Friday, June 30, 2006

More Conservatory Pics

I love how this one tricks the eye. It's a close up of the root structure and base of one of the many really cool little trees in the bonsai room. I'm calling it "Tree Mountain", where tiny little creatures are hiding in the nooks and crannies of the landscape.

This is the strange berries on a variety of palm tree that I neglected to get the name of, but it love the combination of texture and color.

A koi peeking it's head up to admire the flowers.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

And Then There Was Green

I the form of grass, I mean, and I just need to say IT'S ABOUT TIME!

I've been looking at weeds, dirt and mud for so long that I'm having a hard time comprehending the idea of an actual yard, as in the kind of yard that's outside of MY house, but I'm really looking forward to getting my garden groove on and planting shrubs and perennials. I figure in about 20 or 25 years I should have things the way I want them out there :)

Crazy how grass can totally change the feel of a place, from construction site to home. I wish everything about turning a construction site into a home was this easy.
Bring on the party, I say!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Last Nights' Dinner

So, a couple of weeks ago I was watching the Build a Better Burger competition on the Food Network, and I thought one of the finalist recipes, Grilled Pork Burgers Indochine, sounded right up my pantry. The recipe is pretty simple. Not too many ingredients, nothing that's too much effort to obtain for a weeknight dinner, and grilled, which hey, in my world, is hard to go wrong with.
I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of leaving out the star anise, because really, anise makes me want to barf. It was quick and easy to throw everything together, maybe ten minutes total prep time.

The burgers are pretty fragile before they'er cooked which is always kind of a pain in the butt, but once on the grill I left them alone and let one side was cook completely and they were much easier to deal with. On the grill, slightly greasy and charred, the burgers looked delicious, and I was excited to plate them up and dig in.

Unfortnately, we both agreed that they looked better than they tasted which seems to have been alluded to by the fact that I couldn't take a decent picture of the thing to save my life. Don't get me wrong, the ingredients do a great job of flavoring the otherwise bland ground pork and the basil-cilantro mayo was a delicious, cool foil to the rich burger, but I just wasn't feeling the flavored meat thing AT ALL. Boy agreed. I think I can describe them as either Pad Thai on a bun or an pot sticker on a bun, and that's apparently not the kind of thing I want a whole burgers' worth of. While I don't think I'll make these again, I also wouldn't discourage anyone from trying them for themselves, because the reviews were all pretty good and it is an interesting take on the burger.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nelsons Deli and a Como Park Photo Op

Boy* and I took the opportunity to enjoy a pretty Saturday with a picnic at Como Park and a stroll around the new and improved zoo and conservatory. Despite the fact that there were crazy car people everywhere around the fairgrounds making traffic a mess, we managed to get to Nelson's Deli to pick up a couple of sandwiches and some other goodies.

There's something about a sandwich with that shredded iceberg lettuce and deli mayo that is just so much better than something I can make at home. I'm not sure why, and even though the ingredients are regular everyday stuff, a sandwich someone else has put together behind the sandwich counter in a real, old fashioned deli is elevated to a whole new level. As you can see we had a couple of other edibiles as well, but the sandwiches were really the best part.

I managed to get a couple of pretty neat pictures with my new camera at the conservatory, thanks to an extremely patient Boy*.

(*The first and only, imitated but never duplicated, mushroom hating Boy. Beware the sad and pathetic imposter)

Friday, June 23, 2006

I HEART Mail Goodies!

Look what came in the mail today from my dear friend Knit-Whit:

So cool! And the package she made is just as good as what was in it, which I LOVE.
A big thanks to Mariko for gifting me one of her nifty handmade otama(s?). I'm going to have to duke it out with the kitties over who gets to play with it :) And YAY for the IK from Carrie, who apparently knows I am usually too lazy to buy it. Thanks sista!

Yay for crafty pals. You make my day!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Our New Library: A Great Place to Look Up the Word "Plagiarism"

For all of those people who think that ripping off ideas from "friends" blogs is their right. Because being creative and original is EXHAUSTING.

