Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Coconut Macaroons

Steven and I keep in touch mostly via email during the workday. Its quick and its conducive to multitasking, which we're both (usually) doing all day.

But sometimes I get these puzzling emails from him. Riddles, even.

"I am bringing something home from work for you. The Order arrived."

At first, I was concerned that he'd gotten involved in some sort of freemasonry group that I wasn't aware of. But then I realized he'd sent a link to a high school fundraising site. And Oh! Cookie Dough! Yay!

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And may I highly recommend that you purchase a large tub of the cookie dough of your choosing from a local high-schooler (also of your choosing). Because nothing is better than a giant tub of coconut macaroon dough in your fridge, beckoning to be made into hundreds of crispy bits of deliciousness.

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Wish I had a recipe to give you, but unfortunately it was just a tub-o-goodness with no real recipe. I am no help at all today, I know.

Ok, now back to your American Idol results.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Conversation and a New Garage Floor

Steven: [watching commercial where bowling ball is dropped on someone's head] "Ha ha! That's how I feel being married to you, sometimes. Ha ha ha!"

Me: [looking at him in disbelief]

Steven: [backpedaling quickly and nervously] "You know, um, when you elbow me in my sleep, or when you unravel your knitting projects and hit me in the face with your arm, or. . . um . . ."

Me: [still looking at him, but now frowning slightly]

Steven: "I'm sorry, babe." [Reaches over and rubs my shoulder lovingly] "I didn't mean to say that . . . out loud."

-----------------------------------------

Boys will be boys, won't they? :)

In another example of brazen manhood, Steven-The-Toolman-Steele has been wanting to refinish our garage floor for quite some time. We spent the better part of a Saturday morning at Home Depot last weekend, picking out just the right brand of epoxy and the other various accoutrements we needed. Steven picked out a gray floor with white, black, and blue flecks. We hemmed and hawed over a $25 squeegee for nearly half an hour, and finally left it at the Depot.

But he did get a shiny new scrubbrush. Show em, Steven:

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You can also see that our garage floor was kinda icky-looking. Stained with oil and just generally rather blase.

But a scuzzy garage floor is no match for Steven The Barbarian. (Or, at least, Steven The Epoxy-Applying-Homeowner...)

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After a thorough reading of the almighty directions by yours truly, we poured some very caustic chemicals on our garage floor and waited the alloted 10 minutes. During the wait, I discussed the possibility that Steven's shoes could melt from the chemicals. When he re-entered the garage, he was stepping lightly at first.

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But after a few minutes, we determined there was no Shoe-Meltage, and he got right to work, scrubbing all of the remaining gunk from the concrete floor. (Meanwhile, I sat on a metal folding chair in our driveway and alternated between taking pictures of the progress and working on some knitting. We are nothing if not some classy folks, Folks.)

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We had to wait for the floors to dry after the initial chemical-scrub-and-rinse, so we watched the Twins game and then headed back out to the garage at about 8 PM to finish the job. We woke up the next morning and went to inspect our hard work:

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Lookie there. Them's some mighty nice garage floors, if I do say so myself.

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We had to refrain from parking on the floor for a few days, so we played musical cars in the driveway for a while, but the paint is finally dry and I think Steven did a great job.

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Next garage project: Paint the walls white and the stairs a nice brick red. Oh, the projects. They do not end. But at least we aren't just sitting on our bums all weekend anymore, right?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Rugs

(This will be short and sweet. I've already done three court appearances this week, and I have DC court tomorrow. Ergo, I am too tired to wax eloquent. Funny and engaging posts will resume this weekend.)

We have decided to furnish this house from the ground up. Literally.

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We scored a good deal on some rugs from World Market a few weeks ago, and here they are.

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My favorite is the dining room rug. I'm still not 100% sold on the other two. Although I think its the green couches that I truly hate, not the innocent rugs. (Also, we moved one of the couches to another room, just to see how it looked. Then we were too tired to move it back. I am noticing a tiredness theme here...)

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Now we need a table. Steven says we can have a dinner party after we buy a table. I think that's because he knows it will take me forever to find just the right table, so there's no imminent threat of dinner party in that promise.

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It will be a potluck, when (if) it happens. Bring on the casseroles, people. (And somebody find me a nice, inexpensive dining room table, too, while you're at it...)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Veggies Through the Weeks

They say the magic day to plant tomato seeds is Tax Day. April 15. (And, since we've brought it up, a big round of applause to my dad for rocking through another billion 1040's. He's a CPA. For those of you who know and love CPA's, there are special rules surrounding the month of April. April 1-15 = speak and walk softly around your dear accounting professional. April 16 = rejoice.)

