Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bookcase makeover

After this weekend, the guest room is a little more "done" (if "done" is ever achieved...)

We had moved an Ikea Billy bookcase from the office into the guest room. Its pine wood didn't exactly match what was going on in the rest of the room.

So we took it out back and gave it a good coat of white spray paint. We used Rustoleum Satin because it has a paint and primer in one and going from wood to white, we felt that was necessary. It took four cans of spray paint.

Then I found a tablecloth at target that I loved, so I staple gunned it to the backboard of the bookcase.

I was super excited because I also found a lamp matching the tablecloth! Then we scored this great side table at the PB outlet during their Memorial Day sale.

We love the PB outlet, but they really need to change their tagging policy. Each piece of furniture has a sticker somewhere on it that has the original price (which is never what you pay) and the bar code they scan. Then, they have these hard tags that they tape onto the item that show the current price. But the thing about taping these tags on... they don't stay on. In the side table aisle, I don't think we saw a single piece of furniture that had a tag still on it, and we saw several lying on the ground. We picked one up that had the same price and took it and the table to the register. The girl scanned the barcode and we paid and then she was like "Oh wait! This hardtag doesn't match this table."

"But it's the same price, right?"

"Well, yes, but if it doesn't have a hardtag then it's been sold. Or someone is about to buy it. They took the hardtag to reserve it."

"But none of those tables had hardtags and there were hardtags on the floor. Isn't it likely that they just... fell off?"

"Yes, but we don't know, so we can't sell it to you."

Hmm... that doesn't seem like a good system. At what point do they go around and put the hardtags back on and discover that none of those tables were sold and they probably missed an opportunity to sell it because the dumb tape didn't stick?

She did a return on the table and refunded our credit card, and then I think she felt bad, because she sold it to us again. I was angry (not at her, at PB) and I know she could tell and I think she just wanted us to get out. We ended up walking out with a super cheap table because when she did the return/refund, she gave us back too much money (which we told her!) and then we paid for the table as we were supposed to.... so she actually gave us an extra 10 percent off.

I'll take that. But seriously, PB, change your stinkin' policy. Or get better tape.

Memorial Day boating

We had no plans (deliberately) for Memorial Day and planned to be completely lazy. Then our buddy Travis, who is in town introducing his new bride {adorable!} to his family, invited us out on his boat on Lake Travis. Um, yes, please!

We had a blast. The weather was gorgeous and sunny and the water was cool and wonderful. I think we ended spending 6-7 hours on the boat and we're a little tapped out today from all the sun.

Check out Adam wakeboarding. This guy is ridiculous.

Hans tried, too. He got up, which is more than I'd ever be able to do!

And there goes wedding ring #2. I'm going to have to staple the third one to his hand....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Avengers style

There's a group of us '84 babies in our circle of friends. What can I say... it was the best year.

Friday, we celebrated another two '84 bday babies with a trip to Olive Garden. And I  made a cake that doesn't suck! Maybe I'm getting better after all.

Andrew is a big fan of The Avengers, so when I saw this guy on Pinterest I knew I had to give it a try.

I made DIY marshmallow fondant because I didn't want to drive all the way up north for the good stuff just to mess it up. It's a plain vanilla cake, but filled with oreo buttercream. But look! I actually covered it without too much frustration {pats self on back}

Ummm.... why have I never put oreos in my buttercream before? It was ah-mazing. I just made my favorite buttercream recipe and started chucking whole oreos into the stand mixer while it was a-whirlin'. I'm not sure I'll ever make normal buttercream again.

He looked a lot better before I moved him to the carrying case (that was a bad idea...should have built him on the carrying case, not on a cake stand. Live and learn...)

It was sinking in a bit (that top layer was heavy!) Hulk.... SMASHED.

And, of course, the handsome birthday boys, Andrew and David. Thanks for being older than me :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fondue for two

I'm like a kid in a candy store at Williams and Sonoma. I need everything in there.