I haven't made any progress on getting my freshly Racer Pinkerized studio into an organized and usable state other than to determine that I really do need to go and get another gallon of paint and give the whole room another coat. In case you're counting, that equals one coat of tinted primer and FOUR coats of paint. Nothing like turning a quick little day's worth of work into a week long project.

So, instead of finishing that little endeavour, I started making a whole new mess.

Welcome to the new library!
These are LACK shelves from IKEA, and the idiot pictograms tell me that they only hold 44lbs each the way I have them mounted. Because of this, the fact that I'm a slave to the asthetic and because you can see this "library" from nearly everywhere in the house, I'm having to cull the collection a little which frankly is making me anxious. And I'm going to have to take it all down again anyway so I can paint the wall. So much for organized work flow.
Anyway, the bench, (which is really the KULL TV cart and also the fruit of yesterday's trip to IKEA) I intend to make an upholstered cushion for, which I will then spend many, many cumulative hours vacuuming cat hair off of. But a cozy little book nook it shall be, even if cats can't read.

So, question of the day:
What is the save/keep criteria for books?

And totally off topic:
Are the supermarket "encounters" on Take Home Chef staged or real and spontaneous?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I knew it was going to be a good day when I happened upon a single but very important and now discontinuted TUPPLR drapery panel in the as-is room at IKEA. And for $10 bucks no less. I have been needing *one* of said panel for a couple of months and while I thought it was going to suck to have to pay another $50 for two panels and then only use one, it sucked even more when I went back to buy them and found the shelf empty (like three whole days later). Fast forward several weeks and several more IKEA trips later (yes, they practically know me there) and I finally track down an IKEAN in the drapery department who tells me they are discontinued. Badbadbad.
Anyway, drapery delimma solved and now I can get dressed and undressed without worrying about the neighbor kids seeing my butt. Whoohoo!

So, lookie what came today:

That's whole reason I went to IKEA in the first place, actually. My new little friend is a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree, looking a little travel weary after it's party in a skinny box with the UPS guy but happily nestled in it's chic new IKEA pot. Yes, I went specifically for the cool, $39 tall pot, but left $341 dollars later with the pot crammed onto one teensy corner of my pallet as just an afterthought. Don't tell the tree.

I've been interested in the dea of growing citrus indoors forever, and now that I have a little more space and light, I figured I'd get a start on it. What I really wanted was a real-life, full size tree of some sort, but apparently there's not much of a market for 20 foot tall fruit trees as houseplants. I had to settle for what they claim is a 2-3 year old tree that will reach 8-10 feet at maturity and is said to be a prolific fruiter. I'll be happy if I can keep the thing alive. Getting it to birth lemons will be an added bonus.

So, it is still my goal to procure something really, really tall (like 15 or 20 feet tall) for the living room. I've looked into a banana tree and that seems like a possibility, or maybe bamboo, but I'm a little freaked at the idea of a several hundred dollar growing experiment (even if it is legal).

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And Then There Was Pink

Racer pink, to be exact, and in my studio.

The good news is I LOVELOVELOVE it. The bad news: It could use another coat.

One of the pains in the butt about using super saturated colors. On the other hand, you never know what manner of crap will end up on the walls, floors and everywhere else in there, so maybe I just need to let it go and quit being so picky.

This is the first upstairs room I've started work on finishing and does it ever feel good. As I've said, a girl can only live with white walls for so long before SOMETHING has to happen. Seriously, I think paint is the best therapy money can buy.
Now If I could only get the mess that you can't see organized and functional, I might actually be able to do something in there...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Toad Hollow

Apparently we're hosting some kind of frog convention here at our house. Either that, or our egress window well is some kind of weird critter vortex, because the other day there was a baby bird in there that now seems to have dissapeared. Maybe all these freakin frogs ate it.

