Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

The McHusband and I went to our neighbors’ Halloween party this past Saturday.  I’d figured out what I wanted to be a few weeks back, but the McHusband was undecided until a few days before.  Turns out, his procrastination was for the best because his costume was a hit.

I decided to be a shower loofah.  The costume involved elastic and that was good enough for me.  This isn’t the best photo, but I feel like it looks most like a loofah so I’m including it.

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I’ll also include a phone pic of the McHusband in his costume.

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And later, just before the party, we took some pictures together.

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The McHusband wore some sunglasses-style clear goggles under his mask to keep the fabric off his eyes.  Can you tell?

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I borrowed a curling iron from Chelle and tried to get some loose waves.  My hair has always been bad at holding curl and this night was no exception.  But it was fun to do something different.

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If you’re interested in making your own loofah costume, this is the tutorial I roughly followed.  Some advice: if you aren’t a size 0 or you’re pregnant, get two yards of elastic.

Our fellow partygoers voted the McHusband and me Best Male and Best Female of the night.  Glad my hard work and the McHusband’s cold hard cash earned us those honors.

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I guess next Halloween I’ll have to figure out TWO costumes, huh?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kim’s birthday dinner + treats

We girls got together on Monday to celebrate Kim’s birthday with dinner at a new restaurant downtown, Jimmy V’s Osteria & Bar.  The atmosphere was awesome and we all said it was somewhere we’d like to go back to.

Sara and I, however, probably wouldn’t get the same pizza that we both ordered.  It was Angelina’s Harvest Pie and while it pleased the palate in that it didn’t taste bad, there just wasn’t anything special about its flavor.  It was slightly sweet from the shallots, but I feel like I expected it to be garlicky so it was just missing something.  Sara suggested that maybe it needed salt so I gave that a try and it helped.  Even though the pizza wasn’t the most exciting thing I’ve ever eaten, I would definitely give the restaurant a second chance.  I know based on the samples of Chelle’s tomato basil soup and Vanessa’s sweet potato fries that the lack of flavor wasn’t an across-the-board thing.

But enough about the regular food, let’s talk treats!  Kim requested something peanut butter and chocolate.  I came across these whoopie pies and figured they had her name written all over them.

Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard Whoopie Pies

{Photo courtesy of Shelly}

These were pretty good but would’ve been better with more filling.  Our waiter, however, liked them just the way they were.  I let him choose one of the treats and he went with the whoopie pie.  He took it to the back to eat it and was back a few minutes later saying he had two questions:

“Who made those and is she single?”

Unfortunately for him, the answer to his second question was no.

The bonus treat was also from Cookies & Cups: White Chocolate Lemon Blondies.  Honestly, it seemed like everyone liked these the best – I know I preferred them.  Vanessa wasn’t so sure of anything that could be called curd, but these bars convinced her to not be afraid of the curd.

White Chocolate Lemon Blondies | www.cookiesandcups.com | #blondies #whitechocolate #lemon

{Photo courtesy of Shelly}

Our waiter was kind enough to snap a group picture of us just before we left.

Dinner pic{Photo courtesy of Bob the waiter and Kim’s iPhone}

{Whoopie Pies}

{Lemon Bars}

Monday, October 28, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Cookies and Cream Brownies

Looks like we have some fabulous fall weather on tap for this final week of October.  The kids should have a great night for trick or treating, too.

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Speaking of trick or treating, the McHusband and I went to a Halloween party in the ‘hood on Saturday.  Of course I had to use it as an opportunity to try a new recipe.

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I saw these brownies on a blog last week and knew they’d be perfect for the party.  For one, I had Cookies n Cream Hershey Kisses left from the gender reveal party.  Second, who doesn’t like Oreos? 

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And third, I’d already thought of a cute and thematically appropriate name for them.

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I didn’t cheat and use boxed brownie mix.  I made them from scratch using the blogger’s recipe, which calls for both unsweetened cocoa and a small jar of hot fudge sauce.  I’m so glad the blogger and I both like our brownies fudgy.

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I love that there’s almost as much frosting as there is brownie.  The McHusband preferred less brownie, which I inferred from the little bits of frosting-less brownie he left behind for me to clean up.

