Sunday, August 31, 2008


what a week. i found out at work that i will more than likely be transitioned to another project, for about a month, to help them catch up as they are seriously behind. presuming i can get the things done i need for my current project; we recently settled on the solution for a daunting requirement, and as a result, i have 3 additional documents to create. but i'm the man, so i think i can do it. ;)

so here's the run down:

last week friday, we had those kraut brats i mentioned. they were the good stuff. bryan cooked them on the cast iron griddle, grill side up, and tucked them into pretzel rolls with some dijon mustard. he also made wilted swiss chard, with bacon. holla! nice, easy, yummy menu for a friday night.

that saturday, bryan and i made biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast. the sausage was from the outpost; hand made there with all natural, local pork. bryan seared that lovely and made a pan cream sauce. i made the biscuits. they were delicious and filling.

that afternoon, we headed to the outpost to get our grocery shopping done. lo and behold, they had porterhouse steaks on sale for $10.99/lb (all natural and organic). once we got home, we realized we hadn't defrosted anything for dinner, and we had these gorgeous steaks... so bryan grilled those in his signature style (simply salt, pepper, and a pat of butter once plated). we also had carrots (from our garden) and peas (frozen, because i'm no so crazy that i shell my own peas), as well as potatoes (from the outpost) which bryan let get crispy in the cast iron along with onions (from dad's garden), olive oil, salt, and pepper. seriously, this was a good meal. one of the top 3 steaks i have ever had. so incredibly tender, juicy, and flavorful. you forget what beef really tastes like until you have some that wasn't grown in a yard and fed god knows what kind of feed. so beefy. i'm not usually able to finish a steak in one sitting, but i think the only breaths i took were to say "mmmm." the vegetarians need to wake up.

that sunday, bryan spent the day downtown with his buddy dirk from madison, seeing the new exhibit at the art museum. oliver was seriously awesome all day, playing nicely, being sweet baby, and napping like an angel. i had the opportunity to get all my prep for dinner completed while he napped. then he and i ran a bunch of errands, hitting up a few sporting goods stores as well as babies r us. he enjoyed babies r us, and screaming responses to other babies who were crying/yelling.

that night, we finally got around to executing my indian fish fry idea. mom, dad, and shannon came over for it, and it was a smashing success. i roasted beets, both golden (from the outpost) and red (from our garden), just with olive oil, salt, and pepper. i made an indian potato salad with yukon gold potatoes, green onions, and a dressing of greek yogurt with cumin, coriander, and lime. next time, i think i'll add some chile pepper flakes to the mix. bryan wilted some beet greens. we had some lemon sole, which bryan had soaked in milk overnight, then dredged in flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs. this fried up perfectly. served with a curry mayo on the side. everyone was satisfied, except perhaps shannon, who isn't a fan of either fish or beets (crazy lady). mom brought brownies for dessert - with a layer on lemon curd in them. sometimes, i kind of feel sorry for people who don't get to eat dinner with us. it also makes me so happy to have our kitchen back. lovesit!

nothing overly exciting for dinner this past week. tuesday, though, bryan made the rest of the lemon sole. he put a sauce of his homemade tomatillo sauce with cream on top, and served that with saffron rice and an island salad of tomatoes (from our csa) and cucumbers (from our garden) along with dill (also from our garden) and vinegar. it was a delicious, refreshing meal. we also had steak fajitas, with peppers from our garden, an onion from dad's garden, and an heirloom black tomato from ours. bryan also made a panzanella with tomatoes and basil from our garden, which was so delicious i had another huge bowl of it for lunch the next day. i'm not a huge fan of tomatoes, but it's hard to argue with home grown tomatoes. i doubt i'll ever be able to eat one plan, but there is something about a sun kissed tomato that can really make a dish. seriously summer.

friday, i worked from home since day care had the day off. oliver was very well behaved, and had his first hair cut! the pieces over his ears had been getting kinda long, and it sort of looked like a mullet. his hair is still pretty fuzzy, so i'm not sure if it helped, but i felt better trying.

that night, we made our target run so we wouldn't have to worry about it yesterday, which was great. bryan made a quick dinner of fettuccine with a basil pesto cream sauce (basil from our garden) and chicken.

