Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reporting Live From the Couch.

I took tonight off from life. No workout, no cooking, no vacuuming, no studying, no nothing. I haven't left the couch since returning home from work. You didn't hear me say this...but I'm secretly praying for snow tonight.

I take that back. I take that back! I would never pray for snow. What am I crazy? All I meant was I would give anything to stay in my sweat pants and continue occupying the sofa instead of going to work tomorrow. Jeez.

I must be going too hard lately. My neck is super stiff, my back is sore, my legs are screaming, my arms are angry and my left heel feels like I'm walking on an imaginary rock. See why I need a day of sweat pants and sofa time?

Despite all that, there is only so much time I can spend doing nothing before boredom sets in. About twenty minutes to be exact. It's must be my ADD. In an effort to be productive while being wholly unproductive I decided to take the beginning steps to learning Photoshop. And by beginning, I mean learning how to open a photo in Photoshop. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Nothing too impressive, but it's sure an improvement over the original. Besides, I love this church.

Notice the lack of snow and ice. It's January! Hello global warming, let's be friends.

Somehow this red door turned pink in Photoshop. I kinda like it. Maybe I should write the owner a letter suggesting a little makeover. 

My friend Christina was recently testing/ridiculing my lack of French. I tried to defend myself by saying I recognize basic words like 'open' and 'close' because I see them on shops all the time, I just can't pronounce the words. So she said, "Well what's STOP?" Now, I see at least eight thousand STOP signs a day. I should definitely know that one. But I didn't. Now I do. 

Are you trying to pronounce Arret right now? Let me know if you figure out how to roll your R's without making a Pepe Le Pew face. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

How To Fill A Triple Crockpot.

I'm pretty sure the Super Bowl is right around the corner. Something about the Giants and Patriots? I think that's what Facebook told me.

My Christmas present from my sister finally arrived in the mail this weekend and it's amazing! My sister promised it was something that "I needed, I just didn't know it." My first worry was that it was a new purse or a new pair of boots because she had deemed mine to be embarrassing. Then she explained that my boots and purse were fashionably acceptable and it was something that I needed for parties.

I racked my brain but couldn't come up with anything I could possibly need. I mean, I have a pretty amazing set-up from amazing wedding gifts, if I do say so myself.

But she was right. I totally need a triple crock pot. Like totally.

Perfect for parties. Artichoke dip in one. Buffalo chicken dip in another. And sausage cheese dip in the third.

Freaking genius, I tell ya.

In honor of the Super Bowl I wanted to remind y'all of a classic dip recipe that you can never go wrong with.

It's unheard of here in Canada because the Grocery Gods forgot to bless this country with Rotel.

Fortunately I had the good sense to pick up six cans of the stuff in Maine and smuggle it in the country.

The other challenge is the lack of Jimmy Dean products here in the tundra. How people survive without spicy sausage crumbles I will never know. I didn't import them but after major searching I finally found a local brand that seems to suit my purposes.

 So this year, forget the fancy appetizers. Whip up a batch of cheese dip and drink a beer while you're at it. Remember, once you put it out, run! Get out of the way of the stampede.

Here it is:

Connie's Yummy Sausage and Cheese Dip

Brown 1lb of spicy sausage and 1lb of ground beef together. 
While the meat is cooking, melt 1lb Velveeta chesse and 1 can Rotel in a sauce pan or crockpot.
When the meat is done, combine with the cheese/tomato mix.
Heat and stir until smooth.
Serve warm with Scoops corn chips.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy Everything!

This may come as a shock to you, but my dad's birthday is not a national holiday. That's probably why you didn't know about it this weekend. Or maybe you did and you called him. If so, thanks. I'm sure he appreciated the reminder of growing one year older. In fact, he most likely did. Life's been pretty good to him lately. He's been running a lot, traveling, enjoying the beach, and probably loving the quiet life he's had in the past year since Maple and I are no longer able to show up every other weekend to wreak total havoc on his house and life.

