Monthly Archives: April 2012

Goodbye eighties, goodbye nineties

Hello aughts.

We awoke today to find ourselves almost devoid of any non-yard projects. So we went to Lowe’s and bought ourselves a project. Mind you, this project had been on the list since before we even toured the house. And you’ve seen it.

Ring any bells?

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If you guessed “rip out that hideous light fixture and center a new one over the table,” you win a prize. The goldtone and wheat-motif Applebee’s-circa-1988 light need not grace our home any longer. No gracias.

So? So:

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and

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We’d been eying something like this for a while, and when this one was magically on clearance (or, as I call it, my friend Clarence), we went for it.

And because we would never want to inflict the same ugly on anyone else:

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I’m crafty like a fox

Unfortunately, I’m not actually crafty. As in, I suck at crafting. I’m impatient, a champion pragmatist, and I can’t properly use scissors (…or a ruler).

So when I get the itch for crafts (infrequent, I promise), I prepare myself and Steve for disaster.

I had been wanting to do something with the paint chips from when we painted the whole house. Our entire house is painted in the same four shades, all close in tone and saturation. That way, the rooms really flow nicely. Subtle changes in paint colors make for a nice experience–no shocking, disjointed room-to-room transitions, I can accessorize easily, etc.

So I wanted to create something with the chips and text for the entryway on the side of the house. Like a “this is what you’re in for” piece.

After a quick trip to Michael’s for a frame and some letter decals (Thickers, to be exact. As in thick stickers, or stickers with a lisp–which is my preferred pronunciation), I worked my very basic magic. And yesterday, I hung it up. Ta da!

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And a blurry close up of my crooked work:

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I really like it. Just don’t look too closely at the straightness and/or centeredness of the lettering. I warned you.

My next project in progress is paint chip coasters, a la Pinterest. Sneak peek:

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What my picture doesn’t capture are the papers stuck to the Mod Podged coasters, the ripped edges of the paint chips, the awful scissor job… yeesh.

But you can see what a disorganized “crafter” I am!

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Good Christian home-schooling soccer moms everywhere are weeping for me.

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Breakfast, Insh’allah

I had to post again. Sorry.

I’m home today with some wicked allergies. So, the upside is….? Well, I got to make breakfast. On a za’atar kick, this was today’s breakfast:

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Whole wheat pita (pitae?) lightly toasted, drizzled with za’atar, lemon juice, and olive oil, topped with non fat greek yogurt, and sprinkled with pine nuts. It. Is. Delicious.

Mayjah thanks to my bff Hala, who turned me on to za’atar at the breakfast table. Hala has a wonderful foodsense, rooted in her Palestinian heritage. I eat more delicious things as a result of her influence. Thanks, Hayluh 🙂

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Forgetful Jones

I’m a wicked Forgetful Jones. I *did* make at least one interesting thing in my laboratory–I mean, kitchen. Inspired by (but of course, not following) a recipe in Plenty, I made this:

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Yum.

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It is za’atar spiced roasted eggplant with lemon za’atar yogurt sauce, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts, served over toasted pita. On the side is lentils with a sheep’s milk cheese crumbles.

It was good. Super filling. Healthy.

It’s getting made again, in some iteration, I’m sure.

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Time flies…

…when you’re busy as eff.

Realizing that it’s been a while since my last post, and with a lot of updates, you’ve earned yourself (yeah, I’m making this your fault) a brain dump list. In no particular order:

1) Our yard is no longer reprehensible. Edward Scissor Hands neighbors even commented on it. Huzzah! Steve laid down grass seed and fertilizer, so what’s in is lush-ish/-er, and greener. And a nice wet weekend has given the seed out back a nice drink. Some heavy duty digging, ripping, and chopping (yes, with an axe, at the ground) took care of our serious root-and-landscaping-plastic-problem which had been preventing us from planting anything where the tree had stood. So, it went from this (pixelated mess? Idk):

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…to this:

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…to this, today:

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We’ve also trimmed what has turned out to be a gorgeous pink dogwood. Sitting next to the house, it is enjoyed from the living room, office, and master bedroom. But mostly, we enjoy sitting in Aggie’s favorite chair in the living room, looking out the window, and stalking prey–I mean, watching the pretty birdies at the feeder.

