Sunday, February 13, 2011

an education

A friend and I have been wanting an excuse to get together more often and spend quality time chatting, bonding, and, if it worked out, making something pretty white we were at it. We researched classes that were being offered in our area and decided upon an intro to jewelry-making class at a school near work. We envisioned meeting up every Tuesday night and mindlessly, effortlessly, second naturedly crafting stunning works, sure to elicit compliments to which we could reply, "Thanks! I made it!"

So far, I can see myself neither wearing anything I have made nor claiming it as my handiwork.

You read above that this is Intro to Jewelry, right? Intro? Lies. Everyone else in the class has taken it 3 or 4 times in previous semesters and is there for what I can identify as a few reasons: to use fancy metalsmithing jargon that has no place in everyday conversation, to wear crocs in an appropriately fashionless environment, because they have dreams of someday making this more than a once a week hobby, and to enjoy the high that goes along with showing up the newbies.

In short, we feel dumb. My friend E and I are both generally fairly type A, and we really thought we would rock this class. I don't generally like activities at which I don't excel or at least enjoy (ahem, kickball?) so I generally really don't like this! I do enjoy watching the demos, there is something very soothing about watching our teacher (whose day job is the real life version of CSI Atlanta) bend metal this way and that all while telling stories in a charming way, avoiding any real cursing by using words like unpleasant, uncomfortable and unfortunate. Love that. But this week marks class 4 and I am barely beyond the first lesson. I think this will turn into Intro to Patience, Humility and No Taking Oneself Too Seriously for me. That's cool. I already have enough jewelry.

I should mention that last week I went to happy hour right before the class and that the 3/4 of a beer I drank seemed to make the class much more fun. The teacher was so busy with the advanced students that E and I talked and walked around the halls of the school with coffees for the first 45 minutes. It really is like being in high school. Maybe even middle school if you consider the amount of self doubt and humiliation we are facing. So I am basically paying $175 to relive my youth. Well worth it.

a week of meals

Back to posting, I promise! It has been a very busy couple of weeks. My boss left the company just as my part time gig was set to start, so that threw a wrench into all my lots-of-extra-time-to-myself-and-my-freelance plans. And Brett has been out of town a lot, so cooking has been on the back burner.

So to make up for it, here is a super week's worth of meal planning. And guess what? These, and most of the other recipes I have been sharing, are Weight Watchers recipes! I have been doing this plan for a few months and I love it. I'm not going to talk numbers just yet, but I put on a pair of pants today that have been skin tight for years and they were loose! And are now one of my favorites again as they were when I was 23. Yes, 23!

SUNDAY : Ropa Vieja with Spinach Salad
MONDAY : Curried Quinoa with Chickpeas
TUESDAY : Tomato Soup with Roasted Squash
WEDNESDAY : Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms
THURSDAY : Coconut Shrimp and Mango Salad
FRIDAY : Nutty Sweet Potato Salad

I'll post a few recipes later this week, for now I just needed to get a blog post in. xoxo

Sunday, January 23, 2011

a week of meals

Here's what's cooking in our kitchen this week, a few of these things sounded really good and we already made them this weekend. Brett is gone again this week but I am determined to treat myself well and still cook. Some of our favorite recipes lately are below. Did anyone try the healthy brownies? I'd be interested to hear your opinion.

Sunday : lunch | CHICKEN + RICE SOUP with BROCCOLI and MUSHROOMS, dinner | BEEF and BROCCOLI
Monday : post swim practice burritos
Tuesday : leftovers before jewelry class

Last night I made the bean nachos for an easy Saturday dinner and a movie. They were awesome and so was the movie (Invictus). Today I made the chicken and rice soup for lunch and ate it with Brett and BIL Nick while we watched the Supercross race... at least I enjoyed the soup. Tonight I'm going to make the beef and broccoli while we watch football. Hope ya'll have a great week!

These remind me of the stuffed peppers my mom made growing up. I loved them!