The celebration of my dad's day of birth also happens to fall on my parent's wedding anniversary. How convenient is that? The story goes that he promised himself he wouldn't get married until he was the ripe ole  age of twenty-four. After dumping my mom their sophomore year of college, she decided to finally forgive him after graduation. Unfortunately, right about that time he was taking off to travel Europe and my mom was running of to LA in persuit of her California dream girl life. Those midwestern kids are nothing if not adventurous, I suppose.

After returning from Europe the adventure continued and my dad somehow found himself living the big life. That's right. He was selling typewriters in Alabama. By some stroke of genius, he somehow convinced my mom to quit her LA job and join him for a rootin' tootin' good time in Huntsville, Alabama, where they could settle down in matrimonial bliss.

So, on my dad's 24th birthday they were married in my mom's hometown of Chicago during the biggest blizzard the Windy City had ever seen. Buried cars, snowed-in siblings, the whole nine yards. All that to make sure they were married as soon as possible on a date my dad would never be able to forget was his anniversary.

If January 28th wasn't already meaningful enough, last year my parents decided to up the ante and add the celebration of my mom's freedom from breast cancer. Not that they decided so much as that just happened to be the first available day the doctor's could schedule her surgery. Coincidence or not, the surgery was successful and my mom has made a full recovery. So much that I completely forgot about it this weekend when I called home. She's been such a trooper and has worked so hard to not let cancer define her or bring her down that it's easy for the rest of us to bury it in the past, right where it should be. Done. Not worth giving a second thought to. Something so evil isn't worthy of our attention. We are simply too busy celebrating the happy things. Like a wedding anniversary. And a birthday. And a new set of boobs.

So happy birthday to the best dad in the world! Happy anniversary to the greatest couple and parents in all of the land! And cheers to health and happiness!

Drink up and enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

What A Day.

What a day, what a day, what a day.

When I arrived at work I slipped on ice getting out of my car. As I fell into my door it slammed into the car next to me. Which is always awesome. I also managed to give my back a good whack in the process.

Not one to be thrown off by a rough start, I went about my business.

An hour into the morning someone went for a coffee run and things were looking up.

Then I got the short end of the stick on some work related stuff which lead to me falling down several stairs and landing once again on my back but this time with another person on top of me. On the up side, no Jeep Cherokees were damaged in the process. Not that I left a mark on that car or anything.

Anyway, I got home to find my computer tied up because someone who shall remain nameless needed microphone capabilities. This lead to me and Maple Girl snuggling up in bed and knocking out a good chunk of the Hunger Games.

Here's my point, I was in a mood by the end of it. So I headed to the gym. On my way out the door I noticed that the moon was a perfect crescent with the North Star shining brightly next to it. Just like in the movies. I grabbed my camera as it seemed the perfect opportunity to try some night time shots.

I drove down the street to the park hoping to get a light-post free view.

Instead I found an ice skating rink. Right in the middle of the grass. It had benches and everything. And it was packed. Interestingly enough, it was full of women and boys. I mean, maybe they were working on their double axels but I'm going to go ahead and assume it was hockey related.

Here's the lesson:

Wear gloves, not mittens, when using your camera in order to prevent loss of finger tips.

Don't hang around kids with your camera. Creepster alert.

I suck at taking night photos. 

When you take your camera with you on your way to the gym and it's below freezing out, you'll have to take your camera into the gym because it might freeze and break if you leave it in the car. Again, creepster alert.

Randomly discovering an ice skating rink and random photo ops were the highlight of my day.

The second highlight was running another six miles tonight. BOOM!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Discoveries: Face Plant Pillow Cases

I love pretty things. Fancy things. Affordable things. Cute things and anything a little bit different.

The problem is that I'm not always great at finding these type of treasures so when someone gives me something or introduces me to something that fits the above criteria I feel the need to share it with everyone. This is simply because I love it so much that I think everyone else in the universe will love it too.

More than receiving great items, I really love giving them to friends and family. There is nothing better than bringing the best gift. I love knowing that someone might treasure that gift just as much as I would.

I know I randomly show y'all fun little things I've discovered so I'm going to start calling all these little features Discoveries. They're not meant to be reviews and I absolutely have had no contact with the makers of these little charms. It's just simply something I happen to really like that I feel most people wouldn't stumble upon without a little help.

