Monday, January 31, 2011

It is Soy Good

In keeping with my efforts to lose a lil chunk around my middle and eat more ethnic foods, I bought tofu. I have told myself for years that I "love" tofu. I know I like soy sauce, edamame, soy crisps, meatless-though-meatlike burgers and chik'n, and all the processed foods that have soy additives, so "loving" tofu wouldn't be inconceivable, right? Truth be told, I am a texture person. Cottage cheese? Gross! Raw tomato - seeds intact? Gross! One too many chews on a banana? Blech! Jell-o with fluffy creamy stuff? Gag! Tofu might not be the best option for one as squeamish as I.

I have had said tofu (extra firm to prevent squish factor) in the fridge for about a month, now nearing its expiration. Happy Hubby has teased me about it since its initial purchase. Happy Hubby stayed happy knowing that he will not be forced to chow down on this "non-food," even though I assured him it would only taste like whatever you cook with it. (Sometimes I say things so that I am the one needing convincing, his is one of those times.)

Courage, Bravery, Chutzpah! Oh My!

I am delighted to say that my first foray into tofu territory was delightful.It was peanutty, scalliony, sesame-y!
8 oz Extra Firm Tofu, cubed and drained
2 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used pre-cooked)
1 1/2 tsp . Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Sesame Oil
1/2 c. Spring Onions, chopped
1 tsp. Light Soy Sauce
2 1/2 tsp. Fresh Ginger, grated
1/2 c. Light Chunky Peanut Butter
Splash of Water
1/3 c. shredded coconut
Red Pepper Flakes, to taste

1. Heat olive oil and sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and cook green onions for one minute. Add tofu and pre-cooked shrimp, and continue cooking 4 minutes more, sprinkling with soy sauce halfway through. Gently stir in the peanut butter, ginger, and pepper flakes, being careful not to break the tofu, until well incorporated. Add splash of water to produce a more saucy-sauce.
2. Remove from heat, and toss in coconut. Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle with sesame seeds and any extra spring onion.
3. Devour!

(Yields 4 servings)

I adapted this recipe to reduce tofu to what I had in the fridge and add shrimp to entice Hubster into eating some. I also added more ginger and some red pepper flakes for some heat and zing! If you kick out the shimpers, you have a vegetarian delight.

Nom Nom Nom Nom...mmmmmm.... good.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My DIY Nuptials

I have been meaning for some time now to write out how I created some of my favorite features of my wedding. Below is a set of how-tos for my centerpieces (which have since been re-purposed in my bathroom and sold to a blushing bride in Maricopa, AZ).

Materials Required:
  • Cylinder base - I used glass
  • Manzanita branches (go to for the best prices and highest quality, if you don't have the trees in your area)
  • Rocks from the neighborhood (DIY - translates to get as much as you can as cheaply as possible)
  • Spray-Foam Insulation (whichever is the least expensive)
  • Satin ribbon
  • Double sided tape (a truly miraculous invention)
  • Sheet Moss
  • Beaded Curtain
  • Silk Flowers (again has incredible quality)
  • Hot glue gun many little glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • A knife for when you realize you put too much insulation in the base and you need to slice some off the top
  • Time and patience!!!
How to bring this to life:

  1. Measure and cut ribbon into strips  to fit around cylinder (hem one end so has nice neat edge). Attach to cylinder using double-sided tape. 
Use rocks in the base, not all foam like I did   
2. Using the cylinder as a guide, measure and cut a circle from the sheet moss so fits snugly at opening.
3. Fill cylinder halfway with rocks. Position a branch in the center, adding rocks around base of branch to anchor it.
I used gravel to smooth out the top, but it was messy during transport
4. Fill to about two-thirds full with spray insulation. WARNING!! This stuff GROOOOOWS.
5. Prop up so stays in place overnight (I used miscellaneous chair legs, bookshelves, cardboard boxes, prevent tumbling over and drying kinda wonky)
6. Cut a slit into moss circle, then slide around branch base. Close up sides of slits using pins (I used hair pins).

Moss brings a bright pop of color
7. Decorate your lovely branch with silk flowers. I glued them back-to-back to all eyes at the table get a pretty view. The little bulbous things were on the orchid stems, and I like to use everything... waste not, want not. Hot glue like crazy!
Orchids are my favorite flower
8. Cut beaded curtain strands to desired length.
9. Drape long strands of beads over branch.

