Friday, September 24, 2010

Homemade Pizza!

This was an exciting dinner to make. We wanted to make something fun, and I wanted to try making some dough from scratch (plus we had pesto to get rid of), so I looked up a pizza dough recipe, and we made pesto chicken pizza! It had bell peppers, chicken (pre-cooked, with whatever spices looked interesting) and tomatoes, on mozzarella and cheddar cheese, with pesto sauce! Here are some before cooking and after cooking pictures:

 The recipe didn't call for the dough to be left to rise, but I made it and then left to do an errand, and it did rise just fine! The pizza was so delicious, plus fun and easy to make!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Guess what I have now!

Isn't it pretty?? It's super simple, which is the best way to learn something, and I love it! Mr. Nicholas sure must like me, because this is what he bought me for our two year anniversary :) The loom comes from Lacis-- if you live in or around Berkeley, CA you should check them out because they have the most beautiful dresses out. And make sure to ask to see the display in the back!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mini Photo Book

I know I'm not a kid but...sometimes I like doing things the way kids would do them :p

This album was something I put together for my Dad after I got home from visiting his family in Tennessee. It's super simple and only requires some glue, paper, photos, writing utensils, and staples.

A photo is exactly the height that fits into a standard envelope, so as long as the paper is cut to that same size, the whole thing can mail with a regular stamp. The book could be assembled beforehand, and then embellished later-- and since most photos now are digital, if the photos get ruined, no big deal.

Speaking of digital photos-- I've found that facebook is one of the best ways to keep in touch with my family. We all have accounts, and that's pretty much the way we share photos. The fact is, photos rarely get printed any more, so unless there's a way to share them electronically, all those photos you take might not get shared at all. If you're not into facebook, check out flickr instead. While you can only upload 200 for free, if you rotate the photos frequently that shouldn't be a big deal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Hey! It's Fall! In the spirit of the new season, I've been re-arranging my closet for colder weather. I don't know if you do this or not, but you really should. All the clothes I can't wear in the summer have been put away for months, and now I can pull them all out again, and put away my summer things. It's like going shopping! Most of the time, I re-discover pieces I had entirely forgotten about.

One of the other things I did was go through my purses and put them somewhere where I can get to them more easily. The entire time I was a student, I was committed to wearing big purses to hold my books, because I hate backpacks. Now that I'm not a student, I have the freedom to go back to smaller purses and switching according to my outfit. (Unfortunately, I'm also a Pizza Girl who is not allowed to bring a bag to work...which means I carry a purse about two times a week).

Anyhow, Our closet has a high pitched ceiling, which leaves a lot of wasted space. So I un-wasted it :)

Nice, huh? So the high-up ones are the ones I use less often, and the small ones are above the shelf and hardest to get to (since I only use them for special occasions).

Later I'll show off what I did with my scarves :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meh Pie

Yup, I make a mean meh pie.


Go shopping for raspberries, and raspberry sorbet. Find neither and purchase instead rainbow sorbet and blackberries.

Buy graham cracker crust on accident.

Make crumble topping. Decide it would be much better if it was made with graham cracker crumbs instead of flour. Forget that graham cracker already has sugar in it, and add the sugar, too. Make "ick" face. Use anyway.

Assemble the meh pie:

Freeze until time to serve:


Try a bite. Refuse to eat the rest, and force boyfriend to finish your slice, and eventually the rest of the pie.

Ta da! Meh pie. Not bad, but certainly not good, either!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Bag

At the Coarsegold Peddler's Fair on Labor Day weekend (another adventure while with Mom) I made eyes at Mr. Nicholas and he bought me this beautiful treasure:

Isn't it great? Not only is it a great pattern on the outside:

It's also a great pattern on the inside! Plus it's handmade! I pretty much love it :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Menu 9/13 to 9/19

Monday: Pork Stew. This was one of those meals where you have things in the fridge you want to use up, so you throw them all in one pot and see what happens. We used corn, peas, pork, beans, potatoes, beef bullion, and threw in a few herbs/spices, and actually turned out tasty! What a win :)

Tuesday: Chow Mein. This was a recipe from our "More Than a Cook Book" cook book (redundant, I know) and we were honestly not that impressed. We've renamed it "Americanized Chow Mein" or "Chow Mein Casserole" because the recipe ended up being ground beef with vegetables and chow mein noodles baked over it. Not really the vibe we got from the title...

Wednesday: Pizza. I know, I know, I already work at a pizza place and probably have more pizza than one girl needs, but this was such a fun dinner to cook together. We found a dough recipe online and put chicken, tomatoes, bell pepper, and mushrooms over a pesto sauce and mozzarella/cheddar blend. The pizza turned out really fantastic, and I plan on making pizza again sometime!

Thursday: Leftover night. We're heading to Nick's Mom's tonight, so we're going to eat straight out of the fridge so we can get on the road quickly!

Friday: Dinner with family.

Saturday: Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwiches. This is from my Taste of Home cook book, and it looks like a pretty good recipe. I think it lends itself more to summer than to fall, so it's a good thing we're making it the Saturday before the first day of the new season!