These pillow cases are a great example. My mom gave me a set for Christmas. Perfectly written on them is P.S I love you. What a nice little good night note, don't you think?

At first I thought they were just pillow cases, but once I put them on our bed they were so beautiful that I now place them in front as shams. Although, they could probably use an ironing. Details, details...

A small company called Face Plant Dreams makes them. Don't you love the name? It's exactly how I get into bed every night. Tiiiiiiiiiimber. Crash. Total face plant.

She's got lots of different designs and expressions too. My sister's pillow cases say Sleeps With Dogs, which I think is absolutely hysterical and oh so true.

I would like to point out that my bed is never ever made properly and is usually just a ginormous mess of sheets and blankets. I'm doing well to wash the sheets every weekend and get them back on the bed before night time. Nothing worse that going to bed and realizing your favorite sheets are in the dryer.

On the other hand, there is nothing better than climbing into a glorious freshly made bed with clean sheets. Pure heaven, I tell ya. As soon as I win the lottery I'm hiring a professional sheet washer and bed maker to make my bed everyday while I'm out lunching with the ladies and going to the spa.

I would also like to point out that Face Plant makes these adorable pillow cases through a fair trade environment. They're 100% cotton, super soft, 300 thread count and come wrapped in a gorgeous white bag.

Obviously, it would be the perfect engagement gift, wedding gift, birthday present or you-are-awesome present.

Check out their website and be inspired by the owner - a single mom and anti-Corporate America woman who believes in having sweet dreams.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

That Came Out of Nowhere.

I don't know what got into me tonight.

I was a wild woman. A raging badass.

Let me back up. Two nights ago I went to the gym and hopped on the treadmill. I had a handy-dandy little running plan on a scrap piece of paper that I planned to follow. My goal was 30 minutes and I completed my run with no problem. The key to this little running plan of mine was that the pace changed every minute or two. It gave me something to think about. Something other than wanting to kill myself. I was so busy trying to keep up with the plan that the minutes blew by and the 30 minutes were up before I knew it.

In the end I had done 2.75 miles. Not bad, considering 1) I can't run and 2) there were a few minutes of recovery walking built in.

But still, that distance bothered me. I should've bucked up and rounded it out to a nice 3 miles.

So tonight I returned to the treadmill. The plan was similar, follow my same plan and hit 3 miles, even if it meant going over my 30 minutes.

Last spring I was doing 45-60 minutes of cardio a night but I've been lazy lately. Thirty minutes is all I can mentally handle for some reason, as evidenced by the ever expanding size of my thighs.

But tonight I was in a mood. I needed the pain. I needed the sweat. I needed to think about something other than all the nonsense that's been weighing on me.

Wouldn't you know it, I hit 3 miles and kept going. From there 4 miles didn't seem so far.

Then I hit 4 miles, which just so happens to be the farthest my legs have ever run - ever. And that was only because I was really pissed off at a $500 bill my mechanic handed me that day so many years ago.

Something clicked in my head tonight at mile 4 and I knew I could make it to 5 miles if I only pushed myself for another few minutes. That would be a record! I just needed a couple more good songs on my iPod to get my energy up.

I hit 5 miles and took a photo of the treadmill screen to send to my dad who is a badass marathoner. I thought he would be impressed.

But then I thought, You know what would really blow his mind? 6 miles. 

BOOM! I did it. 6 miles, baby. Unreal.

I've never been in so much pain in my whole life. (My legs are screaming at me.)

My face has never looked like such a giant tomato. (It's a sexy look.)

I've never been so proud of an athletic accomplishment. (It'll probably never happen again.)

And I've never in my life have I wanted to lay down and go to sleep in my comfy bed as bad as I do right now.

Like Maple here. She's got this whole comfy sleeping thing down pat.

If you need me tomorrow I'll be hobbling around in an Advil induced coma.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Our Sunday Breakfast Tradition and the Newest Member.

For the past several years The Canadian and his bestie Tyler have been meeting for breakfast every Sunday morning. Right in between our two houses is a family run diner that has been a staple in our town for as long as anyone can remember. 