yesterday, we spent most of the day running errands. we hit up kohls for some picture frames (bryan got new jeans in the process), then headed to lexco tile & stone to return the sample tile we had gotten last weekend, and check out the other colors we could get it in (we decided it was too similar to the other colors we have in there). one of the designers suggested going darker rather than lighter, and we found a great matte dark chocolate glazed tile. so we're looking at getting that in a subway tile, along with a mosaic for behind the stove which would contain 2"x2" tiles: a blackish tile, the same dark brown as the other tiles, and copper tiles (as in actual metal). we're pretty excited and think it will look mega awesome. then we jetted up to lowes for something for bryan's new xbox project as well as baby proofing items, then over to artist and display to pick out a mat to frame the painting adrianne made for us. after ollie's afternoon nap, we hit up the outpost, then rushed home for a quick dinner of spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread, and sauted zucchini. oliver got to try spaghetti, and while he seemed to enjoy the taste, he was not thrilled with the experience. too hard to negotiate. it was pretty amusing, though, watching him trying to get it off his hands and into his mouth and, upon failing, fling it around like a lasso. it made for happy doggies, at least.

today, we met up with mom, dad, and shannon for breakfast at ihop. bryan got to have ice cream on his pancake, so that was exciting for him. oliver enjoyed my pancakes. the waitress seemed to have a crush on shannon. we had a lot of fun and left a huge mess for the bus boy. it was oliver, though, seriously.

bryan and i are heading over to my aunt mo's house for my cousin delany's 13th birthday party. of course, since we had plans, oliver didn't want to nap. he played nicely in his crib for an hour, then started crying. exasperated, i asked bryan for help with a plan, since i hate making the decisions when he won't sleep (mostly because the answer is: let him cry). bryan suggested we change our plans; that we just get him up, go to the party, then come home and see if he would sleep. no sooner had i agreed than oliver was quiet. he did cry again for a second, literally less than a minute, and was asleep. seriously, baby? should have made than plan an hour earlier, apparently. so we're about to wake him up and zip over there.

tonight, mom and shannon (and possibly dad) are coming over for sunday dinner. i've been thinking a lot lately about poulet frites lately, as it's mentioned multiple times in the food book i'm currently reading. so, last night, i made a compound butter with white wine, thyme, the rind of 1 lemon, salt, pepper, and garlic, and stuffed that under the skin of the bird, and rubbed it down with more. that will roast with some chicken stock and wine in the same pan. we have some russets that we'll double fry for our frites, and i plan to make a garlic aioli to go along. we have some yellow wax beans (from the csa) we'll blanch, and some red leaf lettuce (from the csa), tomatoes, carrots, and cukes (all from our garden) that we'll make into a salad. for dessert, i made an apple and fennel pie. we had apple and fennel hand pies at dames d'escoffier event a few years back in atlanta; they were made by bacchanalia and served with cheddar ice cream. i've never been able to find a recipe for it, but it's been on my mind ever since, so i decided to wing it. we'll see how it turns out. it smells heavenly and looks gorgeous, so we may be ok. stay tuned for those pictures.

additional oliver news: he has started standing unassisted! not for very long periods of time, and he hasn't made the connection with walking quite yet, but it's definitely a new step. he is also mimicking sounds a lot more, saying "uh oh!" a lot. my baby is growing up!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

back on track

i am running out of time to post here much. stupid job! actually, no; i love my job. i just wish we got, say, a 2 hour siesta each day so i could blog and nap.

last week saturday, adrianne came over for dinner on her last night in town for some fish tacos. they were, as always, delish. bryan made a fabulous guacamole. i've only recently begun to eat avocados, and i think bryan's guac is the b's knees. ha ha, get it? ;) ANYWAYS, after a few tacos, we said goodbye to her (boo) until she returns, probably for thanksgiving (yay).

sunday, we headed over to mom & dad's for a shannon prepared meal. she made chorizo and potato empanadas, black beans, and a salad with a lime vinaigrette. for dessert she made churros type pastries, which bryan and i got to eat along with her homemade ice cream. score!! oliver had fun chasing the cats, trying to escape our watchful eyes so he could eat dirt out of the planters, removing magnets from the fridge and leaving them around the house, and rocking in the little rocking chair (a trick which he is attempting to duplicate in his high chair, which is just going to end badly, what with all that weight he has to throw behind his moves). i got a video of him rocking, which was pretty freakin' hilarious, but then accidentally deleted it when i thought it was a dark picture. DUH. i did get some other cute pictures, though.