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I used Halloween Oreos, and I wish the orange filling would’ve come through a little stronger, but I wouldn’t have mattered much at the party since the house was lit mainly by candlelight.

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I love sweets and can handle a lot of sugar so believe me when I tell you that these are rich with a capital R.  You don’t need a huge brownie to satisfy your sweet tooth.  They are also very good cold, which is how the McHusband preferred to eat them.

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Hope your week is off to a good start!

{Recipe here}

Friday, October 25, 2013

Five random things

1. I made my Halloween costume yesterday.  That’s right, I channeled my inner Martha and MADE my costume.  My mom doesn’t need to worry that I’m going to be taking over her sewing machine or anything, but it’s nice to know I can put some fabric and elastic together myself.

2. I made a new banana bread/cake recipe on Thursday, and it was a winner.  Thank goodness the McHusband and I and our officemates like bananas and stuff made with bananas so much because that’s what I make more than anything else.

3. I took my usual muscle conditioning class last night and at the end, one lady said, “Your stomach makes me so nervous.”  If she’s worried about me doing bicep curls and lunges, she should see me doing boot camp.

4. Yesterday the McMom sent me an email with a link to a Snickerdoodle Cheesecake from the new issue of BHG.  She suggested I make it for Thanksgiving.  Well, great palates drool alike because I’d torn the page with the recipe on it out of my magazine Wednesday night to ensure I’d make it.  I’m happy now to have a reason to whip it up.

5. I work near the fairgrounds in Raleigh and today’s the last weekday for the NC State Fair.  I dread this time of year every time it rolls around because it makes traffic such a mess near my office.  I just have to get through today and life will go back to normal.

Hope you guys have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkins and spiders and bats, oh my!

I pulled more than haunted houses out of my holiday closet this weekend.  My seasonal stores include wooden pumpkins, metal pumpkins, and even a ceramic one that’s a tart burner.  I also have items of the arachnid persuasion and a more friendly jack o’lantern lantern.  I just had to come up with a way to get all those things to play nicely together.

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I made the spider plate a couple years ago.  I glued pipe cleaners to a black bowl then glued a black plate on top of that.  A couple of googly eyes and voila – a spider!

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The “baby spiders” are cupcake holders.

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On the left, the pumpkin candle holder and cupcake holder, I mean spider, are the only nods toward Halloween and fall.

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On the right, I’ve also got a wooden pumpkin, an owl, and one of the ultimate seasonal treats, Pumpkin Spice Kisses.

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My table runner is another one of those post-Halloween special deals and I was glad to finally be able to put it out.

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The black trivet that the lantern’s sitting on isn’t part of the d├ęcor necessarily, it’s there to keep us from going crazy from hearing the lantern rock on the cake plate.

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And of course I have to show you my advisors, those who helped me decide which pumpkin went where.

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“We told her the vase should be filled with dog biscuits.”

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Thanks for the input, guys, but I’m going to stick with the candy for now.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Haunted houses

Just after Halloween 2011, I bought a few seasonal items that were on special-deal-today-only-get-em-the-hell-outta-here, as my dad says.  Since we were gone on our trip out west at the end of October last year and spent Halloween in Vegas, I didn’t do any seasonal decorating.

So this weekend, two years later, I pulled out my haunted houses that I paid foreclosure prices for.

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The houses have little circular holders inside for candles so they can be even more seasonally appropriate with flickering light coming out the windows.

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Nothing says “Home Sweet Home” like a tombstone with RIP written on it next to the front door.

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At least the little house – the guest house? – is slightly more friendly with the jack o’lantern out front.

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I decorated the buffet in the dining room (sneak peek in the Instagram pictures) and put some stuff on the dining room table, too.  Come back tomorrow to see more.

Monday, October 21, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Chocolate Oreo Chess Pie

It’s Monday, and you know what that means: something sweet to help ease you into the work week.

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Our neighborhood had its annual Fall Festival this past Saturday.  We’ve always had a chili cookoff and this year we added a dessert bakeoff.

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I made two things, not to increase my chances but because I wanted to make something that I knew would work for a crowd and also try something new.  My “something old” was Oatmeal Cream Pies, which I’ve made a couple times before.