Sunday: Tuna Veggie Casserole. This one is also from More Than a Cook Book. The recipe book seems kind of hit or miss; sometimes the dinners are fantastic, and other times I'm dissipointed by how bland things turn out. We'll see about this one.

You might notice that some of the recipes seem to be repeated from last week-- every once in a while something happens that causes us to put off a dinner till another night, and so I just transfer it onto the next week's menu to help myself keep track...and so that I have a record of what we had each day (I save every menu and every receipt from grocery shopping in a binder together...really!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hot Pad (what a mess)

Do you, by any chance, remember the hot pad that I made and was going to felt? Well since I have access to a washing machine at Mom's, I went ahead and gave it a try. And got this...thing:

Clearly not going to work for it's intended purpose. So I mangled it further:

And then reassembled the pieces, so now I have an oven mitt.

Not quite how I imagined this project turning out, but it works quite well, and is actually pretty cute. I guess that makes it a win?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cheese Fondue

For dinner before our chocolate fondue, we went ahead and made ourselves a cheese fondue! Before dinner, we headed to the farmer's market and picked up a bunch of vegetables to dip in to the cheese. My step dad barbecued chicken and beef, and we cut slices of bread, and then served the whole meal family style.

Fondue is a really fun way to eat dinner, and we had a blast! It was a great birthday celebration :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chocolate Fondue

Another post from visiting Mom! On the same night we had the butterfinger cake, we also made chocolate fondue (I know, we spoil ourselves!). It was actually super simple, and can be served with a lot of things that you probably already have around! Our fondue was nothing but melted dark chocolate served with cookies and fruits, but there are much more complicated recipes out there to try, too!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Handmade Paper

Another fun craft Mom and I did when I visited her is make our own paper! Nick and I are very interested in using handmade paper for a...special future project, let's call it. So I wanted to see what would go in to making a very large batch of it.

Our first batch was made with three sheets of white, a sheet of blue paper, and a sheet of green paper.

To make the pulp, we blended one sheet of paper with four cups of water using the "liquefy" setting. Then we set the paper making screen into the pulpy water, and slowly pulled it out to drain the water, leaving a layer of pulp. After that, the remaining water has to be squeezed out, while the sheet of paper is still between the two screens, using a sponge.

After the water is mostly gone, one screen can be removed, and the paper transferred to a cloth.

Where another cloth can be placed on top and the dampness ironed out.

Finally the cloth can be removed, and the paper ironed directly.

The process was fairly long, but very enjoyable, and I had fun playing with the colors. I eventually added a sheet of yellow to the original mix, and then my Mom added lavender, and I added several sheets of white, just to play with the color. When we were out of that pulp, we started a whole new batch with only white paper, and flower seeds and petals. 

My brother pointed out that ironing flower seeds would prevent them from sprouting, so if I wanted the paper to sprout when planted, I would have to let the page air dry, and find a way to press out the water instead of heat drying it.

Here's our final batch of paper:

Pretty, huh? I'm really happy with the results, and am looking forward to trying more ideas!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Butterfinger Cake

One of the fun things we did while I was visiting my Mom was make a butterfinger cake for Mom and Alex's birthday! I wanted to make something more special than a cake-mix cake, and of course peanut butter and chocolate is always a winning combination.

The main problem we had is that we didn't make the filling the day before like the recipe recommended. So when we tried to stack the cake it needed a little extra support.

As in, we had to hold it together to keep it from sliding apart. So we inserted a few bamboo stakes and decided to not even try to frost the side of the cake white (we know when to admit defeat). The cake really turned out pretty anyway, so we weren't complaining.

And luckily the cake even looked pretty when it was cut-- the layers held together really well, and the coloring was great.

A cake like this one, though, is super rich, and so stick to thin pieces. Unless you're like my boyfriend and enjoy the occasional food coma.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Park Blanket

Here's the other birthday gift I made: a waterproof park blanket for my Step Dad! The linked tutorial tells all about how to make the blanket, and here's the result:

This is the only thing I changed about the tutorial. While the designer put in a clip for her keys, I thought it would be more useful to have a zipper pocket, for a wallet, cell phone, and keys. At the same time I bought the table cloth and blanket, I also bought a cosmetic bag, and sewed it into the seam between the two layers. Simple, but very useful!

And since the whole thing can be wrapped up into a small package, it's easy to throw it into the trunk to have any time it's wanted.

I was really happy with how the blanket turned out, and with his first grandbaby on the way, I think my Step Dad will get a lot of use out of it!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Menu Planner

Now that I've been to Mom's to give out birthday presents, I can talk about what I made! For Mom, I made her a menu planner. She had mentioned that she likes the way we plan our menu out every week, and it made her want to cook more. So I did some searching and I combined a couple ideas (as usual). I took the DIY to-do list idea from Giver's Log and the scribblemenu idea I found through the same blog.

I printed the menu, cut it to the size of a purchased frame, and hung it using a magnetic wreath hanger I found at Micheal's, decorated it with some kitchen stickers, and even put a magnet on a dry erase marker.

Ta da! Birthday gift!

I'm really happy with how it turned out...and I'm thinking I might have to make myself one soon!

