Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another DITY Project

As I've discussed in earlier posts, my Husband and I struggle with organization. Lately I've been looking for a wall organizer that would hopefully help us with that. Something with a mail in and out box, space for a calendar and grocery lists, etc. I was really surprised how expensive they were! And of course most of them didnt have all the aforementioned elements. Since I've been Mrs. Do-it-yourself lately I decided to draw what I wanted and see if Kenny and I could make it together. The key word here being together. I'm sure most couples who take on a joint project will have disagreeing views on its execution. Kenny and I are no different.
First, a little background. My husband has a degree in architecture and for four years it was drilled into him that if it isnt perfect, you've failed. Me, well I agree with Monet, if it looks good from far away, great! No one will notice that little flub in the corner. Besides with this project in particular I was going for Shabby Chic so imperfections are what give it character. (And yes, I realize that Monet would most likely take offense to that likening.) Granted, no one wants to hear their architect say "Don't worry, those cracks in the foundation will give the building character". However, we are talking a WALL ORGANIZER here, not a skyscraper, but with Kenny there is no difference. So I knew the first thing I needed to do is draw my design to scale, otherwise he would look at it like his head was going to explode and ask questions that make me want to bang my head against the wall. Here is my drawing.
I felt confident that he could look at this and know exactly what I wanted to do. Nope. The first things he zeroed in on were the the in and out slots. Ok, so three dimensional drawing (any drawing for that matter) is not my forte. After a couple clarifying questions I thought we were on the same page. Off to Home Depot we go, hi-ho. Once we were there, however, it quickly became clear that I had not completely articulated the design nor thought it all the way through. At first we were both laughing at eachother saying "How can you not understand this?!" But of course that can only last so long and soon it looked like his head was going to explode and I definitely needed a wall to bang my head against. The men in the lumber aisles were starting to look a little nervous due to all my gesticulating so it was time to wrap it up. It took a few more rudimentary "3D" drawings, but we finally got the wood and other supplies we needed and back to the house we go, hi....ho....
With that fantastic start I could tell we were in for another Kenny and Ashley 'Adventure', I was not disappointed. About 20 minutes in, Kenny had already "messed up" two pieces of wood and had to start alllll over. Then he started bossing me around and I had to remind him that this was MY project and he was only there to operate the power tools! So much for the togetherness.
                                    Third try.

                          I actually used spray paint on the wood then sanded it in certain places to give it a distressed look
I would like to say that as the day wore on I was able to get Kenny to relax and not care so much about the details but really the credit needs to go to the Louisiana heat. A couple hours of dripping sweat in a garage will have just about anyone cutting corners! Once it was all put together I ordered a chalkboard decal from the and began peicing together my wine cork corkboard. As you can see I need a few more corks, but thats really just an excuse to drink more wine!
All in all we were very happy with the finished product. Will it keep us organized? Guess we will see.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking.” – Julia Child

Ok, I'm back! Its been months and who knows what I've been up to.

A few months ago, my in-laws came to visit us in Shreveport. For a lot of people that could warrant a Dum Da dum dum DUM! But Kenny and I are lucky enough to truly enjoy spending time with our respective in-laws. SO for the special occasion I made dinner from Mastering the Art of French Cooking . Yes, this is the book featured in the movie Julie and Julia. My Grandmother was a fabulous cook and had an original version of this book that I now have the honor of owning. Check it out!

I was super excited to see that my version is on display at Julia's Cambridge, Massachusetts kitchen which can now be found in the Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

In the movie Julie makes Boeuf Bourguignon, a delicious beef stew. However, I have made this recipe and the following; Boeuf A La Mode (Beef Braised in Red Wine) and have to say in my opinion the latter is my favorite! First of all, anything that marinates for 24 hours is bound to be delicious am I right? Here is said marinade;
3/4c. each of thinly sliced carrot, onions and celery stalks
2 halved cloves of unpeeled garlic
1tb thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4c minced parsley
2 whole cloves
3lb piece of braising beef
1/2tb salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3c young red wine like Chianti or Burgundy
1/4c Brandy
1/3c olive oil

Yum! Marinate for 24 hrs, then drain 30 minutes prior to cooking. Don't worry, its supposed to look purple!

Dry, Dry, Dry with paper towels, Julia says if the meat is not properly dried it cannot browwwwn!

Preheat the oven to 350 and heat oil in Dutch Oven over moderately high heat and brown meat on all sides.

Pour out browning fat, then pour in wine marinade and boil down rapidly until it has reduced by half. Then add bacon rind and enough beef stock to come 2/3rds of the way up the roast. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover tightly, and set in the lower third of the oven. Simmer for 3-4 hours, turning the meat several times during its braising. Beef is done when a sharp-pronged fork pierces it easily.

Skim the fat off the braising juices, and strain them through a sieve into a saucepan, pressing the liquid through the vegetables. Simmer for a minute or two, skimming, then boil rapidly until reduced to about 3.5 cups of liquid. Taste for seasoning, correct if necessary. The sauce should be lightly thickened. If it’s too thin, beat in the starch and wine mixture and simmer for 3 minutes.
Carve the meat and arrange on a platter with vegetables and a few sprigs of parsley, spoon some sauce over the meat.

