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A New Setup

Virginia Woolf said every woman needs a room of her own and I whole-heartedly agree.

Still, I’ll settle for a desk of my own, in the corner of our bedroom set up to my liking. Lately the urge to write at home has been unbearable, and I’ve been scribbling in notebooks because a typewriter would have been more productive than the computer I had. Last night, Eric came through the door with a computer he picked up from a friend and I was ecstatic.

I love my desk for a lot of reasons, but  I thought I’d share the top few:

– This desk was the first (and come to think of it only) piece of furniture I’ve ever purchased new. My friend Alexis and I assembled it in our apartment senior year of college and I love it as much now as I did then. The cabinets and little shelves are great for storing all my craft supplies.

– On the upper right corner is vintage luggage I bought at an estate sale, it has snake skin piping and the suitcase holds my sewing machine perfectly.

– My yarn basket full of odds and ends.

– Photos of my family, friends and travels.

– The teddy bear Eric bought me on our first Valentine’s Day

– And of couse, my new computer.

So friends, I’m back, with probably more to say than you had ever thought possible!


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A Healthy Start

After the holidays, I always feel like I need a major break from sugar, sweets and heavy holiday meals. Fortunately all the New Year’s Resolutions that people make inspire the cooking magazines and Web sites I read to post a ton of great light recipes that perfectly fit the bill.

This weekend, Eric and I spent a lot of time hanging out, watching football, cooking and hiking. I had plenty of time to try out three new recipes from the latest Everyday Food.

First up, Spinach Fritata in my new bakers. This was a simple recipes and perfect after we spent the afternoon hiking from Franklin Ave to the peak of Mt. Hollywood behind Griffith Park. I decided to pair it with a second recipe from the magazine, sweet potatoes seasoned with Old Bay.

I didn’t use the cheese called for in the recipe (Gruyere) and opted for the colby jack we had on hand. I’d definitely use a stronger cheese if I made this again, even Swiss would have been a better match. Either way though, it was absolutely fantastic, light and delicious.

The sweet potatoes were my favorite. I ate 3/4 of them myself. Delicious.

Sunday night I made a chickpea curry. I love curry–it’s practically all I ate when I lived in Australia–and I feel like I can never find a recipe that satisfies me as the food I order when I’m out does. This one didn’t either, but it was quick and easy and really affordable. I think my entire cost for 4 servings was less than $2. It would be a great cold day food but with our recent 70 degree temps, it wasn’t a great match.

After dinner both nights this weekend, Eric and I played some board games. I actually beat him at Scrabble, for maybe the first time in the last 6 months and gave him a pretty good run for his money when we played “Simpsons Chess” Sunday night. Foxy wanted to help and seemed to have an obsession with Lisa (the rook). It always amazes me how she zones in on one piece and focuses on it until she gets her paws on it. Here she is, playing shy for the camera.

After such a relaxing weekend, Monday was a harsh reality to say the least. At least the weather here has cooperated. Eric and I also booked a trip to Big Bear in February so we have that to look forward too as well. 2010 is going to be a great year.

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A New Year’s Tradition

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s.

I love it because I love setting goals, planning for the year ahead and because Eric and I “met” on New Years (we knew each other through friends but really started talking at a NYE party). I hate it because I feel like there is a lot of pressure put on one evening and it always seems so thrown together after the prolonged planning of Christmas.

Last year, we went to a New Year’s Eve party with friends and spend the day after at the Rose Bowl game. This year, Eric was asked to do a gig NYE and we decided to play it relatively low key. Before his gig we had time for a hike and a steak and shrimp dinner. I spent a few hours brushing up on Guitar Hero so that once E got home I had a chance at holding my own. We watched Dick Clark ring in the new year with some champagne and cheesecake. Then in true rock-star fashion, rocked out on the Wii until the wee hours. The cat (who very much missed us when we were home for Christmas), has been on one or the other’s lap ever since we returned.

My very own rock star.