Listening to: "I Feel It All" by Feist

    What I did on my day off

    Ordinarily, days off from work are spent lounging around, soaking up the do-nothing attitude of holiday. Ahhhhhhhh........ so refreshing, so lazy, so lovely.

    That was NOT the case on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday. Oh no no, little ol' me created a massive Honey-Do List.

    Happy Husband was off at work, slaving away on all sorts of engineering feats and conquering mind-boggling blueprinty marvels. It was just little baby dog and me against the dust I felt had taken over my home. This dust may have been imaginary (reading the monster sized book on Victorian domestic life may have corrupted my malleable mind into believing that cleanliness was next to godliness and my home is closer to a demon sanctuary than a gateway to the pearly gates). My day began at dawn. The sun crested the horizon as I laid my eyes upon the pyramids of white and darks on my bedroom floor. Job Numero Uno: Vanquish laundry. Reward: eat breakfast. I washed, folded, iron, hung hubby's clothes and mine. I undid the bed and laundered the sheets, only to replace them after they dried. I admit I really, really, really wanted to jump back into the bed. Is there anything more inviting than warm, fresh from the dryer, comfort-smelling sheets? Nine o'clock and my booty scrambled downstairs. This task was completed before my morning coffee, y'all!

    Next up on the agenda: Vacuum and mop downstairs. This is no little undertaking. We have a lot of tile and a dog, who I feel sheds with the intent of creating little hairy clones of himself. I pulled the oven out of its little kitchen niche and dove headfirst into the greasy yuckfest. I used a lot of cleanser, kids. That place has been sterilized, fo' sho.' As son as the incredible baking-machine was back in it's place, I hit the "Self Clean" button and crossed that off my list too. (Crossing things off lists is how I measure my day's successes.)

    Forever and a year later, I wiped down baseboards. This is a particular nemesis to me. I just stare at dirty baseboards, cringing at the thought of the germs just waiting to infect me with their contagions. ** I know I am neurotic, but I prefer to call myself "quirky". Soon after, I became famished. I ate my lil sandwich in the living room, upon glancing upward I saw, THE HORROR!!, dust bunnies clinging to my fan blades just waiting to drop into my cherry pomegranate Crystal Light. Lunch was over. Ten minutes and a slightly renewed fear of falling on my head with no one to call an ambulance later. Added to the list, scratched off the list. The living room was purified.

    I shredded documents, I filed files, I checked facebook, I watched sixteen minutes of the "Bad Girls Club" marathon on O. At 2 p.m. Puppy-Love and I were at the vet getting his boosters and heart worm test. As soon as me and my magically well behaved pooch came home we vacuumed the bedrooms upstais, dusted the blinds, fan blades and vacuumed out the beds (a tactic I picked up from watching "How Clean is Your House?" on the BBC. You have no clue how nasty your bed is until you've seen that show). At 3:15 p.m., I created a manzanita branch masterpiece for my bedroom using the branches left over from the wedding in May 2010. One bandaid and seven rubber bands later I began cleaning out the "second room."

    This room is empty. It has no purpose except to store wedding related items, crafty related items, an old dresser from before our new bedroom set, boxes of boxes, boxes of engineering notebooks, boxes of engineering binders, and very neat stacks of really old papers (my biggest pet peeve is papers- receipts, recipes, coupons, printouts, scratch papers - they haunt my dreams, seriously). Now we are down one box of boxes and all that paper and the crafty supplies are are neatly tucked away where I cannot see them, but will think about them.

    When the Happiest of Hubbies came home, the house did not necessarily look any different, as I tend to be pretty neat, but he said it smelled "amazing," before asking "What's for dinner" with a wink and a smile. I melted (one part exhaustion, one part lovey-dovey feeling).

    Good CLEAN fun!

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    A Feast with a Fez On

    Last night I made a super easy fish dish from my cookbook. I adapted the recipe to only make two servings, but it is simple to adjust to fit your needs.