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water
4 bell peppers
10 kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tbsp pesto
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 375°. Heat oil in a large saucepan and sauté onion for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their liquid, water and quinoa to pan, stir and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until quinoa is tender.

In the meantime, cut top off peppers and clean out any ribs and seeds. Make a thin slice off the bottom so they stand easily on a baking sheet.

When quinoa is done, stir in chickpeas, olives and pesto. Taste and add salt to taste. Spoon quinoa mixture into the peppers and bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Then remove from oven, sprinkle with the feta and continue baking another 5 minutes or until feta is melted.

Obviously I don't have kids and hardly ever cook for kids, but I suspect kids would like these.

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 14 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
10 kalamata olives, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped
baked tortilla chips
spices (I used a cajun seasoning and cumin)

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat oil in a skillet and cook onion and garlic until soft, about 8 minutes. Add black beans and spices, mix in with onions. Smash them with the back of a fork, creating a paste. I added some water during this process and kept the heat on low. Spread the beans over 20 or so chips and top with cheese on a baking sheet. Bake about three minutes until cheese melts and then remove and top with salsa, sour cream and cilantro. I generally am not a huge fan of non fat dairy, but in this case where it is more about texture than taste, I used fat free sour cream and it was perfect.

Another note, I used home made chips for this recipe. It is so easy, they make any snack or dip feel fancier, look prettier and a little more wholesome. Slice fresh corn or flour tortillas into wedges. Throw them on a baking sheet, spray with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 425°, keep checking them and flip once. Bake til crisp.

Monday, January 17, 2011

bath time!

We have had some set backs to our bathroom remodel, so while we finally have a toilet after about 9 days, it'll soon get to relive its glory days as hunk of non functional ceramic art, beautifying our living room in a sort of Marcel Duchamp/R. Mutt tribute. In other words, it's getting ripped out because the floor needs to be redone. In the meantime, I'm focusing on the prettier side of bathrooms: (although as toilets go this one is a stunner) mirrors and other accoutrements.

Today I picked up three mirrors at Target, I'm going to try to keep this on the cheap. Option one is just a plain, frameless beveled 18" edge round, $19. I like the simplicity of it, but think it might be a little small. The second is a larger round in a metallic wood frame by Thomas O'Brien, on clearance for $56. The frame color doesn't match the other chrome finishes in there so my plan would be to paint it with the same paint I used for the new closet. I painted a teensy swatch on the bottom edge just to see how the color looks in there are I am liking it. It is sort of my whimsical option. Third is a rectangle mirror with a mirror frame, $29. It is really classic looking, I think it would let the tile and fixtures be the stars, and it will work well with the light fixture. Hoping to post more on this project soon, along with the $29 cabinet we found to add storage to the room. Yes, $29!

Above are some other style elements I will try to work in. The blue is the color of our closet and a deeper version of the color of our living room walls. I don't want to paint the bath walls this color (too much of a good thing) but I definitely envision this fitting in somewhere... This is our new light fixture, bought on clearance from Restoration Hardware, except we have fancy black shades. The LOVE sculpture I own, I bought the milk glass lotion pump today at Target (bye bye Aveeno bottle), and the artwork is something I've had my eye on. Imagine my surprise when I received a similar print from a photographer friend this Christmas! I'm loving this fabric, it is just from cheap-o Ha
ncock Fabrics but I think it is so mod. I seem to buy wire baskets every time I go antiquing. That is our new faucet! It was a splurge, but I think it will be worth it! And I just love that monogram style. Towels? Toilet paper? Kidding. I do have an idea to frame a piece of tp that I managed to salvage from the unruly (not) Weezer crowd. I mean Rivers Cuomo touched it! Hopefully it will all look as good as it does in my head.

photo by Alex Martinez

Sunday, January 16, 2011

a week of meals

Somehow we got through most of this. One mishap - Brett thought I meant ground sirloin so we had burgers instead of beef and broccoli. Below is the recipe for the healthy brownies, they really are quite good! Just don't overcook.