ENJOY! or Bon Appetit!
I know this recipe may seem difficult but after watching a few of Julia's TV episodes, her fearlessness rubbed off on me. I used to feel like a mistake would ruin the whole meal but really no one will ever notice! Just take a deep breathe, keep the expletives to a minimum and fix it the best you can!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Flower Power....and such

Again, a long hiatus between posts. Don't you hate when people ask what you've been up to and your response is hmmm.... I've been busy...but what exactly have I been doing? Maybe this doesn't happen to any of you but it happens to me all the time! ANYWAYS, a few weeks ago I was invited to a 'craft night', most of the ladies were scrap booking but I haven't committed to all of that yet. Again, I have stumble upon to thank for this project, well at least part of it. I found a tutorial for paper flowers by who other than the great Martha Stewart! I literally wandered around my house looking for a place for these flowers, finally I decided that my dinning room could use some sprucing up.
First, I got card stock paper in three slightly different shades of yellow. Then Martha says to divide the paper into 4x4 inch squares and free hand a swirl, like so;

then cut along the lines and twist around your finger....
have your trusty hot glue gun ready, and glue the center of the flower in place and you should have something like this,
I then split a 6 inch foam ball in half and applied the flowers with the darkest at the center and fanning out. This was the end result,
I think it really lightened up the room!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's a small Air Force after all

Just thought I'd share the one picture I have of Z in her bronco's jersey I mentioned in the last post. She is snuggling with her bff Moose Hillier. 

Congrats to the Hillier family who are expecting twins this year!

I met Jennifer Hillier through a Facebook group for OTS Spouses. This was my first experience with the amazing network of wives in the military. There is no describing the connection I've made with these women, they have encouraged and supported me before even meeting me face to face. Even now, we live hundreds of miles from each other but know at the drop of a hat, ALL of us would be there for ONE of us should we need it. There really are no words that can do this friendship justice. Only pictures.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why not Minot? Freezin's the Reason.

"As long as we don't go to Minot, I wont care where we go" This is something I said quite frequently when Kenny first joined the Air Force. Last Friday the Air Force served my words up piping hot on a platter. Minot it is. That's North Dakota for those of you who don't know. Like 20 minutes from Canada, North Dakota.
Now I've never seen the merit of wallowing in self pity. For an extended amount of time that is. I promised myself and Kenny should we get Minot, I would wallow for five minutes and be done with it. Which is exactly what I did. Followed by slightly hysterical laughter at the irony of it all. After assuring Kenny I was not having a mental breakdown, I quickly began to see how the pros outweighed the cons of this PCS (Permanent Change of Station). But that's really beside the point. I can usually find the glass half full in any situation. The real point is that as an Air Force spouse I serve my country every day by supporting my husband. Never more so than when I do my best to make these transitions go as smoothly as possible.
However, this doesn't mean I wont be holding Kenny to an agreement we made when he was assigned B-52's. Zoe gets clothes. Until now the only article of clothing Kenny approved of was a Broncos jersey. But now its time to step it up a notch. We wouldn't want poor little Z to suffer from frostbite! Most of the items I have my eye on are very practical but I cant help sticking it to Kenny just a bit with this adorable little number
And yes, those are doggie long johns.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quinoa. Pronounced Keen-Wah

Considered sacred by the Incans, Quinoa is making a come back. It is a grain, but also a complete protein so its great for all you vegetarians and a good substitute for rice and other carbs for you Atkins people. It is also gluten free.  So if you ask me it's a pretty under appreciated little grain.
Try it in the following recipe and see how you like it. I bet after that you'll think twice before grabbing the rice for a recipe.

Quinoa Summer Salad
1c. uncooked Quinoa
1/2 medium red onion chopped
1 can corn drained
1 can black beans drained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chili's drain about half way
1 green bell pepper chopped
Large handful of cilantro chopped
2 jalepeno's seeded and chopped
1 lime
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tb. red wine vinegar

- Combine 1c Quinoa and 1 1/4 c water in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. You will know it's cooked when the germ (the ring thing) has separated from the grain.
- In a large bowl combine the next six items. Add one tsp of the following spices and stir to combine. Place in the fridge while the Quinoa cooks.
- When Quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and let sit off the heat for 5 minutes. Then pour into the bowl of the corn mixture. Sprinkle red wine vinegar over the mix and stir. Add the remaining tsp's of seasonings to taste. Place back in fridge until ready to serve. Serve over baby spinach. If you want, you can mix together this vinegrette to serve with the salad.
-1/4 c olive oil
-2 limes
-1tbsp red wine vinegar
-1 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1Tbsp chopped cilantro
Stir together to combine and serve.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Garlic Fried Rice

One of my favorite restaurants is Benihana. As a 6 year old when given the choice of eating anywhere for my birthday, even Chuckie Cheese, it was only Benihana's for me. I would spend the entire evening attempting to eat the fried rice with my chopsticks. Unfortunately there is not a Benihana in Shreveport so I decided to try and make the fried rice myself. Here's my first effort. I think it turned out pretty good but I'll update you as a get closer to the real thing!

1 1/2 c. uncooked rice
2 green onions sliced thin
1 carrot chopped fine
1/4 c. white onion chopped fine
2 T soy sauce
4 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 T vegetable oil
sesame seeds

- Cook rice according to package instructions. Chill for 20 minutes.
- Heat oil on medium high heat and add garlic, stir frequently for one minute.
- Add rice and stir quickly mixing in the oil and garlic.
- Pour in soy sauce, carrots and onions mix well for 2 minutes or until white onions are slightly softened.
- Salt and pepper to taste garnish with sesame seeds.