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We even had quite the unexpected visitor this morning, baffling the dog to no end:

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A wild turkey. Now, wild turkeys aren’t uncommon around here at all. But we live in a neighborhood with not a ton of woods, bounded by major roads. So that’s either a really crafty, wickit smaht turkey, or a very stupid, lost turkey.

2) Some small scale decorating projects have been accomplished. First (or 2a, I guess) was the purchase, framing, and hanging of our friends Dot and TwoFish.

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Dot is a Striper, TwoFish is a Bluefish. They are gyotaku fish prints from Reel Dreams Fish Prints in Sarasota, FL and we’re fans.

They keep our pet cow, Butch, company in the dining room:

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Yes, that *is* a surf ‘n turf themed dining room, how clever of you to notice! #yesi’madork. And man, it is not that messy always, I swear.

Second (henceforth 2b), I found some cute small mirrors to hang over the bed (the headboard–get your mind outta the gutter). See, the mirror that was over the headboard was lovely but entirely too small. Like, it made me mad. And it legit kept me up at night. So onto The Internets I ventured, and here’s at I came up with:

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And a close up:

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Better, right? I was looking for something old and gold (or bronze). I like mixing metals in decor, and with several chrome accents in the bedroom, those brass tacks on the headboard were feeling left out. The best part is that I’m pretty sure I’ll no longer be irrationally angry at that lonely mirror any more. Good things, people, good things.

3) Nothing new or exciting in the kitchen these days. Our bar and ice machine has been getting some serious action, though: Mad Men is back. Thus, we are gin and/or scotch-soaked fools by 11:04 pm on Sunday nights. And we are very happy with that, thankyouverymuch.

We also replaced our old gas grill with one that works (which, I hear, is a useful feature). And we bought a Weber kettle grill because seriously we can’t be without one. It’s what we’re used to. Part of the culinary tradition in my family involves cooking The Holiday Meat (it’s a formal noun, people) on a Weber, no matter the weather. Lamb, turkey, prime rib, snow, sleet, wind. And one key ingredient pervades all cooking scenarios: Miller Lite. Welcome to a Noble Family holiday. Now it will be a Guarino Family holiday.

4) Anxiously awaiting both of our CSAs’ beginnings.

5) I’m on Pinterest (kelly guarino) and Instagram (knobleg529). I need friends. Be my friend.

There you gave it. Brain dump. Was it good for you?

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My, Twas a Hoppy Eat-ser!!

Easter has long been one of my favorite eating holidays. Short answer? Lamb.

Of late, the long answer is because Steve and I travel to Washington DC to visit with our buddies from law school. And we spend the entire weekend eating and drinking and walking and drinking. And it’s not Easter Weekend, it’s Chapeau Weekend, as in fancy hats on Easter while we drink and eat and walk and drink. It is fanfreakingtastic.

Steve and I love weekend trips to places like DC because we gotta get outta dodge, y’all. Sometimes we need to get ourselves to the Big City and eat some seriously great food with some excellent dining companions.

This trip saw us eating (and, you guessed it, drinking) at these fine establishments:
Wagshal’s Deli
Fado Irish Pub (excellent day drinking!)
Oyamel
Shelly’s Back Room

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Lebanese Taverna
Chadwick’s (also excellent day drinking!)
Ping Pong
And for Chapeau Brunch, Black’s Bar and Kitchen in Bethesda.

We attended a beautiful mass in the National Cathedral, adorned with fancy chapeaux of course:

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We did our usual post mortem of favorites from the trip and the winning restaurant was Oyamel, serving Steve’s trip-favorite dish of a tuna ceviche, and mine, braised pork cheeks. And the guacamole wins for everything–just go eat it and try to disagree.

We lucked out with some primo weather, easy quick flights, and the best company you could imagine.