Boy counted 32, all in one window well, and that was just what he could see. I'm not sure if they're growing out of the mud or having froggie sex and giving birth in there or what, but we got a lotta frogs.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Last Nights' Dinner

BBQ chicken sandwiches with cheese and bacon and marinated grilled veggies.

The sandwich needs no explanation. It's simple and one of our summertime favorites. The important part is that you use good bacon, because bacon is always the most important part, no? Anyway, by now you probably know that the only bacon in my world is Lorenz Meats from Cannon Falls, MN. Anything else pales in comparison, and hey, if you're gonna eat bacon, it had better be fabulous.

The veg I marinated in balsamic, olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano and then put on a very hot grill until tender-crisp and charred. Tonights combination was three colors of bell peppers and sweet onions, with a few mushrooms thrown in just for me (because boy is on the A-Team of mushroom haters).
The picture could be better, I know. Honestly, I was a little stressed trying to manage getting my grill on in between some nasty thuderstorms and torrential rain. I was victorious but I worked myself up into quite a sweat (it's really hot here) and all I really wanted to do was sit down and eat.

In other news:
Cece at Fiberfish just became the inagural Moto-Knitter model. Even cooler, she shows us that her yarn really does match her motorcycle. Thanks Cece! You really couldn't have planned that better if you'd tried.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Just Practicing

YAY for new camera!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

One sock down and last nights' dinner

I must say, this is really record time for me, even though it's only the first of the pair. Presenting the hopefully un-feltable Lana Grossa cotton sock. And, just like with childbirth, the second one always comes out faster, so I should be able to model the pair soon :)

Then, a little dinner action. Seared tuna with wasabi butter and chilled soba noodle salad. Loosely adapted from this recipe, I marinated the fish in soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil and then seared. The wasabi butter is really what makes the dish, but you MUST MUST reconstitute the wasabi powder before mixing it with the butter or it's total ish and the recipe doesn't tell you to do this. Or just use wasabi paste from a tube instead. The soba salad I basically made up but I guess it's based on the traditional dish of cold soba with dipping sauce. I tossed the noodle with seasoned rice vinegar (the best condiment EVER, right behind Chipotle Tabasco), sesame oil and fresh grated ginger and added red pepper, scallion, carrot and sesame seeds.
Cool, fresh and yummy.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is it bad that I ate ALL the Pocky?

First, thanks so much to all of you who have found the moto-knitter stuff purchase worthy, and keep in mind that if you don't see what you want or would like something in a different colorway, just email me and I'll put it out there for you.

I would have had some non-horrible pictures of various things to share with you today if WorstBuy (aka, it's on sale but we don't really have it ever) didn't suck big monkey butt. They are now officially on my banned list. I don't care if they are selling gold bars for $4, I'm not giving them another dime, EVER. So, I am now happily awaiting my new Cannon S2IS from an online retailer who doesn't suck big monkey butt, happily NOT paying too much or being irritated by acne-riddled child salespeople and also happily NOT paying sales tax. The down side is that you're going to have to put up with the unfortunate photos my battle scarred crapola camera takes for a few more days.

So, yes, it's summer and the idea of turning on the oven sounds not so great, but I took advantage of a cool spell over the weekend to roast some chicken.

I know, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are easy and fast, but really, they also taste like a whole lotta nothing. Take an hour, some chicken parts or a whole chicken (split it vertically down the backbone and flatten it out to make it cook faster and stay more moist) and plenty of salt and pepper and remember what chicken is supposed to taste like. Maybe even go out on a limb and indulge in some of the delicious, crispy skin you'll get. Gasp. Yes, I did just say to eat the skin. I think it's the best part and it reminds me of my mom's roasted chicken. I believe her treatment of choice was a pre-roast dousing of Good Seasons Italian dressing, the kind that you make from the envelope. Dee lish.

And yes, the Pocky is GONE.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The candy is here, the candy is here!

At the exact moment I was wondering what I could do to perk up a gray, sleepy Saturday my doorbell rang. Boy went to answer it and when the carrier said I had to sign for the package, not him, I freaked a little, cuz that sounded serious. But then as I was climbing up the stairs to the door she said "because it's international" and then I KNEW!! My Candyswap candy had arrived!!