I figured even if she didn't want to use the menu, she could put a patterned piece of cloth or paper in the frame and use it as a to-do list or a shopping list instead. Many possibilities, which is a good thing!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Menu 9-6 through 9-11

So on Friday when we were supposed to write another menu...I got lazy and decided I would rather not :/ Instead we wrote one today, after getting back from our weekend at Mom's.

Monday: Manicotti Pasta, recipe winged entirely from our heads. Usually this goes really poorly, because neither of us are stellar cooks, but this one turned out ok. We took the Manicotti filling from last week, some ground beef, and a can of pasta sauce and mixed it with some cooked pasta, sprinkled cheese over it and baked it for 20 minutes. Turned out pretty good, for having no idea what we were doing!

Tuesday: Apple breaded chicken, recipe...winged again. We had extra filling from the night we did apple stuffed chicken breasts, and we wanted to use it up. We'll cover the chicken with butter or egg, and then cover with the filling to make something (we hope) edible.

Wednesday: Rice dinner.

Thursday: Pork stew, recipe...yeah, we'll wing this one too. We had pork chops in the fridge we wanted to use up, and potatoes, so all we had to buy is carrots, and we'll throw in some bullion...hopefully it will turn out great!

Friday: Leftover night.

Saturday: Chow Mein from More than a Cook Book. You can probably tell that this week we were trying to use up some things we already had in our fridge. This is the only night we're actually planning on cooking from scratch, but I think it will be a nice break from the usual lengthy recipes.

We didn't plan a meal for Sunday, because we're having visitors!! Very excited about that :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Menu, 8-28

Silly me, I forgot to post my menu for this week! I guess the benefit to that is that I get to actually talk about how the meals turned out, instead of just listing them!

Sunday: Leftover night. We almost never do leftover night, because it's just not nearly as fun as making dinner together. But sometimes, special circumstances necessitate eating whatever is in the fridge...and sometimes the reason is that there is too much in the fridge! On Sunday, though, I had a night shift (4pm to midnight). Usually I try to eat before I go to work, but 3:30 is too early for dinner, and midnight is too late. So that day, Nick ate leftovers by himself (sad) and I ate dinner on my lunch break.

Monday: Tuxedo Pasta. I loved this dinner! It was pasta served with mushrooms, red bell pepper, and zucchini mixed in, with a lemon juice and white wine sauce. It was amazing, and the only thing I would have changed is adding fresh tomato after the pasta was finished! We pulled this recipe from out Taste of Home cook book.

Tuesday: Tahitian Chicken from More Than a Cook Book. This was another favorite of the week! The chicken was baked with pineapple chunks and onion soup mix over it, and came out amazing! I thought the sauce was a little strong, so I scraped most of it off before I ate the chicken (the flavors all baked in nicely) but Nick didn't have any problems with it.

Wednesday: Cheesy Potatoes from No More than 5 Ingredients. This was our only "meh" dinner this week. We were supposed to start with frozen hash browns, but decided to grate fresh potatoes instead (I did an "oops" where I bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes forgetting that we still had 5 pounds in the fridge) but I didn't think to press out the extra water, so I thought this turned out a lot more watery than I would have liked. Live and learn, I suppose.

Thursday: Carl's Manicotti from Good Cookin, Good Friends. Oh wow. New favorite! We had this just last night, and it was fantastic. It's a little more involved than some of the other things we make (we started dinner at 7:45 after I got home from work and didn't end up eating until 9:20) but was completely worth the extra time. The filling for the manicotti shells was just cottage cheese, Parmesan, Mozzarella, egg, and parsley, and then the shells (after they're boiled) are baked covered in ground beef, spaghetti sauce, and Italian seasoning. It was so fantastic, and will definintly be something I keep in mind for company! Especially because the whole meal could probably be made ahead of time, set in the fridge, and then baked a half hour before dinner! That's my favorite way to do dinner when people are over :)

Today we were originally going to do our rice dinner again, but because we've made so many amazing things this week, we have tons and tons of instead we will be eating those for dinner tonight :) But that's still a pretty good deal! And no time spent on cooking dinner means extra time for eating Mint Moose Tracks ice cream for dessert and playing Dynasty Warriors: Empires together! Sadly, we have run out of store-bought waffle bowls, so we will be eating out of normal stoneware. Maybe I can make my own waffle bowls some day....

This weekend we're heading to Mom's to celebrate birthdays (Mom's and Alex's and maybe my Step Dad's) and make fondu and delicious cake and go to a street fair and make paper! Weekends at Mom's are always full of creative fun :)

Other than great weekends and more hours at work (due to a raise/promotion) I'm still working on that sweater.

As you can see, I'm past the arm hole section and will be starting the v-neck very very soon. 

And here's something I'm not working on right now, but I wanted to share anyway. Today I'm wearing a skirt that I made-ish. 

These used to be a pair of capris, and they fit horribly, so I cut them off at the crotch and added ruffles of two cloths I picked up at JoAnn's. I only wore the capris for about three months after I bought them, but I've been wearing this skirt for 6 years now! I guess that means it was a good investment.

We should be writing another menu tomorrow, so you'll be seeing another one soon!