Christmas Cookie lineup

I’m more excited than ever about making Christmas cookies this year because I have a new, fancy Kitchen Aid mixer that I got as a wedding gift. She’s needs a name still, but I love her.

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The following are the cookies that I will begin baking this evening:

Where do I start?

$50 Ikea Expedit “hack”

Problem solver. Hurdle jumper. Creative genius? Maybe.

Ok… I’ve been holding out on this post for a few months and I needed to do it, mostly because I am super proud of myself and I think other people will be able to use the idea.

I bought a giant Ikea Expedit bookcase from the previous tenant in Unit 1 for a steal. I really wanted to look awesome while maintaing functionality but I also knew that I definitely couldn’t afford the expensive cubbie doors from Ikea.

These are each $30. I love them - but it was not going to happen.

So, I sat and stared at this mess of a shelf for a few weeks. We didn’t have TV or internet and I was going nuts in the house without any storage or extra funds to make this look better. We moved in with a bunch of extra milk crates and Rob insisted that these were “just fine” and that they “did the job” and that I didn’t need to “waste money.”

This is an honest photo. I didn't make any adjustments for this photo op.

Then – I had an idea to use the milk crates but cover them up. I googled and found so many people looking for a cheaper solution. Some women fashioned cloth covers for milk crates – examples of that here, but I wanted something that looked more like the real deal. So, here’s what I’ve come up with. Step by step is below and I didn’t touch a circular saw <– bonus points. ;)

I had 9 milk crates and knew that if I cut a 4x4 piece of wood, I could get all of my "faces" out of one piece with just a little extra wood. I didn't need anything fancy or heavy duty either.

I gave this idea to the guy with the circular saw in the lumber department and for an extra $2 and a few perfect cuts later, I was good to go.

We stopped to take some goofy pictures while we were waiting for the paint to be mixed.

Rob wasn't nearly as excited. He still wasn't sold on my idea - and he really wasn't sold on me taking this picture and posting it somewhere for anyone to see it.

The "faces" were going to screw into the front of the milk crate to fully cover the hole in the shelf. You can see how this lines up in this picture. You can also see our dog, Sydney, looking at us like we're crazy.

The "faces" fit perfectly.

We screwed the board to the milk crate - be sure to use some kind of washer too. If I was going to do this project again, I would probably attempt to glue it with some serious putty or adhesive because on the other side I had screws to cover up. The holes toward the center are for the handle.

A little wood putty and some sand paper and all was well - but I think I would still glue these if I did it again.

Before paint - but this is how they will fit!

On all of the others, I decided to paint them before we put on the handles. This is where it was hard to line them up just right. Even though we had matching crates, the plastic didn't always line up the same. In hind sight, I would probably center one knob in the middle of the "face."

So, I got this project almost finished and we decided to move into Unit 3.  We never completely finished the cubbies and we knew that we were going to have to get rid of the shelves when we moved into Unit 3 because there was no where to put it that made sense.  We ended up selling it to Rob’s parents.  His mom runs a daycare and these are a perfect storage solution for her laundry room and the kiddos! Here is a photo of the cabinets getting finished.

Almost finished...

Pretty awesome, huh? I spent about $50… but we already had the crates.  You can buy those here and here. Happy hacking!

Ah – kitchen remodel…

So… we’ve been into our new place for two weeks.  You’d think that I would be all settled in and just counting the days until we leave for Christmas… but that’s not happening.

When we decided to move to Unit 3, we agreed with our landlady, we’ll call her LL, that we would be accepting the unit as is.  No paint or frills – the unit would be handed over just as the last tenant left. We were both okay with this because LL had agreed to get me “go for it” where paint was concerned.

Here comes my negotiating… I somehow got LL to agree to put in a dishwasher into Unit 1, as we were signing our lease.  We agreed that when Rob and I moved down the hall that we would also get a dishwasher into Unit 3. The kitchen in Unit 3 looked like this.

Original kitchen in Unit 3

 

More of the kitchen wall

 

You can’t exactly see how unfunctionable this kitchen is – but it was going to be a big adjustment for me.  Virtually no counter space or storage and a refrigerator that I am taller than (5’4 on a good day).  I began the conversation with LL by simply asking if I could swap the fridge in Unit 3 with the one we were already using in Unit 1 – done and done. Then LL and I had another conversation where after I told her for the 10th time that the kitchen would be fine – she said, “Please just let me  do something in here… the kitchen is just a mess.” Ding! Here was my opportunity. LL is a kitchen designer by trade and has heaps of odds and ends in her garage from other projects.  She and I went into the space to chat about what I would want in here and to see if we could make it work. She asked me what I would put into the space if it was actually my kitchen.

Here was my list:

  • Butcher block counters
  • White cabinets, glass door fronts with installed lighting
  • While we’re talking lighting… I wanted task lighting and new hung lights too. I’m supposed to dream big, right?
  • Farmhouse style sink – available at Ikea (one of my very best friends, Ashley, has one that I have been jealous of for a few years)
  • Drawers, drawers, drawers… did I mention I wanted lots of storage?

LL said, “You can have it! Give me one week once you get moved in and we’ll make this happen for you.” Then she added that she would look around and see what else she had. Maybe build in the fridge with some “Racheal Ray” pull out shelves and some over the fridge cabinets.  I thought I was in kitchen heaven but I wasn’t willing to get too excited until I saw things start to come together.

