Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jonathan Adler books

My aunt P gave me two Jonathan Adler books.

She had them signed by the amazing Jonathan Adler himself!

(For Lisa-- Trapped In North Jersey, great big pink puffy heart Jonathan from South Jersey)

how awesome is that?

The books are pretty good, too.

2010 Meme

*Arg, forgot to mention that I lifted this meme from Jive Turkey, whose answers are infinitely more interesting.  

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Start a blog!

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Hahahaah.  Uh, no.  Last year I resolved to spend 10% less, give1% to charity, and lose weight.  Our spending did not decrease, we gave zip to charity, and while I lost 30 lbs, I've put back on 15.  EPIC FAIL.  

2011's resolutions are pretty much the same, but I"m trying new ways to accomplish them.
Reining in spending--we started using a Quicken-like product, instead of my excel spreadsheets.
Give 1% to charity--I'm setting this up as an automated debit this year, so it actually gets done.
Lose weight--I joined Weight Watchers yesterday.  

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 
Yes, my sister!  Hi, Denise!

4. Did anyone close to you die? 
Yes, my grandfather.

5. What places did you visit? 
We visited the Mister's grandmother in Italy, and vacationed in Costa Rica. This put a giant dent in the vacation budget for 2011.  I foresee answering "no, we went nowhere" to this question at the end of 2011. 

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? 
Get out of Craptasticville.  

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
September 7th, the day my oldest started kindergarten.  Waaaah.  Need more babies.  

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I started a blog!  And I update it on a regular basis.  That has been a very nice thing.

9. What was your biggest failure?
On the bright side, I don't have any big failures.  Aside from that whole spend less/lose weight thing.   

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 
No, which was a nice change from 2009, the Year of Multiple Plagues.

11. What was the best thing you bought? 
I'm pretty fond of the new grill.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The Mister.  He works so hard to provide for us and is fun to have around, to boot.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? 
Eh, lets not go there.

14. Where did most of your money go? 
The short people are kind of expensive to have around.  

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
Seeing Harry Potter 7.  Going to Italy.    

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Bedrock by Young Money.  (I think its by Young Money.) And that Chris Brown song that they play at weddings that I can never remember the name of.  Forever!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? About the same.
b) thinner or fatter?  A little thinner, but I'm doing my best to be just as fat.
c) richer or poorer? Eh, about the same.  

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? 
Exercised more patience.  Exercised, period.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? 
Eating cookies.  Losing my temper. 

20. How did you spend Christmas last year? 
Same as always, Christmas Eve with the Mister's family, Christmas Day with mine.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010? 

22. What was your favorite TV program? 
Everything I like gets canceled.  Fringe is pretty good, and on the verge of being canceled.

23. What did you do for your birthday in 2010?
I can't remember. I think the kids baked me a cake and I got some nice pillows.    

24. What was the best book you read? 
The entire Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games series.

25. What did you want and get? 
Pretty pillows and pretty curtains.   A new grill.

26. What did you want and not get? 
Getting out of Craptasticville. We are still here.  I have high hopes for escape in 2011. Also, I really want a new damn sofa.  This does not appear to be on the agenda for 2011, either.  

27. What was your favorite film of this year?
I've only seen one movie this year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. So I guess that makes it my favorite.

28. Did you make some new friends this year? 
Yes, actually.  

29.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? 
Moving back to South Jersey.  That clearly didn't happen.  

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? 
Dowdy.  Frumpy. Sweatpantsy.  Driven by nursing. 

31. What kept you sane? 
This blog has been a lovely creative outlet.  

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? 
This is a dumb question.  None.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? 
Taxes.  Also, not really a political issue at the forefront here, but the price of real estate.   

34. Who did you miss? 
All of Burlington and Camden County.  

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. 
Keep your mouth shut.  I learn that lesson over and over, but it never seems to sink in.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fred the cardboard moose

Fred the moose has finally shown up, and taken his rightful place in the foyer.

I assembled and hung him last night.  This morning when Greg woke up and saw it, he said "hey! Nice reindeer!"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow day

We got alot of snow.

I hate snow.

Kids like it, though.

Princess got all dressed up to go outside...and the snow was up to her neck.  So she stayed inside while the boys went out with Nonno and the Mister to shovel.

