Monday, December 31, 2012

My Outfit Monday - Irish style

I made corned beef and cabbage for the first time today.  What can I say?  We love our Irish food.
So in honor of Ireland and our trip there in 2011, I also decided to wear my sweater purchased in Ireland.

Sweater: Ireland
Skirt: Calvin Klein
Tights: (?)
Shoes: Born

I love this sweater, as it's the warmest (and most special ) I own.  I also love it because of the memories it brings to mind.
I hope you're as warm this winter as I am today.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lovely liquered bread pudding

I've been a naughty little person lately.  For one, my last post was a week ago (oops). Secondly, I decided to give in to my deep craving for comfort foods via a bread pudding recipe passed down to my by my Great Aunt, K.  The original recipe was Amaretto Macadamia nut bread pudding.  However, I did not have amaretto or macadamia I substituted (what's new, right?)
My bread pudding contained Frangelico..oh yum!  So, I'll include the original recipe with noted substitutions.

Anyway, it's easy and delicious and will most definitely add pounds to the body to stock up for hibernation.
Here goes..

Amaretto Macadamia Bread Pudding

(serves 12 to 15)

  • 1 loaf (1 pound) white French bread, danish or croissants
  • 1/2 cup diced macadamia nuts (didn't use)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I used golden good!)
  • 1 quart half-and-half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Amaretto (or Frangelico)
Sauce for bread pudding
  • 1/2 cup Amaretto liqueur (..or Frangelico)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whipped butter

For the bread pudding: Cut bread into 1 inch cubes.  Place bread, nuts and raisins in a deep dish (8.5 x 13 inch pan is recommended). Toss until well mixed and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the half and half, sugar, eggs and liqueur and beat to blend.  Pour the mixture over the bread and let it soak in the fridge 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Bake the bread pudding for 1 hour or until golden brown.  Cool to room temperature and cut into 12-15 squares.
For the Sauce: Combine the liqueur and sugar in top of a double boiler over simmering water and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat and whisk in the whipped butter.
To serve: Place squares of the bread pudding on dessert plates and spoon the sauce over the top.
Eat and repeat!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where I've been and what I've seen- part 4

Aack! I'm really falling behind on past trips, yet we keep taking more that I want to talk about.
So I'd best move along and bring you up to speed about our trip to Eugene, OR.
We love Eugene so much that we've thrown around the idea of moving their several times.
Obviously, it's only been talk though, since we are still here in our depressed little community (but enough about that..)
What makes Eugene so special to us, you may ask?
For one, the bike paths.  The few we've been on are layed out well, scenic and make you want to just keep riding off into the sunset.  Speaking of bikes, the city itself is very bike-friendly too. They have actual bike lanes, bridges, even on/off ramps linked through parks for access and people who know what they're doing on bikes.
Restaurants are eclectic and delicious (hiya McMennamin's and Beir Stein!).  Shopping is pretty sweet too.  There are two shopping centers for full retail (hello DSW and Loft!) and a lot of really good second hand store (like St. Vinnie's- I got a super nice wool Eddie Bauer jacket from there for $16...not too shabby!)
Also the weather and general lush surroundings (things are actually green and grow there!) is quite lovely.
This time though, we mainly went to Eugene to spend time with our friends R and J and their littles.
R is just as passionate about riding bikes and micro-brews as Aaron is, so they look forward to riding around town then taking a break and grabbing a few pints before the come back home.
We didn't go and see a lot, but what we did end up doing was relaxing and enjoyable. 
The first day we were there was Friday night and visited and caught up.  The next morning we all slept in, then decided to go second- hand shopping and figure the rest out from there.
So that's what we did.  We stopped at several St. Vinnie's (as I mentioned before) to see what we could score.  That's where I found my jacket.  I think we all managed to score something, even the littles. Then we stopped in at a bike parts store, Eugene Bicycle Works,where the guys rode these crazy bikes (just click the link to see a picture of them) from their "rideable museum" around the block.
  But then we all felt pretty hungry.  Aaron and I love to stop by a restaurant/bottle shop/bar called the Beir Stein, where we first had (and fell in love with) beer-cheese soup. So, we obviously requested this place when asked where we wanted to eat.
We all ordered our meals and sad to say, I can't remember exactly what I had there.  But it was so tasty that I ate it all and finished it off with a nice, cold stout.  I do remember stealing a bite of one of the kid's homemade sauerkraut and wishing I'd ordered that instead.
We then went home, all stuffed to the gills and relaxed....or at least J, the littles and I did.
Aaron and R. hopped on their bikes and went for a ride and then stopped in at Oakshire for some beer.
I hear it was good, but what would I know? I was in my stretchy pants at home.
The next morning, we all hung around the house and decided to go for a bike ride.  This particular trail skirted along roads, then on it's own trail through some wetlands.  It was so peaceful and relaxing.
I fell in love and wished we had something, anything, like that here.
As with other trips, it was only a weekend one, so we had to get back home.
Thanks for another great weekend, R, J and the littles!

