Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hanging Around is a Hoot

Oh boy, this week we're going to do a lot of hanging around the blog. I realized that three weeks of single posts was not cutting it (thanks for the reminder Sarah!), and I had a whole pile of projects that required hanging things on walls. It doesn't take a genius to put two and two together ~ I'm going to hang stuff up and blog about it. Game on.

First hang up:: a plate. I don't think of myself as the plate on walls sort of person, and I'm still laughing about this project, but inspiration struck.

Before Sarah left for Thailand, she gave me this really beautiful and awesome vintage owl plate. I didn't want to use the plate and ruin it, so I had it leaning on a desk in the craft room, but even there, I felt like it was just collecting dust and sometimes getting lost in the clutter that is the craft room.

That's when I realized that it would look fantastic hanging up with the hoops:: {don't mind the mess at the bottom of the pic, there's a whole lot of crazy going on in there at any one time...}

Using a plate hanger made this project so stinking easy, and made the wall a whole lot more fun to look at! I put the owl plate closer to the hoops that were up there, and now the spacing looks off compared to the rest of the hoops, but that will be corrected when I finally hang the smaller hoops that I bought to go in those larger empty spaces.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Update

Calder, Ca$h, and I took a ride home this weekend and spent Saturday watching the soupie making process from the beginning, where they're stuffed and cured, to the ultimate grand finale, where they're judged in the local Soupie Bowl. Soupies, short for Soppressatta, are a cured sausage that is made in the basements and garages throughout the coal region, and someday soon, I'll give you a detailed account of the whole process.

Between making soupies in the morning and watching the competition, Ca$h and I went exploring the woods, finding lots of old treasures along the way::

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Weekend

My last post was last Monday when I told you about last weekend.

Well wouldn't you know, another Monday rolled around, so it's time for a Weekend update. We woke up to snow on Saturday! That meant hopping in van and driving through the woods to get to the nearest slopes. For Calder it also meant tolerating my requests to !stop! when I saw some cows in the snow:: And now it's raining. again.

Back home that evening, C cooked up something delicious for dinner. I don't remember what it was, but I remember where Ca$h was:: Notice we've kept our little village up. It's become our winter village, and it probably won't come down until the daffodils bloom! The little bird house village is still going strong too.

And then on Sunday, I did a bit of baking. Remember when I mentioned that my grapefruit marmalade wasn't setting? Well it never did set, so I was left with jars or grapefruit syrup. We thought it'd be fun to add a citrus slant to a chocolate layer cake {think about how good a chocolate orange tastes, now imagine grapefruit}.
The grapefruit syrup spread beautifully, even soaking into the lower layer a bit making it extra moist, and it was fun surprise to get a bit of zest in your bite.

Happy Monday*

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our Cozy Weekend

While we didn't receive as much snow as our northern neighbors, it was exciting to wake up to the carpet of white on Friday and have it last all weekend long. I'm assuming winter as finally arrived, and I'm really {really} hoping that the snow starts to pile up.

Other than going out to a yoga class {resolution #3 :: attend at least 1 yoga class per week. so far so good!}, and running to the craft and grocery store for supplies, we stayed in and embraced the cozy.

A big pot of black bean soup was on the stove {working on my food-photography skills here}::

It was time to polish the wooden spoons and cutting boards. Below's a before shot, and above's the cutting board after it was buffed to a shine. More details about the beeswax/mineral oil wood balm here.

Speaking of balms, it was time to get serious about keeping my skin nourished. My hands are always a mess, and it just gets worse in winter. Basic hand lotions are too light, so I go straight for a heavier salves and balms. Some people don't like them because they're heavy, sticky, and can come with an odor {C thinks I smell like cigars when I use Bag Balm}, but I can't get enough of their sking-protecting powers. I love Burt's Bees cuticle cream and hand salve {they come in nice small containers that can be thrown in any bag}, but I started using Bag Balm last year and now I'm hooked:: Bag balm comes in a large tin that you really don't want to carry around, unless a heavy purse is your thing. I buy a tin and then divvy it up into smaller containers ~ the Weck jar above sits on my desk in my office. The Weck jars without their metal closures are perfect for a job like this because there's no lid to pry off or unscrew. I also refill empty containers {think cuticle cream, etc.} from other cosmetics and throw those into my bags.

