Monday, September 29, 2008

Life is good

There are several reasons why life is good:

1. One of my favorite little towns within driving distance is getting another winery and brewery. Grafton Winery and Brewhaus is scheduled to open sometime next month and I could not be more excited. We already love visiting the Piasa and Aeries Wineries, not to mention one of my favorite restaurants of all time, the Rotten Apple. (home of the best homemade sweet potato chips ever!) As soon as I hear the opening date I am going to try and get a group together and plan a visit!

2. I was apparently light years ahead of my time when it came to my fashion sense. Because one of the hot new trends for fall fashion is freaking wing tips!!! I have been wearing mine since college and absolutely love them. When I was in DSW and saw several different styles and I am seriously thinking about adjusting the October budget and getting a new (dresser) pair.

3. Nathan and I had a very fun filled weekend. We got to see some friends and play Rock Band for the first time ever, spend some much needed time outside, and did plenty of relaxing/lounging around the house. Speaking of weekends, this weekend is going to be the bomb. Nathan and I are heading down to my hometown for our annual October winery day with friends. We always have a blast, eat way too much, and sometimes some of us overindulge in the wine just a little. :) My hometown group is tight, but we seem to be growing apart a little bit, so this will be a good weekend to catch up.

Just a few reasons why life is good!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

As promised, some recipes

Here are some recipes I have been meaning to post for a week.

First, a recipe I adapted from the What Can I Bring? Cookbook that the lovely Jamie gave me. Here is the Teresa version of the recipe which I ended up making double of:

Baked Boursin in Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:
2 c. Roasted Red Bell Peppers (I used a combo of jarred and home roasted)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves roasted garlic
a couple dashes Italian seasoning

1 pkg of Boursin or other herb flavored cream cheese (about 5 oz)

Put all ingredients except cheese in food processor. Pulse until chunky, not quite pureed. Put in baking dish and then add block of cheese. Bake about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with French bread.

Another requested recipe was for my hummus. First of all, I must say I hate tahini with a passion. I think the taste is overpowering, it is expensive, and it's shelf life sucks. So avoiding using tahini in this hummus but still getting a good flavor was important to me.

Easy hummus:
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans or chickpeas (drain)
1 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
dash cayenne pepper
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in food processor, pulse until you get a nice puree, adjust lemon juice and olive oil to taste. I also sometimes add in black pepper.

In case you don't know how to make the roasted garlic that I used in the two recipes...

Roasted Garlic:
Cut off the bottom and the top of the bulb, so that cloves are slightly exposed. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and wrap in foil. Roast in a oven at 350 for about 40 minutes until cloves are soft.

And last but not least, the infused oils. I found out that making your own infused oils is actually very easy. For the garlic, just split open some cloves, and then put three times as much oil as garlic. For any with fresh herbs (like basil), just boil them for about a minute, cool them with ice or running water, dry completely, and again use 3 times as much oil as the ingredient. Close them up, and in a few weeks you will have flavored olive oil!

Did I miss any requests???? Please let me know. And a big thank you to everyone that came out last Saturday, you made my night so fun!

Oh, and I just must add that I am working on a BIG culinary project. I am not going to say yet what it is (I know I am terrible) because I am waiting on my local Whole Foods to see if they can special order me a few supplies. But if I can get everything I need I will soon be able to produce a delicious food staple myself that will really make me feel like I have accomplished a big milestone in my personal culinary life. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blogging hiatus

I am officially on blogging hiatus. Well, after this post anyway. Nathan is on days (yay!) and we don't know how long so I want to spend as much time as possible with him. Plus, I have not yet justified blogging at work for more than making a quick 2 minute post.

I will make one exception, I owe a recipe post that I am trying to compile per some readers requests.

I'll be back soon!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Food for Saturday

I am getting a little pumped for the Girls Night Out on Saturday. Not only is the company going to be great, but I am getting excited about the food.

Tonight I am finalizing the menu and shopping for most of the ingredients, which is always a lot of fun for me. Since most of the menu revolves around wine and my homemade bread I decided I would do some spreads and dips including olive oil. I love, love, olive oil with a fresh baked bread.

After browsing over the weekend at some of the high priced infused oils, I decided that I was going to create a couple of my own. I did a little research, cleaned out some bottles, and started my very own infused oils. One is Garlic and the other is Sun dried Tomato Basil. They are supposed to take close to a month to fully develop the flavor, but even if they aren't fully developed by Saturday at least they will be a pretty addition to the table.

I have also pulled out a few bread recipes, including my mom's famous olive herb bread, which is very much, the BOMB. When my mom had her cafe this bread was very popular. Customers would buy loaves and loaves of it. I don't even like olives and I think it is amazing.

Hopefully everyone is looking forward to Saturday!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tonight I am drinking...

A wonderful beer that you probably haven't heard of... Ray Hill's American Pilsner .

