1/2 years. I am a great speller but I know I've had typos in the past. My apologies.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wine Night: 14 Hands

Another installment of wine night! Our gracious friends were hosting this one so we told Sadie to hold down the fort and headed on down to their house. We were instructed to bring a certain type of wine from a specific winery. I didn't ask what the theme was prior to getting together so I was concocting many different options based on this bottle. All wrong, mind you. The bottle we brought was 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon. Finding this is might be hit or miss. I ended up having my wine shop order a bottle for me but I know they carry many 14 Hands varieties at the other store we frequent. The theme for the food played into the flight of wine as all 4 bottles that evening were from 14 Hands. I had never had anything from there before but, I'll try anything! 14 Hands is in Washington, if you're curious. Oh sorry, dinner was "food you eat with your hands." Get it? Hands and 14 Hands? Stay with me, folks. The menu was delicious! Steak and veggie kabobs, chicken satay skewers and crispy potato fries after a fantastic appetizer spread. Yum, I'm hungry all over again.

Onto the wines....

Hot to Trot White Blend: I think blends get a bad rap. Yes, they are typically comprised of barrel leavings but don't let them fool you. Those unwanted left-behinds can be whipped into something quite nice. This was delightful and perfect for the wonderfully warm evening we had that night. Crisp with a clean finish.

Riesling: This was a crowd favorite, although I liked the blend better. (Odd for me, a Riesling lover) Melon and peach and other things I can't remember. I did still like this one too though.

Hot to Trot Red Blend: Oh, this was smooth. John's fave of the night. Not at all tannic and particularly easy on the palate. We'll be buying this one again.

Cabernet Sauvignon: This was tasty too although John confessed that he doesn't really care for Cabs. This is news to me! Cabs are my fave go-to red. No wonder I'm usually responsible for drinking those bottles.

Great offerings from 14 Hands in a reasonable price point, somewhere between $12-$16 range I believe. Previously we have selected a country, region or type of wine so it was nice to do a flight from one winery. I really liked this concept and will be stealing it for a future wine night. Give 14 Hands a try!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Trip to Kroger

John, bless his heart, does the grocery shopping alone every Friday. What a guy! I loathe the grocery store. I had to go alone a few months ago after not having been in a long time. It was torture. I couldn't find a thing and I had trouble managing the cart, list and coupons. He's just so efficient at it I should never have to go again. I would start going again if I were a stay-at-home dog mom but let's be honest, that ain't happening any time soon.

In the checkout lane..........

Bagger: (picks up box of pasta shells) You puttin' cheddar on this?
John: No, I'm making vodka sauce.
Bagger: Cheddar's really good though.
John: I know but I'm in the mood for vodka sauce this week.
Bagger: You're putting vodka on your pasta?! Blech.
John: It's good.
Cashier: How do you make vodka sauce?
John: (here he explained the recipe, I won't re-type that)
Cashier: If you put too much vodka in do you get drunk and full at the same time?
John: No.
Bagger: I'd still put cheddar on it.

Now read it again knowing the bagger was special.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sew what, it's a valance!

It seems I'm often being commissioned by my sister for sewing projects. Some are easier than others but I don't mind helping out. I often learn new sewing techniques with these projects anyway. Somehow though, I never get paid for these commissions. What's up with that? Love ya, B!

She wanted to spruce up the kitchen with a new color scheme. The cheery yellow fabric is from Tonic Living. It's called Emilio and retails for $16 yard. I followed this tutorial to sew the faux, or fixed, Roman shade. It came together a little slower than I had anticipated. I was given very specific measurements. Since the shade appears in a prominent position in her home, I didn't want it to look wonky. I spent a lot of time fixing the folds exactly. When you start gathering up the fabric for these folds, you lose a lot of yardage. She sent me a yard of fabric and I, luckily, eeked out a 20" drop from the rod. The picture below is post-shipping halfway across the country so don't mind the creases.