Couldn't get out the back, so we tried the basement, which has a backdoor that opens onto a covered stairwell...that didn't work either:

The drifts in the back were too high to get through to the garage, so everyone trooped out the front, where the snow wasn't as high.  Nonno acted as the human snowplow as they waded through knee-high snow around the side.

Peter had trouble getting through the snow, so the Mister carried him.

The back of the house and the driveway got the worst of the snow.  Very high winds gave us pretty huge drifts.

Nonno and the Mister shoveled for two hours this morning, took a break for a while, and are back out there now, trying to finish the driveway.  The three feet mound of snow that snowplows dumped at the bottom of the driveway is taking a while to get rid of.

Throwing snowballs at Nonno:

Princess insists on wearing her snowboots, even if she can't go outside.

And we made a fire to warm everyone up.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Feast of the Seven Fishes

The Mister's family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve, with the Feast of the Seven Fishes.  Its hours and hours of delicious food. The first Christmas I spent here I ate my fill of the antipasti course.  Much to my dismay, I discovered there were six more courses.  I waddled away from that meal and didn't eat for three days.  

This year we actually had eight fishes instead of the traditional seven.  All of them were excellent. The boys went with Nonno to the fish market to help pick out the fish.  The boys got to pick crabs out of a bin, which they have been talking about for days.

anchovies with escarole, artichokes
mushrooms, cod with tomatoes, olives and cheeses
octopus, sardines
bacala, shrimp, eel

And the piece de resistance, lobster sauce

It appears I did not take pictures of the dessert course.  (Pumpkin bread pudding, cookies, cream cookies, cannolis, ice cream).

Lots of presents were opened:

A lovely time was had by all.  

Merry Christmas!

Here's hoping all your Christmas wishes came true.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Behold, the power of the internets

Ask and ye shall receive!  Post a rant about the lack of Christmas card in your mailbox, and lo and behold, within 48 hours you will get fifteen more cards!  Some of them may be from your dentist and your accountant, but hey, a card is a card.


This afternoon I was perusing a Betty Crocker Christmas cookie cookbook, trying to find some no-nut cookies that aren't chocolate chip (they don't exist), when I came across a recipe for gingerbread men.  I can't see gingerbread cookies without laughing.

When I was about 12 or so, one of my aunts made gingerbread cookies at Christmas to give to her colleagues. At the time, she was working at a religious charity. I  think she left them laying out on the table at my grandmother's house overnight.  One of my uncles came home late at night from his job as a cook, saw the gingerbread men, and got to work.  When my aunt woke up in the morning, she discovered a veritable x-rated army of generously endowed gingerbread ladies, replete with cherry gumdrop nipples. Many of them were engaging in vigorous activities, like bike-riding and jumping rope.  (Sadly, I don't have any pictures of this.) It was really quite creative.  My aunt was NOT HAPPY at the thought of giving large-breasted cookies to her religious charity coworkers.

While the previous two soups were delicious, the escarole soup was...edible.  We ordered pizza.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

delicious soups

Cold weather makes me want to eat soup.  This week we have had two delicious soups.  The Mister and the younger two have devoured these soups.  Greg has skipped dinner two nights in row.  Interpret that how you will.

The first soup is from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with your Slowcooker.  Generally, I avoid crockpots.  If you own this cookbook you may notice that the vast majority of recipes involve a can of cream of something soup, mixed with sour cream, and probably topped with cheese.  Cooking with crockpots is not for the lactose intolerant.

This recipe, however, is lactose free! Sadly, I did not take a picture. However, it pretty much looks like what you would expect a taco soup to look like.

 Taco Soup with Black Beans, page 36 (6-8 servings)
1lb of ground beef, browned and drained (I fried mine with about a quarter of a chopped onion)
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I only had peeled, so that's what we used)
15 oz can corn, undrained (I only had corn in the freezer)
15 oz can black beans, undrained
15 oz can refried beans (actually, the recipe called for kidney beans, but I substituted refried beans)
1 envelope dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1 envelope dry taco seasoning mix
Toss everything in slow cooker and cook on low 4 to 6 hours.  (You know, you could easily make this in under an hour if you just cooked in one big pot on the stove.)

I served it over rice, with some lactose-free cheddar cheese and cut up avocado.  It was delicious.  Princess had three bowls and Peter had two, until Greg came in and started grousing that dinner was horrible, and then everyone decided that dinner sucked.

