mellymell: (Default)
With the way that yesterday started off, I would have said, "fuck this happiness bullshit!" But the day steadily improved with every passing hour beyond breakfast.

I'm happy that I got most of my grocery shopping done for this week and for Christmas.

I'm happy that every time I came out of another building, it seemed warmer and warmer all day long. If it's the rainy days that bring me 50+ degrees, I might just start enjoying the rain. I'm just going to ignore that forecast for 1-4 inches of snow on Christmas for now.

I'm happy that it was Yule and therefore the days will start getting longer from here on out!

I'm happy that despite our own cloudy skies, I got to see some spectacular pictures of the lunar eclipse from other parts of the world.

I'm happy that it seems the more active I am, the better my back feels. After hauling groceries and spending a lot of time on my feet yesterday, I felt much better. Of course after 8 hours in bed, I was stiff and sore again this morning, but I know the secret now to making that and soreness go away. Stay active! Shouldn't be hard. I've got to-do lists a mile long.

I've had a lot of fun with winter traditions with Jonah this year as well. He doesn't really remember hot cocoa from last year, but he sure does this year! Occasionally, he'll come up to me and say, "burr, I'm cold mommy" pretending to rub his arms with his hands to warm himself he looks at me with a sheepish grin and says, "maybe I could get a drink to warm me up." Which is his manipulative little way of asking for some hot cocoa. I make it in the microwave, but I do the whole unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, pinch of salt thing.

But as a change yesterday and because I love the way the house smells when I make it, made some mulled cider apple juice. I threw some of the really good fresh pressed apple juice we get at Costco into a saucepan on the stove with a tea ball full of dried whole spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and cardamom). I let that steep on low for a long, long time. Turned it off and we went to run our errands. When we got back and Jonah wanted his hot drink, I warmed it up again and we imbibed. He called it cinnamon juice. I then refilled the pan with just tap water and let it simmer all evening just to make the house smell good. Chris said it smelled like Indian food. I have no idea why. I didn't let Jonah put the fennel seed in that he wanted to add to the tea ball. ;)

Speaking of that, I had fun going through taking spice inventory with Jonah and teaching him about the different spices and what they're good for and letting him smell them and such. We'll make a chef out of him yet!

We've also gotten some really great Christmas cards this year and I feel bad about not getting mine out. Mine are more wintery than Christmas, so I suppose I could still do it. I got the sweetest one from [ profile] witchcat07 and [ profile] arymetore yesterday. Thanks guys! The day before I got one from [ profile] yocepha with confetti in it. All very sweet. I love getting mail. I should really remember that and send more out.
mellymell: (Default)
I've got a long, (though shorthanded) entry in the works to recap my very busy week last week. The week that I thought was going to beat me into submission at around Wednesday, but I owned it. I freakin' OWNED IT!

Anyway, today, as Nikki of Moms who drink and swear or more specifically, Nikki's Blithering Blog* would say, Thursday is my bitch!

*I can not thank [ profile] cleopatramwi enough for sharing those nuggets of unorthodox joy

Wednesday dragged me down into a pit and attempted to drown me, much like last Wednesday, actually, but more emotional. But Thursday? No, Thursday is MY BITCH!

Let me show you it. )
mellymell: (Default)
For those of you who don't follow my costuming journal and missed my little squee over there last Thursday, I've registered for ALEP2: There and back again and am thoroughly excited, even though it's a year and a half away. I promptly booked the same house we had last time after getting my confirmation. Need to send off my check for my deposit, but other than that, we are go!

Yes. :)

Friday, I drove down to Huntsville for a raptor show and the treehouses at The Botanical Gardens. Jonah and I met up with my in-laws to enjoy the weather. It was warm and sunny, bordering on hot. I sweat, just a little. It felt nice. After that, we stopped in at the West End Grill for some food (since Clementine's at the Garden closed right as we walked in). Then we hit the road home.

When I got home, Chris had taken a half day off and cleaned up the overgrown brush on side where we cleared out the fencing. It looks great, but I'm sure it was tough work. He went and got a pretty cool little fire pit to keep on the patio and attempt to burn up the huge pile of brush we now have. We grilled out some hot dogs and enjoyed the nice evening outside.

