Thursday, January 27, 2011

My birthday surprise! =)

I came home yesterday to the biggest teddy bear ever--and I LOVE IT!  Al is such a sweetheart =)  Watch out though, Al, Clueless Bear might just take over your side of the bed.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wine Cork Bulletin Board

Last summer, after moving out of her place, Lauren gave me a bag full of old wine corks.  I had noticed her collection before she moved, and was excited to do something with them since she still didn't know what she wanted to do with them.  For a while this bag of corks just sat around my room until I saw a wine-cork wreath at another friend's house.  Somehow, this grabbed my attention and I thought about what I wanted to do with that bag of wine corks Lauren had given me.  This led to the creation of my first (and so far..only...) wine cork bulletin board!

  • wine corks
  • hot glue gun
  • wooden photo frame
  1. If you don't have enough wine corks--cut each one in half length-wise.  I used a kitchen bread knife, which worked okay for me.  (but was still a pain!)
  2. ARRANGE the wine corks into a pattern on the backboard of the photo frame.  I chose to go with straight rows because I thought it looked neater in the small space that I had.  Next time, I might alternate with horizontal and vertical pieces.  Make sure to leave enough space around the edges to fit in the frame.
  3. GLUE each piece down using a hot glue gun.
  4. Remove glass from the photo frame and pop the board back in.  The frame now makes a nice border around the wine corks.
  5. DONE!
Super easy, yes?  If you're having a wine-themed wedding, make a wine cork bulletin board to display seating cards for the reception or to post directions or other wedding-related signs.  =)

Have fun!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gifts from my mother-in-law

I love my mother-in-law.  She is my second mother and I have had the privilege of spending almost every holiday with her ever since Al and I started dating.  A great thing about my mother-in-law is that she has a certain way of doing things that will probably never change.  Once Al and I began to date seriously, I was lucky to begin to receive her famous Christmas presents--a box filled with clothes and shaving cream or other useful toiletry.

The best thing about these clothes is that (for Al) they are always too big (size L to XL), are cold weather items (fleece, sweaters, etc.), and, the most important characteristic of all--we have no idea when or where she purchased these items!  (possibly decades ago???? who knows???)

Anyways, after over 20 years of giving presents to two boys, Mom now has the opportunity of giving gifts to a girl--me!  Here are just a couple of my favorites through the years:

- a typical gift--warm fleece that is maybe a size too big.  This is about the most normal clothing item I've received.

- Sparkly green sweater

- sequined "party top" that has no shape--it really is a piece of fabric sewed at the ends like a pillow case (and hangs off of your body like one too)

- my new favorite!  a workout jacket and matching pants with ROSES!! =)  Where do you even buy these???

Not pictured: a jean skirt that was a children's size 12~  I'm so flattered, I wish I was that skinny but I could not even wrap the thing around my ribcage!

This is just a sampling of what has been in my box of goodies for the past few Christmases.  I'm not posting these up to make fun of them---I just love thinking of them because they always put a smile on my face when I think of how sweet my mother-in-law is and how she thinks of me and tries to get me stuff I would like!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Moroccan Beef Meatball Tagine

You might have noticed from my pictures, but a lot of our meals consist of rice with some kind of saucy meat topping.  While I try to cook a lot of different kinds of meals, Al really likes food that is easy to eat so he can "shovel food faster into his pie hole."  This tagine (or stew) is a favorite of ours!  It's easy, flavorful, and we makes plenty for leftovers. =)

(Hmmmm, again I am not a photographer....or a food maybe this picture doesn't look as appetizing as it should...=P)

Bon Appetit

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (20% fat) 
  • 1/3 cup coarsely grated onion 
  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)* 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped onions 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 cinnamon sticks 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled 
  • 2 cups beef broth 
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice 
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins 
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick carrot slices (cut on diagonal) 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for garnish 
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach leaves

For meatballs: 
Line large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using moistened hands and scant 2 tablespoonfuls for each, roll meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet. 

For stew: 
Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté about 15 minutes. Add garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and saffron; stir 2 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with juice, and raisins.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring stew to simmer. Stir in carrots. Carefully add meatballs to stew; gently press into liquid to submerge. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cilantro over. Cover pot; place in oven. Bake until meatballs are cooked through and carrots are tender, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle spinach over stew. Cover and bake until spinach wilts, about 5 minutes longer. Gently stir to mix in spinach, being careful not to break meatballs. Remove cinnamon sticks. Season tagine with salt and pepper.

Some notes~
  • I've never used saffron because I can't bring myself to buy the actual spice.  It might make it taste even better, but we still like it as it is.  Instead, I serve the stew with saffron rice (like the mahatma saffron rice) to make up for not getting the spice.
  • When we are out of cinnamon sticks, I just saute the onions with about a tsp. of ground cinnamon and it tastes the same.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Due to holiday travels and the like, I am a few posts behind what I had intended to write over the past two weeks.  So sorry if these are a little belated!

Al and I exchanged gifts last Monday before we went home for the holidays so that we wouldn't have to lug our presents all the way to Virginia just to lug them back.  I wanted to put up pictures because Al did such a nice job in the packaging!

First, he gave me an "Apple 1.0":

And then he gave me "Apple 2.0":

And I love it! =)  So I am now a Mac.  A Big Mac

I was also excited about my gift to Al, so here's a picture:

Step aside Rock Band, we're official now.