oliver spent most of sunday playing, including wrestling with his stuffed puppy, which is his new favorite game. he literally rolls around the floor and pins the stuffed animal to the ground. hello, hilarious! he likes to be tickled during this game, and will fling himself onto his back and expose his belly. he attempted to engage ally in this game, and while she was a very good dog and just sat there and took it, she was NOT playin'.

monday night, i made the best sandwich ever. bryan had gone to the dentist and so was on an all soup diet, so i decided what i really wanted was grilled cheese. i realized we had some bacon i could add to it. we also had the green tops of some green onions, which i knew would go well with cheese and bacon. i added mayo just for good measure. holy bejesus, best. sandwich. ever. if you don't believe be try it for yourself. i was going to take a picture, and wanted to get one a few bites in so you could see the happy oozing cheese, but once i started eating it, i didn't want to leave it's side. i'm going to duplicate it this weekend, with some smoked cheddar we have. i'll try to remember to get a picture. see you for lunch.

tuesday for dinner, bryan made me hamburgers with smoked cheddar. we used organic buns made by a local bakery and they were oh so soft and fluffy. bryan made beet chips with beets from our garden, sprinkled with a little of his famous bbq rub. he wasn't all that pleased with the result, but i thought they were rather delicious.

last night for dinner we had "ha ha" (or is it "ah ha"?) pork burgers, made by the butchers at the outpost. it was ground pork (all natural and local) with those little asian black mushrooms and some peppers or onions. hot buttered cabbage on the side.

WFD tonight - kraut brats: homemade brats (made by the butchers at the outpost) with sauerkraut in them, on bryan's beloved pretzel rolls. maybe if i bat my eyelashes enough, bryan will make me some homemade frites on the side. we have some swiss chard from the csa we should probably use, so we'll probably wilt that on the side. with bacon, por supuesto.

sunday i'll finally get around to making my indian fish dinner. shannon and hopefully mom & dad will be coming. bryan added wilted beet greens to the menu, which consists otherwise of fried lemon sole with curried mayo, potato salad with scallions and cumin coriandar lime yogurt dressing, and roasted golden beets. bryan came up with an idea for ginger lemonade a few weeks back, and i realized that would go perfect with this menu. i'm totally going to stuff myself.

we have some ground veal from the outpost i'd like to do a traditional ragu alla bolognese with. which means i'll have to make my own pasta. maybe i'll have time on saturday. that would be neat. and delicious. i have a bottle of wine from a new york winery that i think might go well with that.

i swear, if there was a way i could get paid to think up good things to eat, i'd be a millionaire.

nothing much else exciting to report this week, except that i started working out again! BACK ON TRACK! i am so happy about this. the spin bike is happy to be in use again as well. i way overdid it the first day, and ended up with a killer migraine (forcing me to abandon work and lock myself in the windowless room in the nurses station for awhile). so i backed off a little after that, though not much. ;) it feels so good to be back on the bike and getting back into that routine. my butt hurts from the bike seat, and my legs burn walking up stairs, and my abs are killing me. i love it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

random blurbs

we had some baby bunnies living in our nasturtiums. they've since moved out, but they were sooooo cute and tiny!

oliver has mastered the eating of things whole. he seems to prefer it if you don't cut things up into tiny pieces. he ate an entire, whole nectarine in about 2 minutes last night at dinner. i thought it would keep him busy while i made his cereal, and it did, but barely. he LOVES nectarines. he also ate an entire tofu pup. i didn't think he'd make it through even half, but he chowed down on that sucker. he is so cute when he eats big people solids! he has also started liking bananas, which he didn't use to like. he'll eat it like a big kid if you help hold it. else he'll squash it up and feed himself. whatever works. that boy does love his fruit! tomorrow he gets pears and avocados.

tuesday's dinner was stir fry. beef (all natural from the outpost, of course), green beans (from mom & dad's garden), kohlrabi (from the csa), onions, and carrots (both from our garden) over brown rice. very satisfying. bryan doesn't think he makes very good stir frys, but i'm always happy with them!

