Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Secret to Happiness

I've had this saved on my computer for a couple months (it came through on my google reader a while ago). I think I am going to get it printed so I can frame it and hang it above my desk.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pizza, pressure, and projects

It's no news that Pioneer Woman is wonderful, but this pizza. Oh, this pizza. It transcends into new levels of wonder and delicious glory. I made it twice in the last week. And it's my new favorite pizza dough.

And I took a picture of it, but blogger won't upload my picture right now (even though it said it did), so I think there's no picture in this post. Or there could be two. Who knows? Anyway. Go make that pizza. It's delicious.

On that note, no. I did not finish my spring cleaning. I'm not going to lie, I didn't even really start it. I work well under pressure and deadlines, but, unfortunately, I think my own self-made deadlines don't create the pressure I thought they did. That's one hard thing about staying at home. There aren't the kind of deadlines you get at work or in school. It's good and bad, really, to have such little structure-- good if you can figure out how to create your own structure and motivate yourself with invisible deadlines, and bad if you can't.
When Bria was first born, and I was trying to carve my own niche, I said to myself over and over, "I can do whatever I want with my time!" but my tone of voice went back and forth between excitement and dread. I've gotten a lot better at creating structure and purpose to my days, but that doesn't mean I always get things done (like spring cleaning) the way I want to.
For my next project (though I'm not giving up on spring cleaning) I am going to take a smaller bite, I think. I tend to dream big and overwhelm myself, so I am going to try something more manageable this week. This week will be more enjoyable too-- I am going to make this Easter Week-- with lots of small, fun projects like dyeing eggs and things. Oh, that is so much better than spring cleaning.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Courting and Cupcakes

Thanks to my friend Sarah, today Sam and I went on our first, real-live date since we moved here almost six months ago. I dropped Bria off to play and then went straight to the metro to pick up Sam. We spent the next hour wandering around Old Town Alexandria, mourning the sudden disappearance of spring, and enjoying our freedom. It's amazing how just a short time of un-child-interrupted talking and walking can be so rejuvenating. Plus, sometimes it's fun to pretend that Sam and I just started dating.

A picture of warmer times. Like on Wednesday:After dinner at King Street Blues, we headed back to pick up our full and happy Bria, played hide-and-seek at home (Bria loves to be scared), then sent her off to bed. We turned on a movie and then opened our treat. While walking through Old Town, we stumbled across Alexandria Cupcake and decided to pick up some dessert. They were nearing the end of their day, so they only had three kinds of cupcakes left: almond, vanilla bean with cocoa frosting, and coconut. We opted for the first two, and, I have to say, I think they were the best cupcakes I have ever had. That might sound dramatic, but I'm not kidding. I have been craving cupcakes lately (I even had one last week at a church activity, but it was dry and bland), but I haven't been able to justify making an entire batch for no reason. I often find the trouble with cupcakes to be that they all taste the same-- a tasty same, but same nonetheless. I was so happy when our respective cupcakes were full of unique flavor. And there was just the perfect amount of frosting. I am afraid this could become a new addiction.

A bad picture of the tasties:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Project Spring Week One

When I was planning out the weekly projects for Project Spring, I knew the first week had to be a deep spring cleaning of our tiny apartment. Because, let's face it-- the top of my fridge,

this bookcase,

and this desk

are no longer acceptable.

I made long, lengthy, overly-ambitious lists, dividing our apartment into five zones. I delegated each zone to one week day, then wrote down every. single. thing. I wanted to do to get this apartment all clean and ready for spring.

Um. Yeah.

Haven't done a single thing.

I've actually been a little busy lately. We have our weekly play group and music group. I "played volleyball" on Tuesday (now THAT was a joke!), and Sam started a new work schedule where gets home early in the day. Plus, we've been enjoying the spring weather by going to gravelly point to watch the planes land

and running around Old Town with my dear old friend amanda. (I was trying so hard to keep my eyes open. this was the best I could do.)

But one point of Project Spring is to learn a little balance in my life. I go through busy spurts, but then when things settle back down, I forget how to be a real human sometimes. So I need to work on still getting the cleaning and other projects done even when I'm busy. (I'm hoping Project Spring helps a little with my addiction to procrastination.) So, off I go to conquer my spring cleaning. I will get it done this week so I am all ready for next week's project-- I just might be scrubbing the bathroom floor at 11:59 pm on Saturday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Project Spring!

Today I cut my hair.
And it is a fresh start, because today is the first day of spring.

And today is also the first day of Project Spring.

I am going to spend the entire season working on this project as a way of making my life the one I want it to be. I've had several realizations lately that this is my one life, and I better be living the way I want to be. So that haircut is the first of many steps. Project Spring is another step.

Project Spring will be broken down into three main components: Food, Literature, and Lifestyle. I will blog three times a week (at least!) about something from each of these categories. Project Spring will run from the first day of spring (today) until the last day of spring, at which point I will determine if I even like projects.

Food: I still love to cook, and I love that this blog started as a food blog. I will continue to cook and bake my little heart out. I will try one new recipe every week and blog about it. I will blog about kitchen fails or hot dogs or grocery store woes-- all the things I currently blog about-- but more consistently, because I will at least be trying one new recipe a week.

