Sunday, December 31, 2006

Murder in the Kitchen

And for the second time in a week, no less.

Our Christmas menu included Lobster Macaroni and Cheese (which has become a much-requested holiday favorite and which I highly recommend, btw), so I had to do a couple for that, and I'm back at it again today for tonights' menu:

*Lobster and Mango Cocktail
*Steamed whole lobster with baked potato and sauteed green beans
*Double Decker Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

That's right, it's lobster and lobster, with a little dessert and some champagne to wash it down. Sounds yum, no?
Pictures tomorrow!
From what it looks like outside at present, I'd say there's a fair chance I'll have no problem finding time to blog.

A relief, actually, because it's been raining for two solid days. In addition to the fact that rain in late December in Minnesota is a little creepy, in a global warming sort of way, it's also depressing. Whereas fresh white snow that sticks to the trees is lovely and bright.

Happy new year everyone! Have a safe and enjoyable evening!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Regurgitation, Mine and His

Boy has been out of town for a few days for work, so it's just me and the critters. PupCake's world is NOT ok. He gets up in the middle of the night and paces around and when he's awake, his new activity of choice seems to be standing in front of the mudroom door wondering "where's my dad?". Crazy dog. Plus all of the sudden he's back to farting like only a greyhound can after several blissful, fume-free weeks of fartlessness. And I can hear them, which I'm not sure is better or worse than not knowing what's coming.

I think it's killing my brain cells, the smell, I mean.
And it's a darn good thing I'm not into wallpaper, because it would be falling off.

So anyway, I have managed to accomplish very little aside from losing mental function. I made some cranberry pistaschio butter cookies from the current issue of Gourmet (for the record, yum, and very pretty). I made some curry spiced, glazed nuts and some cheddar pecan crisps to give with wine as hostess gifts, and I've eaten a fair share of all of that stuff. My point is that I am a slug, and the weather is bad which puts a serious damper on the miles of daily dog walking that I normally enjoy. Which makes me even more of a slug and leads me to not have much to report. So, in lieu of actual content, I'll give you something new. Think of it as the "Does it Float?" segment of splatgirl creates.

This week in history, 2004.
Close to where I sit now taken late December:

And my housebuilding blog post from December 21, 2004:

Our thoughts and ideas regarding the decision to build and how we got things moving ahead.

It had been established from the very beginning that we wanted to do something out of the ordinary. I was full of ideas and holding fast to my belief that we could accomplish anything we set out to even though the solid examples of "different" are few and far between around here. Out of curiosity and in the name of research, we spent some time at the beginning of this process looking at parade homes and perusing the existing homes for sale on the MLS. Nothing we saw in our price range or well above was even remotely close to what we were thinking of. We also considered somewhat seriously, the idea of renovating an existing commercial or industrial space so my real estate searches included these types of properties as well (yay for the internet). It became clear pretty early on that new construction was going to be the best way for us to achieve our goal.

In the Twin Cities metro area, probably like most areas, almost all new construction consists of large tracts of land purchased by a developer and then sold off in chunks to corporate builders who proceed to fill them with oceans of beige and gray vinyl siding, pitched roofs, and divided light windows. Although finding a development where the builder will do something "custom" (you can practically see the dollar signs in their eyes when you mention this) is not difficult, the architectural restrictions and covenants present in these situations are inevitably aimed at making every house conform to a certain bland "development" asthetic that we are all too familiar with. I think it would have been possible to make this work as others here are proving, but the design compromises we would have had to make, paired with the fact that the we'd still be living in a sea of beige cracker boxes ruled this out pretty quickly.
Another major deterrent to building in a development was our desire to have complete control over who was going to be doing our construction. Two members of my extended family are general contractors, one has a lifetime of building experience and several of my other relatives work in the construction trades. It was obvious from a cost and trust perspective that we wanted to utilize these resources as much as possible rather than contracting with a stranger for a complete, finished product.
So the hunt was officially on for land that would be unencumbered by neighborhood covenants and architectural guidelines and association-free. Around this time, I also cold-called a few Architects in the area whose work I admired. The response I got after stating our goal was less than encouraging. Aside from the expressed doubts about the reality of our needs and wants vs. budget, the depressing news was "call me back when you find land" and land-finding tales of woe of clients with similar ideas. Pretty much an instant validation of the concerns I was trying to mitigate in my mind, with the problem of land being first and foremost.
Not easily discouraged and being the stubborn, willful people that we are (and undoubtedly somewhat naive), we made up our minds that we would dedicate a year to the search for land. If we still hadn't found anything at that point, we'd reevaluate our options. That was December of 2003.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One Last Adventure in Concrete

At long last, the buffet/bar/desk area of the kitchen is complete! We cast this one final slab a couple of weekends ago and I finished finishing it last week but I'm just now getting a chance to post about it, because, well, the crazy season IS upon us and all that...

