October 27, 2013

Tree to Table

When I was younger my mom and I used to make a three hour drive south every fall to gather apples for the holiday baking season. When the Mister and I moved back to NY last summer I was disappointed to learn that due to the early thaw followed by a cold spell, there were fewer apples available and no local orchards were letting people pick their own. Luckily, this summer was better for apples and all the orchards were back open for picking! So, off we went.

We came home with an entire bushel of apples, close to 30 pounds, which looks like a lot more in my pantry than it did when we were standing in the middle of the orchard.

For my first apple dish I went with the ever popular apple pie. I love making it and the Mister loves eating it!

Next up is a nod to my German heritage with some apfelpfannkuchen, followed eventually by some baked apple oatmeal, and then probably another pie. Not to mention the apple a day that each of us are eating. I'm thinking that 30 pounds may have been too many apples for two people...anyone interested in some delicious baked goods?

As an aside, I'll share this photo to hopefully put a smile on your face. A while back someone that lives in this house and is not me got in a small fight with the container and then put it back in the drawer like nothing happened. Each time I grab for the cling wrap I have to giggle just a little as I imagine how the box came to look this way. Enjoy =)

October 24, 2013

Game Night

Some of my fondest memories are of friends and family gathered around a table playing games. From huddling at the neighbor's during the ice storm of 1998 for warmth and what felt like hundreds of games of Phase 10, to the first Thanksgiving I spent with the Mister's family. When we played SNL Trivial Pursuit and I learned that his sister cheats at Uno. I also learned that she likes to confess to cheating several turns past when any consequences can be doled out. Let's not forget winning Gestures and stunning my host family when I guessed modelleisenbahn correctly, or visiting friends from my hometown and playing Creationary while enjoying margaritas.

For a while the Mister and I had a regular game night scheduled. We had amassed quite the collection of games during our decade together branching out beyond your run of the mill Milton Bradley or Parker Brother's games (not that we don't enjoy these as well). We discovered Euro games and fell instantly in love. These games are often much more complicated than traditional board games, but they are always worth the effort. (I suggest you look into Dominion or Pandemic if you're interested). We kept our game night up for nearly a year, but then life seemed to place itself squarely in the way and we ended up making excuses and finding reasons for why we didn't have the time.

Recently we decided to reenact our game night. We did some rearranging of the rooms after the purchase of our new couch and we took this opportunity to create a game room. As we added a little bit of normalcy to our home with new living room furniture, we balanced it out with a reminder of the geekery that our relationship is built upon. 

Game nights got away from us in the past, so we have renewed our efforts to make the space for them this time around. Finding a couple hours on a Sunday night not only allows us to meet the new week with our energies refueled, but it also lets us reconnect with each other at the end of every week.

Plus, the Mister just bought a Pound-o-dice, so we are looking for any and every reason to use them!

October 8, 2013

Black Bean Dip

I recently remembered that once upon a time I loved black bean dip. I haven't had any in ages and I am pretty sure the kind I used to eat doesn't exist anymore. I currently eat much cleaner than I used to so I decided to try my hand at homemade bean dip.

There are tons of recipes for this dip online, in varying levels of difficulty. You can pretty much toss some black beans in a food processor with whatever other vegetables and spices that you like.

Most recipes suggest adding salsa, but I decided to add fresh vegetables instead. Along with the black beans, I added tomatoes, hot peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice. I kept the spices simple with salt, black pepper, and some cayenne. I put everything in the food processor and blended with a touch of olive oil to smooth it out. For a smoother dip you can use canned beans, but I am really opposed to eating things out of a can, so I opted to rehydrate the dried version.

September 23, 2013

Return of the Scarf

I've been playing with this purple yarn, on and off, for a few years now. I've started at least three different scarves, only to decide I didn't like them and take the stitches out again. I finally settled on a pattern that I was pleased with. I had intended for this to be an extra wide scarf, but at the last minute I changed my mind again and decided to try it as a cowl instead. Finally, the piece is finished, just in time for the return of colder weather and scarf season!

September 22, 2013

Honey Bourbon Cupcakes

Sometimes hobbies can be conflicting. In the past couple of years I have fallen in love with being more active. I also love to bake, and have since I was small. These two hobbies don't generally go hand in hand. Last summer I baked something nearly every weekend, this year I have focused more on fitness and have hardly baked at all. Last week I decided that I would whip up a batch of cupcakes over the weekend. No reason, just to bake.

The Mister and I sat down to decide what kind I should make, him on tapiture, me on pinterest (This, just one more example of how geeky our love is). He came upon these tasty little treats at Creative Culinary. So, off to the store we went to retrieve some Honey Burbon.

