Friday, October 23, 2009

Kate's Monogram Wreath


I was perusing Design*Sponge and saw this fabulous monogram wreath project by Kate Pruitt. I thought it looked so cute and easy that I had to post it. I may even tackle this one myself!

(photo from Design*Sponge)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lavender Moon Cupcakery


I'm not usually a huge fan of cupcakes, but Lavender Moon Cupcakery delivers where others fail. Original and classic flavors are moist, not dry as is a common problem with cupcakes. My husband picked up a handful of these for my son's actual birthday: Orange Creamsicle, Flourless Chocolate, Triple Chocolate, and Apple. Selection varies daily.

Lavender Moon Cupcakery
116 South Royal Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You Say It's Your Birthday...nah nah nah nah nah naahhh










We finally had my son's birthday party this past weekend and it was a success! You may recall from this post that we decided on a cowboy theme. Happy Birthday Pumpkin!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Love Pumpkins!



Baking from scratch is about the closest I get to being a 'real' housewife. The best Pumpkin Bread is from the Joy of Cooking cookbook.

PUMPKIN BREAD

One 9 x 5-inch loaf
This loaf can be made with any cooked mashed squash, yams, or sweet potatoes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Whisk together:
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves


Combine in a small bowl:
1⁄3 cup water or milk
1⁄2 teaspoon vanill
a


Beat in a large bowl until fluffy:
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) butter, softened, or 1⁄3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1⁄3 cups sugar or 1 cup sugar plus 1⁄ 3 cup packed brown sugar

Beat in one at a time:
2 large eggs

Add and beat on low speed just until blended:
1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin puree

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold in:
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1⁄3 cup raisins or chopped dates

[Blogger's Note: I prefer to add chocolate chips in lieu of the above.]


Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bravo Brabo!


In honor of my husband's fortieth birthday recently, we dined at the new Robert Wiedmaier restaurant, Brabo, in Old Town Alexandria. Most of the food is fairly simple, traditional fare, yet perfectly prepared. Nothing too wildly adventurous here, although I was tempted by the watermelon and goat cheese salad (I had the minestrone soup instead, which was delicious). The service was almost perfect, save for the fact that our server addressed us as Madam and Monsieur, though it is not a French restaurant. The dessert pictured above is a spiced pear and pomegranate cobbler with black pepper ice cream. It was the perfect ending to a lovely meal on a cool, almost-autumn, evening.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yee Haw!

My baby boy's first birthday is fast approaching and I have been ramping up for the event. I've decided on a cowboy theme and found these adorable invitations from Two Hand Design on Etsy to get me going:



She has some great products and did a fantastic job on the invites. Now I just need to mail them out!

Michael's has a bunch of their Martha Stewart line on clearance, so I really scored with paper in a bandanna print that I hope to use to make a flag banner. Some cowboy hats, a horse balloon, and maybe a paper cactus or two should make the party festive. Oh, and I may borrow my neighbor Joe's wooden, life-size cow, if I can muster up the guts to ask him. What's a cowboy without any cows?

Monday, August 24, 2009

H is for Henry

I decided to take on another project with some fun supplies I picked up at PaperSource. I found these craft paper letters and decided to decoupage one for my son's room. I used PaperSource's PVA (aka bookbinder's glue), but you could also use Modge Podge.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Licensed to Thrill


Do you ever see a license plate that seems to say something but you just can't figure it out? This always bugs me, but I'm amused when I can decipher it.

I especially love funny or ironic license plates. Recently, I was out and about when I saw an older Ford (or Mercury) Taurus with the plates "PHAT DOG" Well, you would think it belonged to a driver of a youthful age and , perhaps, a tough edge. Not so; it was someone's worn-around-the-edges grandpa driving.

I recently heard about a license plate that the Virginia DMV deemed offensive and would not issue. How did they miss this one then?: "WHATDF"

Maybe I should consider plates that read "CNFSD". Any idea what the heck that means? EDIT: Clearly I'm confused!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Banner Day

One of the reasons why I started this blog was to have a creative outlet. I love paper, so I appreciate beautiful stationary and enjoy paper crafts.

I recently picked up this kit from PaperSource to make a flag banner for my son.




It was a really fast and easy project since the flags were already cutout. My husband had the idea to hang it across the windows in his room and I loved the result:


Friday, July 24, 2009

Gazpacho



This Gazpacho recipe from Real Simple magazine is really the only gazpacho I'll eat these days, it is that delicious. I think the fennel really sets this dish apart from other traditional gazpacho. I hope to make some this weekend, since temperatures are forcasted to soar into the nineties.

Makes 6-8 servings

Hands-on Time: 0hr 30m

Total Time: 3hr 00m

This recipe is: One Pot, Kid Friendly

Ingredients

  • 3 small fennel bulbs, roughly chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 sweet onion (such as Vidalia), roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 red bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced (or one 14.5-ounce can chopped tomatoes, undrained)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) tomato or vegetable juice
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • lemon or lime wedges

Directions

1. Place the fennel, celery, scallions, onion, garlic, and red peppers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not pureed.

2. Transfer to a large glass or plastic bowl and stir in the tomatoes, oil, salt, black pepper, tomato juice, lemon juice, and hot sauce, if desired.

3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve chilled with the lemon or lime wedges.

Tip

If pressed for time, use packages of presliced vegetables found at most supermarkets.

