Thursday, November 25, 2010

We are Thankful for...


Our brand new floors were installed over the weekend, and we could not be more thrilled. We don't have everything back in place just yet but here are a few pictures so you can see the results.

We put duraceramic tile in the kitchen. BD gets credit for this color; it was his top pick. Although it is a very neutral tile, the color in it is much warmer than the sheet vinyl we had previously, so it looks totally different.

We put a hand-scraped wood laminate in the den. We have an area rug ordered for this space, but it is not here yet.

There is also new carpet on the stairs and in the bedrooms upstairs. The color is pretty similar to the old carpet, but the new color is a bit warmer with a cream undertone instead of gray (another BD pick). The biggest difference is the quality of the carpet and padding, so it feels much better to walk on than our old carpet.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seasonal Cookies

I am a fan of any recipe that uses pumpkin, so when I found a cookie recipe that combined pumpkin with my one true love (chocolate!), I knew I had to make them ASAP.

This recipe made a ton (4 dozen) of cookies from one batch of dough. They stayed moist and chewy for several days. They are perfect seasonal cookies without being overly sweet.

BD thinks he hates pumpkin, so when he saw me mixing these up, he asked why I was ruining perfectly good cookies by adding pumpkin...and then he ate four when they came out of the oven.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Rachael Ray has a new cookbook out, and recently our local newspaper reviewed it and included the recipe for shepherd's pie stuffed potatoes in the article. The recipe looked delicious but too time consuming for a weeknight supper, so last weekend I tried it out.

I coated the potatoes in Ms. Ray's favorite -- EVOO! -- and salt, and baked them in the oven for an hour.

Sauteeing the veggies - red bell pepper, mushrooms, onion. BD was helping me, and he never follows recipes exactly (much to my consternation -- remember, I'm a baker at heart!). The mushrooms were supposed to be cooked later with the beef, but he went rogue and cooked them with the other veggies. What can I say? He's wild and crazy like that.

Shredded Gouda cheese goes in the stuffing. The recipe only calls for 1 cup of shredded gouda. I recommend you go ahead and shred up however much you bought because some of it will end up in your mouth everything tastes better with more cheese.

After the potatoes cooled off a bit, I scooped out the insides to use for the stuffing. I thought this was going to be hard to do without tearing the potato skins, but I didn't have any problems.

The potato gets mashed together with the veggies, sour cream, cheese, and spices (salt, pepper, smoked paprika) to make the stuffing.

BD browned the ground beef then made a gravy with butter, flour, worcestershire, and soy in the same skillet.

My friend Amber informed me that if Shepherd's Pie is made with beef (instead of lamb) it is actually called Cottage Pie. I told her she'd have to take that up with Rachael Ray.

The ground beef mixture goes into the shells first.

And then is topped with the stuffing and more cheese.

The whole thing gets broiled in the oven for a few minutes and then it's ready to serve. Final verdict: a fun twist on a classic and delicious!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I knew as soon as I saw the recipe for these cookies, that I had to make them. I love the combination of salty and sweet, and these cookies did not disappoint.

The dough was thick and stiff -- be careful if you're using a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer!

I baked one batch with salt on top and one batch without because I wasn't sure if BD would like the salted ones. He liked them both equally, but I much preferred the salted.

They cooked perfectly in about 12 minutes and stayed soft and chewy for several days (stored in an air-tight container). I highly recommend these if you are a fan of salty/sweet!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our Favorite Season

No, not the holiday season...BASKETBALL season!!

We received our '10-'11 season Carolina basketball tickets last week.

The first game was last night against the Lipscomb Bisons from Nashville, TN.

We didn't know what to expect after last year's dismal (by Carolina standards) season. This team has lost 12 players over the last 2 years; that is a big challenge for a basketball team.

They won the game 80-66 last night and looked okay -- not great...but it was just the first game of the season. Next up: the team travels to Puerto Rico for the PR Tip-Off tournament.

 Let's go Heels!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

High School Redeaux

Recently one of my friends celebrated her 30th birthday by throwing a "High School Spirit" party. We were instructed to come dressed as we would have been in high school. Unfortunately, I am fresh out of baby doll t-shirts and overalls, and BD didn't have time to grow his hair out to hang in his eyes.

So instead we went as private school preps:

I found this skirt for $7, and the other items we pieced together from our closet. For extra dorkiness, my skirt was actually a "skort" -- skirt in the front, shorts in the back.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fall Flowerbeds

Last weekend our flowerbeds went from this:

[summer annuals (vincas) and Halloween decorations]

to this:

[annuals removed, Black Kow mixed in to fertilize, Halloween decoration still up]

and, finally, to this:

[multi-colored pansies and flowering kale planted, Halloween decorations removed]

When we were shopping for the new plants, I found these cute pumpkins on sale for 50% off. This is my favorite way to buy seasonal decorations -- after the holiday when they're marked way down. I put them away in storage and then the next year I'm always surprised to find new stuff!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Stitches: A Finished Project

I picked up my most recent cross stitch project from the framer's yesterday. I am sorry that these pictures don't really do it justice; I think this is my favorite piece I've done so far. Which is a total change of heart because when I finally finished stitching it, I didn't really like it at all. But I had so much time invested in it I decided to go ahead and have it framed. I am so glad I had it framed; the framing really makes the whole piece.

The fabric is a hand-dyed raspberry jobelan, so there are many color variations throughout the piece, but overall it is a bright pinky peach color.

I had it double matted with a lighter green underneath a darker green that picks up on some of the colors in the background. The frame is a distressed black.

This is the H.D. Thoreau quote "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." The letters vary from pink to red to black. I used a hand dyed thread, so there is a lot of variation throughout the letters as well.

The rectangle boxes in the background are blues and greens. Those rectangles are the reason I thought I didn't like this piece when I finished it. There were just so many of them, and I got so bored stitching it! I think I counted 90 rectangles total. It felt like I stitched rectangles forever!
I initially started this piece in January, but it got put on hold due to my last semester of grad school. I picked it up again in May and finally finished it in October.