I don't know even how to describe this beer besides amazing. Not light, but, very very smooth and perfect for not only drinking, but also cooking. A few hours ago I emptied a bottle into my crockpot with a few brats, peppers, and onions which is going to result in a delicious meal.

The beer also earns some serious points because it's maker, Ray Hill is one of the nicest guys ever. Nathan, Jenn, and I had the privilege of meeting him and his fiance at a tasting a few weeks ago. He was anxious to tell us about his beer and didn't even mind when I asked him to autograph one of the bottles I purchased and pose with Nathan and I as Jenn took a picture. I am convinced that he will be the next big thing in the beer world, so I had to make sure that we got full documentation.

So next time you are in a beer mood it is one worth checking out. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Taking it easy....

I decided that today was going to be my one lazy day for the week. Since, yet again, the week seems to be filling up with tons of projects. Nathan is working tonight, but is on days the rest of the week so we are doing some much needed and long overdue house projects.

Speaking of house projects, I am trying to create some last minute, simple (and cheap of course) decor. So I had this idea to take photos, put them on some kind of canvas or something, and then put some kind of seal or adhesive over them. If any of you crafty bloggers have any suggestions/tips on doing a project like this, let me know!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The cliff notes version of last night

So much happened, here is the quick replay:

Everyone keep telling me I looked beautiful or wonderful. Jaws actually dropped. It was great to hear those compliments, I hadn't heard them in forever, and I probably received more last night than I did on my wedding day. Jenn is a master of make-up and even managed to spruce up my hair a little. Thank you Jenn! WTF was I so concerned about?

I wasn't overly impressed with my $150 a plate dinner. The veal with the apple chutney was great, but the fish course of scallops was terribly disappointing.

Sparkling cosmos might be my new favorite drink....they are the perfect combo of pretty and tasty.

I learned that I definitely have the biggest alcohol tolerance out of my co-workers/bosses and even though it sounds like fun to go to a bar, after leaving an event with an open bar, it probably isn't a good idea when they could potentially hit on your married friends or make them feel really uncomfortable. Um, yeah, sorry about that, friends.

Although Bar Louie doesn't have a dance floor, that won't stop your drunk co-worker from dancing and insisting you dance with him.

I got a free beer when I was on a mission to steal a catch bouquet from a girl across the bar. She was nice though, so I couldn't bring myself to steal it. I just smelled it and her friend gave me a yummy draft ale for some reason. I don't ask questions, I just take beer and walk away before they get a chance to change their mind.

A co-worker and a boss were out-ed, but I know that they won't remember they were out-ed so it may not count.

All in all, a great evening. :)

Friday, September 12, 2008


*My no commitment week ended up being super stressful. I was barely home at all because it seemed like things just started popping up. I guess I will try again next week.

*Part of my stress is coming from trying to find a good dress for this big work event Saturday night. I didn't find out about it until a week ago, and I really didn't have anything that would work for an evening cocktail dress. (My semi-new pink and lace dress wouldn't have been a good fit). I borrowed a few dresses from my sister and friends, and one of them I absolutely fell in love with. All black, even neckline and hem, very sharp looking even though it is not exactly the style of the season. It is very form fitting (and shows a little bit of bodily imperfection) which I am not used to, but now I think I can pull it off.

*I have been so paranoid about not looking good in the black dress for Saturday that I stayed up until midnight last night so I could try it on for Nathan. Even though he isn't very fashion knowledgeable, he still is always honest with me if he feels something doesn't look good. After me asking him 20 times, "Is it ok? Are you sure?" I finally went to bed. Less than 5 hours later I had already overslept for work. I was 10 minutes late....terrible, I know.

*I am totally crazy and did 12 miles on the elliptical Wednesday afternoon in addition to the three other times I had already been to the gym this week. I am not going to lie, a small part of me wanted to just tone a little more so I could look better in the black dress.

*I broke my no Target rule to go buy Assets to wear under the black dress. I didn't buy anything else though, so I guess that is good. This damn event on Saturday (and the dress) is taking over my life and it is sooo not worth it.

*Nathan and I might be buying a new couch on Saturday. I know you are gasping saying, "But, Teresa, what about your budget?" Well, I received another happy surprise in the mail yesterday...a refund for the deductible I paid in December after my car accident. I didn't plan on getting this money because the insurance companies were in a battle. Even though it was 100% NOT my fault, the other driver lied and I just figured I would never see the money. So we are going to look at a used couch this weekend. Even if we end up buying it, I will still be able to put the extra money towards so CCs. Woohoo!

*I have a huge weekend planned and I am pumped. Only 5 more hours until I am outta here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A new blog to follow....

Not a lot of posts frequently, but still worth checking out and adding to Reader for an occaisional good read.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The project

Since March or April I have been working on this giant project at work. I mean this project was huge, massive, gigantic, whatever. My company started doing weekly inventory and instead of continuing to use our somewhat inaccurate Excel spreadsheet system, a web based system was developed that updated prices for roughly 90% of our inventory automatically.