Aggie fared well at my parents’, until the last 5 minutes of her stay when she launched herself into a wall sideways and possibly separated the knee joint in one of her hind legs. So, out of an abundance of caution, Miss Agnes is now PegLeg Pup:

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She’s the most adorable pathetic imp you’ve ever cuddled. It’s probably coming off on Tuesday. She’ll live.

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Supah Mahkits

When our trusty Consumer Reports landed in our mailbox last week, I was interested to see a great story on supermarkets. I pored over the story and the always great visuals, learning that my beloved Trader Joe’s scored really well, and that the other two (non-Whole Foods) chains in the area were at the bottom of the pile, scoring only marginally better than the epicurean gem, Wal-Mart.

I was not surprised. I grew up shopping at Stop and Shop and Shaw’s, and with some notable exceptions, I was unimpressed. I’ve always hated Shaw’s–terrible produce, sad meats, uninteresting food. Great for a bargain shopper and definitely serves a purpose, but it hasn’t served mine. Stop and Shop is a bit better but it varies by store. For example, the S+S in Bristol, RI is excellent compared to the one near my house (which has a meat section about the size of a Ford Taurus, yet boasts a potato chip and soda aisle that could double as a main street thru town).

Since moving to our current area about 2 years ago, I’ve frequented a few places with regularity. Inspired by the comments section on a recent post on The Kitchn, I mapped out where I shop and what I buy at each place:

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I used my best third grade handwriting for you.

My go to shopping spot is Trader Joe’s. It is 3.5 minutes from my house, it is cheap, it is interesting. I do not like their produce for the most part, and I only occasionally buy meat there, but it works. I shop there probably once every ten days.

Oh, Dave’s. I love Dave’s. It’s a local chain that focuses on high quality foods, local (when possible) and gorgeous (always) produce and meats, and super fresh seafood. But I don’t shop there as frequently as I used to. The locations are sort of weirdly spread out for me to be able to shop on my way home from work, which is the only time I really shop.

The rest are the premise for this blog: the farmer’s market (we love the Coastal Growers Market, both winter and summer), our two CSAs, and the milk man. I actually rely on those sources a lot more than bricks-and-mortar stores because they are local, they are cost-effective, the quality is through the roof, and they provide a really rich and satisfying experience. The experience is incredibly important to me, and we both enjoy the connection that we make when we engage in these food experiences.

A few final words on the CR supermarket report: 1) I am apparently categorized as an impulse shopper because I go in knowing what I want and which brand I will buy. Apparently it is opposite day at CR; 2) I love Publix, which scored well. Jealous of my Florida family!; 3) I do occasionally shop at Whole Foods, but it’s rare, and it has little to do with the price. I’ve just been able to replicate the WF experience and quality elsewhere; and finally 4) I don’t eat seafood, and Steve does. Steve, therefore, is responsible for the seafood for the house and does so by either catching it himself or going to a local fish market manned by a fisherman’s son that we know from childhood. That kid sells a great fish, I’m told!

Where do you shop? What do you buy where?

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Opposites attract

While Steve and I love most of the same foods and we are both relatively adventurous eaters, there’s one big difference. I’m trying to lose weight, and he works out with a trainer 4 times a week to build muscle. Translation: I can eat small portions of high carb, high protein, fatty (read: delicious) foods, and he can afford to eat a ton more. All my portions are measured and calculated (Weight Watchers- It is way easy, do it! I’ve lost about 20 lbs so far with basically no exercise), and his are generous and overflowing. And glistening with somesuch buttery and/or cheesy sauce(s).

And I am green with envy.

Jealousy aside, our divergent food-related goals are actually easy to overcome. On WW, you really can eat anything. Seriously. And I am telling you (ha), Jennifer Hudson would not lie. So I make dinner, serve myself first, and Steve can have the rest. Our summertime glut of veggies will make it easier: with some unfortunate exceptions (here’s looking at you, avocado, you delicious point-laden jerk), fruits and veggies are “free,” ie zero points! Never thought that would be exciting, but it is!

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