But sometimes I wonder if I'd actually use some of the "specialty items" they carry. The fondue pot I was eyeing at the end of last year was one of those cases. Would I use it?

But my sweet husband got it for me for Christmas so I didn't have to feel guilty about getting a product I didn't use. It's a Christmas gift - it's an indulgence!

The truth is... we use it about once a week. It's perfect for a quick weeknight meal and it's so. dang. good.

We've had a hard time coming up with a recipe that we love. And it actually brought up a situation in our house that we didn't expect to deal with. As LDS members, how do we feel about cooking with alcohol? We've eaten at the Melting Pot many a time and love it. I inquired about the alcohol used in preparation the first time we ate there and was told it would cook off.

Since then, though, I've come across several articles/studies that say that not all the alcohol cooks off. And managed to come across some pretty heated discussions about LDS cooking at the same time. Did you know some members don't use real vanilla because it contains alcohol? I was floored. That never even crossed my mind. I steer clear of tiramisu or anything obviously soaked in liquor. But sauces prepared with wine (as at many high-end Italian restaurants) didn't give me much pause (back to that 'it cooks off' thing).

Hans and I had a long discussion about it (which we don't need to get into here... I have a feeling everyone has their own strong opinions on this topic) and in the end decided we'd feel more comfortable using a recipe that didn't call for it. It has a lot to do with not having alcohol in the house, not so much for now as for later when we have kids.

All that to say: We made our own fondue recipe! And it's pretty tasty. So try it out :)

What you need:
1 cup sparkling cider
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
Juice of 1 lemon
4 teaspoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons flour
4 teaspoons dry mustard
12 oz medium sharp cheddar
4 ounces emmentaler swiss

Shred the cheese
Add the flour and toss to coat. (You could also use cornstarch for the same purpose - to keep the cheese from separating)
Whisk together the lemon juice, worchestershire sauce, minced garlic, chicken broth and dried mustard.
Get the fondue pot heated up and add in the sparkling cider. Then stir in the garlic/chicken broth mixture.
Whisk in the cheese 1/3 at a time 
Cut up your dippers  (we like crusty bread and green apples)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Guest room makeover

For the first time in quite a while, we're finally roommate free. We've seen Paul, Edgar, Parker, Blair and Camille all come and go in the past year+ and while we've loved having them, we're loving being on our own, too.

Now that it's empty, that room finally got a much needed makeover!

Here's the before, bare windows, dingy trim and pale yellow walls.

In progress:

And now:

We went with a grey paint (It's Behr, but I can't remember the color name! We're in trouble if we ever need to match it...)
Hans added crown moulding and 4.5" baseboards and we painted the doors and trim Glidden's White on White. While I was away in SF, Hans also added the 2" faux wood blinds from Home Depot. He's such a good boy. The curtains and bedding we just happened to have left over from other things, both from Ikea.

We're really happy with how the room is coming along. I'd like to add some pillows to the bed, find some good night stands, and figure out what to do for a headboard. Oh, and that Ikea bookcase is getting a good coat of white paint one of these days.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Busy May

Last Saturday was a looooonnnnng day for us.

We had to be at the church by 5:45 am (wait... they have those in am versions? I thought there was only the pm kind...) for our youth's temple trip. Because we're relatively closer to the temple than, say, the folks down in the Rio Grande Valley, we wound up with the early session.

Still, we ended up with a decent size group and were able to do baptisms for two hours. Don't they look so happy to be up this early?

We headed straight from San Antonio to San Marcos for the graduation of Mike, Hans' best friend from high school (and before). We're super proud of him and so glad that we were able to be there with him on his big day.

Oh, did you know it's tradition for Texas State graduates to jump in the river after the ceremony? What a fun tradition! And it was great fun watching his fiance, Nicole, chasing after him to make sure she got his phone, wallet, keys, etc before making the plunge.