Saturday, we got up, went to City Limits Bakery for some breakfast, then to Toys-R-Us to pick out a toy for our neighbor's daughter, then to her birthday party at Monkey's Treehouse (an indoor play place for kids). Once we were done there, we went home and I proceeded to try to dig out my jewelry tools and package them in some sort of portable way to take over to [ profile] witchcat07's place for a crafty afternoon.

Since she's laid up with an injured/surgeried heel, she invited some of us crafty folks over for a light pot luck lunch and general craftiness to alleviate a brief span of her boredom. Paul and Kim were there as was their friend Beth. Kim and Beth were spinning, which was neat, and Jessica knitted. I wasn't sure how to start a new project necessarily, so I picked up the necklace I made for Steffany a while back which broke to work on repairing it. I'm pretty sure I did it with craft wire (was before I was using Sterling). So, I cut off the wrap on the stone and started something new on it. I neglected to bring my good pair of chain nose pliers and the crummy pair I had kept cutting into the 26 gauge wire I was using to wrap the 24 gauge. So, I wound up breaking wire quite a bit. But for what I'm doing it's not a big deal, Just sets me back every time. We had a tasty lunch and chatted about various topics (Dragon*Con, ALEP2, belly dancing, Ren Faires, Paul and Kim's gigs, et cetera). Was fun and I hope she does it again, since she'll be an invalid for the several weeks. ;) On my way home, I stopped at Home Depot to pick up some Oxyclean for Chris' brew preparations and play sand for Jonah's sand box. We grilled a pork tenderloin for dinner and had some simple brown rice with a little thyme, a pinch of brown sugar and some walnuts.

Sunday, Chris was brewing and our brewing friend Kyle was coming over to brew as well (little did we know he was coming over to brew two 10 gallon batches). A couple of other guys came by just to drink beer, but were gone by the time I got back from lunch. I got up and started trying to clean the house. The kitchen floor felt gross to walk on, so I started there. Some time during my cleaning, I got a call from [ profile] cashmere_cat that she and her family were in town and wanted to grab some lunch. So, I got Jonah and I ready and we met them at Blackstone's for some lunch. The Irish stout was on cask and it was mighty tasty. It was really good to see Jenny and Scotty. They seem like they're doing well. And Calvin and Alayda are so grown! I guess Calvin is around 9 and I remember when Jenny was pregnant with Alayda, which would put her around 6 or 7 maybe. Jonah did a pretty good job of keeping everyone entertained. It was like he didn't even take a pause between talking about trains in the car and coming into the restaurant to tell people he'd never met before all about it.

On the way home, I stopped at the grocery to grab some sausages to cook for Chris and Kyle for lunch. Then we just hung out drinking beers and snacking on smoked cheddar until Kyle was done brewing.

Yesterday, I tried to get the house back in some semblance of order so that I could possibly enjoy Jonah going back to school today (or tag clothes for a consignment sale, whatever). Had a good spring break, but I'm glad it's over.

On the agenda this week:
Spring Consignment sale this weekend. Need to get all my stuff tagged and turned in by 10am on Thursday. Since I need to buy Jonah's spring/summer wardrobe, I'll probably shop the pre-sale Thursday night to be sure I get what I want for him.

Friday night I'm hosting the book discussion for the Smial. We're up to the first three chapters of Book IV (second half of The Two Towers). Was thinking an olive stuffed pork loin for it, but now (since we just had two meals of pork tenderloin), lamb is sounding good. Decisions, decisions. I'll figure it out by Thursday, I guess.
mellymell: (Default)
After a selfish sleeping in session on my part, we got ready and went down to Grassland for brunch at The Daily Dish. It was fantastic! It's southern food done gourmet. It was so amazing! They have a buffet for Sunday brunch and on said buffet was a wonderfully creamy hashbrown casserole, a very different sausage gravy (almost tasted like it might have seafood in it), Eggs Benedict on croissants (which is hard to do, I presume, for a buffet), New York strip cooked to perfection, these breaded, deep fried goat cheese balls that were to die for, bread pudding with bananas foster topping. Seriously, everything I tasted was wonderful! We will definitely be going back. Also, they cater. Just sayin'.