The other soup we had was a delicious Sausage Soup, that I found at What Am I Going To Be When I Grow Up. (I would say there are about 6-8 servings in this recipe.  Maybe less.)  I slightly modified the recipe--it calls for a 20 oz can of diced tomatoes and 32 oz of chicken stock, but I used 28 oz of peeled tomatoes (yes, we buy that stuff in bulk) and 24 oz of chicken stock, and it came out lovely. I halved the amount of sausage.  I also added a shredded zucchini when frying the onions (shredded because it is easier to hide. Large chunks of zucchini would be met with YUCK).  And, because I am feeding an Italian family, I added olive oil when frying up the onion and zucchini.  It was so delicious, in fact, that there isn't any left for lunch tomorrow.  Waah.
You can't even see the zucchini!
Tomorrow I am making an escarole soup.  As soon as I find a recipe for it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The contents of my purse

I thought you might enjoy a peek into the glamorous contents of my purse.  Me and Kim Kardashian are carrying the same stuff:

That would be:
4 dinosaurs ( stegosaurus, a triceratops, a t-rex (he's in the back, RAWR), and I think a compsognathus?)
2 Thomas trains
2 matchbox cars (this is weird, I usually have three of everything)
one baby spoon
one bag of goldfish pretzels
one wooden teether toy
lots of change
a massage appointment card
two size 6 diapers
27 coupons (the large pile of paper in the back)
yellow Michael Kors wallet
my phone
antibacterial hand gel
one Sesame St book
3 boxes of tic-tacs (two orange, one cherry passion)
one pencil

I spared you all the fine film of goldfish detritus littering the bottom of the bag.

I took 9 shots of this little hand darting in to grab a dinosaur before getting one hand-free shot.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I have Big Plans for the second bathroom, but for the past week I have been re-reading the Harry Potter series at night after the kids go to bed.  Seeing as that is my prime DIY project time, the bathroom has taken a back seat for a while.

I'm up to book five (Order of the Phoenix).  Its been a while since I've read the earlier books.  We had a flood in our basement a few years ago and I lost a lot of books, the earlier HP books among them, so I ordered the box set a few weeks ago.  I had reread the Deathly Hallows before going to see the movie, and there's sooooo much exposition in that book, but the end is just so good.

I am really enjoying the re-read.  Its neat to see where all the clues were that I missed the first time around.  And kind of weird to not be checking Mugglenet and the Leaky Cauldron for discussion of what the clues mean.

Has anyone read the Percy Jackson and Olympians series?  Artemis Fowl?  Thoughts?  I'm open to suggestions for a new YA series to get started on.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

a very slanty Christmas

Remember I said our Christmas tree was sort of slanty?

It has gone beyond slanty and crossed the line into About To Pitch Forward And Pin an Unsuspecting Family Member Underneath It.  I was a bit concerned.  I took all the decorations down and turned the slanty tree so that it now slants into the corner.  This way if it does decide to topple over it will not assault one of my children.

Sadly, the back of the tree was not as pretty as the front.  There is a large gap at the bottom, the branches are all bunchy in the middle, and now the tree looks Incredibly Slanted.  So much so that any guest who has come over this week has said something to the effect of " you sure...the kids..." and I say YES ITS A SLANTED TREE AND ITS POINTED TOWARD THE WALL AND HELD BACK WITH WEIGHTS CLEARLY I DID NOT KNOW IT WAS THAT SLANTED WHEN I BOUGHT IT ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO COMMENT ON???

Speaking of slanty, we also put together a gingerbread train.  Despite having built a few of these, it did not occur to me that when the directions says "break apart the pieces at the imprinted line" what they actually mean is "use a knife to cut the pieces".   Or your pieces will break. Apart. But not at the line.  And your peanut-allergic son may grab a piece and start to eat it, and you will Freak! Out! because the label says it contains peanuts and you will yell at your son and he will cry.  Merry Christmas!

So, since we had a few jagged pieces, our train more closely resembles Stonehenge.  A Stonehenge that leans a bit, since the jagged pieces were not quite large enough to connect to the others.  (There was a Stonehenge on stage tonight that was in serious danger of being crushed by a dwarf!)

We also made Christmas gifts for the boys to give to family members, but I apparently did not take any pictures of that.  Which is probably a good thing.  It was a crafty project, and I find crafty projects to be the devil's own handiwork, and the afternoon culminated in an adult yelling loudly, shattered glass on the floor, and a toddler with a diaper full of glitter.  Good times, people, good times.  I will never understand people who like to do crafts with their kids for fun.  I would rather stab my own eyeballs out with cocktail straws.