ahem...complete, that is, minus the cord management portion of the event. Please nevermind THAT.
I left the opening between the cabinets to improve the multipurposeness (word?) of the space, so that we can tuck a stool under there and have it avaliable as a desk area when we need it. Otherwise, I'm thinking it's a great serving and drink making spot. Plus I love that it gives me a place to put the few items of chachke that I will allow to exist in a functional zone.
So, believe it or not, that puts me a little wall patching and some paint away from having my kitchen completely 100% done. Amazing. But oh yea, and that's not counting the "what to do about a backsplash?", "what to do about a duct cover?", "should I add cabinets above the tall cabinets?" questions that, truthfully, might never be answered. But, I'm now hindered by the fact that my beloved Hallarum doors are no longer avaliable. Yes, that's right. Done and gone. And without IKEA even giving us any warning, apparently due to production/quality control/child labor issues depending on who you listen to. Either way, it SUCKS and makes me downright panicky.

I hope y'all are keeping the sanity. Personally, I've been a little anti-Christmas this year for some reason. We are sans-tree here at Casa Splatgirl, which is funny because we had a heck of a lot of fun imagining having the tallest tree we could possibly fit inside the house while we were building. It's not for want of a really tall tree, but more because I discovered around tree-buying time that I was going to need the super hero of tree stands for said really tall tree, and while I can easily procure the giant tree right here in my town, nary a giant tree stand is to be had anywhere except via the internet, apparently. And I was running late with getting things going anyway. Plus, I wasn't feeling the whole having to go out and shop for enough ornaments to decorate a tree more than twice as big as any we have had before, because I am very picky about the ornaments, you see. So anyway, that's the deal. Remind me next October to order that freakin $180 tree stand, OK? And here's hoping I can muster the energy to hit some day after Christmas sales for the supertall tree ornament basics.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Food Math

How does taking The PupCake on a seven mile power walk result in a net calorie gain for the day? When it's followed by an hour of gift hunting and then a trip to Trader Joe's all on an empty stomach. Because Trader Joe's = oodles and oodles of munchies, (and a bunch of holiday greens for $5.99, my only sane purchase).

In case you're wondering, that's dried chilli mango, chocolate covered bananna chips, dark chocolate pretzels and cashew trail mix. And it's minus the stuff I gobbled down in the truck on my way home.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What's For Dinner Wednesday?

Rack of lamb, with parsley potatos and green beans almondine:

This was the first time I had ever purchased or cooked lamb, but "rack of lamb?" is one of Boy's common (joking) responses to what should be made for dinner, and I take great delight in being able to humor him, if only to see what other crazy cliche dishes he will swap into his rotation of standard, bizarre responses. Not that it's relevant, but I've always had this idea that he's remembering the names of these dishes from watching Roadrunner cartoons as a kid or something, because there is zero possibility he would have encountered them in reality, like ever, in his pre-Splatgirl life, because, as you may reacall, his mom is the worst cook ever. And I mean ever. If you can even call what she does to food cooking, that is.

Ok, so I used this recipe and it was very good, but I give most of that credit to the succulence of the meat and to the awesome roasting job I did if I do say so myself. Obviously there are many, many good recipes for lamb to choose from out there, and I picked this one mostly because it didn't call for mint. Which I dislike. Except in a mojito, that is. I think I would make this again with the change to let it run under the broiler at the end to crisp the crust a bit more. It was quick and easy and tasty and elegant. What more can you ask for? I did buy the racks already frenched which saved a good bit of time.

Once again, the goal of WFDW has been met: step outside the box and find some new and interesting stand-bys. Yippee for rack of lamb!

Monday, December 11, 2006


Do you remember this post? Did you happen to notice that I never delivered the reveal? That's because it turns out paint hell was much worse than I was anticipating, and once again I have no one to blame other than myself.
You see, I thought I had chosen the perfect shade of red. Bright, clean, fire engine red. Only it was a chip from the Ralph Lauren line and I was too lazy to drive all the way to evil orange to buy it. Instead, I moseyed down the one mile to my local hardware store, (where I am known as the crazy color paint lady, in the friendliest of ways, of course), thinking I would most certainly be able to find a similar red in one of the lines of paint they carry. But I thought wrong. The only Benny Moore red that fit the bill was a pre-mixed, exterior formula that only came in semi-gloss. And they didn't have any anyway. But the nice paint guy offered to look up the formula for the Ralphie color I wanted and mix it, and I gave the go ahead which really, I should have known better than to do. Because you just really can't mess with reds. Because red paint is like some kind of dark art.
So I got home and put four freakin coats of the stuff on the wall and all seven of the oh-so-tedious-to-paint window openings and then spent the next two weeks trying to figure out why I hated it so much. At first I thought it was because I finished at night, and the light was different. And when it still sucked in the daylight, I thought maybe it was a seasonal light thing. And then it finally occurred to me to check the wall color against the chip, which is when I realized the two were COMPLETELY different colors. Um...hello? Can you say maroon? No wonder it was gack.