Big, big thanks to my fabulous swap partner in Japan for all the goodies. I'm so excited to try everything, and talk about perking things up. You totally made my day, Amy!

Friday, June 09, 2006

The better to walk on a new patio with, my dear

Maybe not super exciting to the rest of the world, but hey, I've been looking at dirt for two years. So I finally have a patio on that dirt upon which to park my lawn chair and perhaps knit?? Don't you think it just cries out for a paella party? I think it's high time I busted out the sled-sized pan and burner and cooked up some outdoor Spanish love.

Then, perhaps the most comfortable shoes EVER invented:

I bought a pair of Keen Trinidad's last summer and immediately loved them. They've been on my feet almost constantly ever since, so I figured I should get another pair. I spotted these over at Zappos and couldn't resist. And have I mentioned how much I HEART Zappos? It's shoe crack and I get stuff in like two days flat. Fabulous.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Is "moron" part of the required skill set for postal workers?

Ok, first do checkout my new CafePress store for some tricky stuff for all you (or you five) motoknitters out there.

Then get this (I just have to rant for a sec)...
They've been working on the street that goes the opposite direction from our driveway putting in curbs and getting ready to pave it since like the beginning of last week. Coincidentally, we didn't get any mail all last week. ? Hmmmm.
So boy goes to the PO this morning and, after finally convincing the person there that it was not possible for us NOT to have gotten any mail for an entire week (I mean where the hell is my NetFlix, ya know), the guy goes to check with the carrier and comes back with a weeks worth of mail. WTF. So lemme just ask this: How is it OK that the carrier just decides to hold our mail and not bother to tell anyone, including us? I love that it is apparently the policy of the PO to just keep someone's mail until they think to come looking for it because the lazy ass carrier "couldn't get to the box" one day? Whatever happened to getting the fuck out of your truck and walking five feet????

Then, last night's dinner:
Maytag blue stuffed burgers with avocado and bacon. Serious yum.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Pink and Frosty

I am not typically a singular use kind of kitchen gadget girl, but several years ago, I found this at the Goodwill for just a few bucks and couldn't pass it up.
Since then, I've used it a few times which would hardly seem enough to justify it's existence in my cupboard, but the amazingly easy, simple yum it cranks out makes it impossible for me to give it up.

Even though I am trying so, so hard to be good in the eating department, I had a pound of strawberries in my fridge that were just screaming to be made into something special. And it just so happens that strawberry ice cream is my absolute all time favorite. A browse through my dessert/treat recipe folder finds not one but four recipes for said item. Kinda crazy, I know, but such is the nature of my obsession.
I used to be all about the strawberry Haagen-Das, but at some point, like so many other things, they cheapened the ingredients or changed the recipe or something and it became so not as good. Not worth buying, in fact, and I could rarely find it anyway. Which left exactly zero options in the good store bought strawberry category.

So despite the fact that I knew before even beginning that I would, in fact, eat at least 2/3 of the batch myself, I set out to make some fresh strawberry ice cream with my happy little Donvier.
The hardest part, really, was deciding which recipe to use, and I basically just ended up picking one randomly, because how could any of them NOT be good?
And it is:

I think it's so cool that you can by ice cream shop type waffle cones at the grocery store now. It makes my whole cone eating experience so much better.

The recipe here. I altered it slightly by using 2 cups of 2% milk and 1c. of heavy cream instead of half milk and half cream. It's plenty rich, and I think it would be fine with even less cream, or maybe even 3c. of whole milk. I love the butterfat richness, but I want it to be able to be cut by the tart freshness of the berries, and too much cream interferes with what the whole strawberry thing is about.

I already have my next batch figured out....Rocky Road. Can you imagine the most yummy chocolate ice cream you've ever eaten paired with freshly toasted almonds and marshmallows?
I predict THAT will be crazygood.

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