Monday, December 17, 2012

No we didn't go anywhere, but...

...we did get some things DONE (around the house that is)!
I mentioned a couple posts ago that we've been weeding things out, in effort to simplify our house and hopefully, our lives too.
So we did just that.  This time we tackled pretty much every cabinet and drawer in our kitchen and cleaned off the counter tops.  It looks amazing and somewhat like we just moved in. I'm still not sure what to think of it (remember, I like a little clutter/decoration going on.)

We also decided to update and paint our spare room.  
It used to be a bright blue color, with clouds painted on the ceiling.
the only picture I could find to show you the colors...

Several people used to call it the nursery, which would be fine if we had a kid, or at least planned on it.
But we don't.
Six years after painting it and never really loving it, we decided it was time to make some changes.  
We painted three walls an awesome, calming green color and the other an almond/cream color. We also painted over the clouds on the ceiling with an off-white.
Then we bought a new light and installed it.
It looks 1,000 times better already!
No pictures have been taken because we aren't done with the room yet!
(I don't want to ruin the surprise!)
We also plan on laying down matching laminate flooring.
So when all of that is finished I'll let you know!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Be still my Ginger heart

I feel like I'm meant to love ginger(s).
Why? Well several movies with red-headed girls as the main characters were a pretty big thing growing up.
In fact, one of my favorite was "Annie", featuring an singing-orphaned-ginger.
The sun will come out, tomorrow indeed...

Little Orphan Annie, as pictured here
As I grew a little older, I was fascinated (didn't love her...she kinda, really, annoyed me) with Pippy Longstockings. She was so peppy and definitely marched to the beat of her own drum, but she wore the best striped tops ( I love stripes) and mis-matched clothes before fashion blogs made it cool.

What's not to be annoyed with in this picture
Then as I grew older, I found out just how much I love ginger- in the form of these spicy candies called Ginger Chews...soooo good!

After that, I figured since I liked these candies so much, I may as well try some ginger beers (not to be confused with ginger ale, I'm told, though I have no idea why.)  It was spicy and refreshing. 

Reed's ginger beer- one I've tried that I love!
 From that point on, I became hooked on all things ginger.
Including "ginger" babies.  I LOVE babies with red hair!!
( I thought about posting a picture of a red-headed baby, but figured that would be creepy and weird, since I don't have any in my family, groups of friends or co-workers and would have to google an image and end up with some random child....not gonna happen).
After all of that, I hope you now have a more complete picture of just how much I love ginger.  I feel the need, to tell you that I felt the need, to tell you all of that, to tell you this:
I made ginger beer (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) in my kitchen last night and am crazy excited about it!  It was from Coopers ginger beer kit from Australia, two packs of raw sugar and a couple very important being love.
I decided to name it "the Orphannie ginger beer" after lil' orphan Annie.
What have I got to lose?

  Aaron (my personal brew-master) instructed me along the way and helped do all of the "technical stuff."
I can't wait to taste it and see if it's hot as I like it.  Also, I've never had an alcoholic ginger beer, so this should be interesting!
The bad news is,  I have to be patient and wait a whole 3 weeks to taste both versions.  Talk about killing my slowly.  But I'll let you know how it tastes (if you remind me and ask) when that time comes!

My outfit Monday

I've fancied colored tights for quite some time now.
Alas, I have finally pulled up my big girl panties and embraced them as a trend I can actually have fun with.
I feel like they add a little whimsy to an otherwise serious outfit.
World, meet the sunshine tights.

Earrings: Etsy
Cardigan: Loft
Skirt: H&M, old
Tights: Target

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cleanin' house

Time spent at my grandparent's house was often like a treasure hunt.
Allow me to explain:
 I don't know that I was ever really told to hold on to every rubber band, well-constructed box or magazine, but somewhere and somehow (maybe through the process of osmosis), I learned that it was a pretty good idea.
When asked if I want to hold on to something, the ol' motto: "You never know when you'll need it," is the first thing to pop into my mind.
Truth be told, I come from a long line of hoarders.
You see, my Grandpa grew up during the Great depression, then down the road, both my grandparents lived through shortages through WWII.  They learned how to use what they could and keep what they needed (everything I guess) to do so. Drawers, closets, shelves and rooms held countless prizes for a little kid and things they "might need" down the road.

A real-life junk drawer, pinterest
They then passed this legacy down through the years to my mother, then to me.
And that is why I am where I am today:
living amongst countless numbers of things I haven't used in quite some time, with less and less space in our house.
But then something changed.  I had an "Aha!" moment when we stayed with some friends in their newly built and carefully re-decorated house.  The floor plan of their house is so open and relaxing and the way they've chosen to decorate is simple yet tasteful, with no clutter.  I found myself at such ease in their house.  Then, when we came back to our house, it felt confining, cluttered and stressful. Aaron said he felt the same way.
So, we've started to go through everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in every room in our house and get rid of it, either by selling or donating it. 