    Moroccan  Red Snapper with Chermoula
    • 2 fillets red snapper (I used tilapia, because I always use tilapia)
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 scant cup cilantro
    • pinch sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 T. lemon juice
    • 2 Lime wedges, for taste
    1. Using a mortar and pestle (which I would love to have, so I used a bowl and spoon and then a food processor), grind and smash garlic, then add in sea salt and cilantro followed by paprika and cumin.Once that is all nice and smooshy slowly incorporate olive oil and lemon juice. Bang! You have Moroccan Chermoula!
    2. Place fillets in non-metallic baking dish. Make a couple slashes in each fillet and marinate with Chermoula for one hour in the refrigerator.
    3. Preheat your oven to broil (or heck, use the grill... yum!). Broil fish for 4-5 minutes per side.
    4. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and a lime wedge.
    Serving Suggestion:
    Serve with side of couscous and green beans. That's what I did and it was a spicy bit o' heaven.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Eleven Days into Oh -Eleven

    1. In the quest to be in shape I have... well ... I have done little aside from make myself a very healthy lunch today (gotta start sometime): 3 oz. mixed greens, 2 hard boiled egg whites, 3 oz. baby carrots, tuna with mustard and 1 oz. white onions, and a delightful bottle of h2o. I apologized to any coworkers for the stanky smell coming from my desk. Tonight will take My Little Remy for a run.
    2. Have not had a single sip of any soda since the New Year, let alone a drop of DC. Also curbed my Crystal Light intake, it was a little much ***but tasted oh so good***
    3. Credit Card still has a balance on it. I am saving 75 cents left and right by no longer visiting the vending machine. One goal leads into another, baby!
    4. Have yet to dust off the ol' Ethnic Cookbook. Will be making something fishy tonight for sure. Also will most likely be healthy which will help achieve numero uno on this list.
    5. Yep, still a-whining. Starting to think I really dont live up to my goals; how quickly I forget and abandon them. Is this genal pessimism considered whining?
    6. Just finished a book most people thought would be very boring, "The Cult of Personality Testing: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves" by Annie Murphy Paul and loved it. I feel more informed and can probably carry on a good debate about the pitfalls and perils of boxing one's personality into one form. We are too complex. A very well-written and engaging book.
    7. I put more junk in the second guestroom yesterday. Did not take anything out. Opposite of plan. Whoops!
    8. No daytrips, but the year has just begun!
    9. Am starting an album of the past year. But first... we finally received our WEDDING ALBUM! Heck yes I am excited, even though I have seen those photos a thousand times.
    Ahhhh the progress!

    Reading: "The Cult of Personality Testing: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves" by Annie Murphy Paul

    Listening to: "Let's Dance" by M. Ward

    Beauty is in the EYEBROW of the Beholder

    Another makeup product I don't think I will be able to live without:
    Benefit Brow-Zings!
    Buy me here!

    I use "Dark" as my hair is nearly black. You dip a teeny angles brush into wax, which keeps your brows in place all day long, and then use the teeny blending brush to gently apply the eyebrow powder to fill in sparse areas. It also has a teeny lil' tweezer for the in-between wax sessions. Beautiful! I get tons of compliments on my brows, even when I go too long between waxing them. Another bonus is that it lasts FOR.EV.ER! The price freaked me out until the makeup artist said she has had hers for almost a year and it is still going. I keep the little plastic thingy over the wax and powder to keep the mirror clean and keep the wax from drying out.

    I am crazy about Benefit. Admittedly, this is probably because I get sucked in by the adorable packaging and feisty product names. I am a sucker for quality branding!

    Which may also explain my devotion to Benefit's BadGal lash Mascara! It does its ultra-volumizing job, yet it doesn't clump. How can this be? I don't know, and I don't care. I am now a devotee this wonder-product! My eyes are my favorite feature and choose to play them up when I "see" fit (tee hee hee).

    And then buy me here!
    I will eventually post photos of me wearing these products. Before and Afters, perchance? We shall see.
    What makes you feel gorgeous?

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Inspiration for Creative Expression

    Dance your heart out!

    Sometimes you see something that makes you smile and kind of warms your heart. I feel this way when I see videos of puppies rolling around, babies laughing, and every form of dance. It is this last form of expression that truly inspires me. I am in awe of people who just "Go For It." There is no half-way, rather it is living and dreaming to the fullest. Below is a video of a woman on Ireland's "Got to Dance" program. While she may not be the most technically advanced danseur, she goes all out and just dances!

    (It helps that this particular tune cracks me up whenever I hear it)

    Dance on!

