Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

NC State Fair 2010

BD and I made it back to the NC State Fair this year after a two year hiatus due to grad school. I was excited to get back and see what was new. Apparently everyone else was excited as well because the attendance record had been broken every day for the first few days of the fair. I am not a fan of huge crowds, so we went on a mid-week afternoon in hopes that it wouldn't be quite so crowded. Our plan worked perfectly and was aided by rain showers earlier in the day. It remained cloudy and cool for the afternoon -- perfect state fair weather.

Here is BD as a sweet little bumblebee in the flower and garden exhibit.

I posed with the Barrel Monster. The guy who creates these is a bit of a local legend. He originally got in trouble for making these out of construction barrels, but they were so popular that now he's being commissioned to create them.

We saw lots of oversized produce. The first place pumpkin weighed in at 864 pounds!

We saw expensive livestock. This goat sold for $3,000.

We tried a pineapple lemonade. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this was just fresh squeezed lemonade with canned chunks of pineapple. It was really good though!

We each had a fried candy bar. I had Milky Way; BD had Snickers. The fried candy bar is hands down my favorite part of the fair. The best $4 I spent!

This "treat" we didn't try...the Krispy Kreme burger...a hamburger patty between two glazed doughnuts. thanks. I also saw signs for Kool Aid pickles, but I wasn't brave enough to try those either.
And my second favorite part of the fair: the pig races!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

BD and I have lived in our house since it was built a little over 6 years ago. This is definitely what you would call a "starter house," and most of the materials used were builder grade. We have taken good care of everything, but we are beginning to see some wear in the flooring. The carpet has stretched and wrinkled in a few places. The sheet vinyl in the kitchen has some nicks and is beginning to look worn.

Recently we've been researching flooring options and visiting local flooring companies to look at products. It's tricky to pick the right materials; we want a quality product that we will enjoy, but we also don't want to over-invest based on the value of our house.

We're finally to the point where we've decided what products we want to use and where, now we're down to the stressful fun part: picking out colors.

In the kitchen/dining area, we're doing 16" vinyl tile. Here are a few of the options against our kitchen cabinets which are a honey colored oak.

We are also considering this darker one because of our dark countertops.

And here they are against the wall color in the kitchen (a khaki/tan color).

In the den we are doing a laminate wood product. I had originally turned my nose up to the idea of a laminate instead of a hardwood. But the more we've looked at them, the more impressed I've become - especially with the newer hand-scraped versions. Not to mention the fact that they are half the price and twice as durable as hardwood.

This is showing where the laminate will meet the vinyl tiles.

Here are the options against the wall color in the den (same wall color as the kitchen).

And here they are right inside the front door.

Of course, it all takes on different shades of the color based on where in the room we're looking at them. Right now we are leaning towards one of the lighter tiles and one of the medium tone laminates.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tex-Mex Chicken (recipe included!)

I love to cook in the slow cooker, and I use ours all throughout the year. We made this Tex-Mex Chicken recipe recently, and it is the best slow cooker meal we've had in a while!

1 lb. Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
2 Tbsp. Taco Seasoning Mix
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 each green and red pepper, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
1 cup Frozen corn
1-1/2 cups salsa (thick 'n chunky)
1 cup shredded cheese (Mexican blend)

Toss chicken with taco seasoning and flour in slow cooker.
Stir in vegetables and salsa; cover with lid.
Cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours).
Stir just before serving; top with shredded cheese.

We served this over rice and with chips and salsa verde.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oreo Cupcakes

BD's favorite flavor of ice cream is Cookies 'n Cream, so I recreated it in cupcake form using this recipe.

I have not had much success with made-from-scratch homemade cupcakes (they keep turning out dry and crumbly), so I was glad to see these started with a box cake mix.

Half an Oreo goes in the bottom of each paper cupcake liner. It's like a little Oreo surprise at the bottom of the cupcake!

BD crushed the Oreos for the batter; I wanted it to be practically crumbs in the batter instead of large chunks. I thought this worked well since there was an intact half cookie at the bottom.

These didn't rise much, so you can fill the liners pretty full without them overflowing. I had enough batter for 24 medium cupcakes.

I mixed up the butter cream frosting while the cupcakes baked. Butter cream frosting is my favorite! The recipe calls for the remaining Oreos to go in the frosting. I just used them as a garnish instead.

If you are not a super-sweet fan, these would also be really good with no frosting.

After they cooled, I frosted them

and then topped with Oreos.

These were really good on the day of baking and the day after, but by day 3 the Oreo on the bottom was starting to get soggy. Not that it stopped us from eating them, of course!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tales of the Tail: The Fort

When Kip was a puppy, he loved to hide out under my bed. The bed was in the corner of my room, and he would get all the way under the farthest back corner of the bed and lay flat on his belly. I guess he felt safe and protected under there. He would eventually come army-crawling back out; I'd hear his little nails scratching on the carpet, pulling himself out. It was also his hiding spot whenever he got ahold of something he wasn't supposed to have; he'd run off with whatever and go scooting under that bed. It was both adorable and infuriating.

He's long outgrown fitting under the bed, but he still likes to squeeze himself into confined places. One of his favorite places is under our table; we call it his "fort."