Moving on! I don't have ANY pictures of the three of my children that are suitable for a Xmas card.  This is sort of stressing me out.  I expect that this year's holiday card will probably say Happy Martin Luther King Day by the time I get these done and mailed.
All of my pictures look like this.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What color should I paint it?

As I posted earlier, I got a campaign dresser!  Eventually I'd like to paint it a pretty color.  Here are some campaign dressers in my inspiration files.  

Why yes, this is from Emily Clark's office, which I have featured on my blog 8 bazillion times.  You must be thinking that I really really really like that room.  You'd be right, cuz I do. And look--she has an awesome campaign dresser painted a beautiful kelly green!  

This one is from Cassie & Co.:

The next two are from Little Green Notebook (although I think the green one is via Lonny).
I love the little campaign dresser against the chinoiserie wallpaper:

Bright, happy colors!  Any ideas on what color I should paint mine, since my living room has a purple sofa, blue rug, red leather chair and brick/blue/off-white/brown chinoiserie curtains?

Campaign dresser

I had thought I might hold off on posting about my new campaign dresser until I get a chance to fix it up, but who knows when that will happen.

Months of searching craigslist finally paid off.  I got the dresser, a matching nightstand and a desk with a hutch.  Not sure what we'll be doing with the nightstand and desk.  They are currently in the boys room, and since they are similar in color to the Ikea Malm stuff in there, I'll probably leave them as they are.

All three pieces are a blonde laminate case with white melamine drawers.  Normally blonde laminate is not my finish of choice, but, I kind of like the contrast, and these pieces were HEAVY.  Like, 200+ lbs.  I'm amazed the Mister and I managed to get them into the apartment.  When we were moving the dresser in, the (manly, muscled) Mister was essentially dragging it up the stairs while I was pushing it up with my hands over my head, bent horizontal to the stairs. (If only I had the picture for the blog.)  The dresser was so heavy that I don't see us moving it outside to paint it.  So....I don't see it getting painted any time in the near future.  That's ok, it gives me time to plan.

Despite being covered in about 30 years worth of dust, the pieces are in pretty good shape.  I started trying to clean the hardware while its still attached, but it needs a really good scrubbing, so I'm going to have to take it off.

Eventually I will get around to painting the dresser. At the moment I don't really have a good idea what color that would be...I'm enjoying the sort of toned down color palette we have going on in the living room right now.  If you're going to paint a campaign dresser it seems like you should go for a Statement! color.

Hmm, I see a inspiration pics and "what color should I paint this" post coming up.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

new place for the sideboard?

My months of scouring Craigslist have finally paid off.  I found a campaign dresser!  Woot woot!!!

This means that I have to rearrange some furniture.  I think the campaign dresser will be going under the tv.  That means the white sideboard currently there needs to go someplace else.  I will admit to having a fairly zen, less furniture is better sensibility.  Too may pieces of furniture in a room gives me hives.


1) in the dining room:

2) in the kitchen:

Um, no. I don't like this one at all. Its too big. Which is a shame, I could use some storage in the kitchen.

Well, the wall in the foyer that was my next try has the same measurements, so that saves me moving that around.

3) out in the garage

I think I am liking it in the dining room.  I was afraid it would be too cramped or lopsided, but I think it works.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas tree is up!

I am not a seasonal decorator, as you may have surmised from the lack of seasonal decorating posts around these parts. Growing up, my mother changed the seasonal decor on a monthly basis, but that gene seems to have skipped a generation. The only seasonal decorating I partake in is carving pumpkins for Halloween and putting up Christmas trees.

We put up our Christmas tree today.
Its a bit slanty.  As in, it looks like its about to pitch forward. This characteristic did not make itself known until we got it home and in the tree stand.   So now its tied down by two 20-lb weights in the back. And it still looks like its going to fall over.

The kids refused to decorate the bottom.  Everyone wanted to decorate the top by standing on their tippytoes on top of chairs.

We have a number of bell ornaments, which were a big hit this year.

My brother in law gave us the Christmas Story lights a few years ago as a Christmas present.  They have made it onto the tree every year since.  They make me laugh.  And we always say "FRA-JEEEL-LAY.  They must be Italian" when we hang them.