Congrats, Mike :) Looking forward to your wedding!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Boys and Cars

While I was gone, Hans took it upon himself to trade in our leased Honda for an upgrade. Our lease wasn't up until January, but he got too excited.

As he's texting me about getting this new car, I'm telling my co-workers about it.
My boss, Tammy, says: "OOoooooh, I'd be mad. I'd be so mad. He got a car without you? I'd be mad."
Co-worker Mike says: "Oh cool! What kind of car?"

And that, my friends, is the difference between men and women.

At least it's pretty....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hands on Gourmet

I felt like this deserved a separate post from the rest of the San Francisco trip because it was just so fun and I took a ton of pictures.

On Saturday, I took a small group to a commercial kitchen, Hands on Gourmet, for a fun cooking class/competition. We divided into teams and each team was assigned part of a meal to prepare.

Oh, and we had an incredible view of the Bay while we cooked! We left the windows in the kitchen open and a great breeze kept us cool in the hot kitchen

And a feast, we made.
My team worked on making dessert! 
We also made the salad and learned some cool tricks on how to cut up an avocado

Our spread
Look how pretty those avocados look :) I sliced 'em up real nice
The first team made appetizers: ceviche... 
... and these yummy empanadas
Team two came up with some incredible steak and chimicurri sauce 
And the sauce on these potatoes was perfect. I could have made a meal of just that
Did I mention we won? That's dark chocolate mousse, orange infused whipped cream with dulce de leche filled short bread. Those cookies knocked my socks off. And the best part? The dulce de leche was so easy to make! Take a can of sweetened, condensed milk. Put it in a pot of boiling water. Leave it for three hours (you may have to add more water as it evaporates). Bam. Dulce De Leche!
Yay team cooking!
It was such a great experience and I'm glad I'm spoiled enough I got to go.

All of the delicious recipes can be found here: Hands on Gourmet

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's San Francisco's Fault

So..... I disappeared for a while there, huh?

Work has been crazy and this month started off with a week-long trip to San Francisco. I've been back a little more than week, but just trying to play catch up.

Every year, L3 has an annual retreat for its members. This time,  it was in San Francisco. We had some great panels on brain health and longevity from top experts at UCSF and McLean, we went to an interactive session at Stanford's D-School, we had fun activities biking, walking, cooking and going to museums, and, of course, we ate so many incredible meals I can't decide which to dub the best I've ever had.

Here's what I was able to catch on my phone:
I got to meet up with my cute cousin Ashlie, who goes to school in San Francisco, for a quick lunch. See any resemblance? I swear, our dads are brothers... my mom's genes are just VERY strong.
Oh, sea lions, how I've missed you! Before the actual start of the retreat, me and a couple of my co-workers, went to dinner at one of my favs, Bubba Gumps, and I could probably sit there and stare at these cute little guys all day.
The National Cemetery.... great view. We stopped here after going through the Walt Disney Family Museum (pretty cool itself, no photography allowed)
And back to Stanford again! That was kinda weird... but also kinda nice. The campus is so gorgeous and I've really missed it. We went to the D School, which was incredible. If you're still at Stanford, you should take a D School class - I wish I would have known about it when I was there!
Our wonderful team! We joke that it should L3 needs an extra L for all its lady leaders :) Mike couldn't make it because he welcomed a new baby a few days before the trip. 
Check out that gorgeous moon! They said it was brightest in San Francisco.
And one event I'm (sadly) missing a photo of: We got a shout out from Chris Tucker! We were riding down the elevator in the hotel with some guy, talking about I can't remember what. He was really nice and friendly, though! We got off the elevator and there's Chris Tucker, who is apparently friends with our elevator buddy. He makes a funny face and says something like "Look at you with all those white girls!" Tee hee, Chris Tucker thinks I'm white.

Oh, and let's talk about this hotel. Ah-mazing. I had a gorgeous suite and wanted to live in the bathroom.