Brett is out of town this week, so I am going to try to munch my way through any leftovers and not shop for much other than some fruit and veg for snacks. Here is my single gal meal plan for the week:

Monday: making the STUFFED PEPPERS I meant to make last week.
Tuesday: leftover pepper before jewelry class


1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
6 eggs
1/2 cup stevia for baking (I used Truvia)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil and blend in cocoa powder. Set aside to cool. In another bowl, blend together the eggs, stevia, salt and vanilla. Stir in cocoa mixture. Whisk in coconut flour and then fold in nuts. Spread in a greased 8"x8" pan and bake 30-35 minutes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

so many things to discuss...

None of them terribly important, but still... First up, this zodiac thing. I just got a text from my sister informing me that I am now a Taurus. Um, no. Sorry. Not giving up my right to exhibit dual character traits (the sugar-coated Gemini way to say moody) to be a stubborn bovine. Although, she did point out that I can now be lazy without guilt. Sweet. This deserves more research. I am not crazy into the stars, but when your reply to,"what's your sign?" has always been as such... it will be an adjustment. Can you imagine looking at Cosmo and pausing on another sign? Unthinkable.

Next, my meal plan has been derailed this week. By snow. We have been stuck at home, staying up late, sleeping in, and generally being far away from any semblance of normal. And, not really craving the healthy stuff. I made the tilapia (awesome) and did try those healthy brownies (double awesome, especially if you like coconut) but the ingredients for the stuffed peppers and sun dried tomato chicken are languishing. Perhaps I will rally tonight. Or, maybe we'll go see Black Swan, True Grit, The King's Speech or Country Strong and have a popcorn and diet coke dinner instead.

Also, my blog. More specifically, my blog's background, Little Miss Sunshine. It's no longer available, so I chose a new orangey offering. I have always felt like a huge cheater using ready made blog wallpaper anyway, I should learn how to do it myself. Maybe in 2011!

In case you're still reading, we are getting organized! Or at least our clothes are. Ever since moving to Atlanta, home to two Container Stores, I have salivated over the elfa closet system. But living the apartment life doesn't allow for anything that needs to be installed, and investing in a permanent system for a temporary home didn't make much sense. Since we'll be in the condo a while, and I noticed that the annual elfa 30% off sale was going on, we did it! I think I'll now have room for exactly 36 pairs of shoes, so I will have a real excuse to weed. That will feel good. This weekend we are painting the closet a Tiffany blue so it will be ready for the installers. I have a feeling I'm going to want to move my office in there, too. All that order...

One last thing: Barbeque Fritos make great croutons. That's all. Thank goodness it's Friday!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

a week of meals

Our week 1 menu with annotated reviews by Brett

Last week was a success. I didn't make the soup, we just didn't need it but something tells me we might need a hot bowl of soup this week in Atlanta! Only one real dog: the quinoa salad. For some reason the quinoa didn't cook correctly, it had an oatmeal consistency instead of its usual fluffy quality. The best was the wheat berry waldorf salad - recipe below.

Here is this week's lineup:

Monday night: swim practice - eat burritos with the team.
Tuesday night: jewelry class! I'll probably grab a smoothie.
Thursday night: BEEF + BROCCOLI

I have a recipe for gluten free, healthier brownies made with coconut oil and coconut flour. Gonna give it a try! The ingredients were pricey - but something tells me spending more than 99 cents on a brownie mix and some canola oil might be the right decision anyway.


1 cup wheatberries (soaked overnight to soften)
little bit of ham, I used a 7 oz. prepacked ham steak from Whole Foods, diced.
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1/4 small red onion, minced
1 cup golden raisins
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chhopped
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp each honey, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and freshly grated ginger*

Boil wheatberries for about an hour until very tender. Allow to cool a bit and then mix with all other chopped ingredients and raisins. Whisk together the dressing from wet ingredients and ginger and pour over the wheatberry mixture, tossing to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

* I thought the ginger was a bit strong with the onion and when I make this again I will probably eliminate or reduce it. Overall though, awesome and made a great next day lunch.

Any cooking success last week for you? Have a great week!