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I was kind of impatient when it came to the seed planting bit (which is totally out of character for me, I know!) (Quit laughing.) and so I planted my first batch of tomato seedlings in early March.

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I also planted a container of herbs, along with a snazzy label so that I could remember which was which.

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As you can imagine, I have since lost the label. But have no fear, dear reader, because I can tell which one is the basil, and that is all that truly matters to me at this point.

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I think the one below is the oregano. I read that it can take over a space if given the opportunity, so I gave it a special little container all to itself.

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And, as I'm sure you know by now, the laundry kingdom has been usurped by plant life.

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They went from small pots to bigger pots in late March, and they were glad for the space.

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Here's my little Roma tomato, going strong.

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I believe this is a carrot. I mistook a dandelion weed for a carrot the other day, though, so perhaps we shouldn't trust my intuition about these things.

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Here's the red lettuce.

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In addition to the indoor seed starting, I planted a bunch of cold-weather crops (ha! Crops! I have a 4-by-9 veggie garden. I'm not sure these qualify as crops...) outdoors. Here's a view of the mesclun lettuce on March 28:

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Brussles Sprouts on March 28:

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And here's the garden as a whole on April 4:

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Baby Spinach:

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Carrots (or, as previously mentioned, these could be dandelions. Or elephants, for all I know.):

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Brussles Sprouts and Spinach, mixed together:

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I went through yesterday and plucked out all of the brussles sprouts seedlings from this mess, which resulted from my forgetting where I'd planted the spinach and tossing brussles sprouts seeds right on top of the spinach. Nice job, there, Farmer. I've got a really strong-looking brussles sprout plant about a foot above these spinach seedlings, and I'd rather have a lot of spinach than a lot of brussles sprouts, so the sprouts were sacrificed.

Here's the better-looking brussles sprout:

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Also, it is hard to take a picture of green things against a dark background. Here's what the whole garden looks like today:

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Not half bad, right?

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And here are my happy little tomatoes, which I have officially run out of room to plant. I might have Steven help me with another makeshift raised bed on the side of the house, just to have space for these little beauties.

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The herb garden is progressing nicely, as well:

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Happy Planting After Tax Day everybody!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chicken Fingers: A How-To

A disclaimer up front: I am not the person you want to be showing you how to cook things. I am clearly still learning (as Steven can wildly and openly attest) and there are plenty of things that I have no idea how to do.

BUT! Fried chicken fingers is not one of those things. I grew up in Atlanta, folks. Home of Coca-Cola and sweet tea, with a Waffle House on every corner. I was born to do fried chicken.

So here is a brief tutorial on how to make my (Not-Yet-Famous-But-Give-It-A-Few-Years) Breaded Chicken Fingers.

Start with chicken tenderloins. You can use breast meat too, but tenderloins are already the right size and shape. No knife skillz required.

(PS - I defy you to take a good-looking picture of raw chicken. Not gonna happen.)

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Give the chicken a light coat of flour. (I have a succession of plates lined up like an assembly plant. It works pretty well -- I just progress from plate to plate with each chicken tender until they are all breaded and ready to fry.)

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Once the tender is coated with flour, dip the tender into an egg wash. I use one egg plus maybe 1/4 cup water or less. More chicken = more eggs and water. Its fried chicken, not rocket science.

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Then on to plate number three, where we mix together Italian Bread Crumbs with some various seasonings. I think I used salt, pepper, and some Mrs. Dash seasoning. Roll the chicken tender around in the crumbs until it is covered with breading.

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Line up your little breaded chicken pieces on a clean plate at the end of the assembly line.

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Now its time for the scary part. Fill a skillet with about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil. (Olive oil would be great but really expensive to use here.) Heat the oil on medium heat until it sizzles when you let a drop of water fall into the oil.

Lay your breaded chicken tenders gently, ever so gently into the hot oil. If you have a splatter screen, now is the time to use it. These babies can really spit and it HURTS if you are too close to the stove. (Alternatively, you could turn down the heat if it is really splattering badly.)

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I usually fry them for 2-3 minutes per side. You can tell they are done when you can't easily smush the middles down with a fork. They will feel firm to the fork, not soft and jiggly. (When in doubt, cook a little longer. Nobody likes pink chicken.)

Set out a plate with a paper towel on top, and when your chicken has finished cooking in the oil, you can lay the sizzling fried tenders onto the paper towel to soak up any extra oil.

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Let them cool a bit, then serve them up any way you please! The most recent time we had these, I made them part of a chicken parmegiana dish.