Anyway, the reveal is finally here. I ended up using a Valspar color called Starfire Red, and I love it. And for those of you keeping track, this is paint do-over number two this year, bearing in mind that in all of my extensive wall painting history, I have never, ever even once had to do a do-over on color. Figures, since all those jobs paled in comparison to the enormity of the task that is painting this house.

The irony here is that it ended up being a semi-gloss anyway because that was the only way to get the color, just like the BM would have been had I had the presence of mind to just delay gratification and let them order me some. I was a little freaked at the prospect of a red AND shiny wall, but now that it's up, I think it makes it better somehow.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


All of the sudden there has been a flurry of activity at Casa Splatgirl. Mostly stuff that was postponed pre-move in and should have gotten done months ago. But hey, I think we're well on track for having everything done before the turn of the decade, so no worries, right?
Anyway, one of the ongoing agonies you may recall me sharing with you before has been what color to paint the other, giant living-media-balcobrary-seen-from-everywhere-in-the-house wall. In case you forgot, giant wall #1 got Chartreuse, which I absolutely ADORE, but it's a bit much for an entire nuther huge expanse.

Does it seem like we have been here before? Probably because we have. My original color choice for wall #2 ended up sucking. It was much too blah, and because I don't have enough to paint already without having to repaint things, there was no way I could pick the perfect color on my first try anyway. But I guess the good part of that is that I didn't paint the whole wall, rather just the easy-to-reach part in the media room so I'm not feeling terrible about having to have a little bit of do over.
Anyway, here is my test swatch. I think I'm 90% sure this is the IT color, but, like the Chartreuse, it's a little spooky when I consider that there will be approximately an acre of it:

This is a deeper version of the lovely Rendezvous Bay that's already in the kitchen, called Naples Blue. Both are by Benjamin Moore.

And, in case you're wondering...yes, I am that person who paints their walls those crazy colors you see on the paint chips and wonder "WHO would possibly ever choose THAT color?" I am also that person who gets all itchy and irritated in those beige-cum-pottery barn houses.

Someday, when I am through with this, breathing a sigh of relief and thinking about what to change, I'll do a composite of of all the colors I have used and we will laugh, cry, gasp, or all of the above.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What's For Dinner Wednesday

I've been telling Boy for years that I want him to hire someone from Taste of Thailand to come over and teach me how to make #47, but it hasn't happened yet. So in lieu of that, I decided I'd start trying to duplicate it at home being that I'm now appropriately equipped with the crazy wok burner and have no excuses.
Attempt number one is here for WFDW:

Typically, I'd order it with chicken, but since I've been hungry for beef and had some on hand, I used that instead. The choice of meat doesn't make any difference, really, since #47 is all about the sauce and the vegetables anyway. I also took some liberty with the veg selection. The real thing is just red and green bell pepper, mushrooms and onions, along with the dish-defining basil, garlic and jalapenos, but I added carrot, and brocolli just because I love them.
The end result was nearly right on. A little too heavy on the lime juice, but now that I know the general direction to follow, I think a couple more tries should get me there or at least to something that will tide us over until I get my personal, in-home lesson.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Fun with the Houndies

PupCake, Boy and I made a trip to have pictures taken with Santa today to benefit Northern Lights Greyhound Adoption. As usual, our boy was excited as heck to get to socialize and we had a great time visiting with the gaggle of houndie pals:

PupCake took the most adorable, full-on smiling-for-the-camera picture with Santa, which unfortunately is a Polariod that I am too lazy to scan and show you. The best I could get was this:

Boy: "So, is it going to be, like, an animal-Santa or a man-Santa?"
Me: "Um...Isn't Santa universal? Meaning, like, that there is only one and HE is Santa? And... a 'man-Santa'? Dude, I am so blogging that."

As it turns out , it was a woman-Santa.

And then, because it's never too cold for Izzy's. Boy and I were braving the cold and in the neighborhood, post Taste of Thailand lunch, so we just had to stop for what was perhaps the best flavor of ice cream I have ever eaten...tiramisu. For the record, I had mine with a mango Izzy, but the tiramisu portion of the event was beyond compare. I may just have to call them up and inquire about buying a whole giant bucket of it as soon as I figure out how I could fit it in my freezer.
What a day, huh? Taste of Thailand AND Izzy's? A girl couldn't ask for much more from a Saturday afternoon date!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What's the Deal?

PupCake has been wondering what the heck is up with Mudder and her lack of blogging.

I tinks mabe shee feelz blah.


M-Ah think's it's totally lame but her feetsies are too small to type, even poorly.

And so that you don't leave thinking I have become one of those crazy weirdos who won't stop talking about her pets, I bring you last nights' dinner:
Oven roasted chicken breast with a loaded baked potato. Yum!

I have been pecking away at boring projects indoors here at Casa Splatgirl which could explain both the blahs and the lack of blogging, but rest assured I will be back to normal someday.

Is it spring yet?

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