Both the Mister and myself are night owls, we always have been. We decided to bake these cupcakes at midnight on a Saturday. Baking is usually my thing, but this time the Mister played the role of my Sous Chef and measured out all the ingredients so all I had to do was combine them. He also took on the bourbon drizzle because he is in charge of sauces in this household. It was a wonderful evening!

The recipe we used made delicious cupcakes, but there are a few edits that might make the process a bit easier for the next time. Primarily much smaller batches of bourbon drizzle and buttercream.

For the Cupcakes:
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp Honey Bourbon (there are a number of options to choose from)
3 Tbsp Milk

For the Bourbon Drizzle:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Honey Bourbon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the Buttercream Frosting:
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract 1 Tbsp Honey Bourbon
Heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix just to incorporate.
Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the wet mixture and beat until just combined.
Add the whiskey and milk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly into cups filling each approximately 2/3 full.

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes; test with a toothpick; the top will be firm so make sure the inside is cooked through.

Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To Make the Bourbon Drizzle
Add all ingredients together in a small pan, bring to a boil and boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before drizzling on cupcakes.

To Make the Buttercream Frosting
Cream butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar.
Add the vanilla and Honey Bourbon and combine thoroughly.
Add the cream 1 Tbsp at a time until your frosting is very light and fluffy and the correct consistency, continue to beat on high for 3-5 minutes until very fluffy.

Pipe the frosting onto cupcakes. Garnish with the Bourbon Drizzle. 

Enjoy =)

May 26, 2013

Porch Paradise Project

One of my favorite parts of this house is the screened in back porch. In this century old house, with no central cooling, it is often the coolest place to spend time. And although I remember summers rarely breaking 90 in upstate NY, the last couple have been hitting those numbers pretty regularly. This year it has been pushing 90 already and its not even June! So with high numbers expected again, the porch is where me and the Mister can be found.

Since we spend so much time out there, I decided I would spruce it up just a tad. Not too mention, we had some small lighting concerns. With my porch paradise project, both issues were addressed.

I've had the last few days off, so I made it my mission to get the porch in ship shape before I had to head back to work on Monday.

Lights! As I mentioned there weren't really any lights out here. I work until midnight, so during the week the Mister and I are out here well into the night. Our makeshift solution had been the Mister's halogen garage lights. Great for garage work, great even for photography projects. A little too harsh for unwinding after work. The new solution, white string lights. These are perfect! They are bright enough to see whatever it is you are doing, but warm enough to allow for some relaxation.

Then I found a tutorial for fabric garland at Sew, Mamma, Sew!  Many of my projects use a combination of green and brown fabrics and leave me with small scraps that I keep around, but never know what to do with. Plus, the chairs I bought last summer were green and brown. I knew that this garland was the perfect project for all those scraps I had hanging around.

Throw in a focal piece complete with felt pomanders, tissue puffs, and origami cranes and you have yourself a summer oasis.

And let's not forget a fully stocked beer fridge, with a wonderful selection of summer craft brews and seating for six. So, who wants to come visit?

May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us
When adversity takes the place of prosperity
When friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us
When trouble thickens around us,  still will she cling to us
And endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness
And cause peace to return to our hearts
Washington Irving

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers I know. You all make the world a more loving place.

I made these felt Dahlias as a small gesture of appreciation for the mothers in my world this year.

An added bonus...all of these gifts were mailed out before Mother's Day! That never happens.

May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo and the First Grilling

I just recently moved to a Monday through Friday workweek. Its amazing. I used to have Wednesday and Thursday off, which didn't leave a lot of time for enjoying the Mister's company or doing other weekend things like festivals and going out for drinks. The new schedule came just in time for warm weather, festival season, and the end of the Mister's semester.

This weekend the Mister and I enjoyed not only Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, but also May the Fourth (alert Nerd!). 

We decided Cinco de Mayo would be a good time to break out the grill for the first meal of the season. What better than grilled flank steak for fajitas. We also picked up some lovely looking serrano peppers to grill.

While the mister was playing with his new grill toy (we recently picked up a chimney starter for his charcoal), I was enjoying the fresh cut grass and snapping some pictures of the beautiful lilac tree in our back yard.

I could really get used to this weekend thing.

April 26, 2013

Earth Day Repurpose (a few days late)

This week I decided to finally do something about the collection of nearly empty candles that have been lying about the house. I hated the idea of throwing these perfectly good jars away, but until now I have been too lazy busy to do anything with them.