Pretty cute, right? I like it so much I think I'm going to make one for my own kitchen window, if I could ever latch onto fabric that I like for that space. Orange walls are hard to coordinate sometimes.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the sunniness it brings to your kitchen, B! Also, even more exciting than my finishing this project and now being able to move back to sewing projects for myself, is that I will be in Austin to visit this curtain in less than two weeks. Can't wait! My nephew is nearly 10 months old. We'll see if 4 days with him changes my views on children........

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #20

Twenty weeks of new recipes! I wasn't sure I'd make it this far but I'm still going strong in the kitchen. It's great! This week I was back to cooking my books. Both of these recipes are from Rachael Ray's 2, 4, 6, 8 cookbook

Chicken in Orange-Scallion Sesame Sauce: This is one of Rachael's Make Your Own Take Out meals. I like this concept because it's a lot healthier than actual take out. I couldn't find the "official" recipe but another blogger put it out there so that's what's linked. Actually, this whole cookbook is probably worth the $13 it would cost if you're so inclined. This dish was super tasty. I loved the citrus element in the sauce. I didn't feel like buying the sesame seeds but I'm sure that would punch up the flavor. I just used sesame oil.

Big Fat Spicy Sate Noodles: Both recipes are linked above so I didn't bother to do it again here. If you're afraid of a sate, or peanut, sauce, don't be! This has quickly became a favorite sauce Chez G. This particular noodle dish had great flavor. I didn't have fresh ginger so I used dried but I'd like to have the fresh next time.

Word of warning.....Rachael says to pair these two recipes together putting the chicken on the noodles. This was fine but the noodles can hold their own and the chicken is quite saucy. Or you could easily just add some chicken to the noodles for more protein. Also, these are supposed to be 30 minute meals. If you make these simultaneously and attempt the 30 minute deadline, you will need a sous chef. Let me know if you want to rent out mine. His name is John. His knife skills could use some work but he takes direction well.

Give these both a try!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Camel Club

This is the first in the Camel Club series by David Baldacci, hence the title The Camel Club. I started with the most recent book in the series by accident so now I'm headed back to the beginning. The Camel Club is a group of conspiracy theorists of various backgrounds living, and getting into trouble, in Washington D.C. Headed up by Oliver Stone (AKA John Carr, former assassin), the group also includes Milton Farb, an OCD web designer, Caleb Shaw, rare books librarian at the Library of Congress, and Reuben Rhodes, Vietnam Vet and dock worker.

In the book that started it all, the club witnesses a murder that opens quite a can of worms including a masterminded terrorist attack during a Presidential visit to his home town. Secret Service agent Alex Ford is brought on to investigate the murder and also finds himself wrapped up in just as much trouble as the Camel Club.

Can they all save the day? I won't ruin it for you, of course.

I liked this one because I'm a new fan of Baldacci's and these characters are so fun to me. However, I think I liked the most recent one, Hell's Corner, better. Even though this kicked off the series, I really like where it's headed so I'm excited to find out what happens now in the in between. If you're into suspense, start here!

P.S. Prior to starting this, I cracked Room by Emma Donoghue. I know it's critically acclaimed and whatnot but I had to give up after 20 pages. I just could not get into it and it was un-renewable and due in 2 days at the library. Paying the fine was not worth it to me. If you've read this, please convince me why I should give it another go and I'll work my way back up the hold list for it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Tom's or not to Tom's

I am at a crossroads. A veritable shoe quandary. Ever since I saw these Tom's shoes out in public a few years back I thought, "You have got to be kidding me. Those are the ugliest flipping shoes I've ever seen in my entire life." Nevermind that they're a vegan, good for the planet shoe. (not typically something I care about....admittedly) Nevermind that the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. Do-gooder shoes? PASS! Lately, however, I feel the tide turning on my disdain for these so-called shoes. I'm starting to think that I, dare I say it, might actually like a pair of my own. To wear, I mean. In public.