Since moving up here last year, I've started tagging along for Sunday breakfast pretty much every week. Tyler's wife, Carla, also crashes the party most Sundays. I mean, we have to be there to remind the boys of all the things we need them to get done that day. Plus we need to get an accurate update on what's going on in everyone's life because God knows that the boys aren't very good at collecting information without a female's supervision. 

In an effort to add another girl to our table, Carla and Tyler brought their sweet baby girl along this weekend for her first trip to a restaurant. 

And what a place to venture out too. Hynes serves up greasy breakfast like nobody's business. 

One month old and already learning about the glory of a greasy spoon breakfast. I see you droolin' girl, no shame in that.

It's never too early to learn the ropes of ordering a breakfast special. The bottomless cup of coffee is worth its weight in gold. And I know what you're thinking - Kate, you said you gave up coffee for green tea! Yeah, relax. It was the weekend. Besides, rules are meant to be broken.

Baby Gwen was a champ through breakfast, seemingly enjoying herself while the four of us chatted and inhaled coffee. 

I tried to offer her some of my homefries (aka hash browns) but she politely declined. I can't imagine why, I put enough ketchup on them to feed a small country. 

If Gwen plays her cards right she just might be lucky enough to join in our little tradition on a permanent basis. 

Wouldn't that be fun if we were all still sitting down for breakfast at Hynes in another 30 years? I can just picture us with blue hair, canes, walkers, orthopedic shoes and dentures. Okay, maybe not the blue hair part. If that ever happens just go ahead and put me out of my misery.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What One Does.

What does one do when a minor snow storm hits on a Friday afternoon?

Well, one's husband promptly leaves her stranded to go skiing with his friend.

And clearly one's husband must keep warm by wearing his fancy new hat. Slash beard. Slash mustache.

The one lies down on the couch to lament her life in this frozen tundra.

And one curses her southern driving skills that keep her from being able to go bowling as planned.

One also mourns the missed trip to the wine shop to pick up a bottle of well-deserved red.

With nothing better to do, one begins cleaning. First the bathroom, then the floors.

Then with a suddenly clean house, one decides to have some friends come over.

So one then channels her dear friend who is perhaps one of the best hostesses she knows.

One then proceeds to light candles, set out an array of her favorite mismatched wine glasses, a bottle of wine that was hidden in the cabinet, the corkscrew and a bowl of trail mix. This way her guests know that they are welcome in her home.

Then. Then one drinks a delicious glass of wine and enjoys her company.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A List of Six.

I went to the grocery store to buy salmon tonight. While I was at it I picked up a pair of cupcake socks from the 'hygiene' isle. I hate how they label it 'hygiene'. It's called soap and deodorant, people. After a major sock shortage last winter (because people from Florida don't own socks) my MIL has sufficiently stocked me with so many socks that my sock drawer is bursting. That's right, I have so many socks that they have their own drawer. But cupcake socks? I couldn't resist. It's going to be like a birthday party in my boots tomorrow.

I wear mascara. Sometimes blush if I'm feeling frisky. But thats it. There are two reasons for my lack of make-up: laziness and lack of cosmetic knowledge. I don't know how to put the darn stuff on. I'm hopeless when it comes to my eyes. Smokey, smudged? What's the difference? However, my new years resolution of taking more photos with me in them has served only to illustrate that I resemble Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It's also become blatantly clear that my lack of lip color makes me look like a corpse. So today I went to the only department store in town and forked over some cash for professionally chosen Clinique colors. It's like high school all over again! Except it didn't come with a sweet make-up bag. Watch out world, tomorrow I'm wearing powder and gloss. It's a whole new era.

The Canadian has been a busy man lately. Working and starting graduate school takes up most of his time. He's so busy that last night he needed both laptops to manage all the work he had to get done. I can only assume that this is why he can't find the time to shut the cabinet door! It's painfully obvious when he's been in the kitchen. Or the laundry room. Or any other room that has a cabinet. This habit is a new development and I can only assume it is stress related. Let's remember, I love him no matter what. Cosed cabinet doors, or not.