At that point, we all felt like going back to bed. Except Jonah perhaps. So we just sort of milled around as I tried to plot dinner and going out to pick up Chris' present. Well, I seriously waited too long and after a lot of running around and making Chris worry (since I was supposed to just be going to the grocery and was gone an hour and a half), I brought home a gorgeous zebra wood humidor and a couple of cigars (which were from Jonah, because what is more heartwarming than receiving cigars from a 3-year-old?).

I made Jonah a quick sandwich for dinner, knowing he wouldn't want fish and shrimp and quinoa (no accounting for taste, eh?). Then put him to bed and made our dinner. Blackened tilapia with creamy creole shrimp sauce and mango quinoa pilaf.

Food porn! Actual, real live, err photographed, food porn! )

And, because I didn't get the maple habanero bread pudding made (yet), we had store bought tiramisu for dessert, in bed. Yeah, coffee dessert before bed. Brilliant.

Oh, and some team from New Orleans apparently won some contest of some sort. I'm pretty sure I gave them a boost here with my cooking. YOU'RE WELCOME!
mellymell: (Default)
Last year, I made a resolution to use at least one vegetable-type ingredient per month that I had never cooked with before. I think I made it to March with red and yellow beets, chayote, and yucca root. There may have been others I inadvertently added throughout the year, but I didn't mentally take stock of them as counting towards my goal of 12 new ingredients.

I'm going to attempt it again this year and hopefully with more success. This month (well, tonight actually): spaghetti squash. I found a Southwestern casserole-type recipe that sounds really tasty and above all, really easy. It seems pretty retarded actually that I've not cooked or even eaten spaghetti squash before. I've liked every other type of squash I've tried, why not this one? In fact, I think this is the last type of readily available winter squash that I've not tried.

Also on the list:
Brussels Sprouts - because I recently found out I like them when they're prepared well
Swiss Chard
Broccoli Rabe

Then I'm going to have to do some research.

ETA: Suggestions from [ profile] arymetore:
salsify (if it can be found)
prickly pear

ETA2: One I thought of while in the grocery earlier:

And with that, I'm almost to 12, but I will keep looking for more. I think having them in mind ahead of time will be helpful. Maybe I need to go wander around Whole Foods.
mellymell: (Default)
For those of you wondering, yes, I do exist outside of Twitter and direct email and comments on other people's LJ or responses to my Facebook status updates (which are just regurgitated tweets). I've even been keeping up with everyone fairly well. But I've got a backlog of things I want to put up here. I know a couple of the entries will take a little while to hammer out, so I've been avoiding them in order to work on things that were more important like OMG 1ST CRAFT SHOW EVAR! Now, most of that is over and I've got a couple of weeks of normal busy before OMG JONAH'S 3RD BIRTHDAY hits. So, I'm going to try to knock those out in the next few days.

In the meantime, what I've been up to:

A list, yay! )
mellymell: (Default)
Fri: Spent much of the day cleaning followed by a whirlwind packing session shortly before Chris got off work. Drove down to Huntsville (or rather New Hope) to stay in a tent in a guy's back yard. Stayed up waaaay too late drinking beer. Celebrated ingenuity, heh.

Sat: Awoke waaaaay too early to the sound of a rooster realizing we really need a new Thermarest. Fun-filled day of illegal homebrewing in Alabama. First brewer (that didn't spend Friday night) already there and set up at 6:30am. Could finally bring myself to have a beer around noon. Drank about a gallon of water that morning. Tongue felt like sandpaper. Feeling a bit comatose around 3pm or so. Hot sun and beer drains a person. Got my fix of Surin coconut soup for dinner. Was good to see Matt and Chris even if it was cut short with Jonah being fussy from lack of sleep (no nap, stayed up 'til ten the night before, woke up at 6 something that morning). Longest drive home from Huntsville ever (ok, maybe not, but still).