I followed this tutorial for how to get the last scraps of wax out of the bottom. It was a little tedious, but it did what it was supposed to. It wasn't until after I had cleaned all of the jars, I found that freezing the whole jar for about a hour garners the same results. I can't vouch for that method, but I will try it first next time I get to the dregs of my candles.

So now that I have the jars emptied of excess wax and cleaned up, the next step is making up my mind about how to put them to use. These are just a few of the ideas I have been tossing around.

Life Ann Style has some great ideas for using the jars in the bathroom.  One option is to add cute little birdies attached to the lid. this makes a great handle as well as making the jar a little more decorative.
[I know that somewhere on pinterest there is a similar tutorial where an object is glued to the lid and then spray painted, but for the life of me I cannot find it.]

Another option is to add some Epsom salts and essential oils to make an air freshener/ make-up brush holder.

I Am Style-ish takes it to another level with glitter. I love glitter, but when it comes to decorating I generally avoid it, as I am no longer a teenage girl. However, in this case I think the right color glitter could be a fun way to liven up the decor that currently exists in my bathroom. Plus, since me and the Mister are the only ones who use the master bathroom, no one will even be able to judge the glittery goodness =)

April 20, 2013

Fry Sharing

What do you see here?
What I see is a lovely little reminder of why the Mister and me get along so well. I am a firm believer in loving the little things and this is one of those things that makes me smile any time I think about it.

Early on in our relationship, we found out that the Mister always eats the long fries while I always pick out the short little crispy fries. This is not and never was a grand act of altruism, but simply him liking the long fries and me liking the runts. The best part is that no matter what kind of fries, whether they are homemade, fast food, or gourmet...there is always a nice balance of long golden fries and short crispy ones.

I was reminded of this little quirk of ours tonight when we ordered a basket of fries while out to dinner. It happens without speaking and at this point without even thinking, but as I grabbed up all the little fries, I couldn't help but think of the two of us and all of the little things that we do daily with and for each other that make us the pair we are!

April 17, 2013


I have been trying to line up my days off with nice weather for nearly a month. I have been anxious to get out and play in the yard, since this is the first year I have actually have a yard! It has not gone my way. I go to work when it is 60 degrees and sunny and then when I am off it's 40 and rainy. This week that finally changed!

I spent the afternoon basking in the spring weather and cleaning out the flower gardens. My mister came out and trimmed our lilac tree. I was pleased to be able to uproot a few thorny vines from the back of the yard to expose some of the smaller, less injury-inflicting plants that make their home back there.

I have an entire garden along the garage dedicated to strawberries and rhubarb. I am hoping to bake some delicious rhubarb dishes this summer once they pop up a bit more.

Rhubarb looks so creepy when it first comes up. It reminds me of alien eggs or something else from a low budget sci-fi flick.

The Mister had himself buried in the center of the lilac trying to get every last branch trimmed perfectly. I am just happy he volunteered for that job, because I would have gotten bored an cranky way before the task was finished!

This picture is just fascinating to me. The way my phone captured the angle of the sun is crazy. I am certain I couldn't duplicate this even if I tried.

March 30, 2013

The Anna Karenina Problem

You're Distracted
 "Within 20 years, he wondered, will students manage to muster the dozens of hours of attention necessary to get through a lengthy novel like Tolstoy's 19th-century classic? If not, what does that mean for works of history that are even harder to read?"

 I recently finished Anna Karenina, myself. It was a long haul, but I finished. Near the end of my endeavor, I was talking to the Mister about how I was frustrated because it was taking me so long to finish. He mentioned the above article that he had read recently and my struggles started to make sense. 

It saddens me that this is even a thought. I love reading classic lit, I always have. Yes it takes me three times as long to read a book of the same length as it would to read say, Harry Potter, but it is a different experience. And I love both. Hopefully some like-minded souls will carry on reading books like these well into the future. I will do my part to encourage my children and their children to take the extra time and read classic lit, at least every once and a while.

March 16, 2013

Minimalist Trek

My mister likes to pretend that he has no artistic talent. I beg to differ. I came home to these prints the other day.

Not only have I loved Star Trek for most of my life (my dad and I used to watch TNG when I was little), but I am such a fan of minimalist prints. These beauties are destined for a display in our office very soon.

So tell me...who is your favorite captain?

March 7, 2013


I try not to post too many pictures of the kittens out of fear that I will be thought of as the crazy cat lady. But, I couldn't resist these photos that I snapped while being accosted during our morning ritual.

Bagheera likes to wait until the last time my alarm goes off and then stand on my chest and purr until I get out of bed. He is such a friendly little alarm clock that way.

What a grumpy mug, but I love this little critter!