Nov 24, 2010

pre thanksgiving thanks.

so here is another post full of thankfulness. for mostly really little & seemingly insignificant things.

i am thankful that all of our windows get foggy in the morning from the bitter cold outside.

i am thankful for the pies that are baking in the oven that make our house smell like cranberries & nutmeg.

that i am not too old to find the high school musical soundtracks AWESOME.
maybe i shouldn't be thankful for that. but i am :)

for all of the people who have ever cut butternut squash into bit sized pieces before. it is not as easy as you would think…

for a time of year we get to see lots of family.

for another year with people i love.

i am thankful i got to see harry potter last night with friends + daniel & that i am becoming more patient & was able to wait four whole days to see it.

i am seriously thankful for libraries. & that i can reserve sherlock holmes online & it is waiting for me when i get there.

i am thankful to have a job i love. having no so great jobs before too, make me even more grateful. & for a husband who encouraged me to make a change in the first place.

ummm, did i mention that i am thankful for highschool musical soundtracks?
just kiiidding, guys! geez. i'm not that lame. okay. well maybe.

for google searches. & for homemade toothsoap *cough* i mean toothpaste.

for all the awesome christmas pictures we will {hopefully!} be getting this next month.

i am thankful for THIS little booger.

oh. SURPRISE GUYS! our third little coleman.
his name is hunny bunny. not so masculine of a name. but we're not even positive its a boy. so its all okay :)


Nov 23, 2010

{make your own: vanilla extract}

make your own vanilla extract.

i have been selfish for the past few months & didn't want to share this recipe.
or idea.
or whatever you want to call it.
because i wanted to be able to give it to people & have them think that it was just an amazing, painstaking process for me to make this for them.

have you ever thought about making your own vanilla extract?
it is seriously the EASIEST thing to do.
it takes two minutes to prepare & then you just need to be patient while it ages.
yes. like a fine wine.

actually, when you make your own extract, the longer you have it around apparently, the better.

so i'm going to make this SO easy for you guys.

you will need:

get your vanilla beans here. there are a ton. its overwhelming. i know. i would suggest starting with 1/4 lb. of bourbon grade b vanilla beans.

trust me, ladies {and gents?} you will save yourself SO much time looking around for them if you just click on that little link. i searched for a good couple of hours for vanilla beans. these are great. & they are INCREDIBLY reasonable.

& the vodka you can get just anywhere. at an abc store if you are in NC. & don't even feel self-conscious about grabbing the largest bottle of vodka they have. even if it is larger than the entire middle of your body. & even if the sweet old woman ringing you up continues to give you glances that say 'oh my word, you must have had the worst day EVER.' aaanyways. moving on.

another note that will help you:
you will want to get grade B vanilla beans. i know, you would think you needed grade A because it sounds nicer. i actually didn't know this until after i ordered my beans, but thankfully i was being cheap that day & bought the B ones anyways. B is the best for extract. there is a reason for it, but i forget at the moment…

SO, once you have your vanilla beans, cut up about 6 beans into 1" pieces & put into a quart sized ball jar. add vodka until its about full.

put your jar in a cabinet or somewhere relatively dark & where it wont be moved around a ton. you can pull it out & give it a shake every day or so if you want.

here is the kicker, though…

your extract will have to age for about 2 months. it should be a dark amber color. after a few weeks, if you extract isn't looking dark enough, i would add another bean to it. so you're playing the patience game, BUT it is so worth it for delicious vanilla. it seriously makes all the difference in the world to have good vanilla in your baking :)

okay, i know, i'm making this long, but one more thing!
when your 2 {or so} months is up, you will want to discard your beans & strain your vanilla with a cheesecloth or something similar to get all of the little bean particles out of your vanilla. and voila! you now have enough extract to last you for the entire rest of your life!
or you can share it with friends, give as a gift, etc...


Nov 22, 2010

today i am thankful.

today i am thankful for my hot cup of passion tea.
for a warm house to putter around in.
when so many people don't have a place to stay this winter.
for my camera.
even though i really want a fancier one. 
i am grateful to have one at all.
& to be taking pictures of an awesome family this morning.

& lots & lots of other things, too.

i have recently realized {where have i been?!} that i don't know almost HALF of you that are subscribed to my blog {!!!} which is totally awesome & crazy for me.