When my hands weren't sticky/balmy, I was busy knitting up a sweater for a friend's baby that should arrive any moment now. Since this little one is arriving in January in Boston, I thought a cozy cabled sweater was just right.

How do you know you've spent more than enough time inside? When you upload your photos and see just how many cups of coffee were photographed over the course of the weekend. C's back life plan? A barista. I'm more than happy to be his taste tester, especially when he makes a candy-cane special for drinking while taking down the christmas tree.

So that was our cozy, winter weekend. How was yours?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Thai Russian Christmas

I have some delicious {and easy} recipes to warm you up! I promised them for Tuesday, but we're moving a bit slow in these parts... trying to hold on to the holidays and ignore the looming semester of work.

Other than wishing the fam damily a merry Christmas and keeping the tree up, we haven't done much to celebrate Russian Christmas around these parts. Why do we even go that far? Well, 50% of my genes are Russian. It's in the blood.

So, this year C and I thought it would be fun revel in the holiday and cook up a fancy meal. We wanted something new, something that would go with our new year's resolutions {resolution #1: learn to cook up some tasty Thai food}, and since my sister Sarah's spent the holidays in Thailand, we decided to do a Thai Russian Christmas! obviously.

The menu::
~ Poached Cod with Shiitake from the Wagamama cookbook
~Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup from the Jan/Feb 2012 Cooking Light

{resolution #2: improve my food-photography skills}

~ Poached Cod ~
*Makes two serving
2 tablespoons butter
2 5-ounce cod fillet
2 scallions
1/4 green pepper, trimmed, seeded, and cut into thin strips
handful of shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
1 tablespoon sake {we didn't have any, so we just used a spoonful of broth from the soup}
salt and white pepper
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 aluminum foil squares about three times the size of the fillets

Preheat the oven to 400F. Using half the butter, grease a section of the foil just larger than the fillet. Put the cod on the foil, skin-side down. Top with the scallions, green pepper, and mushrooms. Dot with the remaining butter, add the sake and season with the salt and pepper.

Wrap the foil tightly to form a sealed package. Put in a roasting pan and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the foil packets. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until cooked {our fillets took a bit longer, we just ordered an oven thermometer!}.

Open the foil packets and drizzle in the soy sauce.

~ Thai Chicken Soup ~
2 teaspoons oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup red bell pepper
4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
4 minced garlic cloves
1 3-inch stalk of lemongrass, sliced lengthwise
2 teaspoons ground fresh chile paste {we couldn't find any, so we used a chili garlic sauce that I found in the Asian section of the grocery store}
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cups light coconut milk
4 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups shredded chicken {they called for breast meat, but we like to add in some dark too}
1/2 cup green onion strips
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Heat the oil in your favorite soup pot. Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chile paste; cook 1 minute. Add chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken and cook until thoroughly heated. Discard lemongrass before serving. Top with onions, cilantro, and lime juice.

Yum and yum. I love eating Thai dishes in the winter. The spice warms you up, and they're full of so many fresh flavors that you know you're doing something good for your body.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday Soundtrack


Guess who got a ukulele for Christmas? I've been strumming away every day. Since most ukulele players seem to play and sing, and since I don't consider myself much of a singer, C and I are going to form a little duo ~ he'll sing and I'll play. Our first selection? Paradise City by Guns and Roses.

I've found a bunch of great ukulele resources online. There's PDFMinstrel for music. Ukulele Tricks & Pineapple Pete's Uke School for lessons and info, among others.

Of course, I've been re-listening to a whole bunch of Julia Nunes. You can find her youtube channel here.

And then there's this little rock star::

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Goods.