wednesday's dinner was one of our favorites, chicken with mustard mascarpone marsala. that with yellow squash and zucchini from our garden. we're generally not huge fans of chicken, but this is definitely a top recipe in our home. i daresay it is the doing of that mascarpone.

thursday, bryan made me jerk chicken. he split a whole chicken, and marinated it in a homemade jerk wet rub. he smoked it, then finished it on the grill to ensure crispy skin. as he always manages to do, the smoked chicken came out so sweet and delicious. he also made collard greens. we did not have a ham hock, so bryan used bacon. i did not complain. yellow rice and black beans completed the meal. i had been craving jerk chicken for some time and this did not disappoint.

tonight for dinner, we had a summer corn stew with beefsteak tomatoes, sun gold tomatoes, green onions, yellow squash, jalapenos, basil, and zucchini blossoms. the recipe is from deborah madison's local flavors. the actual recipe doesn't call for zucchini blossoms, but the first time we made this we had some laying around and decided to add them - they went perfectly. this is such a delicious recipe; perfect for summer. the sun gold tomatoes were sweet (as honey, bryan said), and absolutely melted in your mouth. we also grilled artichokes, and served them with a garlic sauce (simply garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper). i thought they beat the pants off any other artichoke i've ever eaten (and we've had some very good artichokes). we'll both smell like garlic tonight. the whole meal was so delicious i don't think bryan even noticed there was no meat!! dessert was dark chocolate covered dried cherries. yes, the entire package. i swear it was small, though.

irish fest started yesterday, so hopefully we'll get a chance to head down there this weekend. oliver had so much fun at the state fair i'd love to take him for a little while. i'd also like to get my hands on some irish ale potato pancakes from mader's. they may be german, but those sound spectacular. and perhaps some dessert from the tipperary team room. just sayin'. we'll see if we get the chance; i need to do some serious cleaning, bryan's helping dad with some computer stuff, and has other projects around our house; i need to grocery shop, and i would also like to rest. srsly.

WFD this weekend: tomorrow is fish tacos - tilapia, corn tortillas, green onions, jalapeno, lettuce, tomato, sour cream. sunday i'd like to do the indian fish fry i've been dreaming up.

i think bill puts it best: life is good.

California Vacation 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

i have a brother in law!

katie got married on friday! it all went relatively well. thursday, we had the rehearsal at our church and then dinner at mom and dad's. kevin's friends in australia made him a video which was very touching; even he teared up!

friday morning, hannah and i headed to the mall to find some shoes for oliver, a task made slightly more complicated by the fact that he was at day care and i did not know his shoe size. i did pick up some navy blue sandals that happened to fit, so score on that one. we then went to get our hair done, and let's just say, hannah's was waaaay better than mine. thank god i had a hat! i can't
believe i paid for this girl to put bout 90 lbs of products in my hair and do precisely nothing else to it. at the salon, we learned that one of the bridesmaids was sick, but katie's friend jessie's sister, mill, was going to fill in. mill was a TROOPER!!! we jetted home to get dressed then over to mom and dad's to hop in the limo with katie and the other bridesmaids. then it was off to the botanical gardens for the ceremony!

the ceremony was in the rose garden, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. katie and kevin both started crying as she came down the "aisle", and we all almost lost it. oliver was, of course, the cutest ring bearer ever, and had everyone charmed. he had taken a long morning nap, and a 1 hour afternoon nap, waking up right when bryan arrived to pick him up. so he was in a pretty good mood. by the end of the ceremony, he was hot and tired out, though. bryan whisked him home but, sadly, could not get him down for another nap. after pictures of the wedding party were done, hannah and i headed home, where i put oliver down for the night. had i been smarter, i would have hired a babysitter to stay home so bryan could come to the reception, but alas, i was not.
hannah was an adorable junior bridesmaid, and looked very grown up. she had a lot of fun being in the wedding. she and shannon's boyfriend, david, also finally got to meet each other. the bridal party took quite a shine to david, as well. they think he is quite a catch (and i would have to agree with them - way to go shannon!!).
all in all, minus the sick bridesmaid snafu (which mill fixed awesomely), the ceremony couldn't have gone any better.