Sun: Woke up early-ish, finished the cleaning I didn't get done on Friday (mostly just floors) and prepared to host a sour beer tasting. Jonathan came over and cooked pork tenderloins on the grill and made some yeast rolls. We did grilled spice rubbed sweet potatoes with green onion vinaigrette, grilled squash and grilled corn on the cob, plus some stinky cheeses to go with our stinky beers. All the food was fantastic, even though I burned the veggies on the grill (mostly). The beers were superb! Mmm, sour beers. Once you get a taste for feet, cheese and horse blanket odors plus a sourness that will make you pucker worse than taking a bite out of a lemon, you can't get enough! It was a lot of fun, too. Everyone had a good time I think and Jonah had a little girl to play with, though they didn't really warm up to each other until about an hour before it was over. When everyone got here, Jonah was still asleep and she had just woken up so they were both a little clingy and Jonah even quite whiny. Subjected Doug to Yo Gabba Gabba (the one with Elijah Wood doing a "Dancey Dance" and also the "Party in my Tummy" song, see if you can find it on YouTube, it's disturbing). We proceeded to completely collapse and pretty much followed Jonah to bed that night.

Something that's not helping on the recovery from last weekend: I've been getting up with Jonah in the middle of the night the past couple of nights. One night, I'm pretty sure it was an uncomfortable diaper rash that made him restless. He and I had several talks about how learning to use the potty would eliminate such issues. I'm pretty sure it must be something he's eaten over the weekend or something that's causing it because we just don't usually have problems with diaper rash at all. Only when he's sick has it been a problem before. He's also got either a bunch of mosquito bites or some poison ivy on his legs and of course you can't keep a toddler from scratching an itch, so they're all big welts now. I think that might have been the issue last night. I might slather him in Benedryl cream tonight and see if that helps. C'mon, I didn't want to have another kid so I wouldn't have to go through this infantesque nightly waking stuff anymore (well, that's not the only reason).

Tomorrow, Steffany and Lilly arrive to spend the next four days with us. The weekend is full already. Pickin' Party at Warner Parks Friday night, zoo on Saturday, ice cream festival on Sunday. Things I'm going to miss in this already jam packed weekend: Smial discussion of the first 5 chapters of The Two Towers and Ellie's Run for Africa.

How is it that the weekends as they come up appear to be empty but by Thursday are completely full?
mellymell: (Default)
On occasion, I get a craving for a particular favorite boxed/processed food from my adolescence, but I can't bring myself to pay for boxed/processed food anymore since we started cooking for realz. Last night, we were in need of some throw together type of side dish to go with some broiled Orange Roughy fillets (my new favorite white fish). All of the sudden it occurred to me, "Broccoli Cheese Rice!" I had to run out and go vote, so I stopped by the grocery on my way home and picked up a bag of frozen broccoli and some veggie bullion. I didn't bother looking up a recipe. I know what it's supposed to taste like and I know how to make a pilaf and I also know how to make a pretty good broccoli cheese soup. So, I combined all that knowledge to get something rather edible. I did take the time to write down how I put it together, though:

Broccoli Cheese Rice )

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Uncle Ben was a nice man and he meant well. But, my pilaf was a far superior side dish to anything I could have dumped out of a box, if I do say so myself. The kicker is, its absolutely just as easy as dumping something out of a box. I didn't have to cut anything except to shred the cheese (which I do with a stand mixer attachment, so I really don't even count that).

In other food news, we saw a new Good Eats last night on meat pies that was Sweeney Todd themed. Alton Brown FOR THE WIN!
mellymell: (Default)
I haven't had just a complete and total culinary failure in quite a while. Nothing that's turned out just completely unusable in a long time. Everything was going fine, until I went to knead the dough. I'm not quite understanding something about the folding process Alton describes in his book. It's a different method than the biscuit episode and a different recipe, so I'm not sure watching the episode would help me much, though I guess it couldn't hurt. I have enough ingredients to give it another try today. But I'm trying to figure this thing out before I waste more stuff. Something about how I'm mixing the dough must be off. Basically, when I go to fold it up, using the wax paper like he describes, it all just sticks to the wax paper and lumps up and doesn't resemble anything that could possibly be cut (resembles something you should dip things into and then drop into a fryer). Maybe I'm not mixing it enough before turning it out to be kneaded. I'm mixing more like muffins and maybe not everything is incorporated. Is gluten ok in biscuits? He said the dough would be very wet, like batter, but this is a little too much, I think. I need to get some of the flour to absorb more of the liquid before trying to knead.

Well, for now, Jonah is down for a nap, so I'll do some yoga to clear my head and when he wakes up, we'll go scouting for a pastry cutter and give it another try later this afternoon. I'm so disappointed.


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