You know what I found in a box buried in the basement last week? My glasses. Totally normal, right? They've been there for no less than a year. I totally forgot what it's like to see writing clearly. I like to think that I've mastered the hot librarian look now. Especially with my new lip gloss.

Maple would like everyone to know that she is neglected. Thanks to the -18 temperatures over the past week her walks have become almost nonexistent. Therefore, she would like you all to sign a petition requiring her mom to buck up and brave the frigid air. I'd like to warn you that if you sign this petition I'll be forced to come find you, drag you up here to the tundra and send you out into the cold in your underwear. You won't like it. I promise.

Calling all iPhone users - do you use 8 Minute Abs app? Is this an old phenomenon but I've been living under a rock and didn't know about it until recently? Regardless, it's awesome. It's eight abdominal exercises that require no equipment. The app tells you the exercise, counts of the reps, plays music and builds in 90 seconds of breaks throughout. It's a real punch in the face too. You'll grunt. You'll sweat. You'll curse my name for introducing you to it.

You'll thank me later.

Have a fun weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Headlights Confuse Me.

Earlier today my friend Laura and I made plans to meet up for a drink tonight - and we did so via text! Finally, someone from this town that embraces text messaging and owns and adores an iPhone like I do. It's like we're soul mates. Laura and I have known each other for years through camp and mutual friends but she has been living in the big city of Toronto, hence the love of texting. She moved back to our town, which is her home town, over Christmas and I am so glad to have her back. She's single, smart, sassy, and always up for a good time.

She's game for random coffee dates at Starbucks. She's not afraid of a random Wednesday night drink. And she's definitely not afraid to go bowling or do something else random and fun on the weekends. I love that about her. Everything is a good time with Laura.

Anyway, we agreed to meet at 8pm for a drink at the Laundromat. The name comes from its origins, a place to take care of your laundering. It's now been turned into a funky little wine bar with a great, comfy atmosphere. It's the kind of joint where the patrons all appear to work in either a science lab or an art gallery. Most are wearing large, black eye glasses. They are wearing vintage clothes and have intentionally tousled hair. Me and my cable knit sweater, stick straight hair, American accent and Patagonia parka stick out like a sore thumb. It's kind of embarrassing but somehow I'm learning to deal with it.

As I mentioned, we planned on meeting at 8:00. At 7:55 I skated across our ice-rink driveway to my car. I turned on the car and sat back to let it warm up for a second. While waiting I noticed headlights pull into the end of the driveway. Because of our driveway shape I couldn't actually see the car just the glow of their lights against the fence. I figured it was Laura there to pick me up. I didn't remember her mentioning that she would pick me up but it did make sense as I only live about two blocks from the bar. Plus Canadians have a weird obsession with giving each other "drives" every place they go. Where I come from we meet each other, even if it is just a block away. Also, I know you're thinking that I should have walked my happy ass to the Laundromat but I'll have you know that it's approximately -1000 degrees outside and I was not about to walk anywhere that was more than 10 feet away.

Back to my story.

Headlights. Shining down my driveway. Presumably belonging to Laura.

I started digging for my phone to see if she was sitting at the end of my driveway. I could have walked, but that would require a potentially unnecessary skating trip down the asphalt. Besides, as long as the car was sitting there I couldn't back out so I might as well sit tight. In that moment my text message honked at me announcing a new message.

It was Laura, "I'm here," it said.

"Hmmm," I thought, "I guess she is picking me up. Good thing I hadn't left yet."

I turned off my car, pulled on my mittens and headed down the driveway toward the headlights.

As it turned out it was a taxi dropping off a neighbor. I looked down the street and saw no sign of Laura's car. Naturally I assumed she must be driving down the next street over and had texted me en route so I would be outside awaiting her arrival. Annoying. After standing there freezing my bum off for another five minutes I was starting to get really annoyed. Then my text honked at me again. This time it said, "I ordered a beer and it's delicious."