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They don’t look special and they won’t blow your taste buds out of the water, but they are pretty darn good.

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But back to the star of the show, the pie.

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It’s chocolate through and through.  With cocoa powder and chopped Oreos in the filling and dark chocolate chips sprinkled on top, this is a treat for all you chocolate lovers out there.

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This pie is flourless.  The top gets a little crusty while the rest of the filling stays gooey.

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And then you get a bite or three of the softened Oreo chunk.  Yum!

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I’ve never made a pie with a real pie crust, homemade or store bought.  I opted to go with Pillsbury’s crust this time around.  Maybe next time maybe I’ll try my hand at my own pie crust.

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So I’m sure you’re dying to know how my pie fared in the contest.  I took second place behind a pumpkin roll.  Of course, I had to try the winning treat and while the cake part was very good, the cream cheese filling had a slight citrus/orange flavor in it.  I’ve said it before, I’m not huge on fruit desserts, especially not when the taste is snuck in so that I don’t know to expect it.  That’s just wrong, I tell you.

I gave the McHusband the rest of mine and went back for more of my pie.  Mmm, look at all that chocolate…

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I may not have had the best dessert according to some not-so-discerning palates, but my chili won for the second year in a row.  Woot woot!

{Recipe here}

PS  Happy 8th Anniversary to my wonderful McHusband!  I love you!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Landlording

The McHusband and I bought a townhouse with the intention of renting it out to pay the mortgage with enough left over to make it worth our while. 

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Guess what?  Our plan worked!  We have a renter, and she and her son move in this weekend.

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Let me tell you really quick about a potential renter we did NOT want in our townhouse.  When this lady showed up, she was yelling at her kids in the car as we answered the door.  No “Excuse me,” no “I’m so sorry, just a minute while I talk to my kids.”  She just yelled at them then was like, “Hey, I’m here to see the place.”

So we welcomed her in to give her the tour and answer her questions.  Which she asked around a mouthful of cheese curls.  That’s right, she came bearing orange dust-covered snacks and proceeded to eat them the whole time, even dropping one on our new and freshly vacuumed den carpet.  I’ll give her credit for picking it up but still…

Anyway, let’s hope the lady we chose proves that we made a good decision.

I will tell you more about the townhouse next week and give you a full tour.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jerk cats

I don’t have a real post for you today, but if you have a few minutes, you should check out this video of cats stealing dogs’ beds.  My cats will do the same thing and the dogs just stand there, sometimes barking in protest, but then they give up and let the cats have the bed.

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Man do I miss that sweet boy.  Don’t know if it’s the pregnancy hormones or what, but it’s amazing how emotional I’m getting over one picture.  I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we lost Tucker.

But let’s end the post on a slightly more upbeat note.  Our animals have been known to share a bed as Morgan and Tori are demonstrating below.  It’s amazing how some sunshine on a cool day can bring them together.

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Happy Hump Day!

Monday, October 14, 2013

{Recipe Recap} Guinness Brownies with Butterscotch Fudge Frosting

Happy Monday!  Hope you all had good weekends.  Mine was downright dull compared to last weekend, but that’s not a complaint.  While I thoroughly enjoyed having my family stay with me and of course I always love hosting a party, I also like and need my downtime.

The McHusband and I went to a neighbor’s beer tasting party on Saturday.  The “rules” were we had to bring a six-pack of international beer so I picked up some Smithwick’s as the McHusband’s contribution.  Mine was a plate of brownies made with beer.

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I’d gotten the McHusband a single bottle of a milk stout for him to try.  Luckily, he didn’t like it, but I knew it’d be perfect in my brownies.

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These brownies had an interesting texture. They were light AND dense, fudgy AND cakey.  I really can’t accurately describe them so I guess you’re just going to have to bake a batch and find out for yourself what I mean.

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The frosting wasn’t overly sweet, but if offered some sugary relief from the rich dark chocolate of the brownies.

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It was slightly complicated in that I had to make a butterscotch sauce that I then added to my frosting base, but neither part of the recipe was difficult.

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I’m sending the leftovers in with the McHusband to share with his office, which is full of chocoholics so I don’t doubt these will disappear quickly.

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{Recipe adapted from here}