This has happened to me before with fashion trends. At first I loathe them and then, the more I see them, I grow to LOVE THEM! And then I purchase multiple of the very item that I previously turned my nose at. I'm looking at you, bermuda shorts and maxi dresses.

And so I'm wondering, do I fork over the $54 for these canvas, vegan shoes and know that I also helped clothe a child but also simultaneously give myself the side eye for being such a style hypocrite? Or do I pass them by in favor of flip flops that offer no support whatsoever for my terrible old-lady feet? See what I mean?


(Do you have and love a pair of Tom's? Do hate them like I used to? Could they be a gift to myself if I promise not to shop for awhile after purchasing? Do they last? Are they comfortable? I have many questions.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

3 years

Three years ago today, John and I said 'I do.' It was amazing. It's still amazing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Furry Skurry

This past Saturday John and I took Sadie on an exciting outing for a good cause. At $25/person I had registered us for Furry Skurry. Sadie was free. It's a 5K walk that benefits the Humane Society. John and I have been working on trying to do more charitable giving so I thought this fit the bill. Truthfully, I was a bit worried we'd also come home with one of the adoptable dogs they had there. We probably would have a second dog if not for the cost and added annoyance of traveling with two dogs. Also, John's parents probably wouldn't appreciate it when we come visit.

That $25 included a goodie bag full of pet things and a t-shirt! I'm a sucker for an event with a t-shirt. Here is Sadie wearing her Be A Hero bandana that came in the bag. For the life of me, I couldn't get her to look at the camera. Way too much going on to be bothered with a photo op.

Still not interested in looking at the camera. You can't tell but I was totally Sporty Spice today. It was great. I felt totally awesome when we stopped at a nursery after the walk to price flowers.

Anyhoo....... the forecast all week threatened rain and it was a rather gray day. As luck would have it, we only got sprinkled on for a minute or so. Otherwise, the clouds kept the temps tolerable and we stayed dry! There were lots of pet-related vendors and food. The pulled pork sandwiches were calling to us but since it was 10:00 am, we passed, begrudgingly. Sadie was in stimulation overload. She didn't know where to look or whose butt to sniff. She was all over the place.

The walk itself was good but crowded. We tried to weave in and out of the slow pokes as best we could.

Sadie leading our pack!

We didn't stick around after but they had dog contests and more food for humans and canines. I would do this event again next year. A friend of mine who works for the Humane Society says the weather always seems to be crappy. I'm glad we didn't let that deter us. And boy was Sadie tuckered out for the rest of the day. That was the best part!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #19

Two new main dish recipes this week, folks. Can you stand it? Neither can I!

Pepper Jack Cheesy Mac: I found this online at Very Best Baking, a website that is devoted to recipes using the ingredients from the Nestle family. I had really high hopes for this dish. Mac and cheese is probably one of my top 5 favorite meals. No joke. I'm also a big fan of pepper jack cheese. I added broccoli for a bit more nutrition, which was a welcome addition. Unfortunately, this recipe fell short for me. The sauce never got very creamy, which I prefer. Initially I did award it a sleeve in the recipe binder. However, after eating the leftovers, it was sadly de-sleeved. You can probably skip this one.

Slow Cooker Pineapple-Pork Tacos: Surprisingly, both recipes this week come from products' websites. This one is Betty Crocker. I am not the biggest pork fan but John likes it so I try to incorporate it when I can. I'm also always looking for good crockpot recipes. These were really easy and didn't involve that many ingredients. Another plus! I actually thought they were pretty tasty so they got a sleeve in the binder. However, it says it feeds 6. Wrong! We were lucky to get dinner for 2 nights out of this. So, 4 servings is probably the max you can expect here. And, next time I'd throw in more pineapple. Give it a shot though!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Test Post

Nothing excited to talk about today. Just testing something out. Have a lovely Saturday!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mad Hatter

Check out my sweet hat, yo! My stepmom threw a Mother's Day tea this past weekend. Hats required! "Can I borrow a hat?" I asked. No extras, she says. No matter, I've been looking for a sun hat anyway. I envisioned myself wearing a large-brimmed sun hat on our next cruise, whenever that may be. I shall feel fabulous. But until then, I had to decorate my plain straw hat for a ladies' tea.