Literature-- I always imagined my days as a stay-at-home mom would be full of books and nothing else (oh, and kids) but, in reality, I surprisingly never read. I am going to start. I will write book, story, and essay reviews. Also, I will document some of my efforts in writing (the non-blog kind).

Lifestyle -- This is the big category. Each week I will focus on one lifestyle task, goal, change, etc. This could be anything from beginning an exercise regimen to establishing household organization techniques to decorating Bria's room or going on adventurous and exciting excursions. But I will find something each week that brings new insight, focus, and excitement to my life (and, ultimately, this blog).

Commence, Project Spring!

Friday, March 19, 2010

In Which I Remember I Have Nothing to Complain About

Sometimes I adopt a woe-is-me attitude. It's always dumb. The things that chased away that attitude today include

these grapes in my freezer (best. snack. ever.);
this little girl, who, despite having an awful cold right now, is so excited about her new water colors, she won't even look at the camera;
she is also the best eater in the world. sometimes I have to remind her to eat things other than fruits and veggies. what kind of toddler does that?! she's amazing;

last weekend, when I was sick (yes, I passed it on to Bria), Sam came home early from work with these flowers. A better husband does not exist.

And lastly, I'm kicking off my project tomorrow (The First Day Of Spring!).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bagel Fail

I saw this recipe for homemade bagels, and I felt so inspired. I mean, doesn't that just sounds so amazing? It took me forever to finally find a store that had bread flour in stock (I think I went to four stores), and then I finally attempted it.


I'm not going to lie, I didn't even try one. Sam ate one, Bria had a bite, and then I threw the rest away. I don't even know what went wrong.



Don't those just look like the saddest bagels you've ever seen? I guess I should probably say "bagels." Those shouldn't even be called bagels.

Anyway, don't worry, I still have a project brewing, and I will be launching it on Saturday. I hope it will be nothing like these bagels.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


1. Avocados (still)

2. This recipe

3. The warm spring weather (and the subsequent hours spent outside everyday and a trip to the zoo)

4. Nutella shakes every night

5. Counting down the days until I go to NYC with my mom and sisters (61!)

6. Bria stroking my hair saying "so pretty. so pretty."

7. Planning hypothetical vacations to Europe

8. These pillows (annie, some day I will order one.)

9. Organic pea shoots (from Trader Joe's) on my turkey, pastrami, and swiss cheese sandwiches for lunch

10. Warm spring weather. Yep, I'm saying it again.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Homemade Wheat Thins

I saw a recipe for wheat thins the other day and decided to give it a go. I often eat cheese and crackers for an afternoon snack, so this was a great way to try something new, save a little money, and ingest fewer preservatives and chemicals. Perfect!

(pre-bake. you can see it was hard to get all the flour off the dough, but it didn't end up being a problem. also, this batch had several oddly-shaped wheat thins, but that is just one joy of baking at home.)

The dough is simple enough: flour, salt, sugar, butter, milk. (I did follow the suggestions from this follow up post as well, which I think facilitated the process.) It comes together easily, although the rolling and cutting part is slightly tedious. I had to bake the wheat thins in three batches to accommodate all the dough, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend cutting the recipe in half because then you wouldn't get as many crackers at the end.

(post-bake, batch 3. I forgot to poke holes in them, but they turned out just fine-- and pretty!)

Bria thoroughly enjoyed the process (she ate several fistfuls of flour):

The result was that I thought the crackers were way too sweet. I would probably reduce the sugar to just over 1/4 cup and slightly increase the salt. (Speaking of which, sprinkling the thins with salt before you bake them is mandatory.) I used more milk than the recipe called for, and I also highly recommend working in small batches, since the dough (or at least my dough) split, tore, and stuck when I moved it from counter to pan. They were fun to make, and I will probably make them again. And, they are great dipped in cream cheese mixed with a little taco seasoning (thanks for that idea, pauline!).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

So This Is Love . . .

Do you see what I see?No. Not the sink so full of dishes they are overflowing into the picture.

That would be five ripe avocados just asking me to eat them. And I will. Because I love them. And our love is a true love that will last forever.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

spring is brewing

It's March now, which is weird. Usually this is the time where spring is brewing a furious storm in my heart, and I feel giddy and anxious at the promise of warmer weather and brighter skies. This year, oddly enough, Sam is the one having to remind me to keep spring in my heart. He's nudged the thought into my brain at least half a dozen times in the last week-- he even shaved his head as a way to welcome spring into the world. I think I'm not working as hard this year to welcome spring because I have it on good authority that spring comes more quickly in Virginia than it does in Utah. I feel like my geography will do the spring-welcoming for me.
I do have a spring project brewing, however, and the plotting of said project might be a more subtle way of ushering in the new season. Details of the project are forth coming, but I see the horizon of this blog changing to fit new aspects of my life.

Until then, dear friends, I am off to bed-- probably having a nightmare about the bagels I made tonight. (poor, sad, lifeless disks of dough.)