Christmas morning was an embarrassment of homemade riches around these parts.

My mom finished up Calder's stocking just in time for filling:: When it came to picking his stocking image, it was a no brainer ~ he loves his bike, but then we got a bit slap happy and decided to add "bang boom crash" as a silly reference to the spills he's taken over the years. You can see the rest of the family stockings in this post.

After our old barn fell in the "great barn debacle of 2010", we were left with a whole pile of beautifully-aged barn wood. You may remember that some of it was used to make our wedding signs. My pop got crafty with the old wood in his new barn and workshop, and built birdhouses and feeders for all of the kids with yards:: {picture of the bird feeder to come, it's too awesome to not make an appearance on the blog}

And then there were the kitchen potions from sisters::C's sister gifted us some homemade beet and ginger chutney. My sister cooked up pumpkin spice syrup {great for some pumpkin spice cappuccinos}, apple cider syrup {mixed with hot water it's a perfect winter evening drink}, and candy cane vodka {I'm sipping on a Kahlua-peppermint vodka drink right now!}. wow

I continued our annual photo book tradition ~ giving Calder the usual "year in review" book. In addition, we put together a cookbook/wedding album for the parents and grandparents.

Along with grooming it up, C planned the menu, and acted as head chef ~ prepping salads and side dishes the night before and grilling up the steaks and salmon during the reception. Needless to say, it was a treat to put this non-traditional wedding album together. Along with highlighting the groom in his apron, the book includes our menu, the readings from the wedding, and a whole pile of smiling {and costumed} guests::

For the ladies I put together earring hangers::

I replaced the frame's glass and backs with a piece of radiator cover cut to size and glued into place {hardware stores have a selection of designs}. To neaten up the back of the frames, and to further secure the metal, I glued some fun pink and white nylon rope around the opening.
Finally, I finished them off by adding a hook for hanging, and included a pair or two of dangly earrings with each frame!

And, of course, I knit. I knit, I gifted, and I forgot to take pictures. Let's save that fun for another day, I have a bird house to hang and some candy cane vodka to drink {at the same time}.

ps. We had a delicious Thai-Russian Christmas ~ on Tuesday I'll share the hot and spicy recipes that warmed up our house!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Postcards from the Road

Now that we've been home and working for a week, we're missing that sense of adventure and excitement that comes with traveling. In this case I think our best cure will be settling in, putting a big pot of soup on the stove {thai chicken}, a movie on the wall {any suggestions?}, and making home the place we want to be. Here are a few more postcards from the road {most taken with the Hipstamatic app on my phone}::

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Four More Sleeps!

... until Russian Christmas! If you grew up in my house, you'd know that the tree doesn't come down until after Russian Christmas. If only we could celebrate all over again, I have a feeling we wouldn't change a thing::

Packages would be wrapped in red and white::

The cappuccinos and hot chocolates would be sprinkled* with stars::

Don't forget the silly hats for Christmas eve dinner::

And they may be worn while making the Christmas coffees::

While reading a quantum mechanics textbook::

While hiking up Colorado's Independence Pass::
...surrounded by Aspens::

Wait. Huh? What?

After the festivities in PA, we ran/drove off to Colorado for a few days between Christmas and New Years to do some more visiting. That's right, 24+ hours in the car both way, and we took the pup. Much to our delight, we discovered that he's a champion road-tripper! It was a requirement to join this pack, and he passed the test with flying colors. Of course, he slept most of the way...

And when he got lonely in the back, he found a way to sleep as close as possible to the driver::

Sometimes C would join him for a nap {still wearing the Santa cap!}::

Don't let those two fool you, the drive wasn't all a big snooze... there were cows::

And high winds::And yawn. Ok, the drive itself was straight and long, but the company was entertaining, and the leftover christmas cookies delicious.

Now back to the matter at hand, how can we finagle celebrating all over again this weekend?

*Sarah, we're saving some star sprinkles for your iced christmas cappuccino in July!