Sorry about the small pics. I put a pleated satin band around the base of the hat and then made a fancy lace pouf in the front. Maybe I should leave the decorations on...... people will think I'm rich, or delusional.

(P.S. If you saw this twice, thank Blogger!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Left Neglected

Left Neglected is the second offering from Lisa Genova. She also wrote Still Alice, which I read last year. Genova has a medical background in addition to being an author and really does her research so it's not surprising that as with Still Alice, the main character of Left Neglected deals with a daunting diagnosis.

We start with a very frantic look into the busy life of Sarah Nickerson. Mother of three and VP of the HR and recruiting departments of a large, important consulting company, Sarah works extremely hard to balance all aspects of her life expertly.

Husband Bob is equally as busy and overachieving in his career and helping to raise their three young children. One fateful day, Sarah gets in a car accident that results in a massive brain injury. She survives but has left neglect, an affliction where your brain does not recognize anything on the left that you're seeing or the left side of your body. Sarah's rapidly-paced life comes to a screeching halt as she tries to re-learn even the simplest tasks.

I enjoyed Left Neglected though I'm not sure that I liked it as much as Still Alice. I suppose Left Neglected offers at least a glimmer of hope for Sarah, while Still Alice dealt solely with Alice's crumbling life with dementia. So really, two totally different feelings. Genova paints great characters though which I appreciate. Give this one a try but I'd start with Still Alice.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stream of Consciousness

-One day last week I curled my hair. I thought I looked like David Cassidy.

-As much as I love TV, I'm really looking forward to having time in the evenings.

-If I could sew all day long, I would be the luckiest girl in the world. But my back would hurt.

-I'm trying to plan a trip to an All-Inclusive to the Dominican Republic but I'm terrified of having diarrhea for a week.

-One of the reviews I read about a resort touted how quickly the staff removed drunk people from the pool area and cleaned up vomit. This is not a selling point I had previously considered.

-Last week I had a return to make at JoAnn's. You do not know how difficult it was for me not to purchase fabric. I have a serious problem.

-I could polish off a bottle of wine in an evening without really trying. I'm not sure whether to be proud or ashamed.

-Some days I think I don't need to lose any more weight. Then I call my doctor to subscribe crazy pills.

-The two chocolate bunnies John and I received for Easter were supposed to be melted down for dipping strawberries and other things. Only half of one remains, and none of them were using for dipping.

-Yesterday, I discovered cake from my birthday in the freezer. It was the happiest moment of my week.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #18

Lemon Cranberry Scones: My love for scones is no secret. They are so delicious but thus far, I've only made two varieties. Time to start branching out. I made these for a Mother's Day tea. Not that I'm a Weight Watcher, but these have 4 points, say Gina (see link). Only, I got 16 smaller scones since the menu at aforementioned tea was lengthy, so that would be even fewer points, no? These were so delicious! Sometimes I forget how much I love lemon. Maybe it's because John is not such a lemon fan. Anyhoo, give these a try.

Happy Mother's Day!

I am only a dog mother. I wonder what Sadie will bring me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland was recommended to me, I believe, by my librarian aunt. She always has good suggestions as she is surrounded by books all day long. Oh, what a life! It is a piece of historical fiction set in the late 1800's-early 1900's in New York City. Mr. Tiffany is not the famed Tiffany of Tiffany and Co., but his son, Louis Comfort Tiffany, of the famed Tiffany windows, lamps, etc.

Clara Driscoll and a number of women work in the stained glass department for Mr. Tiffany, designing, painting, selecting and cutting glass, and creating beautiful works of art for display and sale. In a time when well-paying jobs for women were scarce, Clara has carved out a creative niche for herself and those under her tutelage. She loves the work she does and only wishes to be recognized for her efforts and the efforts of the women around her but Mr. Tiffany tends to take all the credit at exhibitions and with clients. Clara's husband is deceased which is what allows her to work for Tiffany, no married women allowed here. She lives in a boarding house with a rather interesting set of tenants.