& i would love it if you would say hi & post something about yourself & your blog link (if you have one) so i can know a little more about you all :)

Nov 19, 2010

picture of yesterday.

this is the part of yesterday when we went to see our friend aj at his dance performance at uncc.
& were late because it took us so long to park at a meter & scrounge for change.
& was actually sold out. so we sat in the window like little children who realllly want tickle me elmo's at christmas time. kind of.
but we got to see him & he was the best dancer there. duh.
& we danced around in the leaves on our way back to our car & tried to take a cruddy picture in the black of night on my phone.

its nice to be on campus again sometimes :)
i was feeling pretty nostalgic.

i've been over here more, lately. posting pictures from a few shoots lately.
i literally have…6 more to post. soon.
so check them out & let me know what you think!

Nov 16, 2010

raw applesauce.

my first & second canning experieces were frightening & successful.
those two don't typically go together. but today they just do :)

frightening because i thought a jar was going to explode in my face the whole 2 hour process & successful because it was yummy & all of my jars actually sealed (!!!)

so…raw applesauce sounds a little weird. but it seems the most fitting to me for this, & it is SOOOO easy to make! after this, i don't know if i could ever make applesauce the traditional way again.

so this is what you need:
*cinnamon (optional)
{10 apples for me made 2 quarts + 2 pints}

cut up your apples into small enough pieces so your blender can puree them. & LEAVE THE PEELS ON! so much easier. plus, a lot of the nutrients in apples are directly under the skin, so if you peel them off, you are loosing a lot of the healthy-ness. this DOES make your applesauce just the tiniest bit less smooth feeling. it didn't bother daniel or i a bit, but you could always test it out on one apple & you'll know if the texture is going to bother you…

add 1/2 to 1 cup of water. basically JUST enough to get your apples blending. puree for about a minute in your blender.

then put your applesauce in a large pot on low heat, just enough to get it warm before you put it in your jars.

i've only canned twice now, so i really don't feel like i should be any kind of expert telling you what to do. but here is basically what i did:

1.) sterilized jars in the oven for about 10 minutes
2.) sterilized {new} lids in boiling water on the stovetop
3.) fill jars not quite to the top with applesauce & screw on your lid. it doesn't have to be super tight. just hand tightened well.
4.) bring a large stock pot to medium heat & place jars inside. i've heard that you shouldn't put your jars in vigorously boiling water right off the bat, because the chance of them cracking is greater. so i started at medium heat & raised it just a liiitle after a few minutes. 
5.) place lid on top. let boil about 15 minutes for pints & 20 for quarts & remove from water with a handy dandy canning tool like this one. you can get them at walmart or target in the little ball jar canning kits.

note: my jars didn't seal immediately. it took an hour or two for my first batch. but you know their sealed when the lid is sucked in & doesn't make a popping noise :)


{if anyone has any thoughts or knows more about canning than i do, please feel free to leave a comment! i'm still learning, so my way is doubtfully the best!}

one of the things i like best...

i have to confess,

are sci-fi/fantasy type novels.
really awfully massively long ones.
that come in really awfully massively long series.

i wonder sometimes if i could have been a trekkie if given the proper opportunity.
i think i'll just be thankful that i'm not, though.

harry potter is a favorite of mine.

so while i was writing out my applesauce recipe, i came across this…somehow. in my distractedness.

harry potter {daniel radcliff} singing the elements of the periodic table.
maybe its a nerdy thing to watch.
but i did like chemistry in high school a lot.
& i think everything about this post is probably nerdy.
so there.

Nov 15, 2010

daniel cooks.

saturday day daniel & i went to earthfare.
always a treat :)
but they have this sweet deal going on now where you can get a free little log of brie, so we got brie cheese.
& daniel made us a surprise treat for our dinner out of it.

it is more like a delicious breakfast.
i wont totally give it away, but its a walnut, butter, cinnamon & brie concoction wrapped up in a little pastry.
so yummy.
he hasn't done a lot of cooking to date. so it was really exciting :)

a good way to end saturday.

Nov 13, 2010

a lowes day.

okay. i am such a liar about the applesauce.
i won't post it tomorrow either. i just know it.
but monday…just wait folks.

well so far i have kept my promise to myself.
just not to you all.
i am a day behind posting, but i DO have pictures for every day! thats something at least…

this is where my hubsand works.
{yes, i spell it like that on purpose}
i went to meet him for lunch on friday.
it is always such a fun ordeal to get to him. i have to pass through security gates & then i park in the visitors deck. although on THIS day the sucurity woman was soooo nice to me & said i could park at the very front of the building in the 15 minute parking & i could stay as long as i wanted :) & then i go inside where a receptionist takes your picture & makes you sit in a waiting room & makes you a visitors badge that you use to open doors & things. then they call daniel & tell him a little girl is waiting for him in the lobby so he can come to pick me up!

so there is a pretty bridge & glorious looking trees to the right of us that we stomped around in.
it was a very nice part of my day :)

& then i found a lot of old atlas jars at habitat on my way home. eight of them for .80.
its becoming a horrible addiction.
my growing ball jar collection.

so today i am thankful for lots to cabinets to store them all in!