Today I woke up just in time to catch the Rose Bowl parade for a bit before the Penn State game started. We decided to honor the PA Dutch tradition once again with a pork and sauerkraut dinner. The Pennsylvania Dutch believed this meal will bring you good luck in the New Year. I only want to eat it once a year, but every year I absolutely love it. We bake everything in the oven with a topping called Knepp, which is just a egg, milk, flour, baking powder combo.

Baked Pork, Sauerkraut and Knepp

We include apples with the sauerkraut which makes it sweeter that normal and cooking everything in one pan keeps the pork from drying out. It turned out great. We had a huge helping of mashed potatos and some ice cold beer for a complete meal. I’m hoping it’s a sign of the cooking to come in the new year because I have some big plans for 2010.

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A Crafty Christmas

Eric and I returned Thursday from a great trip home to see our families for the holidays. We left early last Wednesday, landing in Harrisburg to see a foot of snow on the ground. It was definitely cold, and I spent most of the trip with three pairs of socks on.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was watching the kittens who’ve taken up residence at Eric’s parents house. Once the snow melted they enjoyed some treats on the back deck.

The festivities started Thursday at my parents house where we changed up traditions. For the past several years we’ve had chili and sandwiches, not wanting to rock the boat too much we decided to have baked potato soup and cheesesteaks. Eric and my brother in law Mike handled much of the cooking, while the rest of us ate, enjoyed and played with the wee ones.

The Son-in-Laws take over the kitchen.

Three little boys on Christmas Eve.

After dinner, the kids opened their gifts first. My “middle” nephew was excited by his gift of Emperor Zurg, from Toy Story. It appeared to be a big hit. Thank goodness for lists to Santa (and a sister who shared the details) because I never would have chosen that on my own.

The kids checking packages for their names.

Opening "Zurg"

The adults have a Secret Santa exchange. This year, I was shopping for my dad and have been hard at work on a sweater since the week before Thanksgiving. I was really happy with the gauge on this sweater, it was loose and very fabric-like without having gaping holes. It seemed to fit my dad well (though, surprisingly, the sleeves were just a bit long). Something good to keep in mind for next time.

Opening the sweater

(I got distracted and didn’t take a picture of this…but thought you’d all enjoy the hand-knit blanket on the back of the couch. Courtesy of my mom and one of my favorite knits of all time.)

My Santa was my sister Heather who shopped on my wish list for the Wii Sports Resort (yay!) and off the list for these little individual bakers (double yay!). I wasn’t sure what to make in them, but as luck would have it my Everyday Food arrived for January and inside was a recipe for Spinach Frittata inside. If anyone else has recommendations, I’d love some other ideas on what to make.

My parents also joined the cooking bandwagon with a gift set of an immersion blender (since my mom read about the lentil soup disaster this fall), food processor, electric whisk and smoothie maker. We’ll definitely get some use out of this…it almost makes me want to make lentil soup again…almost.

From Eric’s sister, Michele, I got a book from Alabama Chanin. They use reverse appliques in their designs and primarily do hand sewing. There are some gorgeous skirts in the book and I spent a good hour on Flickr looking through the photo pool of other peoples’ projects. I’m going to try my hand at the simple headband design first before getting ahead of myself but I’m thinking that the skirts would be a great addition to my summer wardrobe.

There were lots of other lovely gifts and I always love giving out my knitted presents–I think they were well received–but best of all was getting to visit with everyone. Six months between visits to PA is just too long for me. I have to admit though, I was grinning most of the day Wednesday after returning to the sunshine and warmth. It’s good to go home, but it’s good to feel home too. I’m looking forward to 2010 and a great new year. Hope you are too!


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A Little Knitting

So the holiday knitting has begun, which means a lot of the things I am working on, I can’t post here. I am taking a bit of a different approach this year, I decided to knit things first and then figure out who gets them. This may or may not work out but I’ll be enjoying the process for sure.

The RepublicIMG_5550I saw this hat at SnB a few weeks ago and with my newly aquired stash of buttons, I had to make it. I think I spent more time debating the buttons than actually knitting. I knit it on 10 1/2 DPNs, so it only took a few hours. The button I chose is pearl so it’s pretty shiny but I think that this picture is a little better.