In addition to not receiving creative recognition, Clara also finds herself at the cennter of a womens' rights battle with the male glass departments. They believe the women are stealing their jobs and none too pleased about it. Not wanting to take steps backward for women everywhere, Clara holds on as tight as she can to the artistic independence her stained glass department has attained over time. She also falls in and out of love but I won't ruin that part for you.

This was a lovely read. Even if you think you're not interested in the topic or don't find yourself a womens' libber, you will still enjoy this book. The characters were painted wonderfully, the story intriguing. It moved along at a good page-turning pace. About halfway through I found myself looking up pictures of these works of art so I could see them for myself. This really helped while reading as Vreeland described them well but it was nice to put the words together with a visual. Pick this one up if you're so inclined. Two good books in a row, I may be on a hot streak!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


For easily a couple weeks, I complained to John that the CD player in my car was broken. Prior to this, it was working on a sporadic basis. Sometimes my clock doesn't work either. I guess this is to be expected on a car that is 6 years old, has more than 100,000 miles on it and wasn't very expensive in the first place. Good old, Blue. I lamented to my sister that I wouldn't be able to listen to my Glee CD's on my 45+ minute commute each morning and evening. Sad, indeed. I was also devastated that whatever CD was in the player would not or could not be ejected and was lost forever. Each day, without fail, I pressed Eject and waited. Nothing.

One day I decided to try to put in a CD. I'm not sure what prompted this but nevertheless, I selected a CD to shove in the slot. Lo and behold, it went in and started playing. You guessed it. My CD player wasn't broken, it just had no CD to play. In my defense its playing is still hit or miss and totally unreliable but it does, in fact, work.


I mentioned that we finally met our neighbors after living in the house for 6 months. They are a younger couple (like us!) whom we wish desperately to befriend. Making friends is tough so you might as well start close to home. Well, I think we made a good impression on Saturday while we chatted during the garage sale save for one small thing.... John had made us peanut butter and banana smoothies (yum) just before this meeting. He delivered this smoothie to me in a cobalt blue stemmed glass. A glass that you could definitely drink wine from. It's actually my sangria glass but we also use it for smoothies. I was holding said glass and sipping said smoothie when we met them. It wasn't until later that I had a terrible thought. What if they did think I was drinking wine? It was 1:30pm. How embarrassing to be pegged as a daytime drinker whilst not at a winery or barbecue (two acceptable places for daytime drinking, a third is on vacation -- where all bets are off). So, hopefully they dont't think me a lush and will accept our open-ended invitation to "get together sometime." See what I mean about it being hard to make friends? I'm given an opening for friendship and instead, give off the impression of alcoholic tendencies. (Drinkin alone, and during the day)

I'll just crawl in a hole for awhile.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Garage Sale A-go-go

This past Saturday was my big debut garage sale in our new development. As I mentioned last week, I had very high hopes and John had no hopes at all. I got up extra early because I was so excited, much earlier than I should have for a Saturday. I readied myself and then readied the sale. The forecast was calling for 70 degree temps and wall to wall sunshine, a welcome change from the deluge we've been experiencing. One of the items I was really hoping to sell was a giant corner desk that had previously been in the 3rd bedroom (soon to be guest/sewing room). Due to its gigantor proportions, the entire thing had to be dismantled to get out of the room and down the stairs. That was John's job. While he sweated over the desk, I set up my wares.

Two card tables and a sad looking blanket on the ground later and I wanted to cry. My sale was looking sad. I was going to take a picture but I was far too embarrassed to show even my faithful readers. John, seeing my distress, raced around the house to try to find more things for us to sell so it wouldn't look so piddly. Anyway, I had my first couple drive by's while I was still setting up. This would become a very familiar sight throughout the day. So, not only did my sale not look so hot but it was also cold outside. Things weren't starting out so great. The rest of the day shall be presented to you in timeline format.