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Not half bad, right? This is very Steven-friendly food. I bought Panko breadcrumbs at the store last weekend, as I've heard they make for a delicious breading. I'll let you know how that goes.

Now, go forth my children, and fry some chicken.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Daffodils

Spring. Blooming things, new life beginning.

There are flowers blooming now that were planted before I got here or even thought about this house, reminding me that life is bigger than just me, myself and I. Also reminding me that with a little time, a little sunshine, new things will always bloom. New ideas, new opportunities, or maybe just a new outlook.

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Its a good reminder, and I needed it.

Happy Easter, everybody!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Butterfly/Hummingbird Flower Garden

There's a small garden space on the west side of our house. Its not fit for veggies, mostly because I drive the car right by there every day and fear the exhaust fumes somehow getting into the food, and well, that would be bad.

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However, it is still a big enough patch of dirt that it needs something growing there. Until a few weeks ago, it was just a huge thatch of weeds.

That is, until I got the hankering to rip them all out of the ground at around 7 PM on a Friday night.

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The sun set before I could get a picture of the nice clean dirt. I bought one of those bags of "mixed wildflowers" and shook it all over the little garden patch. The seed leaves are starting to sprout, but no flowers yet.

I am OCD enough to have already googled all the types of flowers listed on the package, just to see what they will look like. If these things bore you, look away now, because I've assembled a mighty long list of pictures here (mostly so I can look at them later in great anticipation, and maybe also so I can come back here and I.D. the flowers after they start growing.)

UPDATE: One of the joys of the internet -- things randomly stop working. I am fixing this. Maybe. We'll see what I can find.

One Rather OCD List Of Flowers:

Nasturtiums Tropaeolum Majus



Calendula Calendula Officinalis



Forget Me Not Cynoglossum Firmament



Perennial Lupine Lupinus Perennis



Sunflower Helianthus Annuus (Duh. Everyone knows what these look like. Still, for the sake of consistency:)



Cornflower Centaurea Cyanus (Ok, quick story about this one. In sixth grade, I went on a trip to Florida with my whole class. My mom and my best friend's mom both went with us as chaperones. Naturally, the four of us shared a hotel room during the entire trip. As we drifted off to sleep one night, I decided it would be a good time to tell everyone about my latest crush on a boy in our class. I was listing off all the reasons why I was So In Love with him, and one of the factors was (and I quote) "His Gorgeous Cauliflower Blue Eyes." Clearly, I meant cornflower blue. Still, I didn't live that one down until maybe our senior year of high school. Cauliflower blue. The misnomer that lived in infamy for my entire teenage existence. Oh the humanity.)



Cosmos Cosmos Bipinnatus



Lance Leaved Coreopsis Coreopsis Lanceolata



Purple Coneflower Echinacea Purpurea (Echinacea? Like the tea?)



Rocket Larkspur Delphinium Ajacis(I'm not a huge fan of this one. It looks kind of weedy.)



Rose Mallow Lavatera Trimestris (On further contemplation, is this thing going to be a bumblebee haven? Am I going to be afraid to exit my garage for fear of being stung now? Rats. This looks like a bee-friendly flower, for sure...)



Zinnia Zinnia Elegans(OMG! AACK! I knew it! Bees! Argh! Quick, dig all that flower seed up and get rid of it! Bees.... shudder. Heather is to bees as Indiana Jones is to snakes. "Bees. Why did it have to be bees?")



Plains Coreopsis Coreopsis Tinctoria(Oh, but some of these are beautiful enough to risk the swarms of horrid stinging insects. Besides, I can always admire them from the safety of my kitchen window...)



Shirley Poppy Papaver Rhoeas



Yellow Prarie Coneflower Ratibida Columnifera



Annual Phlox Phlox Drummondii (Oh, these are cute! Very hydrangea-y.)



Scarlet Sage Salvia Coccinea(Again with the looking-overly-weedy issue. Hmm.)



Spurred Snapdragon Linaria Moroccana



White Yarrow Achillea Millefolium(These might be one of my favorites. They are so tiny and wee. Love.)



Butterfly Milkweed Asclepias Tuberosa(Its looking like my garden will be very red-and-orange.)



Godetia Mix Clarkia Amoena(You know, before this exercise, if you'd asked me to name a few varieties of flowers, I could maybe have named two or three: roses? mums? daisies? Godetia probably wouldn't have come to mind...)



Maltese Cross Lychnis Chalcedonica



Mountain Garland Clarkia Elegans



Whew! Okay, all categorized and stored. Thanks for playing along, folks.