hannah and i attended the reception, which was at the hilton on the river. i stayed up way past my bedtime, but it was so much fun watching hannah, i couldn't resist. as the matron of honor, i had to give a speech, and i have to say, i nailed it! i made everyone cry. yay for me. we had some prime rib for dinner, and wedding cake with a champagne mimosa filling (which was delicious even if it wasn't square like it had been special ordered). the girls danced, danced, danced. mom even danced! eventually hannah got pooped and we headed home.

additional pics in the wedding gallery.

sadly, oliver did not sleep well that night AND woke up for the day at 5am saturday, so i was pretty dang pooped. hannah missed her flight out saturday morning. oops. the airline had moved it up about 45 minutes about a month ago, though we did not have an updated itinerary and thusly forgot. bryan got her out on a flight yesterday afternoon. she was glad to have an additional day with us!

saturday, we headed to the outpost to do some grocery shopping. we're still getting used to how we're going to shop there, but we picked up some delicious items and had a lot of fun doing it. we're almost giddy to be back to cooking again, i think.

so i have some dinners to catch up on:

last monday, we had the sisters over for a pre-wedding sister's dinner. we grilled pork chops (from the outpost, so they were hormone and antibiotic free AND local), and i made a mexican style bbq sauce, which ended up pretty spicy and delicious. we also served pasta shells tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, and topped with nasturtium flowers. we grilled some zucchini, yellow squash, and peppers from our garden as well. we served that with a lovely bottle of wine, and dinner was a big hit.

tuesday night, bryan marinated lamb chops (again, local, hormone free, antibiotic free) in a chimichurri of sorts, with white wine, onion, garlic, thyme, and parsley. he grilled these, and served them along with grilled zucchini and yellow squash from the garden, mashed potatoes, and sauteed buttered radishes from our csa. it got me to eat lamb, so, bryan, ftw. the warm, buttery radishes were also a nice departure from the normal raw variety.

saturday night, we had one of my favorites - spaghetti and meatballs. bryan made AWESOME, tennis ball sized meatballs. i made a red sauce and super buttery garlicky bread.

sunday night, adrianne came over to learn how to make pesto. she and bryan made a pesto with basil from our garden. mom and dad came over, as well, and we served the pesto with penne rigate, fresh italian sausage (made at the outpost with local, natural pork), cauliflower from our csa, a garden salad with romaine, radishes, and cucumber from our csa and carrots from our garden, and leftover garlic bread from the rehearsal dinner that mom brought. it was delicious. oliver got to try pasta and cauliflower. he LOVED the cauliflower; i can't wait to tell hannah, who detests it!!

bryan and i have some more delicious dinners planned for the week. tomorrow, we may do jerk chicken with shannon and david, provided david is still in town. we're planning in doing some burgers and beet chips (with beets from our garden). fish tacos are also on the menu. i came up with an idea for an indian fish fry: fried sole with curried mayo, potato salad with cumin coriander lime yogurt dressing and scallions, and roasted golden beets. i'm looking forward to that one.

other than that, i plan on cleaning the house and attempting to relax. like that ever works out for me. :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

not complaining

so on my message board, danielle started a question of the week thread. this week's question is:
We talk a lot about how our LOs drive us crazy and how we don't love every minute of it. So, what is your favorite thing about being a mommy?

here are my answers:

i, too, love it when oliver falls asleep on me. that moment when he starts drowsing off while nursing [almost] every night is the best part of my day.

i love it when he gets so happy when i come to pick him up from day care (provided he isn't having way more fun with one of the kids to care).

i LOVE big wet sloppy baby kisses!

i love his laugh when he thinks something is so hilarious and laughs until he is out of breath.

i love it when he figures something new out and is so thrilled with life.

i love it when he lets me put him in bed awake, gives me a sleepy smile, and just closes his eyes. i can tell he is perfectly content then.

i love it when he sings to me while we're riding in the car.

i love it when he wakes up and DOES not cry, but rather sits in his crib talking to himself. it's the cutest thing ever and i love listening to him over the monitor.

i love it when he poops! and farts. it means things are moving and we are NOT having tummy troubles!

i love watching him feed himself. i find it so fascinating.

i love it when he is tired and sits quietly in my lap and will just lean back and look and me and every once in awhile reach up and touch my face.

i love it that he has favorite books, and that it changes, and he knows which one it is and will pick it out of a pile.

i love it when we read the ducky book, which quacks at the end, and he lifts the book up and all around because he can't figure out where that damn quacking is coming from - there's no duck around!