9:00 am - Sale officially opens

9:23 am - Count is up to 4 drive by's of which I know they intentionally came down my street to check out my sale because it's a cul-de-sac, easy loop away from the crappy looking tables.

9:25 am - First sale! $13

9:38 am - Second sale, a whole dollar! And my 5th drive by

10:30am - Drive by total hits 13. Ashley takes call from sister lamenting about how her tables look but happy about the $14 earned

10:41 am - Still cold but sun showing slightly

All of this time I'm also reading a great book.....more on that later this week. Sadie was my selling companion until she had to go get a haircut. For the next few weeks, she'll have a triangle head.

11:30 am - Desk sells! Day deemed a total success
1:30 pm - Desk picked up. 50 cent sale and up to 40 drive by's
1:41 pm - Topped $100, may stay open past 2:00.
2:00 pm - Decide to pack it in as planned and we meet our neighbors!

Despite being passed over by more than 40 potential customers, I made $107.50! The desk is gone and we met the neighbors we really want to try to hang out with. Even though I didn't get any sun and wore a blouse, hoodie and jacket for most of the day, I reached 3 out of 4 goals!

I hope this sale is an annual thing!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vino Adventures -- South America

I almost forgot to post about this! Out little wine club met again a couple weeks ago for another vino adventure. This time, we headed to South America! I had a good time coming up with a menu that may or may not have featured South American cuisine. See all of those recipes I used here. I sought out the advice of my friendly wine shop owner when selecting my wines. He suggested a cab/something else blend from Argentina and a carmenere from Chile. If you haven't ever tried a carmenere, you must! It's a great red that's not too terribly dry. All of them that I've had thus far have been smooth and delicious, very accessible.

Here we have our appetizers. Bread and seasoned oil and three yummy cheeses. Blue d'auverne that I read pairs well with Chilean reds, Havarti and Manchego. All cheesy, all delicious! The d'auverne was so spreadable. Growing up I wouldn't have touched blue cheese with a 10 foot pole. Now, I can't get enough of it. Amazing how your tastes change. If I had to live on bread and cheese alone, that would be a-okay with me.

I didn't take any pictures of dinner or dessert so I won't re-hash those here but all recipes were worth another shot and obtained sleeves in my recipe binder. I love when that happens. Recipes that aren't worth eating, or making, are oh so disappointing.

Now......the wines!

Except, is this terrible or what? It's been too long since the tasting and my posting that I have completely misplaced all my notes on these bottles. I can only recall that the blend from Argentina was called Intimo and retailed for $16. What is happening to my memory? I know we liked all of them. The Carmenere was especially delicious. The Sauvignon Blanc from Chile that our guests brought was a very mild and delightful white. Well, after we strained out the broken glass that is. We're not sure how it happened but our trusty Rabbit wine opener broke the neck of this bottle. Not wanting to waste good, glass-infused, grape, we used a little ingenuity.

No harm, no foul.

I promise to do better at my reporting skills next time. We have another wine night in a few weeks so I have a chance to redeem myself. Until then, may the grape be with you!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #17

After last week's new recipe bonanza, I dialed it back a few notches and tried just one new recipe this week.

Baked Spaghetti: I found this on the How Sweet It Is blog. I was drawn to it because it looked tasty and also, would feed us for 3 nights. Eating the same meal 3 nights in a row has its drawbacks but you also only have to cook 1 of those nights. That is the positive thing. This came together quick and easy, which is a good thing because I made it for dinner on Easter Sunday after having driven for 3 1/2 hours from our hometown. Our dinner plans had been foiled with the grocery store was closed. How dare they deign to celebrate the holiday! Luckily, I had the ingredients for this all ready to go. It wasn't super exciting, it's just baked spaghetti, but it was pretty good. It got a sleeve in my recipe binder.

Happy May, everybody!