Nov 11, 2010

pictures of us.

daniel & i were talking the other night, & since I've been taking pictures so much of other people this year, we don't really seem to take any together anymore. thats an awful excuse. but its all i can think of.

so thats when we made a pact. we are going to take at least one picture a day together between now & the end of the year. & just to be sure that we really do - i'm going to post them here every day. starting with yesterday.

daniel took me to pf chang for my birthday. we like going there to celebrate special events. well...there and red robin.
& we always have wonderful waiters. last time our guy sat down with us & wouldn't stop telling daniel he looked like robert pattinson. {haha} & then gave us a gift card for next time. last nite he made me a little 'cake' out of fortune cookies with a candle for my birthday. & banana spring rolls with coconut ice cream which is the BEST

then we rented toy story 3 & pulled our tv into our room.
we are probably some of the few people have hadn't seen it yet.
i bawled my eyes out for about the last 8 minutes.
but you should see it if you haven't! we are just such suckers in pixar movies for whatever reason…

later today i am going to {try to} post a recipe for homemade apple sauce.

Nov 10, 2010

minstrone soup.

yaay! finally posting a recipe again.
praise the lord.
my kitchen is at least workable enough to make soups.
lots and lots of soups.

this is the best version of Minstrone Soup i've ever ever had!
{coming from someone who has never been a fan of minstrone soup}
 slightly adapted from this recipe.

because we have made sooo many soups this week. i cut up a bag of carrots, several onions & a bag of celery & had them waiting in our fridge for each recipe, so I was probably a little off on the amounts below. I ended up adding about 1 cup of chopped veggies of each.

1 medium onion
3 celery stalks - cut into small, bit size pieces
4 medium carrots - sliced in small strips
3 garlic cloves - crushed
1 cup of green beans - cut
1 zucchini or squash - sliced
3 small red potatoes - diced
1 cup of cooked black beans
2 cups of diced tomatoes
4 or so cups of vegetable stock (or if you're like me...chicken stock & water)
1 cup of butternut squash or pumpkin puree
2 tsp of thyme
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of basil
2 bay leaves
salt+pepper to taste

no. 1
saute onions, celery & carrots & garlic in a bit of coconut oil {or olive oil} for about 5 minutes

no. 2
add potatoes, tomatoes, black beans & butternut squash & mix.

no. 3
pour in your stock & add herbs. bring to a low, constant boil.

no. 4
reduce heat to low & let simmer for a few hours.

no. 5
add your green beans & zucchini about an hour before you eat so they dont get tooo mushy. but you can add them in with the rest of the veggies if you don't mind that.

you can make this recipe in a crock pot too! i would just combine all the ingredients together early in the morning & let it set on low all day!

top with parmesan, romano or even sharp cheese.


Nov 8, 2010

a favorite artist of mine.

today seemed to be a good day to introduce you to one of my most favorite artists.

his work is inspiring to me & happy to look at. 
the colors he uses are calming & vibrant & perfect all at the same time.

the titles of his pieces are half of what i love so much. he uses a lot of the same 'characters' in his paintings & each title seems to tell a little bit of a story to me.

here are just a very few that i love. i can't even say they are my favorites. almost every piece of his is a new favorite to me.

"Although this scene may look dire, Alfred meant Mabel & George no mortal harm. He had been courting her for months & thought marriage was at hand."

"Arriving in Stockholm"

"alfred, louis & francois after 12 years of preparation were surprised to find a cafe at the top of mount Everest."

"Alfred was obviously underdressed for his induction into the Adventures Hall of Fame."

"I shot an arrow into the air, they fell to the earth in Berkeley Square."


you can find mattes work on his flickr (link above) or also on etsy. 

Nov 4, 2010

fall, you are the greatest.

today i am busy {trying} to can my very first batch of applesauce.
& really my very first batch of anything. 
its extremely nerve-wracking. my stomach has been in knots for the last two hours just waiting for a jar to break open…

but its also kind of nice.
especially being able to use our stove for the first time.
i have never been so thankful for electricity. ever.

or mountain apples from boone.