Cool, right? Yes, it is cool. It is cool after you get it setup up. So for the past several months I have been working lots of hours each week inputting all of our inventory. All twenty six pages of items. 26 pages worth of checking order numbers, quantities, past invoices, and even if the products we had on the inventory were even still available to buy. Then each item had to be assigned an area and put in the order in which it appears in that area.

While the project didn't start out to bad, by yesterday I decided that it truly was hell on earth and that I was never going to be the same. I truly think I lost a little bit of my sanity. And yesterday I made the statement that if I didn't finish it today I might have to slap someone in the face just to relieve some stress.

About 10 minutes before I completed the inventory I started getting chest pains. I don't know if it was anxiety, nerves, or just plain being excited, but they were there. It was crazy.

As soon as I finished, saved, and hit print I walked into Boss #1's office. Clutched in my hands I said,
"It's done, oh my God, I can't believe it's done."
Boss #1 immediately fired back with, "Well, good job."
"Um, no wait, stop and think about this and be a little more sincere...."
"Oh, Teresa I am......."
"No, no, you aren't fully getting that I just completed this. It took me 6 freaking months! Sure, we will probably have to fix a few things this week after we try it out, but it is done! So don't give me some half assed "good job". Stop for just a moment and think about that, just....just think about it."
By this time, Boss #1 is laughing hysterically. He and I have a really good relationship, and I am constantly putting him in his place or at least trying to. Once he stopped laughing he said,
"Ok, ok, I get it. I sincerely am happy that it is complete and you did a great job."

The agenda for the rest of the evening is to drink sparkeltini and have my own little celebration.

Monday, September 8, 2008

No commitments

It seems like life is just getting a little hectic. Last week I was crazy busy at work and Nathan and I did nothing this weekend but run from place to place. While we had a blast because we saw a lot of family, hung out with a good friend, and tasted some great wines, I am exhausted and the house is not in good shape.

So I am going to try and make this what I call a "no commitment" week (ok, realistically this will only last until Friday afternoon). Where all I am really obligated to do is go to work and if I get little besides that accomplished it is not a big deal. While there is a ton to do around the house and about 5 million errands to run, I just don't want to stress myself out. Sometimes accomplishing so much is actually counter productive because I end up stressing myself out and not getting any rest. Plus, I have a big weekend ahead of me and I refuse to be all tired and not enjoy it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What is that smell?

It's Fall. Does anyone else go outside this week when there was a slight chill in the air and feel like they could smell Fall? Well, if you didn't I am sure you think I am losing it. But I swear during this time of year I feel like I can smell the seasons changing and I absolutely love it!

I never used to be a big fan of Fall for some reason, but now it is by far my favorite season. From a cooking standpoint, Fall is great because I am obsessed with cooking with pumpkin. In the next month I will be anxiously moving into my kitchen to make pumpkin bread, cheesecake, bread pudding, and of course....pie with Mom's amazing crust recipe. I am also thinking about using fresh pumpkin for something and figuring out how to use the entire pumpkin as a serving bowl for whatever dish I come up with.

Making soups is also a mild obsession of mine, and the start of Fall is the perfect time to start new recipes. Next week I am going to attempt this spicy Asian style soup I just thought up and I will be spending lots of time in the bookstore and library browsing recipes to come up with ideas.

Oh, and who can forget that Fall is the best time to visit wineries or host a few parties with our fabulous fire pit?

I might even get a little crazy and plant some mums in the sea of weeds that is supposed to be our front flower bed. But lets not get ahead of ourselves......

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ode to August

I think this past month was one of the greatest of my life.....seriously. Let's recap the events of August:

*I started working out again and even though the scale didn't show it, I felt myself getting more tone.

*I rediscovered my love of making homemade bread and how it delighted those that ate it.

*I had some kick ass short work days.

*Every weekend was fun, I saw so many of my friends.

*Even with slightly going over our budget, I/we still put almost $1000 towards CC debt.

*I branched out and read some great books, which not helped me rediscover my love of reading, but I also gained a lot from them.

*I stopped stressing when my Google Reader went over 10 posts. ;)

*I experienced one of the greatest and most memorable weekends with my husband.

In general, I just stop coasting through life. This year had been really stressful after I had gotten my promotion at work, and looking back I realize I had myself on "Auto Pilot". Now I feel like I am handling stress better, so there is a little more time to do more focusing on the good stuff of life.

Even with August being so great, I think September may top it. I already know I will be seeing lots of family and friends and continuing to work towards having little stress.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The weekend!

I am illegally blogging from work! Gasp!

Just a quick note to tell everyone that the weekend was fabulous. We ended up cutting the trip a day short and still managed to hit 8 (yes, 8) wineries.

I need to finish my roll of film then I will make a mega post about the weekend complete with reviews and pics.