Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Into The Mix

My In-Laws were able to visit over the weekend. We enjoyed some wonderful time with them. While they were here, we went bowling, shopping, watched Thor, took a walking tour of Riverfront park, and played, Rummikub (I think we had equal wins on this one over the last few days), Hand & Foot (Mum & Bevan stomped Dad & I in the first game, but the second two games were ours: overall scores for all 3 games M&B - 31105 D&I - 33750 making it a 2645 point spread, rather close point spread for Hand and Foot), and Jenga (I lost 2 games before we all decided to play something that didn't end so loudly). We also enjoyed some good food while they were here:
  • Winger's Grill & Bar - First time we'd eaten here. I had the blackened chicken alfredo - delicious with a bit of a kick. That atmosphere was nice (once you tuned out the screaming toddler at the next table). The waitress was on top of things (despite her co-worker sticking a bar code tag on her shirt). Doesn't make the top list of places I've eaten, but it's no where near the bottom.
  • P.F. Chang's (my favorite Chinese restaurant) - I love the chicken lettuce wraps (I've found a recipe I plan on trying at home sometime soon). All their food is always delicious. Even tried Wok-Seared Lamb, a dish I hadn't had before. It was delicious. We ordered several dishes to share: Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Crispy Honey Shrimp, Beef With Broccoli, Wok-Seared Lamb, and P.F. Chang's Pork Fried Rice. This dinner was to celebrate both Mother's Day (belated) and Father's Day (early) with my In-Laws. We had a blast.
  • David's Pizza - After walking around Riverfront Park - we stopped in for lunch. David's Pizza was delicious as always.
  • Raclette - This one took place at our home and involves a Raclette plate in the middle of our coffee table, roast potatoes, various dipping sauces, cubed steak, diced brats, shrimp, onion, green/yellow/red pepper, and a Raclette cheese substitute (I still haven't found a local place that sells Raclette cheese). The potatoes are cooked before hand while everything else is cooked/melted on the Raclette plate. It's a fun social dinner and basically works like a main course fondue.
It was a great visit, too short, but lots of fun. I enjoyed the time I was able to spend with them. My Father-In-Law even brought my mixer (a Christmas gift from a few years back) as his carry-on on the plane. I received the mixer as a gift from my Mum & Dad (Mum & Dad = In-Laws, Mom & Dad = my parents) the Christmas before we left Madison. As where and when to move was up in the air at that point, we decided it would be better to leave the mixer at their house and they would get it to us once we settled in. Since I didn't have my own kitchen until about 2 months ago, I hadn't needed the mixer until now. It was like Christmas all over again. I was so excited that I would finally get to use my beautiful red mixer! And I had just the recipe to break it in.

You see, I've had bananas ripening on the counter for a while, and I'm sure my husband will be very happy to see that they have now been used. So I glanced over my cookbooks and decided that the simplest banana bread recipe would probably be in the cookbook that was my absolute favorite to cook from as a child, Alpha-Bakery. Sure enough, there was the easy recipe I remember for Banana Bread.

This cookbook is geared towards kids, but I still love the monkey picture.

All the ingredients minus the eggs that I forgot to pull out for the picture.

I took a picture of each ingredient as I added it (but decided that I didn't really need to overload you by posting all 100ish pictures). Side note: It's amazing how many pictures I can take in a short time when not limited by the 24 picture film that we used to use.

I also realized that I needed to pay better attention to which measuring cup I used, as I realized after adding in the vegetable oil that I had put in 3 1/2 cups instead of 3 1/4 cups. Luckily, I hadn't mixed the ingredients together yet and was able to pull out the 3/4 cup extra I had added.

The batter looks much better in this picture then it did when it was just sugar, eggs, oil, and banana.

Time to start baking.

Now I remember why Mom makes mini-muffins instead of loaves. They cook in half the time. But it was worth it.

Yummy banana bread!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Accomplished Kitty

[Warning: Post contains potty training content.]

So I have an ongoing joke with my Mother that my cat, Kaylee will be potty trained before my 2 year old brother is. They are both currently potty training, I'm pretty sure that my little brother is ahead, but I am very proud of my little Kaylee. She's had peeing in the toilet down since day two of the reinstatement of the Litter Kwitter (we had tried it when she was a kitten, but stopped when company visited and never restarted), but getting her to poop in the toilet has been a challenge. Friday the 13th of May she had her first successful day of full usage of the toilet. Then she went right back to her normal routine until today, when she managed her second success. This step will come a bit slower as I basically have to catch her preparing to squat and quickly move her to the toilet (this method only works well when I am home all day - for obvious reasons). She used to be a morning girl like clock work - so I had assumed (bad idea) that she would maintain her schedule and make the process easy. She has sense hit the random button on her internal clock and I can only guess when it might be time. Still, I am confident that she will master this step - thus eliminating the need for kitty litter from our home. She is a very smart cat (she taught herself fetch at a young age and will sit or stand on her back paws on command). So with lots of love, praise, and kitty treats we will conquer this phase and move away from smelly litter boxes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

8 years... of geek love.

So eight years ago today, the love of my life told me he thought he was falling in love with me. It all started ten days earlier when he accepted a dare one of his online friends had given him 'talk to the next girl to enter the thread'. The next girl happened to be me and we hit it off. Of all the places to find a guy, I never expected to find mine on a Star Wars message board because of a dare. So I have Star Wars (my Dad and a high school buddy for getting me hooked), Brandyn (for the dare), and theforce.net (for providing the virtual location) to thank for bringing my love and I together. There aren't many places an Aussie living in Colorado can meet a geeky girl living in Washington.

We celebrated our dating anniversary with a yummy breakfast (waffles, eggs, and bacon), dinner at Red Robin (first date recreation) and will be catching the midnight showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This will be the second time we've seen a midnight movie premier to celebrate our dating (the other movie was Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith). My husband got me geeky gifts: The Wildlife of Star Wars - A Field Guide [It has Tauntauns!!! So excited about my costume!] and Munchkin Zombies [Mmmmm... I love him for his braaains...]. Bevan is awesome! He knows just what to get his lovely geek. I'm looking forward to watching his gift with him: Fullmetal Alchemist - Brotherhood - Part 3 & 4 (goes nicely with the Fullmetal Alchemist pocket watch I got him a few years back).

I've been playing LEGO Pirates lately and have to say I am loving it. There is a nice little addictively cute quality to the games (did I mention I've unlocked all the characters and am well on my way to 100% completion?). I think my favorite part is getting to listen to the awesome Pirates music while I play. There is just something about the score that sucks me in. Love it!

Well, I'm off to the theatre.

EDIT: The threatre wasn't as packed as I thought it would be and only three people attended in costume (if it hadn't been a spur of the moment thing I totally would have decked myself out and grabbed my jar of dirt). The movie was fun though! I enjoyed it. Jack made me laugh as usual. The mermaids were freaky and I want to know what happened to Phillip. My one complaint - the 3d glasses made some of the fights scenes blurry. Other than that, I won't comment - I'd rather not spoil it for those who haven't seen the movie. I still <3 me Pirates!