Monday, August 4, 2008

oh happy day

your eyes do not deceive you - that is bryan using the dishwasher. in *our* kitchen. because he's super man and hooked up our plumbing this weekend! we now have a fully functional kitchen. hallelujah! i'm still getting used to it, but it's pretty freakin' awesome. i never knew plumbing could be so darn sexy.
we still have some cosmetic things to do (new lights have yet to be installed, backsplash has yet to be tiled, new switch plates have yet to be switched), and we haven't ordered our john boos butcher block work table, but we can now cook AND clean in our kitchen.

bryan and i discussed our options in terms of more all natural eating, and decided now is not the time to invest in half a cow, pig, and new freezer. so saturday, we trooped over to the outpost natural foods co-op and became owners. basically, you buy in a share, and are a part owner. it's a pretty cool set up. everything in the store is "all natural", which can mean a few different things. all the produce is organic, and sourced locally wherever possible. all the meat is hormone and antibiotic free. some of the meat is from certified organic farms, though all is not. the pork and lamb are sourced locally; i cannot remember if the poultry is as well, though i think so. we had fun investigating the store, though we did not do a full shopping trip, so no reports on that yet (we didn't have plumbing at the time and didn't want to risk a fridge full of food). we picked up a few things, and we're pretty excited to continue our shopping adventures there.

this weekend, hannah, oliver, and i went to the state fair with katie and her friend megan. i was worried oliver would be overwhelmed by the crowds and noise, but he absolutely loved it. definitely his daddy's boy. katie and megan had the same agenda we did: fresh squeezed lemonade, roasted corn, the big slide, a few animal bottoms, cream puffs, fudge, salt water taffy. so we mostly ate. you aren't surprised, are you? hannah and oliver got to check out some farm animals, which they both were very impressed by (although, after the first 20 cows, hannah agreed we didn't need to see the other 80). oliver was positively enchanted by the baby chickies, possibly due to them having the same hair style as him. hannah and i braved the giant slide, which i hadn't been on in probably 20 years. it was a lot of fun and hannah was all for a second ride, though not so excited she was willing to ride down alone.
hannah was so happy to finally experience the fair, as she had missed out on it last year. oliver had such a fun time, i just had fun watching him!

he got to discover fudge, which he was extremely excited about (he had his hand pressed against the glass and was oohing and ahhing for about 5 minutes straight, much to the amusement of everyone around), although i'm a mean mommy and didn't give him any. the man who owned the fudge shop let me take a picture of oliver through the display case - priceless! i played with the color and saturation on that picture; carrie is always doing that and i love her pictures!
all in all, it was a great afternoon.

more pictures in the new august gallery.

sunday, adrianne made it into town after some very long travels from south africa into washington d.c. to cleveland, oh and finally to wisconsin. everyone was so excited to see her again! hannah, katie, adrianne, and i did a quick shopping trip at the mall to find some things for the wedding: shoes (adrianne found some; i bought a pair but i'm not thrilled with them so i'm returning them), shirts for bryan (an embroidered linen one) and oliver (a white polo), and bras for our dresses (which shannon was more than happy to sell us). we rushed back to mom and dad's house for dinner; mom made mojo pork kebabs, grilled pineapple, salad, and parsleyed potatoes, with grilled peaches filled with raspberries and brown sugar for dessert. all the veggies were from our collective gardens, and the potatoes were from the farmer's market, so that was neat.

i am happy to say... now that i have a kitchen back, i can begin the what's for dinner segment of my blog again! ahhh, normalcy.

WFD: we're having the girls over for a pre-wedding, sisters only dinner. i'm making grilled pork chops (using all natural, hormone free, antibiotic free, local pork from the outpost) with mexican bbq sauce (an idea which is still developing in my mind), grilled yellow squash and zucchini (from our garden), and pasta with olive oil, garlic, and nasturtium flowers (from the garden as well). shannon is making a fruit crisp for dessert. so happy.