Clutter, pinterest
At first it was a little overwhelming and scary to me, as I'm afraid of getting rid of something I will deeply regret getting rid of it.  But I remind myself that these things are really just that, things, and in the end, none of it really matters too much. Because of this constant reminder, it's become easier and easier to get rid of the clutter.  As more space opens up on our shelves, in our closets and in our home in general I catch myself feeling less stressed by the clutter and wanting to get rid of more. MORE!   Now I fear I'm headed in the opposite direction and may end up with a house with absolutely no comfort.

Simplify, Pinterest
But I have a long, long way to go to get there.
I hope you notice the difference in our house the next time you stop by!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Where I've been and what I've seen- Part 3

I know, I know....
It has been a while since my last installment of "Where I've been and what I've seen," and you must've chewed all of you fingernails off in eager anticipation by now.  But you guys, I've been both really busy and lazy.  Despite both of those conditions, I solemnly swear that we have gone on other trips worth talking about (at least in our estimation).  Here's one of them:
Our next visit was "over the hill" to the Medford/Jacksonville/Ashland area for another weekend getaway.
We had no real plans other than to A) get out of town and B) stay and visit with friends...and hopefully eat.
We completed all requirements and quite well, if I may say so myself!
So we arrived in Medford in the late afternoon and found that we were starving (surprise)!
We decided to try a restaurant we had heard a lot about and that was somewhere new to us:  4 Daughters Irish Pub 

It was really good and did not disappoint!  It was as close to an authentic Irish pub on the inside that we have come across so far.

The food was equally as good. We started out with deep fried pickles, and they were SO good
(I haven't stopped thinking about them since...)

Sadly, no other photos were taken as the food was delivered, all conversation stopped and we dove in like the two starving little people we are (obviously...)
I ordered a whisky and coke and "fish and chips"- replacing the fish with jumbo shrimp and choosing sweet potato fries as my chips. Aaron ordered a corned beef burger (with both the beef patty AND slices of corned beef). We both really liked our food and plan to return soon.

But the fun-eating did not stop there.
We ran around and shopped a bit then drove to meet up with our friends and Southern Oregon Brewery.
We sampled a few beers, chatted for a while, then made our way to our friends home in Jacksonville.
But we only stayed there for a short time.
Our friend C. wanted to take us to a newer tasting room that had opened in the Rogue Valley: 2 Hawk.
It was laid back, yet still up-scale.  It had such a good vibe!  The inside was glowing and packed, as well as the outside- with fire pits, a live band and even more people, sitting around, enjoying the wine and surroundings.
Now, I can not tell a lie.  I am by no means a wine connoisseur and am still working on figuring out what I like-  but I did find one wine I fancied.
We spent the rest of our evening there- enjoying the company and our surroundings like many others that night.

As we left, we decided it was a pretty awesome place and agreed we would definitely go back.
We retired fat and happy- ready for the next (food packed) day.

The next morning we slept in and decided we needed to eat. C. suggested another restaurant to try.  Of course we were game.
This time we traveled to Ashland- to Smithfields.  It was yet again, another awesome place to go.
Instead of going on and on about what I ordered, let me just show you the exact description:
"“Neil’s brekkie”: Corned beef, duck fat fried potato cake, bacon-braised collard greens,
fried egg, stone mustard cream, rosemary cheddar, worcestershire sauce."

and Aaron got this:
SF’s sandwich: open faced, corned beef, rye toast, spinach, stone mustard cream, fried egg
Yes...that all really happened.
We all ate as much (if not all of it) as we could.
Then, we rolled down the hill and stopped by a few shops in downtown Ashland, ogling shoes, picking up new beers at local markets to try later and then thrifting (awesome Goodwill!).
However, after the morning's Olympic eating event, we did eventually get "snacky."
Since we were near one of my favorite cupcake spots, Larry's we decided to stop by.
Larry's is amazing.  As you walk down the stairs to the bakery, you are instantly greeted by a case full of 30+  beautiful and different (think beer and pretzel,  tres leches, apple pie )cupcakes to try. 
This time around, I picked out a Vanilla Champagne cupcake and a Chocolate Port cupcake.
They were both so amazing, I passed out....not really, but it was pretty good!
After that we decided to move on.  We hoped in the car and drove to another vineyard: Dancin Vineyards.
Our friend C. is lucky enough to work there and so she showed us around a bit.
Since we were still stuffed from the morning, we didn't eat, but the food looked just as amazing as the vineyard itself.  Outside was a large pond filled with fish (koi?) that lights up at night.  Surrounding the pond is a path to walk around.  It was equally as impressive as 2 Hawk, just in it's very own unique and special way (think Tuscan style).  I would definitely go back there to eat and drink!
Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  Weekend trips can't last forever.
We had to pack up and head home.  But we did so with several new places and good company enjoyed!
(Thanks again C & C! )