Awesome. I'm standing here waiting for a nonexistent ride "drive" in sub-zero temperatures while she is at the cozy bar enjoying an adult beverage. I guess when she said "I'm here" she meant she was here - as in The Laundromat.

So I skated back down the driveway and made my way back to my car, miraculously avoiding a broken bone.

Then I went to the bar.

And ordered a glass of wine.

Then I apologized for being late and explained that I am not the brightest bulb in the pack.

Then we chatted for hours and solved all the world's problems. You know how those kind of evenings go.

They're the best.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Delicious Derby Pie.

My never ending quest to bring Southern ways here to the Great White North continues. This time it was a tradition that I didn't even know existed. 

Christina invited The Canadian and I over to dinner this past weekend. I offered to bring dessert and immediately started brain storming ideas of new desserts to try out. I came up with a list that involved cheesecake, candyland and trifle (is that what it's called? you know when you layer whip cream, pudding and cake? that dessert).

Then I promptly remembered that Christina's husband Mike is lactose intolerant and our other friend Tyler is diabetic. There's not much I can do about the diabetes but I guess I could take into consideration the whole lactose intolerance thing and revamp my plan.

So I called my mom. She has the answers to everything. Her suggestion was Derby Pie. It's old school, she said, A classic. Derby Pie? Never heard of it. Couldn't even imagine what it would possibly look or taste like. 

A quick google search explained that the name Derby refers to the actual Derby, as in the Kentucky Derby. To take the Southern-ness a step further it is made with good ole Kentucky bourbon, Jim Beam, mixed with pecans and chocolate chips. Can you imagine a better combo? I doubt it.

Before we get into the details, I'm going to have to insist that you make this pie in the near future. It's delicious. Life changing. I may never even go back to regular pecan pie. Lord help me.

First, set aside 10 minutes of your time and preheat the oven to 350F. Unless your oven is busted like mine and heats 30 degrees lower than it's supposed to. Which is always awesome. This would also be the appropriate time to prepare your 9 inch crust.

Also, toss 3/4 cup of brown sugar into a mixing bowl.

Then add 1/4 cup of regular granulated sugar.

Pour in four eggs.

And add in 1/2 cup of unsalted butter that you've already melted and let cool for a few minutes.

Carefully add 1 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla without dumping it all over the counter. Stead hands here, folks.

Now scrape in 3/4 cup of golden corn syrup.

Finally, add the magical 1/4 cup of bourbon. I should go on record saying that this pie can be made by substituting water for the bourbon. However, if that is your plan then go find a different dessert to make. This ain't the one for you. I HATE bourbon and loved it in the pie. Just trust me on this one.

In a separate bowl, add 1 1/4 cup of chopped pecans.

Also dump in 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips that you have chopped up just a bit. 

Back to the main concoction, use your whisk attachment on a medium speed and go to town on the mixture.

Beat until it becomes frothy and makes you want to run to Starbucks. But if you've recently licked the bowl then you may need someone else to drive you.

Next, fold in the pecans and chocolate chips and stir carefully.

Pour that bad boy in the pie crust and toss it in the over for about 50 minutes. 

If you've done everything correctly your kitchen should resemble this and be a complete and utter disaster. That's how you know you've made something delicious.

Ummm...Hobie did you get into the bourbon?

When the buzzer sounds take your southern masterpiece out of the over and admire your work for the next 4 hours while it cools.

And remember, when you pour a shot of bourbon to use in the photo and then jokingly offer it to your husband, even though its the middle of the day, don't be surprised when he slams back the shot just to see the shocked expression on your face. 



Copy and Paste-able:

Perfect Derby Pie

Prep Time: 10 min   -   Cook Time: 50 min

3/4c brown sugar
1/4c granulated sugar
3/4c corn starch
1.5 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1/2c unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4c bourbon
1 1/4c pecans, chopped
3/4c semi sweet chocolate chips, coursl
9inch crust

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Prepare 9 inch crust.
3. In medium bowl combine sugars, vanilla, butter, corn syrup, bourbon and eggs. mix using whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy.
4. Fold in pecan and chocolate chips with rubber spatula.
5. Pour into pie crust.
6. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool for four hours to set.