The demo started last Thursday… and things should be complete by Friday.  Pictures to come. I can’t tell you how excited I am.

For now… this is what we looked like last Thursday (12/8).

Ripping out the old.

 

All I can see is the ugly burgundy colored walls... oh, and the lack of any kitchen at all.

 

Moving… again.

I have moved once a year since I moved out of my parent’s house in 2003.  Some years I moved twice, some years I just lost track.

Rob and I moved to San Francisco just after we got home from our honeymoon in Hawaii.  We had no idea what neighborhood to live in but knew that our choice was going to make all the difference for our San Francisco experience.  Even with the great advice we had, we were still at the mercy of whatever Craigslist had to offer.

Our must have list was short, but wasn’t exactly flexible or easy to find:
Pets allowed (We have 2 cats and a dog)
Designated parking – with a garage if we could find it.

Things that would be nice to have:
A sleeping space separate from the living space.  We were open to living in a studio if we had to.
A yard, preferably with a space for gardening.
A walkable neighborhood that I could still ride my cruiser around in.  San Francisco isn’t exactly known for her flat lands.
Laundry onsite

I searched… and I searched and I finally found our house in SF’s amazing and popular Mission district.  The ad seemed too good to be true. “Pets encouraged” and “Gardener’s dream” were the giant highlights in the ad.

Our studio with a sleeping loft has been amazing – but we just moved down the hall this week to unit #3. We have an amazing space with two levels and more windows and light than I could have ever imagined.

Photos will be posted soon… I plan to document all of the before and after on our new unit.  Our landlady is allowing us to paint! Now, I need to decide on colors….

Turkey Sucess

Last week, I bought my first turkey for $7 at Safeway. They were running a special and if you spent $25 you could buy one of their frozen birds for a great price so I decided to go for it.

Over the year’s I watched my mom roast 20+ turkeys, I’ve seen it done on hundreds of cooking shows and combined with all of my serious online research, I knew it couldn’t turn out horrible.  I finally settled on a mixture of several recipes and in the end nothing caught on fire or resembled any nightmare turkey experience that I was afraid of.  Newlywed stories of the horrible first Thanksgiving leave some women so scared that they don’t ever even try… other people buy dinner from a restaurant or pre-made grocery store food (my family did it a few times – no judging). “But I am a good cook…” is what I kept telling myself.  Still, I was petrified but it was only $7 even if it was horrible. So… the turkey was really good – Rob said great and liked the white meat more that the dark meat <— NO DRY TURKEY HERE!  All 16 pounds of it will be eaten over the next week.  Turkey soup, turkey enchiladas… not sure what else but one thing is for sure, we’re eating turkey for the next few days at the very least.

I made green bean casserole, cornbread stuffing and mashed potatoes too… but the main event was the turkey.

My recipe for turkey success:

1 disposable roasting pan
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 c. olive oil
2 tbl dried poultry seasoning
1 tbl dried basil
1 tbl dried sage
1 tbl dried thyme
1 c. Chicken or turkey stock in the bottom of the roasting pan
Salt and pepper

Stir it all together in a bowl and then smother your turkey. Stick it in the oven at 350 degrees covered with foil for 3 hours uncover for another 30 minutes.  Use your meat thermometer to make sure the bird is done before you pull it out.  The time will vary depending on the size of your turkey. Take it out and let it rest for about a half an hour before carving.

Here are some pictures.  I forgot to take a picture of the turkey fresh out of the oven.  The skin was crispy and golden like I wanted it to be. Hoorah. Happy Belated Turkey Day.

My butter, olive oil and herb smothered bird just before it went into the oven.

Here's a picture of the dark meat and white meat in my Grandmother's tupperware container. I always thought this was a turkey holder when I was a kid.

Turkey carcass for the soup or stock that I will be making.

6 months married

I cook a lot, but I never make steak.  I enjoy it, I just never think to buy it and we don’t have a barbecue.

So, happy anniversary to us!  I bought two steaks at Costco this afternoon and after fighting the crazy crowds and finally getting out of there alive – this was dinner.

I like steak to taste like steak.  Some people like to smother and marinate it, but I like it simple.

I sprinkled garlic salt and a little steak seasoning. Then I seared it in a pan on both sides to brown it up and then tossed it into the oven on a broiler pan for 10 minutes, flipped them and let them go another 8 minutes at 450 degrees. The key to great meat is to let it rest for a good 10 minutes after it is done cooking.

Gosh it was delicious.

Here we go…

We used this blog site initially to document the planning of our wedding.  Now we are going to be using it to update our friends and family with what we’re up to. I would love to say that I had blogged and posted a ton of awesome things, but I can’t.  I took the pictures and I have the memories and I suppose that is what really counts. This weekend we’ll celebrate 6 months married – so I figured now is the time to start documenting…

Just after getting married (May 21, 2011) we moved to San Francisco! We love it here and we are having so much fun exploring the city together.

I am always cooking up something and sending the recipes and pictures to my friends and family to try – so I will be posting my creations here.  We are also moving into an awesome unit in our building December 1st and we are signing a two year lease.  I plan to paint (the landlady gave me permission) and really make it home.  I have always wanted to do this and have some really great ideas to get this off the ground.

Ok – now to get the domain configured and come up with a layout and design that I like for the site.