IMG_5551I would have modeled this, but with my short hair, it definitely doesn’t work for me. It’s really cute though and will definitely make a great stocking stuffer for a lucky recipient.

Entrelac Scarf

I’ve been dying to try this since I think it looks beautiful but I was pretty nervous. After picking up some Noro for a great deal (3 skeins for $10! Thank you Black Sheep Knittery) I had to give it a shot. It’s actually not as hard as I thought. And, I’m addicted to watching the colors change. It needs serious blocking because right now it looks like a basket. But, once done I think it will be really cute.

IMG_5553I may keep this for me. It’s just too fun. It has given me confidence to try the Lady Elanore however, but not in Noro (a little too spendy for me).

This month will be the first month of the year that I haven’t made my ‘sweater a month’ goal. I have a wrap I’m working on that I would consider subbing as a sweater, since it’s really detailed and pretty huge. With only 2 weeks left in the month, I need to get my butt in gear if I’m going to make it.


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A Pendulum

I should have seen it coming…I was totally due for a kitchen disaster. Everything was going so well!

I really haven’t had one since Easter when I tried to make soup with the hambone. Who would have thought that once again, soup would be my demise? I always thought it was one of the easier food categories.

I digress.

Earlier this week, I saw a recipe for Mulligatawny stew on PinkofPerfection. For once, I had everything in my kitchen to make it and after a late night of wine and playing Wii with friends we had over, warm, yummy rice and this stew sounded perfect.

And perfect it was, until I put it in the blender. I blend all the time. Smoothies, margaritas, but never, never has the lid BLOWN OFF THE TOP like it did when I have a boiling hot soup in it!

All over me. All over the kitchen counter. All across our cabinets.

So what do I do? I think, oh shit, I must not have had the lid on tight and do it AGAIN. And the lid blows off AGAIN.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t try it a third time. Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. I don’t know what the hell happened. Maybe the hot soup made a vaccum? Maybe our lid no longer holds a seal?

Either way, I decided to still eat the soup, just unpureed, which was fine but I don’t recommend it. I’m pretty sure my shirt is ruined and the poor car, who was never a fan of the blender in the first place, may never venture into the kitchen again.


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A Harvest

Fall is my absolute favorite season–it contains my favorite holiday (Thanskgiving), sport (football), coffee (pumpkin spice) and apparel (jeans and sweaters, tyvm).

I have to work a little harder for it here in SoCal, but I find it nonetheless. I watch lots of football and go hiking. Last weekend Eric and I took two long bike-rides and purposefully rode through the fallen leaves.

I love fall cooking and it does a lot to set the mood. Switching from salads to soups and seeing the produce turn to squashes and potatoes makes me incredibly happy. My favorite produce market recently switched over–no more walls of watermelon–and I’ve been cracking out the cookbook for some inspiration.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Roast Spaghetti Squash

I love spaghetti squash. Of course, I love pasta so it’s no surprise. I found a new recipe that calls for hollowing out the squash and mixing it with zucchini, basil, tomato sauce and parmesan. You then re-roast the squash. It was fantastic. 


My mom made ratatouille earlier in this week and I was inspired. I already had an eggplant, onion, tomatoes and mushroom in the fridge so I just had to pick up a little more zucchini and a green pepper. I’ve never had ratatouille before but it was delicious and really warming. I made a 2-quart casserole and ate most of it myself this weekend, forcing myself to stop so that I’d have lunch tomorrow.

Stuffed PeppersStuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers–but if I’m being honest find them a lot of work for what you get so we don’t make them very often. It’s been at least two years since we’ve had them. Still, the red and yellow roasted peppers are delicious. Of the three, this was the best. We stuff them with rice, tomato and ground beef with just a little bit of cheese on the top. I always want more rice and Eric wanted more ground beef. Next time I’ll have to stuff them separately.


We’ve yet to make our annual chili and were talking about making sweet and sour meatballs and spare ribs soon. There’s lots more cooking to come. Fall has begun!


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