Nutrition Per Serving

Calcium 83.97mg; Calories 224.35; Calories From Fat 63%; Carbohydrate 21.15g; Cholesterol 0mg; Fat 15.97g; Fiber 5.34g; Iron 1.92mg; Protein 3.55mg; Sat Fat 2.16g; Sodium 913.92mg

Real Simple, September 2005

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Let Them Eat Crepes"


Fontaine, Caffe and Creperie, feels as though one has stepped outside of Alexandria and into Paris. I recently dined here again, and again, was not disappointed. The crepes are nothing short of divine. Savory crepes include the Morrocan (spinach, feta, and mint yogurt sauce), the Parisienne (roasted herb chicken and ratatouille with brie cheese), and the Zenist (lentils, spinach, and tomatoes simmered in coriander coconut curry sauce), among others equally appealing. The service is friendly and attentive, but not intrusive. Consider finishing with a sweet crepe such as the Late Nighter with poached pears and butter pecan ice cream drizzled with cognac and chocolate sauce, and your bill will still be reasonable enough to frequent Fontaine to satisfy the cravings that are sure to follow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yep, this is me



Every so often, I have a somewhat mundane question that I think to myself, "That would be a good question for Mom." My mother passed away a little more than 10 years ago, but I still find myself forgetting this fact for a split second when I think of a question I know she could answer.


We are leaving for a week-long vacation in St. Michael's, Maryland soon, where we have rented a house. This will be our first vacation with our young son and old dog and I am looking forward to the time together. As the time approaches, I have become more and more anxious about getting everything done to ensure a great trip. When it occurred to me tonight that I would even have to take toilet paper and dish soap, I was reminded of my family's trek to the beach every summer, with our humungus Oldsmobile station wagon packed to the ceiling with such common, everyday items.
When I wondered what else I would need, I thought "That would be a good question for Mom." I think this, not with sadness, but with fond rememberence and a touch of melancholy.

I remember the dining room filling up over the preceding weeks with everything she thought we would need. I'm sure there were times when something was forgotton, but to me, it was all smooth sailing.


So, my friends, when you rent a place to stay for vacation, what else have you brought (or wish you had)?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chalk It Up


I love anything that makes life simpler, more organized, and is beautiful to boot. Enter these chalkboard rectangles I found at PaperSource, and voila!, an instant message center in the kitchen. I keep a tin of chalk with an eraser on the counter nearby. If I decide to rearrange, relocate, or remove the chalk board, it removes easily without damaging the paint on the wall or leaving behind marks.

PaperSource also sells a similar product, but with a little more flair:


This chalkboard contact paper looks nifty too, providing endless possibilities for it's use.



Feeling more creative? Chalkboard paint is right up your alley! Naturally, Martha Stewart has a lot of fun ways to use this paint.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Frozen Lettuce

No, it's not a new trend in dining or a cooking tip. It's a sign I need to up my caffeine intake.

I was just making a sandwich for lunch when I realized I couldn't find the bag of lettuce I just bought an hour ago, only to find it in the freezer. Yes, it's been that kind of week, which is why I haven't posted. But I have a few things in the works and hope to be back real soon!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Stain Removal 101

Creatas Images Single Image Set

Successfully removing stains is the only satisfying part about the chore of laundry for me. I have my old stand-bys, Gonzo (which I buy by the gallon these days...the reason why deserves it's own post so more on that later), the recently discovered Grandma's Secret Spot Remover, and the hard-to-believe trick of regular Aqua Net to remove ball point pen ink.

But what about an unusual or difficult stain? What if it's on your favorite piece of clothing that cost an arm and a leg? Well, a few years ago, when I was searching for the best way to remove red wine, I stumbled across a gem that the smart people at Cornell have assembled and graciously share with the world. This document covers everything imaginable and is quite an interesting read (especially for nerds like me). Asphalt? No problem. Glue? Piece of cake.
Mixed drinks? Now you're talkin'! Gonzo has since come out with a product called Wine Out, but I still keep a copy of this stain removal guide near my washing machine.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Best in Show

This was going to be a post about unusual items sold at my neighborhood Whole Foods (required shopping for all urban-suburbanites). But a much better post offered itself up instead.

While in my favorite part of the store, the prepared-foods department, a woman approached me, smiling at my baby. She said, "That is just the cutest baby!" To which I replied, as any mother would, "Thank you! I think so too!" But it did not end there. As she began to walk off, she said, "You have a real winner there. A definite best-in-show!"

In honor of my Westminster-bound offspring, I bring you Ostrich Eggs. Sadly, they were out of emu eggs today. Guess my omlette will have to wait.

Grounded



The convenience of that all-too-famous coffee chain often lures us, however, there is an undeniable charm when it comes to your local coffee shop. I am fortunate enough to have two within a short driving distance from my home (well, I guess I could walk...), and a number of other options in Old Town Alexandria just a few more minutes away. My current fave is the Grounded Coffee Shop at the intersection of Telegraph Road and South Kings Highway. Delectable desserts made on the premises, delicious sandwiches, (and of course, tasty coffee) make this a favorite among locals. A play area and changing table in the restrooms offer a much more convenient spot for a cuppa joe for parents. Find a locally owned coffee shop in your neighborhood at Delocator.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Welcome!

I'm a modern housewife living in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of our Nation's Capital, with my husband, eight month old son, and our elderly cocker spaniel. This is a great city and I think we live a pretty amazing life here. And I look forward to sharing it with you!