    Reading (still): "Inside the Vicorian Home" ***this book is huge!***
    Listening to: "Firework" by Katy Perry ***also inspirational***

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Bad Wife

    I poisoned my husband!

    Food Poisoning is a rotten, dirty trick, especially when it is one's love-of-one's-life who does it to you (however unintentional). I made a rather tasty jambalaya on Tuesday night. We ate heartily but left enough for leftovers on Wednesday night. Something that tasty absorbs even more tastiness when you wait overnight between eatings. I never thought is that my Cajun Creation would also absorb some cursed, evil bacteria while sealed in my refrigerator. My guess is that we ate some undercooked andouille (pork) sausage or some type of freak contamination occurred.

    I am totally off all pork products for a long time (my tummy rumbles as I think about it). And I am disinfecting my kitchen. And I am sterilizing my fridge. And I am charring all of my meat products for the next several weeks.

    So if you see me wearing a haz-mat suit flipping a flaming burger you will understand, if not sympathize.

    **I would offer the recipe, but I can't imagine too many of you dying to have it after this post. Trust me when I say it is awesome tasting, it was!**

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Happiest Penguin

    For those of you who do not know... I love penguins and polar bears and little white seals. A friend posted this on facebook, but I really felt the need to steal for my own. Just look at this little guy!

    I shed a couple of "happy Tears" to this. You just keep on bouncing little man! Keep. On. Bouncin'!

    Its still a happy new year

    3 Days into Eleven...
    1. Have not had a diet coke, or any soda for that matter. May have replaced one bubbly addiction for another more Crystal Light-y one. (must work on overall obsessive tendencies)
    2. Have decided that cleaning up my potty language should be more of a priority (one should not have to apologize to one's self mid-swear tirade in crowded parking lot in car ... alone)
    3. Ate a banana today so will be tall and skinny like said banana (so far just looking white and goofy - and kind of squishy actually) like banana. I find role models in interesting places, no?
    4. When I thought I broke my foot (again) on NYE, I cursed that oh-Ten year. When I rolled my ankle this morning I said, "Thank goodness I didn't break my face." This is taking a positive stab and being more positive and less whiny. I'll take what little successes I can get in this road of personality change.
    5.  Applauded my nearly halfway mark in the 500 page "Inside the Victorian Home," until I realized that reading how the mantra "cleanliness, is next to godliness" became so popular during that era while I sat next to a pile of laundry three feet high (yes, I, too wish I was kidding).
    6. Brought "Ethnic Cuisine" into Sprouts Farmers Market, but did not buy any of the delicious and exotic ingredients (Happy Hubby said no to lemongrass and vermicelli rice noodles, but yes to sweet potato and bacon. He is most certainly a meat and potato man).

    Have adapted a word-of-the-day game to play with Hubbs (though I think I am the only one playing). Today the word is "pandiculation" meaning: yawning and stretching. "{Coworker} must have had a rough night judging by all the pandiculation going on over there."  tee hee hee

    Listening to: "You Have Me" by Gungor

    ***Really really loving this book, by the way. I am fascinated by how people lived before the invention of modern necessities like toothpaste and toilets.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Thank Heaven it is 2011

    12 a.m. today, two years ago, Shawn made the best decision of his life
    He dropped down on one knee. I yelled "what are you doing?" He asked me to marry him. I cried, said yes a thousand times and then cried some more.

    New Years is a particularly special time for us.

    I am looking forward to the marvels that this new year has in store for us.
    Here's my end of the bargain (I resist the term "resolution"):
    1. To get into shape (at least a shape that is not round)
    2. To finally defeat my addiction to Diet Coke (this is a REAL problem)
    3. Pay off a credit card
    4. Cook every recipe in my "Ethnic Cuisine" cookbook (I've made about a third so I know that they are super tasty)
    5. Watch my whining. I admit I am a superb complainer. I plan to rectify this fault of mine in the next 12 months.
    6. Read more non-fiction books (whaddaya know, I just picked a couple up from the library)
    7. Remind myself of my great fortunes daily
    8. Clean out our second guestroom and then re-purpose it (we are furniture-fund-less)
    9. Take more daytrips with my honey
    10. Create a photo book from the last year, even if it takes me a year to complete
     Reading: "Inside the Victorian Home" by Judith Flanders
    Listening to: "A Happy Place" by Katie Melua